It already seems an eternity ago we as a team of teachers at the Teacher Training Programme of Siem Reap began filming in a number of primary schools... But now, more than 15 months later, it's finally there: a DVD box to support and illustrate lessons in methodology has been launched! Moreover, a team from each teacher training centre (for primary education) in Cambodia has been trained during two days on September 7th and 8th in Siem Reap, to introduce the DVD box in the next academic year.
The manual "Learner Centered Methodology", developed in 2007 by the project of the same name, was in need of visual support to link theory and practice. And with the Open Resource Centre nearby, the use of ICT-material was obvious ... We trained a team of teachers in basic filming techniques and a few teachers of four primary schools nearby were "warned" about us visiting with a camera... The filming and editing finally yielded a set of 60 video clips, short fragments (1 to 2 minutes) of class activities. And because perfect practices rarely exist, and the intention was not to simply show fragments with the message "this is how it should be done”, we also developed 60 "Question Sheets" with a number of questions and answers about the fragment. These sheets support the teacher in engaging students in a classroom discussion about the activity in the film: the quality of the activity is examined and students think critically about what good classroom activities imply, how they can involve as many students as possible, how to make learning material sustainable, or how certain activities can be organised more efficiently.
At the end of 2008 we organised a workgroup consisting of several members of the Department of Education to screen and approve the material (the film fragments, the question sheets and manual), for without the ministerial approval the official use in teacher training centres is impossible. Even from the very start, the Ministry was enthusiastic about the material. It would provide a response to a serious lack of practical material in support of the theoretical methodology. The Ministry even promised to incorporate it in the next revised curriculum.
The screening and approval process took longer than expected, but in June it was finally there... The minister gave the go-ahead so we could start making preparations for a national training on September 7th and 8th. From each of the 18 teacher training centres in Cambodia 3 teachers and the principal participated along with a number of department representatives from the Ministry, a total of about 80 people. The training was focused on the practice of using the DVD's (many teachers had never used a DVD player, let alone worked with menus and submenus) and being able to lead a classroom discussion based on the question sheets. It was a slightly more difficult task than expected for the participants to realize that the DVD does not give "examples to copy" but "examples to learn from". The word "example" in Khmer only exists in the sense of "as it should”. But in the end we got the support of the Teacher Training Department, so the participants returned to their provinces with 3 DVD boxes and new insights about how to bring practical examples in their lessons...