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Getting teachers together and have them share their ideas is a useful way to conduct teacher training and this method of collaboration has worked very well in the past in numerous educational establishments. Educational Service Area Offices have the responsibility of conducting training for the districts that they serve and some are doing a very good job under difficult conditions.

 

Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to take part in a three-day training period for English teachers in Udon Thani Educational Service Area Office 4. The English teachers in question are predominantly primary school teachers who have majored in subjects other than English.

 

The first day had 153 teachers from four local districts listen to their English Resources Instruction Center (ERIC) coordinators take them through various English language activities which they would be able to use in their own classes. What was particularly pleasing was to see how the activities and discussions that followed were all at the right level, practical in nature and useful for all the teachers attending the event.

 

The second day had Dr. Supatra Wanpen from Udon Thani Rajabhat University take participants through a variety of activities which involved drama, songs and role-play. Once again, it was aimed at the right level and could be used in the majority of classrooms. There were some very amusing moments during the day which motivated me to think that maybe I could try out some of theses activities in my classroom, even though I’m not much of a singer or dancer myself (no comment needed – thank you).

 

The final day involved a contribution by myself and Channarong Rachbuanoy from Udon Thani Educational Service Area Office 4, where we looked at the use of DVDs in the classroom as well as flashcards and photocopiable games using cards. In addition, just to round off the three days, the whole of the closing ceremony was conducted in English by the attending officials, much to the amazement of the audience who showed their appreciation.   

 

Having ERIC centers conduct the first day’s training was a great idea. In my opinion, the majority of administrators and teachers have little knowledge of ERIC centers and the duties that they could perform if allowed to. If these centers are set up as a network allowing local schools to feed off them, then it would be possible to set up networks in districts that would then be connected to other districts within local education areas.

 

In a way, this is already the case as schools are grouped into “clusters” as a matter of course. ERIC centers could cooperate with other ERIC centers and education areas can do likewise. I believe that it wouldn’t take too much effort to set up a network across the whole of Thailand, using the infrastructure that is already in place. This could all be under the control of an organisation like Thailand TESOL for example.

 

In my opinion, there is nothing stopping local education areas seeking advice from outside sources and having consultants and advisors aiding their training programmes and curriculum development. There are plenty of organisations that are prepared to help on an ad hoc basis for no charge and offer advice and resources to those who are prepared to ask for it.

 

Udon Education Foundation (UEF) based in Udon Thani city center offers support in this way and is already assisting educational offices and schools in and outside of the province. Similar local collaboration of this kind makes sense and can lead to further much needed improvements in educational training in the future.

 

Sharing ideas amongst teachers
 

 

Mr Boonma Singhasen points out to Mr Weerasak Chaipila that learning new teaching techniques can be accomplished by seasoned professional such as themselves.

 

(Unedited article published in the Bangkok Post 19th October 2010)

 
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