It's been a while since I wrote a blog. Not that there hasn't been anything to write about but just that I've had a lot on my mind. As I hit the one year mark I began to consider a lot of things I'm missing at home and I started to think about what I will do when I return to Britain. Life as a volunteer has changed me. My priorities are different, as are my expectations. I've seen people smiling in the face of real hardship yet others cheating the system while their neighbour, quite literally, starves. The problems here are obvious, solutions not so obvious...
I'm still thinking!!!
So, in the meantime I'll continue to report on some of my activities here. During February and March I was busy supporting 2nd Years on Teaching Practice, May and June, 1st years are on TP. My role has not only been to observe and give advice to trainees but to recognise common challenges and bring them to the attention of college Management in order that they can be addressed with Trainers.
One thing 2nd Years impressed us with was the use of Teaching Aids. I was pleased as this is something I've been trying to encourage. Trainees worked hard to produce appropriate resources. The trainee below was all set to teach about solid shapes to Grade 2 using a poster. I found out in time to advise real objects. She chased round the school looking for appropriate items then really enjoyed teaching the lesson.
|Getting ready to teach capacity.|
|Real objects to teach about solid shapes|
|Trainee teaches with confidence|
|Participation by children is encouraged|
The biggest challenge, to the surprise of some of my colleagues, has been classroom management. Trainees have found it very hard to control the behaviour of the children. The problem is low level disruption, children chatting, playing, eating and generally not listening to the teacher. It's made worse in some schools by wooden classrooms where there can be a lot of noise from the class next door. Teaching Methods themselves are very noisy with a lot of chanting and repetition. Trainees found it hard in some cases to make themselves heard. Class sizes vary from 30-60 children in a class which is an added problem with very mixed ability.
|Using Flash Cards to teach Khmer|
Encouragingly, the college Director agreed to have meetings with trainees to discuss their difficulties and to offer suggestions for improvement. Trainees were advised to be firm and to make children aware of and obey basic classroom rules. Child Friendly Schooling is new and the cane only recently abolished (in theory!) I was also able to discuss the problem with school Directors who have been very supportive, one has even posted school rules in every classroom and is encouraging his regular teachers to be consistent in applying the rules.
|Moving round the room to check children's work|
It is encouraging to see how these young people have developed in the year I have known them. They work hard under difficult circumstances and are always smiling. I have now been to visit 2 of the Districts where trainees will teach and our observations show that the problems faced by schools in town are not reflected in rural schools. Classroom discipline is not a problem. Other challenges arise however. For me, the important thing is that trainers at the college are more able to evaluate the lessons, trainees have been given a voice to express their concerns and everyone is working together to improve the quality of teaching.
|I arrived to observe a lesson only to find the door locked from the outside I entered through the window as everyone else had done!||.|
|Trainee assists children in making a box|