The Chevron Inquiry-based Classroom Reasoning for Experiential and Active Science Project (Chevron INCREASE) started in 2013 as one of Kenan’s most innovative and impactful education projects. Focused on implementing inquiry-based curriculums and engaging the public-sector, Chevron INCREASE signified a new era for Thailand’s education system and helped chart the course for the ongoing Chevron Enjoy Science Project, a transformative five year public-private initiative to holistically improve the country’s science and math education.
With the Chevron INCREASE Project coming to a close in December 2015, Kenan reached out to Mr. Ittichai Phumprao, a project beneficiary and a science teacher, to find out how the project helped him become a better teacher. Kru (teacher) Itticha, as he’s known to his students, has long had a passion for education, which developed into a career at Watpraisarn Satit School in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, where he teaches 7th and 9th-grade science. Kru Itticha joined the INCREASE mentoring program last year, after participating in several of the project’s previous professional development activities. As a master teacher, he has worked closely with Kenan experts to help develop the capacities of other teachers and train them in using inquiry-based education methods to spark their students’ interest in science.
Before participating in the Chevron INCREASE Project, however, Kru Ittichai struggled with getting his students to understand the critical science lessons he was teaching. “Every week it seemed like what I taught my students would not sink in,” he said, “I had to review certain concepts many times before moving the class on to a new topic.” Kru Ittichai wanted to improve the way he taught science and generate more interest for the subject among his students, which led him to attend one of INCREASE’s professional development workshops.
“The first INCREASE professional development workshop I participated in provided me with new instructional materials and methods for delivering science lessons,” said Kru Ittichai. “Even more useful, though, was the individual teacher mentoring I received, where master teachers taught me how to track my lesson progressions, as well as how to foster substantive discussions among students.” Such techniques have been shown to vastly improve student comprehension of science subject matters, which can be particularly difficult to explain due to their theoretical nature.
In fact, Kru Ittichai saw his students benefit from new classroom techniques quite quickly. After implementing INCREASE inquiry-based teaching methods, he noticed that his students “consistently performed better and were more able to understand and reflect back on what they had learned previously in class.” Thinking back, he said, “My mentor guided me to actually verify my students’ understanding of subjects, something that I previously didn’t have time to do or think about.”
With improved classroom management skills and more teaching confidence, Kru Ittichai went on to become a local trainer at the Nakhon Si Thammarat Education Service Area Office (ESAO), where he led professional development workshops for other secondary school science teachers. “Putting myself into trainer and master trainer roles has also done a lot to improve my professional development,” he said. “I am able to mentor teachers on how to perform better in their classrooms and truly benefit their students.”
Working with the Chevron INCREASE Project for the past three years, Kru Ittichai attended three professional development workshops and three principal workshops for academic leadership and was involved with the mentorship program, the fun science camp for kids program, and a number of other INCREASE initiatives. As he puts it: “the INCREASE Project improved my teaching capabilities, benefitting every student I’ve taught since.”
Working in Songkhla, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Chumphon, and Surat Thani since 2013, Chevron INCREASE has trained 196 school principals and 232 teachers in inquiry-based teaching methodologies, benefitting an estimated 16,000 students in 76 schools in Chevron communities.