The big day. It seemed fitting to start the day with a formal opening that really emphasised how important today could be. I have had the experience of meeting former students many years after teaching them and having them tell me that one particular lesson on one day literally changed their lives. (Hello Shane!) Every day you are a teacher could be the most important day in the life of a student. As change needs to happen to education in Cambodia, there could be, sitting at one of the desks today, a high ranking government official of twenty years from now who will look back on this moment as the one that set him or her on the path to reform.
I will put my hand up to having to nerves stemming from wanting to do the best and must useful job possible. There was no problem going through the activities and indeed as we got our bearings as the morning progressed I am hoping that our usefulness increased. I would do my part of the conceptual part of the program quite differently next time and will admit to feeling unsatisfied by my contribution. Wonderful to be able to learn new things about myself as a teacher so far from my familiar world. Maybe that’s what it takes. As I can’t go to Cambodia every year, I suppose I will try every now and again to look again at the things around me to find different, unfamiliar points of view.
By the afternoon session there seemed to be an improving rhythm to the workshop but time is the final judge. As we had been told beforehand, there was a concern from the workshop participants that they had a text book to get through, and we were really asking them to be selective: teach this part but don’t teach that part yet as that part is best taught later. So difficult. But perhaps the theme emerging from the day is be brave. The teachers who come to the workshops put themselves out there, allowing other people to critique them in a way that any teacher must find intimidating. Then to ask them to take on the conflict between good teaching and bureaucratic demands is asking a lot.
So we learn from each other.
Not that there wasn’t fun too! Our warmups were an undeniable hit: playground games and magic tricks that no one can resist. At the very least we have shown that fractions can indeed be enjoyable!