Quality Education Driven by Quality Teaching
The Quality Teaching Focus Area develops confident and competent communities of teachers committed to quality teaching and ongoing professional development.
Our team teaches Cambodian teachers the school curriculum, and best practice teaching methodologies. In order to improve their skills, however, teachers need more than just workshops. They need ongoing support to ensure that they are putting their learning into practice. SeeBeyondBorders is the only organisation in Cambodia that trains existing teachers to become mentors, so that they can guide fellow teachers to improve their performance.
Our Quality Teaching Focus Area hinges on two factors:
- Firstly, our ability to train: We train teachers, train mentors, train mentors to become senior mentors and train senior mentors to train mentors, not forgetting training our own staff. Training is central.
- Secondly, the quality of our resources: We produce quality teaching resources in the form of reference material for teachers including activity books for different maths strands, daily guides in literacy, as well as maths and literacy classroom resources. We also provide training guides and associated materials.
We implement the Quality Teaching Program, running workshops and mentoring to support teachers.
We select Senior Mentors from within schools, and they are trained to start running the Quality Teaching Program themselves.
We hand over responsibility to the school staff and local community who are now capable of providing in service support for their teachers wthout the aid of SeeBeyondBorders.
In 2017 The Cambodian Ministry of Education carried out Early Grade Reading Assessments. The results were startling with “half of Cambodian children in grades 1 and 2 unable to read a single familiar word”.
The teaching of reading in Cambodian schools typically focuses on memorising vast numbers of letter combinations and words in isolation rather than in context. We want to ensure that every child leaves school with the ability to read and write in their own language. The goal of SeeBeyondBorders’ Literacy Program is to improve the professional knowledge, practice and engagement of teachers teaching literacy. It incorporates reading, writing, listening and speaking. We have introduced teaching techniques used in other phonologically based writing systems and adapted them to suit the unique Khmer context. This approach has the potential to revolutionise Khmer literacy teaching so that students can learn in a more intuitive and engaging way, reading for meaning and with enjoyment. The Literacy Program has been operational in 5 schools in Ek Phnom District since 2017. Our overall aim is to effect systemic change in the Cambodian education system, adding literacy to both our maths and mentoring programs.
Our pilot year was highly successful, with 92% of students receiving a score of 50% or higher in the Observational Survey. In the control school not a single student received a score of 50% or above.
Of all the factors that help shape a child’s success at school, nothing matters as much as the quality of teaching.
Our programs develop confident and competent communities of teachers committed to quality teaching and ongoing professional development. They are delivered by our local Cambodian staff and by teachers themselves.
Our mission is to provide the best possible start to early-grade education through access to quality teaching and learning in schools. Our lead initiative is to provide Cambodian primary school teachers with in-service professional development, supported by a structured mentoring program and capacity building to develop dynamic, professional communities of practice.
We are the only in-service training provider in Cambodia that supports teachers to train their peers, effecting systemic change to current processes and promoting sustainability. Our work has been recognised internationally by UNESCO.
Quality Teaching Program
Key objectives of our Quality Teaching Program are:
- Improve the professional knowledge, practice and engagement of teachers using teaching and learning mathematics as a medium
- Train and empower a community of mentor teachers to improve educational practice across the network of teachers in their schools
- Support mentors and teachers in taking responsibility for the professional development of themselves and all the staff in their school
- Motivate and recognise improved professional standards through a professional incentive quality award system
Recognizing that sustainable change means changing attitudes and takes time, our Quality Teaching Program consists of three initiatives which run for up to 10 years, with a gradual release of responsibility to the participants as confidence and competence grows. We work only with qualified teachers in state primary schools, who teach the official curriculum. Involvement and support of local school authorities is a critical feature of the program, and is key to the sustainability of our approach.
