We are not just teaching the students, but we are taking their problems and difficulties as ours and trying to be part of their community. Teaching English is not enough for the students and the poor. We need empathy and kindness to build trust and a positive relationship.
I had previously complained that the local teacher trainee was content to nod in agreement as I postulated theories and ideas to get the cogs working in each student’s brain. The lessons need to flow and be simple for the students to perform; as the teacher you must guide them. This means a lot of thinking and planning beforehand. Now, the teacher trainee is staying up until 1 AM to plan. However, with me being asleep it means that I cannot check the plan. I could awaken at 4 AM, but it is useless if the trainee is still sleeping.
Before I was an NEH teacher trainee, I tried to explain the entire lesson, without making time for students to practice, considering their needs, and managing the classroom. I only focused on ways for them to get a high score, making them recite paragraphs and do homework. I thought this was the teacher’s responsibility, as it's normally done in my country.
Our students want us to stay, but unfortunately due to the conflict, we're not able to continue teaching here in northern Rakhine State and plan to return when the situation is more stable.
We believe our students here deserve more of our time. They've improved their self-confidence to do things on their own, adapted to our teaching style, and are learning quicker than before.
I have also learned so much from them in how to be a better teacher. They have already taught us more than what we've taught them.
Thank you to our students, the community, and school for welcoming us. Stay safe and we hope to return soon.
NEH Local Teacher Trainee
As an experienced teacher, changing the plan is something that happens almost every lesson; be it a full activity or just slight modifications. When I was planning the curriculum for NEH, I hadn’t met the students nor had I seen our teacher teaching. I had not anticipated that the lessons would be used for both adult learners and children. During the first grade 8 class that the trainee was in charge of, I realized that he had made several errors on his board chart for plural / singular countable and uncountable nouns. I was there; I could simply tell him to fix it couldn’t I? Otherwise, what was the use of me being in the classroom?
In our village in Rakhine state, we have electricity for 3 hours a day. When I first visited, the power was on from 6 pm - 9 pm. It is now active from 7 pm to 10 pm. Generally speaking, this has a huge impact on the way we are able to plan and run our lessons. Fortunately the supply is pretty reliable and there have only been 3 nights in total that there has been no electric at all.
When I was a student in government school, I had endured discrimination and sometimes public humiliation by my own teachers. Most were fault-finders rather than positive-thinkers who helped their students improve. So, when I saw one student in our class that was looked down by others, I kept thinking what we could do. He neither speaks nor interacts with other students much and sometimes when he says something, everyone wants to make jokes about it. He is disheartened and most teachers ignore him because they think he will not be able to learn well.
It is essential that we develop a workable blueprint for honest virtual communication such that as we transition to online feedback with intermittent visits, teachers will be able to carry on and thrive independently.
This was my the first time teaching at a government school. I was concerned how this would go. From my previous experience, I had met some government teachers and they despised us non-government teachers because we were causing them to have fewer students in their tuition paid classes. Nevertheless, the government teachers from this village are very friendly and pleased to have us at their school.
Last year, our trainee said he didn't like teaching. He kept telling me so. He said that it is a necessity. It must be done in order to give the children a chance. He feels strongly about injustice and seems to want to prevent it.