Our learning center in Tonloab, Cambodia has been making strenuous efforts to improve the quality of its teaching and learning. In this blog post, Vannak Pen, Head of Learning Center, gives an overview of the changes he has implemented.
In the beginning, the learning center perceived quality only as available textbooks and teachers for running classes. However, quality education requires more than textbooks and teachers. Vannak has realized this and has implemented a number of important changes concerning lesson planning, curriculum development (i.e. course outline), teacher meeting & training, technology adoption, teacher punctuality, student learning motivation, student discipline, and students’ learning outcomes.
Teacher meeting and training: Vannak holds meetings with teachers on a frequent basis to discuss various issues of concern such as teaching techniques, curriculum and student discipline. Through a number of meetings, teachers have agreed to implement a structured lesson plan recommended by BOOKBRIDGE. Vannak admits that preparing a good lesson plan and implementing it takes a lot time and is not easy. However, the first positive results can be observed: before the adjustments, students just sat passively in class just listening to the teacher. Now they actively engage in learning activities thanks to the teachers who implemented more engaging teaching methods and follow their lesson plans.
Curriculum development and course outline: in the beginnings of the learning center, textbook lessons had a certain amount of hours for being taught. As this approach did not work each section of the lesson is now allotted a certain amount of time. Not all sections in one lesson are followed and related sections are linked for one single teaching point.
Technology adoption: the adoption of new technologies had a positive change to quality as well. Teachers and Vannak use the internet to look for course-relevant information and integrate platforms like YouTube in their teaching. They not only look for for English songs but also games, texts, exercises and pictures for teaching vocabulary.
Punctuality: teacher punctuality is a common problem in Cambodia. Vannak is sure that his learning center is the best role model in the community for all other state schools to follow. All teaches at the center now respect punctuality. They come and leave on time.
Students’ behavior and discipline: the students’ behavior is mainly influenced by their families and conditions at state schools. This makes it very challenging for Vannak to achieve behavior improvements, especially as students only spend a few hours at the learning center. Collaborating with the parents is practically useless but Vannak does not give up and has actually seen some improvements.
Students’ learning outcomes: students are required to take tests several times a month. According to Vannak, tests and exams are not necessarily a means to measure learning outcomes, but also motivate students to continue studying. They also serve as a good base for suggestions for improvements during students’ evaluations.