Core (3 years)
The initial phase focuses on building teachers’ conceptual understanding and pedagogical skills through workshops run by trained SeeBeyondBorders’ staff, who are qualified Cambodian teachers. We typically train about 100 teachers in a group and from this group select and train more experienced and capable teachers to become professional mentors. The mentors meet regularly with their mentees, providing regular professional support to their colleagues and embedding the methods and practice demonstrated in workshops. These mentors form professional communities of practice, meeting once a month to discuss challenges and achievements they face in their role as mentors and to share strategies and examples of good practice.
Transition (2 years)
In the next phase, we help teachers develop a sense of responsibility for their own professional development. The focus is on further developing the mentors and identifying senior mentors, teaching them how to run professional development and training programs for both existing and new teachers in their schools and clusters. The program supports mentors to take responsibility for the professional development of their teachers, using the monthly mentor meetings to identify their teachers’ needs and plan relevant and effective technical training sessions. They then facilitate this training in “Technical Thursday” meetings (a monthly gathering of teachers working together on skills development). Senior mentors also develop the capability to run training programs for new teachers in their district.
Maintenance (2 years)
In the final phase, we transfer responsibility for professional development to the District Offices of Education (DOEs), and the schools themselves. With the support of DOEs, senior mentors are able to run a series of training programs for new teachers in the district to address the continual cycle of new teachers entering the system each year. We help the DOE take on full responsibility for running the program, providing support, but no longer providing funding.
Measurement and evaluation
Evaluation is a critical element of our teacher training programs.
We have developed a comprehensive testing regime to measure the development of teacher knowledge and skills. Using a scale to measure competency across six key teaching skills where an achievement at Level 2 denotes competence across all six skill areas, and Level 4 is exemplary in a Cambodian context. Each skill level consists of a number of required capabilities that together denote a particular level, and teachers are recognised at a given skill level only when they have mastered all competencies at that level. The competency of teachers participating in our programs is assessed every six months through structured classroom observations. Our objective is to have 100% of teachers reach Level 2 (competent) by the end of the Core program (3 years).
Mentors are assessed and tested in much the same way as teachers. Their competency is assessed every six months, against three skill areas, each with specific required capabilities. They are only recognised at a particular level when they have satified all the requirements of that level. We aim to have 80% of our mentors reach Level 2 by the end of the Core program (3 years).
The effectiveness of our Quality Teaching Program is also measured by testing the learning outcomes for students. All students in our program classes are tested every six months, using a test developed and administered by SeeBeyondBorders, but based on the government school curriculum.
Go to the Measuring the Impact page for more information about our program monitoring and evaluation, and about the results and impacts.
Motivation and recognition
Primary school teachers in rural areas of Cambodia are rarely recognized or encouraged. We have implemented, a Krou Loar (meaning “Good Teaching” in Khmer) program to motivate and recognise improved professional standards through a professional incentive quality awards system. These annual awards recognise teachers and mentors reaching high-level competence across a range of skills, developed through involvement in the Quality Teaching Program. The awards are presented at a high-profile ceremony, by senior representatives of provincial education authorities.
What is SCALE?
We use an approach we call SCALE (Scaffolding Capability and Learning Experiences) that refers to how we support teachers until professional development becomes embedded, gradually adjusting and withdrawing our own interventions.
First, we build the conceptual and pedagogical understanding of teachers through foundational workshops. Teachers are supported to put these skills into action in a classroom setting through regular mentoring by a senior teacher in their school whom we have trained in mentoring, collaboration and coaching skills. Our mentoring program encourages teachers to practice new skills and strategies with the professional support of their colleagues, thereby increasing their confidence and benefiting their students.
In short, through workshops, mentoring and in-class support, SCALE builds the conceptual understanding and pedagogical skills of teachers who in turn, use those skills to develop the knowledge of their peers in local school systems. This approach not only furthers the development of individual teachers, but also develops the Cambodian education system as a whole.
If you would like more information about our Quality Teaching Program, send us a message. We love to talk with others who share our passion for education!