"Only if you add the same amount of commitment to what you learn and pick up as a teacher, will you change your teaching and your students’ learning"

17/01/2017

In November 2016 during a follow-up visit Ms Mao Sokalyan, programme coordinator at VVOB, had an inspiring interview with Ms Ly Vannyda.

Ly Vannyda is a motivated and committed teacher at a primary school in Kampong Cham. Her school is not only a primary school but a practice school in the same time, meaning that student teachers of the Teacher Training Centre in Kampong Cham do their teaching practice there. Ly Vannyda attended five trainings within the MOEYS-VVOB programme in 2016: two on science, two on mathematics and one on teaching practice, including how to give quality feedback and how to use the new assessment forms. 

Ly Vannyda: “My favourite training was on how to produce and use teaching aids for mathematics. My colleagues and I produced a lot of materials that are very useful to use during our teaching. I also liked the science training, especially the topics of formative assessment and experiments. After I attended one math and one science training in April, I started applying what I learned with my fifth grade class. I implemented the 7 formative assessment techniques, developed Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) lessons and integrated experiments. For instance, in my science lessons I guided my students to do several experiments on heat and electricity.”

She also explains that some of the techniques she learned during the mathematics and science trainings can also be used in her other lessons. “Concept cartoons and traffic light cards, which are formative assessment techniques that I picked up in the mathematics training, I now apply in various subjects not only mathematics and science. For example, I use traffic light cards, during brainstorming in social study lessons.”

Learning about formative assessment techniques and IBL lessons is one thing, but changing your lessons to integrate these techniques and methods requires solid teacher’ commitment. Teachers need to be very well-prepared when using these new techniques and methods. Indeed, Ly Vannyda is highly motivated to spend that extra time on her lessons. She says: “To prepare for the lesson I just taught, I had to go to the market and buy bean sprouts and corn seeds. I asked my students to bring other seeds from home as well. As teachers we need to work hard to prepare our lessons. Without that commitment, this won’t work.”

“I notice that when I apply a new teaching technique such as an IBL lesson and formative assessment techniques my teaching becomes more interactive. The relationship among the students and between the students and myself becomes closer. It is easier for me to identify my students’ understanding on the lesson topics and in addition I get to know my students better. Also, I experienced that my students learn the lesson faster and better.”

Ly Vannyda is very happy with the students in her class and modestly declares: “I think I am not the only factor that plays a role in making my lessons successful. My students are the key factor. They come to class from different backgrounds, each with their own prior knowledge. But they are flexible and get along very well. Another factor to successful lessons is the teaching materials. The materials I used made my lessons go well too.”

When asked if she takes equity and gender into account in her lessons, she explains: “Some of my students are from low income families, others are from richer families; some students are tidy and some are not. I never treat them differently. Also, in the division of groups and class seating I often mix between girls and boys. I change group members depending on the lesson and most of the time, I mix between fast learners, medium and slower learners.”  

It is great to see a highly-motivated teacher at work and have some time to talk to her.
In the back of her classroom, we see a bookshelf consisting of primary textbooks, MoEYS-VVOB manuals, some teaching materials and laminated photos of her class activities such as life skills, community/outdoor activities, etc.
During the class observation, we clearly saw that Ly Vannyda’s lesson was very well-prepared and that she had her students actively observing, thinking, discussing and sharing ideas. Within a few weeks of the new school year she identified the differences in her students’ competences and based on that she provides extra support to the slower learners. Ly Vannyda firmly believes that “Only if you add the same amount of commitment to what you learn and pick up as a teacher, will you change your teaching and your students’ learning”.