Over the course of her 24-year teaching career, Ms. Wiphada Phiratham has taught science to hundreds of students and has continuously sought to improve her skills as a teacher. Ms. Wiphada thirst for knowledge led her to join the Enjoy Science Project funded by Chevron, a decision that has proved particularly fruitful. During a recent Enjoy Science Student Lab Assistant workshop, Ms. Wiphada reflected on the how the project has transformed the way she teaches her middle school science classes at Ban Phan Saharat Bamrung School.
Ms. Wiphada stressed the importance of self-development for teaching professionals, saying that teachers should always be open to new ideas to improve their teaching skills. In her view, the curriculum should be in line with current issues and behavior of students, while teaching aids and tools must be updated and in good condition. “One problem I have come across is outdated equipment and poorly maintained tools,” she said. “Students are unable to experiment and see the results due to the limitations of the equipment. It is pity that they cannot unleash their potential and further improve their capacities.”
From Wiphada’s two decades in education, she observed that many students are interested in science and eager to learn, but the shoddy equipment limits their opportunities to learn through hands-on experimentation. Enjoy Science, however, provides continuous professional development training to teachers and cutting-edge science equipment to schools. She has witnessed the way in which the combination of resources and innovative pedagogies transform students’ learning experiences. “I have seen how students respond in class when they are able to interact with the teacher and their classmates. Hands-on learning enables students to use real equipment to explore and analyze the world of science and then present their thoughts and exchange ideas with their peers,” Ms. Wiphada stated enthusiastically. “I’ve used this knowledge to design my class in a way that is more interesting and fun for my students.”
In addition to using hands-on experimentation, through Enjoy Science, Ms. Wiphada also learned specific techniques to improve the efficiency and depth of classroom learning. She emphasized three techniques that have helped her become a better teacher.
• Silent hand: The technique helps students transition efficiently to the next activity.
• Think, Pair, Share: Allows students to explore ideas on their own, then with a partner. After developing ideas, they share what they found with their classmates. The technique promotes higher order thinking skills.
• Exit Ticket: Students take brief quizzes or write short essays about what they learned that day. The activity not only helps students practice what they learned, but enables teachers to recognize subjects that students are struggling with that may need to be emphasized in future lessons.
Ms. Wiphada applies several techniques learned under Enjoy Science into her daily practices. As a result, students are engaged and excited, leading to more learning and fun in the classroom.