Wednesday, 5 August 2015

A Day in the Life of a PIO Teacher

COUNTRY: Cambodia
PROJECT: Education and Teaching
WRITTEN BY: Nami Wickramatilake

A day in the life of a PIO teacher can be tough, challenging but also inspiring and rewarding when you are greeted so loudly by your adoring students. By tough and challenging, I mean it was hard putting behind an Australian understanding of an educational system completely alien to me. From enforcing behaviour management constantly in Australian contexts, the theorised positive behaviour for learning module was definitely shining through here at PIO.

Instead of constantly probing students, it was suddenly so easy to ask a student a question. You begin to quickly understand that these students are here to learn, that these students are here to see you and only you, because you become the instiller of all knowledge in their eyes. Their eagerness is something that attracts myself to PIO. Despite living in poor living conditions, I have come to realise these students are still nothing but happy, always smiling, always sharing with each other a single pen. There is no such thing as bullying here. A harmonious environment is what I'd definitely call PIO.

On my third day at PIO, I had grown attached to my Year 6 students, and noticing my hair was out of its usual bun, they had offered to braid my hair.
I was so touched by their desire to help me (look decent enough to teach). These kids have an amazing set of skills, commonly unnoticed unless monitored and I could not believe the amount of creativity these students have.

Each day I left carrying a present from a student, mostly drawings, sometimes origami and these were not simple everyday paper aeroplanes type of origami, I'm talking paper cranes, frogs and even roses. Creativity does not only lie with their ability to beautifully craft origami, but their strong desire to sing.
They knew more songs that I did! (A little bit embarrassing, I felt incredibly old) From the Frozen soundtrack, to Jesse J's Price Tag to Happy by Pharrell Williams, these kids knew how to belt out an amazing medley of songs.

So that's when I decided to integrate music into teaching English - hence, all the theory of engagement through a deeper understanding of the intrinsic interests of students really paid off! It does get tiring... 3 hours of English a day can be tiring for both students and teacher, especially in the dry Cambodian heat, but it is definitely a rewarding experience; a definite life-time changing experience.

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