This thanksgiving, I had the unique opportunity to volunteer through Caring for Cambodia in Siem Reap with a group of teachers from my school. We went as a team to train the local teachers in Cambodia. Thankfully we had amazing translators that worked with us, so we could present different lessons and teaching methods to the Cambodian teachers.
CFC and the teachers wanted us to focus on science this year for the professional development. We were divided up into grade level teams and given a specific content to teach lessons on. I was teamed up with a fellow colleague, and we worked with a group of fourth grade teachers from various schools in Siem Reap. We taught them about the different parts of plant and the plant life cycle. We prepared these four different lessons, made a whole bunch of resources (laminated charts, photos, etc…) and brought as much as we could.
One of the experiments we did with them was putting celery in water, that has food coloring in it. As we had them do the experiment themselves, the teachers told us how this was new for them. They didn’t really do experiments with their students. Some of the teachers told us that celery was too expensive for them to buy in the market and use for their experiment. Luckily, we had some extra celery that we bought that one of the teachers could use for his model lesson the next day.
One of the most rewarding parts of this experience was the last day, where we got to visit a few of the teachers at their schools. We went to four different schools in Siem Reap. We saw them teach one of the four lessons that we modeled for them. It was so incredible to see them taking what they learned from us and making it work for their kids and classrooms. Some teachers had classrooms of 60 students in a classroom much smaller than mine back in Singapore.
Even though they didn’t really have any science resources, except their black and white science textbooks, they were creative and resourceful. We saw them use the different posters and charts we used. We saw them incorporate the ice breakers we modeled. We saw them get their kids excited for science. After each lesson, we gave the teacher feedback. We made sure to let them know that their students were quite lucky to have teachers like them in their classrooms.
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