“Because students come from different backgrounds and have different abilities, teachers have to constantly adjust their teaching style to the students,” remarked Mr. Pattanapong Boonsil, a mathematics teacher at Ratchaprachanukroh School 47, Phetchaburi.
Mr. Pattanapong has served as a public school teacher for more than 10 years. Growing up in a family of public school teachers, he was inspired to follow the same career path as his parents.
“Teaching is very important for youth, who are considered an important resource of the country. If there is an opportunity, teachers want to help them.”
Mr. Pattanapong is aware of the uniqueness of each student; because they come from different backgrounds, they have their strengths and weaknesses. Teachers have to have a variety of skills and adjust their teaching to match the students’ learning styles, so that they will have a positive attitude to learning, earn their qualifications, and build a stable career for themselves in the future.
“If we look at the current state of Thai education, we can see why students might be lacking in 21st century skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. Not all students have access to knowledge, especially those in remote areas, as their schools often lack modern educational resources. It is a great challenge for both the public and private sectors to reach out and help develop young people into qualified and knowledgeable individuals, so that they can drive the country efficiently into the future.”
Mr. Pattanapong has a desire to improve his teaching. When presented with the opportunity, he decided to join the We Think Digital project, which is funded by Facebook and implemented by Kenan Foundation Asia. The project aims to develop teaching methods for science, mathematics and computer science in a way that encourages Thai teachers to cultivate their own 21st century skills, along with the knowledge and best practices that are appropriate for the digital world. In this way, teachers can become the driving force that transforms Thai education.
“The project can really be applied in the classroom. It highly encourages participants to care about the details and to share knowledge among group members. This is especially true in activities that mimic job rotation, for example, I’ll be the management executive, and the other person will be the secretary, and then we rotate. Group members can then look at the scenario from multiple perspectives, which reflects the real work situation in the present day. Moreover, the project also helps teachers realize the importance of digital media and the Internet, including how to use the Internet safely. They, in turn, will educate the students, which will be of great benefit to them. How students navigate the Internet is an important issue for teachers to consider in order to keep the students safe.”
Mr. Pattanapong added, impressed: “another technique obtained from the project is integrating digital tools into lessons, be it mathematics or other subjects. The teacher acts as a facilitator—we listen to the students’ ideas and use our experiences to guide students to the answers. Students do not have to merely sit and listen, they have the opportunity to express opinions, analyze and solve problems, and they can apply these skills further. Students will conduct research outside the classroom before creating their projects, and so each group will produce very different content. It depends on the strengths and aptitudes of the group members. Each person will bring their strengths to complement each other’s weaknesses, ultimately creating their projects together.”
The 4C skills embedded in Kenan’s Enhanced Project-Based Learning curriculum (critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication) are essential to success in the 21st century. If other teachers can receive the same training, a professional learning community (PLC) will be created, increasing the capacity of Thai teachers and students in a sustainable way.
“If possible, I would like to have more good projects like this in the next year. Project participants further developed critical thinking and research skills. Teachers can create new challenges for students to analyze, and even apply these challenges to other subject areas, allowing students to think outside the box, creating a lasting and limitless learning process,” Mr. Pattanapong concluded.