The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own. [ or hers :) ] ~Benjamin Disraeli ~

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Newly Qualified Teachers

I've just returned from eating out with a group of trainers from the college. Such an invitation would have worried me a year ago. What if I don't like the food? What do I order? How do I eat it? Now I'm confident that most khmer food is delicious. Foods that would make my stomach crawl such as spiders, crickets, eggs with baby chick (yuk!) and chicken feet to name but a few, are rarely on the menu. They are sold mainly by street vendors. I'm quite skilled with chop sticks now but a lot of food is eaten using a spoon.

I'm not sure what we were celebrating today, staff don't eat out every Saturday – maybe it was just the end of a busy week.

This week we continued with the monitoring of Newly Qualified Teachers, those who left our college last July, some of the first trainees I worked with. Previously I had travelled out with college management. This time, to visit more distant districts, trainers went in pairs by motorbike. I rode pillion with my translator and we visited 2 NQTs in rural schools about 15km out of Sisaphon. Fortunately, we had no rain so although the roads were very bumpy, they were not slippery.

We were greeted warmly at both schools and I was pleased to be able to report on one good and one very good maths lesson. The first school was in a very bad state of repair. The teacher said that when it rains he has to stop teaching as so much water comes through the holes in the roof. It was obvious by the light in an otherwise dark room! The second school was beautiful. Again wooden classrooms but well looked after and the grounds were full of trees, flowers and shrubs. No litter. This is generally a problem in Cambodia but the bins at this school were used properly. The new teacher was very happy in her work and demonstrated a range of learner centred methods and impressed me with her Teaching Aids. The college can feel proud of having trained this young lady. When asked what problems she faces, she told us that last year the school was flooded during the rains and that she had travelled the 5km to work by boat! Her other problems were no teachers book to support teaching and lack of money to make teaching aids.

Here are a few photos. If you click on one, you can see them enlarged (if you hadn't already worked that out!)
Grade 4 classroom
Using the environment to teach about angles
...and this classroom has plenty!!
Children used twigs to make angles
Chalkboards ensure every child participates
The teacher reinforces the answer
School tuck shop
Children reading in the library during break time
Each child puts a straw in their class pot (red for girls) to keep a record of library use
Homes next to the school
View behind the school
 On Thursday, all trainers gathered for a meeting to share experiences. Some had travelled to Poipet, others to equally distant districts of Banteay Meanchey. All had found it very interesting as the situation is very different from that in the town. New teachers face problems with lack of resources, one school had no chairs or tables. Some teachers teach more than one grade at the same time, having to cover a totally different curriculum for each. Children drop out of school, move to Thailand or take long absences to help parents in the fields. In rural areas it is impossible for teachers to find study materials to develop their own subject knowledge or resource their lessons.

All new teachers reported that they needed more help with classroom management, working with less able pupils and in the preparation of teaching aids from locally available materials. This year we have been doing a lot of work in both these areas so it was good to hear that we are on the right track. Next week I will meet with the Director to think about what else can be done in the light of what we found out. I am lucky to be working in a college where staff want to work towards improving the situation for trainees.

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