BiographyA passionate teacher and leader, Elisa Guerra has founded 9 schools in 3 countries, authored 25 books and trained thousands of teachers. Named “Best Educator in Latin America” by IDB in 2015, her innovative approach to learning was profiled in a documentary by Al Jazeera, "Rebel Education – México: The Power of Early Education" in 2017. She was a Top 50 finalist for the Global Teacher Prize in both 2016 and 2016.
Elisa has said that she became a teacher by accident. In fact, she wanted to be a writer, and had published a couple of poetry books in her twenties.
Then she became a mother.
Wanting her children to experience the joy of reading and the beauties of art, music and culture from around the world, Elisa became her kids’ first teacher. When it was time to send them to school she was not happy with the choices she had in Aguascalientes, México.
So she founded her own.
Colegio Valle de Filadelfia’s aim has been to help children reach their fullest potential, providing a learning environment rich in stimulation and opportunity. Elisa then was – and still is – a volunteer for IAHP, an international organization that helps brain injured children. She took what she had learned about how the brain develops and began creating a model for her school.
Because there were no books or teaching materials to suit her innovative methods, she created her own. Pearson published the series for preschoolers in 2014, a total of 12 books. An additional 12, developed for elementary school children, were published in late 2017. Integrating technology and education, she created a complete Flipped classroom model for social studies for her 7th to 9th graders, which is freely available in YouTube and being used by hundreds of students and their teachers in México.
Today there are 9 schools in 3 countries carrying our Elisa’s full model. An additional 300 + schools in Latin America are teaching children to read using Elisa’s books. She has trained thousands of teachers all over Latin America. She is a Top instructor at Udemy , with over 1K teacher-students from 54 countries. An accomplished speaker, she has lectured internationally both in English and Spanish.
Elisa has also worked with underprivileged children. She is working on an early education program with Prospera, a government organization seeking to reduce the achievement gap that segregates México’s poorest children. She is also working with a Mennonite organization in the north of México, to help them modernize their schools and teaching methods. She was invited twice by “Save the Children”, to Bolivia, where she trained more than 1K teachers. She has also trained indigenous teachers from poor states in México.
Elisa's blog features articles in English and Spanish and has more than 50K followers. She is also a regular contributor for WISE EdReview and for the Top Global Teacher Bloggers, featured in Huffington Post.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
Early reading, reading instruction, global citizenship, technology in the classroom, special needs children.
Reading, traveling, everything learning!
Published: Dec 17, 2017 by WISE EdReview
Authors: Elisa Guerra
Subjects: Education, Developmental Psychology
For far too long, it had been accepted that intelligence was not malleable. However, research is now overwhelmingly suggesting that learning increases not only academic achievement, but functional intelligence as well. Furthermore, brain imaging shows consistent, measurable changes and growth upon learning something new – in both children and adults. Are these physical changes somehow correlated with improved performance? Apparently, they are.
Published: Jul 01, 2016 by WISE EdReview
Authors: Elisa Guerra
Technology is far from new. In the history of mankind, we have devised better ways to work, live and learn. Since the invention of the wheel, and even before, human creativity and innovation have met no limits. Technology does not replace people, but they certainly impact heavily on what people can do and achieve.
By: Elisa Guerra
Subjects: Developmental Psychology, Education, Psychology
Al Jazeera English features Elisa Guerra in a 25min documentary: "Mexico: the Power of Early Education"
“In Mexico, 21 percent of children give up education before they are 14 years old.
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Mexico is the country in the organization with the third-largest number of young people who do not study nor work.
Eight out of 100 Mexican children who enroll in elementary school do not show up for classes. While barely 50 complete middle school, only 20 graduate from high school, and only two become graduate students.
Mexico spends only 3.7 percent of its GDP on schools - the result is a very traditional system and falling standards.
Elisa Guerra was concerned about her children's education and came up with an alternative.
She founded Colegio Valle de Filadelfia, where children as young as three or four are taught to read, as well as how to play the violin using the Suzuki method.
"When it was time for my children to start pre-school, I wasn't happy with any of the school options in Aguascalientes. They weren't challenging enough or stimulating enough. I was worried that traditional schooling would destroy my son's passion for learning. When he got to school, he became bored and wasn't happy. I think the school was teaching him too little, too late and too badly," says Guerra.
Her programme is being taught to 174 children in her school ranging from two-year-olds to secondary school age children (9th grade).
"My favourite thing is that they teach us different things than in other schools. They teach us culture and music from other countries and composers from different parts of the world. They teach us with a method that I think is easier and more effective to learn," one of the students says.
There is an increasing amount of evidence about the importance of early years education. UNICEF calls it one of the most cost-efficient investments in human capital leading to a country's sustainable development.
Guerra's teaching methods have earned her international acclaim. She has been asked to work with the "Prospera" programme - a national initiative that helps seven million of Mexico's poorest families. And she won the award for the best teacher in Latin America in 2015 for her work.
She believes that "if more schools and teachers were able to see education through different eyes, and if they were brave enough to innovate and break paradigms, and use methods like ours ... to help children reach their potential, the possibilities of what we could do in the world would be infinite ... There are really no limits to what we can do."
In this film, we meet Guerra and follow students from a range of age groups, observing their daily activities to see how Guerra's innovative approach makes a difference.”