31 January 2014

Teacher to Teacher [T2T]


T2T is a new and ambitious service initiative I am proud to be able to say that we established this year, supported by the college where we work to create an opportunity for teachers to work with teaching colleagues in Cambodia.

The 'Teacher to Teacher' (T2T) training initiative is currently in its pilot year of what is anticipated as a sustained commitment to provide both curricular and pedagogical support for teaching colleagues in Cambodia.  This project has the specific aim to build capacity in educational practice.

In Cambodia we are working with teachers at Cambodian Children's Fund (CCF), which operates six centres in Phnom Penh.  CCF provides educational support for students from preschool to university.  The CCF kids are vulnerable children, most of whom used to work on the Phnom Penh dump site.

Requests for training in the following areas have been requested by CCF:

  • Child centred practice
  • Curriculum development, planning, and assessment
  • Instructional strategies and classroom management
  • English language training
  • ICT skills development and integrated practice 

The commitment is considerable but we felt anything less would be prone to the sorts of ineffective support that are so common with these kind of initiatives; the kind of support or 'voluntourism' that is often given by well-meaning but impractical volunteers. We knew that the only way for change to be meaningful and really effective would be for it to be ongoing, so we travel to Cambodia three times a year to provide teacher training during our school holidays in October, Chinese New Year and March.

We work with the team in Cambodia to plan a syllabus that responds to evolving needs of each of three core groups: Early Childhood Education (ECE), English language (EAL), and ICT/ digital literacy development and integration as a discrete focus, and eventually as an integrated element of ECE and EAL.

After each visit, we continue support through regular communication with partner teachers in Cambodia, reflecting on our previous visits and planning and preparing for our future is it in an iterative, collaborative process of improvement.

Continuing Professional Development 

An unexpected, but nevertheless impressive aspect of this initiative has been its impact on my own practice as a teacher.  I have no problem with the idea that we are effectively going to Cambodia because we believe that what we are doing is 'better' than what they are doing... Which sounds arrogant, but if it is not true, then we have no business going at all. And if what we are doing really is better then it should be just as effective (if not more so) in our considerably well resourced environment at home as it is in the comparatively less well resourced environment in Cambodia. What I'm finding is that the better we make their teaching, the better we make our OWN teaching, #WINWIN

What this kind of experience really does is force us to really consider what it is about teaching practice that really is absolutely essential, that makes it 'better'. When working through a translator you really have to strip away anything that could be superfluous and refine everything down to the absolute minimum, something which is a cathartic process in and of itself. The process I intend to document from time to time here on this blog using the label #T2T.