Education & Training

Not for Profit (NfP) & also on Education

Teaching Teachers in Cambodia

Background

Teachers Across Borders (TAB) Australia is a Not-for-Profit (NfP) organisation whose Values-based Vision/Purpose (‘To Be’) is ‘Developing borderless connections through education’. Their Mission/Strategy is to ‘Continue to build a community of educators that can provide a sustainable NfP, that is committed to offering inclusive & equitable quality education - promoting lifelong learning opportunities’.

The organisation works in Cambodia in 3 main centres: Siem Reap, Battambang & Kampong Thom. Teachers from AUS volunteer to offer a weeklong workshop (5 x 3hr sessions) in their subject, to Cambodian Teachers & Trainee Teachers. The AUS volunteers time & pays a workshop fee to support the teachers with a small stipend to cover the associated costs of running the program. Other programs include leadership & ‘train the trainer’ in the hope of handing over the program to teachers in Cambodia. The program has been running for approximately 11 years in Kampong Thom.

Issue

Music instruction. Teachers in this region of Cambodia work in schools with extremely limited resources. Traditional music in Cambodia is obviously very different to Western Music. Taking a group & using music as a vehicle the aim was to demonstrate pedagogies that may be transferrable to the Cambodian classroom. Teaching in Cambodia is very teacher-centred with limited student interaction in groups/pairs. Learning by rote is often the preferred method. Planning must consider activities with limited resources, working with an interpreter for instruction, with the ability to have notes translated if required for 80-150 participants. Methods for large group activities were high on the agenda!

Action

An experienced SG consultant working with TAB team devised a program that would focus on group activity & to cope with limited resources, employing rhythm based everyday materials for percussion instruments. i.e. Cups, bowls, spoons, can & wooden sticks. The rhythms employed could be taught through French time names & in combination made a simple & accessible poly rhythm that sounded African in nature - with 5 rhythm groups formed to create movement & rhythmic compositions on their own.

Once beat & pulse were established, all groups pulled together & added the use of tempo change & musical dynamics to create further interest. Folk dancing was used as another means of creating interaction & to establish pulse. Throughout the week the use of games, some singing & further exploration of rhythm & structure enabled more independence across the groups & for individuals

Outcome

Activities led to independent group work & enabled individuals to show leadership within groups. Leaders were identified to become “conductors” for large group activity. It was clear to see that it would take some time to change the culture of the ‘classroom’ to enable this style of learning – however, trusting in the activity, through repetition with encouragement showed good progress.

The activities culminated in a large group performance at the closing ceremony for the week. This aspect of performance or presenting was something not experienced by the Trainee Teachers before. The preparation to perform highlighted the need for independence, leadership & teamwork.

After returning to Cambodia for next 5 years, it was pleasing to see that some aspects of group work were becoming more prevalent within the Trainee Teachers. Here are some of the many positive testimonial quotes from the program:

You modelled how to work with large groups during your workshops. Many of these students will be in situations where they will have large class sizes, so this is particularly helpful.”

“Gamification was very useful to the Trainee Teachers showing a different way to engage a class with fun activities.”

“You provided the first experience of giving a major performance. It was wonderful to see the growth in confidence & the joy it brought to everyone – thanks again. Quotes from Local Client Director, School Principal & a Teacher.

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