Transforming Education Through Instructional Coaching in the Mayan Highlands of Guatemala

A Historical Introspection on Policy, Practice and Educational Transformation


Significant efforts have been made to improve the educational system in the Western Highlands of Guatemala to foster economic growth and social development in the country. However, given the country’s linguistic and cultural diversity, challenges in terms of coverage and quality of education persist. Inadequate teacher preparation training, and the absence of an induction and pedagogical coaching system for new teachers are some of the impeding factors. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has executed targeted educational projects to support the National Ministry of Education in strengthening the human capital in education. A transformative pedagogical leadership and coaching model was developed that focuses efforts from an oversight system to a mentoring system that strengthens leadership and the capacities of teachers in the application of innovative methodologies that contribute to educational improvement. This model allows for a continuous cycle of improvement to teaching by providing new teachers with feedback on teaching practices in the classroom and opportunities for teachers to self-reflect and be empowered in their own learning process and professional growth. This approach has shown positive effects with respect to teaching practices at the school-level; however, additional measures are required to gain the support of stakeholders to expand its implementation to bilingual and multicultural contexts to maximize the country’s potential to improve the quality of education.


Author Biographies

Gabriela Núñez

M.A. Gabriela Núñez has over 25 years of experience working in education and gender projects with international cooperation organizations and government entities in Guatemala in senior positions, including Minister and Executive level. She has provided technical assistance and inter-institutional coordination in policy dialogue, design, implementation and evaluation activities

Sophia Maldonado Bode

Dr. Sophia Maldonado Bode is Senior Education Advisor in JuᲥz & Associates Inc. She has been leading technical assistance processes for international cooperation programs for 15 years and working with government entities and key actors to promote reforms in Guatemala national education system.