“I’m going on a short mission trip to Chiangmai.” The usual response to this is, “Cool place!” Sadly, not anymore, as de-forestation has affected the climate of this northern Thai city.
Vineyard Methodist School (VMS) in Chiangmai was set up by the Methodist Missions Society (MMS). The school’s mission is to be an innovative learning community with strong Christian values. VMS has both a kindergarten and primary school. It prepares students for the Grade 6 O-Net Examinations, which is somewhat similar to Singapore’s Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).
The MMS Education Committee has been supporting the school with English Proficiency lessons for all VMS staff. More recently, training in Mathematics and in school leadership for the middle management team (MMT) has been added.
Since 2015, Ms Choo Hong Kiang and I from the MMS Education Committee have been conducting school leadership workshops. We have done training in the managerial functions of POLE (planning, organising, leading and evaluation). The MMT members had hands-on experience in planning and reviewing school events and programmes, and used case studies to discuss ways to manage difficult school situations. After being introduced to strategic planning, the MMT worked together to craft the school’s strategic focus, and strategies to achieve its goals.
In June 2016, Ms Magdalene Kooi, another Education Committee member, and Ms Chan Lai Har, a volunteer, ran a Mathematics workshop for the staff (more details below).
“I’m going on a short mission trip to Chiangmai.” Will you be saying this soon? Despite its warmer climate these days, Chiangmai is still a “cool” place to serve and glorify our Lord.
Lai Har had this to share of her experience volunteering to conduct a Mathematics workshop with Magdalene for VMS staff last year:
“We spent two mornings with the teachers, observing their Mathematics lessons. The teachers were very enthusiastic about their lessons. We were particularly impressed with a new teacher. Though lacking in experience, she was full of enthusiasm to learn Singapore’s approach to the teaching of Primary Mathematics.
In the afternoons, we provided feedback to the teachers on what they had done well. The feedback included suggestions for how to make their lessons more engaging.
All the teachers came back on a Saturday morning for a Mathematics workshop. It was heartening to see some kindergarten teachers joining us out of their own interest and desire to learn something new. We introduced the CPA (concrete-pictorial-abstract) approach, and the model approach in solving Mathematics problems. We also explained the difference between the part-whole model and the comparison models.
One teacher who had seen the Singapore Mathematics textbooks commented that she finally understood what all the diagrams in the textbooks meant. Others found the use of number bonds a good and easy way to help build confidence in mental calculation.
The school’s Mathematics room is well equipped with a number of manipulatives (objects designed so a learner can perceive some mathematical concept by manipulating it). We decided to share how they could better use manipulatives like number cards in the teaching of the four operations, and Cuisenaire rods in the teaching of number bonds, explanation of the bar models and fractions. We also shared with them some games to help pupils memorise multiplication tables and improve their skill in mental calculation.
It was a fruitful time for all. For us, it was time well spent with dedicated teachers who were enthusiastic and willing to embrace change for the better. We were touched by their hospitality and warmth despite the slight language barrier.
I first visited VMS five years ago and was very happy to visit it again. I could see the hand of God working, and much growth had taken place. The church has planted but God has given the increase. Glory to His name.”
The Education Committee is seeking volunteers to:
- Conduct English Proficiency classes for Thai teachers and co-teach English, together with Thai teachers, to students
- Co-teach and mentor Thai teachers in Singapore Mathematics
- Teach or co-teach Mandarin to students
Contact Mr David Khew at email@example.com to find out more.
Sandra Kumarasamy –
worships at Grace Methodist Church and has been serving on the Methodist Missions Society Education Committee over the last five years.
Photos courtesy of the Methodist Missions Society