Headteacher and Educational Coach in Acajutla, El Salvador
“When a teacher has access to technology it has a great impact, as I say, the access we have had has been just a little and if we are trained we will be able to give children a better education.”
Adriana has more than 15 years of teaching experience, but she has had a vocation for teaching since her childhood. “Since I was little, it was already my vocation to be a teacher. My mum says that I used to sit my dolls around me and play at being a teacher”, she tells us.
Adriana Eloísa Rodríguez is the Headteacher of the Caserío Costa Azul School, located in the coastal area of the municipality of Acajutla, in the department of Sonsonate, El Salvador. Adriana has been running the school for 10 years, combining her work as a teacher and leading the school’s management: she organises and provides support to the financial, pedagogical and educational processes of the school. “Being a teacher is something I always wanted to do. Over time, the excitement of working on this became greater because it is a lovely experience to see the seed of change that one sows in the children.”
Her position has given her a wealth of good experiences, and her friendly and approachable personality has allowed her to gain the trust of the educational community and create bonds with the entire teaching staff, students and parents. Although it has not been easy because the students and their families face many difficulties: “Children from two different communities come to the school: those from El Monzón Beach area, most of whose families are poor and whose quality of life is quite difficult; and children from Costa Azul Beach, who also have economic needs because their parents work caring for large beach-side homes and where no one has their own house. They are all students with scarce resources, but with the desire and the spirit to keep progressing.”
Breaking the Digital Gap
Adriana loves working for her school, and despite her many educational responsibilities, she has always demonstrated a desire to learn and to set an example for others.
Adriana is a teacher who tries to apply the use of ICT in all educational processes. Last year, together with the entire team of teachers, she participated in ProFuturo’s ICT training and was then invited to take part in a leadership training course to strengthen her skills as a leader within her educational community.
In the training process with ProFuturo, Adriana stood out for her proactivity and commitment. During the study of the ICTs and Innovation pathways, her way of thinking changed regarding the use of mobile devices in the classroom. She now sees it as an advantage in the teaching-learning process: “It may be a little difficult for teachers, parents and students to get access to technology in our community, but we have the support of ProFuturo, who have guided us in ICT issues and have really helped us to streamline our work.”
Breaking the digital gap among teachers was Adriana’s first step in changing and introducing technology into her school. Her colleagues are a very approachable and committed group, so when the opportunity to work hand in hand with ProFuturo presented itself they all wanted to learn more and increase their skills. Some started working with WhatsApp, others now make video tutorials to improve the quality of the explanation they send to the children.
In her work, Adriana has managed to incorporate the search for online content, making videos, sending videos and images to students and teachers, the use of Google Classroom, WhatsApp and other applications and tools which have facilitated her work. “We have had to break the gap with teachers, maybe they knew how to switch a computer on and off or use WhatsApp on the phone, but it’s another matter to use these tools for their classes. I’m amazed that we have teachers who have been encouraged to make videos, it’s a great achievement that the teacher records themselves and the children see their work! It is an achievement because we went from occasional use of technological tools for education to using them constantly now. We may still have a lot to learn, because technology innovates every day, but I think we are on the right track in the learning process, and it is not just about giving us the tools, but also about us asking them to show us new ones.”
Reinventing ourselves in the face of COVID-19
Although it has been a difficult few months, especially during 2020 due to the suspension of classes for all students in the country in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the school has learned to handle all the activities. The fact that students do not have access to the internet to access their classes, poor signal due to the location of the area of the communities in which the children live and the lack of mobile devices in families have often been hindering factors. However, the commitment and effort from the school and the families has been great in contributing to the children’s digital education.
“We have had digital meetings with parents where the ProFuturo team has supported us, and this is something quite new, something we’ve never seen before. It’s lovely to see the parents’ excitement when they log on, to see how they send us photos of the children looking at their phones in class with their uniforms on and their parents at their side to help them. During this difficult time, we have adapted to technology, sometimes we have to make home visits to children who don’t have devices, but together with ProFuturo, teachers and parents work together.”
The success in the use of virtual tools has even been highlighted outside the educational community. During the months of quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic in El Salvador, with ProFuturo’s support, Adriana managed to coordinate a civic event online, this being her first experience managing a digital event, using the Zoom platform together with Facebook Live. Her commitment and creativity even led to the participation of authorities from the Departmental Directorate and the Minister of Education, Carla Hanania de Varela.
Adriana and her school demonstrate the impact of having a teacher who is trained and committed to their work and who has the opportunity to access ICTs to reinforce their skills. Now that the classrooms have reopened, Adriana hopes to continue implementing what she has learnt: “When a teacher has access to technology it has a great impact, as I say, the access we have had has been just a little and if we are trained we will be able to give children a better education.”