Pencils of Promise (PoP) Laos has been supporting 60 schools under its Teacher Support program for the last two years. PoP holds workshops, provides materials and trains public school teachers in methodologies to help them become more effective in delivering English lessons, as guided by the Laos Ministry of Education’s English national curriculum.
After each workshop/training, PoP Teacher Support teams make regular visits to each school for coaching sessions. At the end of the school year, the PoP Learning and Evaluation (L&E) team conducts an interview with its teachers to learn about teachers’ experience throughout the school year in order to improve the program in future years.
In June 2020, PoP’s L&E team conducted interviews for the school year of 2019-2020. A total of 30 teachers from 20 schools were included in the sample and the interviews aimed to discuss lessons learned throughout the school year and listen for feedback. The interviews enable PoP teams to learn quickly about what is working and not working throughout the school year. As a result of these interviews, below are the responses and shared experiences from the teachers:
General comments on Teacher Support program
- Teachers said they are grateful that PoP has been supporting their teaching, regularly monitoring, coaching and making detailed plans coming to their schools
“We used to have challenges remembering lessons, lack of reading and pronunciation skills as well as not able to translate the English words, but now our knowledge has improved.”
“After the PoP workshop, our students are more interested in our lessons; they are more involved in the classroom.”
“We have learned many skills and other basic methods: Lesson planning, reading skills, as well as experience sharing good ideas and areas of improvement together.”
“Workshop was so good. I learned a lot of lessons and I can teach using PoP techniques with the provided PoP teaching materials.”
Teachers’ comments about coaching sessions
- 28 (93%) teachers said they feel grateful for the coaching sessions; PoP has given helpful comments and support in many ways.
“I feel motivated/encouraged and proud of my teaching. My teaching skills have grown and I have developed a lot in my career.”
“I am happy to see PoP’s support of my teaching and I hope that I will get more knowledge.”
Teachers’ comments about PoP workshops
During the interviews, PoP L&E asked questions reflecting on a workshop provided in the last school year. Here are some of the responses:
“Great workshops, PoP teams are active — so grateful for this workshop for grade 4 and grade 5 teachers. Appreciate that the PoP team also does regular visits and we have learned a lot from PoP. Teaching materials provided by PoP are very helpful.”
However, there are a few comments that they would like PoP to consider if PoP provides the next workshop:
“We would like the PoP team to take turns (i.e., switching) with trainers in each class each day because we want to learn from many of them (not the same trainer every day). We want to learn from different trainers.”
“Some trainers go too fast, we need more time to get them and understand everything.”
“We need English native speakers to help clarify the English word pronunciations.”
“We want to focus more about lesson planning.”
“We want each trainee to practice teaching and do lesson planning for multiple classes then demonstrate by real teaching.”
Teachers’ comments about teaching materials provided by PoP
During the workshop, PoP introduced the teaching materials and demonstrated how to use them. Teaching materials include flashcards, images, posters, booklets, student workbooks, projector with a solar panel charger, USB, speaker, etc.
Out of all teachers interviewed, 24 (80%) said PoP materials are good and helpful. However, more are needed for the next school year.
“Flashcards provided by PoP are clear enough to see and more easy when we use them in the classroom which students are more interested in.”
After the workshop, PoP also provided each school a projector as a new form of technology to assist with teachers teaching in the classrooms. 27 (90%) teachers responded that the projector was very helpful and interesting.
“It makes teaching more convenient. Students remember words better because of the picture associated with the words on the video being played from the projector. Also students are more interested in watching the screen from a projector.”
In late September, PoP Laos hosted the first workshop of the 2020-2021 school year and will be following up with coaching sessions in the weeks to come. The team used the discussed interview results to make adaptations to this most recent workshop and teams are working together to finalize all material distributions that will begin when coaching sessions resume. It is encouraging that classes have resumed to a typical schedule during this current school year. All members of the L&E team in Laos are excited to return to schools for other forms of data collection that will help inform the progress of PoP’s impact.