An introduction to our website
As school enrollments have increased around the globe as a result, in large part, of the agendas of Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals, a critical need for a well-trained teaching corps has emerged. In post-conflict countries like Cambodia this need is particularly acute, given the decimation of the country’s educated citizenry over the span of recent decades. To help address this need, non-governmental organizations, like Caring for Cambodia (CFC), have made teacher training a top priority in an effort to ensure that all children have access to quality teaching and learning.
What is the problem we hope to address? In sum, we were initially interested in examining the potential and limitations of merit pay and various teacher training models on CFC teachers’ morale and motivation. As our research expanded, we ultimately decided to investigate a model of teacher training that we feel holds the most promise for building and sustaining CFC and Cambodian teachers’ capacity to improve their teaching—Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).
The original research for this website focused on the current state of teacher training and merit pay in CFC schools. Our primary and secondary research expanded to focus on multiple constructs including collectivist cultures, the tensions that often exist in schools trying to implement a child-centered curriculum, and the financial, human, and social capital investment that is needed to sustain quality teacher training. As we began thinking about strategies we could implement to address issues of infrastructure, capacity, and sustainability of teacher professional development, we were aware that our suggestions needed to be respectful of the historical and cultural contexts of the schools under study. This is because current teacher training methods and reward systems employed in CFC schools have lofty aspirations for the future of the organization’s educators and schools.
The hope is that one day such practices can be models for other school systems around the nation for sustainable, country-wide educational improvement. However, the long-term impact and compatibility of such practices needs to be critically evaluated in the specific cultural context before their true benefits and effectiveness can be determined. Past research has shown that best-practice models have been successful in improving the organization and functioning of programs between similar societies, but we argue here that current methods based in Western individualism and material incentives may not translate fully or effectively across the vastly different context of Khmer culture.
While our suggested plan for implementation builds on an infrastructure already established by CFC, we believe that the resources on our website hold particular value for any resource-constrained schools trying to implement a sustainable model of on-going, relevant, and meaningful professional development, as well as schools that recognize that “once and done” workshops offer little hope as a sustainable model of teacher training. Our website might also be of interest to development professionals and researchers in the field of Comparative and International Education, as an example of the critical role context must play when designing any kind of improvement strategy.
What follows is a review of literature, a theoretical framework, and data review that led us to develop a plan for implementing Professional Learning Communities—a plan that we feel aligns with the unique strengths and needs of the CFC and Cambodian contexts. The best teacher a classroom of students has is the one in front of them, and our PLC model builds upon, and continually develops, the collective human and social capital of a school’s most valuable resource—its teachers. Thank you for visiting our site.