Page 15 - Independent Schools Magazine
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    that we could decide which areas the teachers needed help with, then conference days where we delivered our training to a group of about
10 teachers in our observation pairs. The main thing which
made the working weeks tough
was the heat; I have always loved hot weather, having grown up in Australia, but I realized that I have always been able to readily access air conditioning, something which was a rare luxury in Cambodia.
The schools we worked with were NGO schools and the numbers
of children in the very small classrooms often exceeded 40. The main thing we felt we could help with was showing the teachers ways to implement more engagement into their lessons, as the focus
was very heavily geared towards repetition. I surprised myself at the number of games and activities
we managed to come up with to share with the teachers, including story telling games, acting and basically anything which could get the students moving around and engaging with each other in their learning.
Seeing a country by directly engaging with its past and developing an understanding of
the daily struggles, made me fall
in love with Cambodia. I have so much respect for the educators in the schools we visit who often work for free or rely on donations for their salary. If they do get a salary, it usually goes straight towards their university fees, as most of them simply cannot afford tertiary education. The gratitude these teachers showed us at the end of the programme was humbling. We had essentially attempted to cram everything we had learned about teaching on PGCEs or school-based
training into three short weeks,
and the difference in the quality of teaching and engagement of the students was astounding. Cambodia is a country which faces a lot of issues; poverty is widespread and often there are not enough schools to reach more remote rural areas
in the country. For this reason, I
feel that my work in Cambodia is not done. I would love to go back and offer support to other schools. Maybe one day I might even be able to help set up a new school to help reach more children.
The ethos of LRTT is unique, as we were there purely to interact with and train the Cambodian educators. We were discouraged from playing with the children and from getting up to ‘help’ the local teachers deliver their lessons. Why? Too often volunteerism is based on a hands-on approach which causes children to form a bond with volunteers and teachers to have someone else do their job for them for a few weeks. What about when we leave? By delivering training, rather than taking over from the professionals, the local teachers are in a position to continue the things they learned from us and in turn pass them on to other teachers.
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