Empowering teachers, co-creating student-centered learning
“I believe we have become more flexible as a private school. Our teachers have worked together to create innovative learning programs and enrich our curricula across all levels. We have programs for Special Science, Math, and Language, complemented with a strong program on Sports, Music, and Thai culture.”
I am from the Bangkhen District of Bangkok, Thailand where Pramochwittayaramintra School (PMRS) was founded in 1983 by my mother’s aunt who is a former teacher. My mom later followed her footsteps. Today, I am leading the school.
Leading a school knows no nationality. It is always a challenge to make your school effective, comfortable, and safe for students to learn and to delicately balance implementing national education policies with solving challenges. It was a tough journey, but I was there with my teachers, giving the same value and vision we upheld for many years.
In an interview, one of our teachers, Jariya Sithong, said: “As a teacher, I need to improve myself, be kind to my students, and relate well to their parents. I learned about this in PMRS.”
Hearing this, I gladly knew that we have really done something good. We dream of becoming a model school shaping young Thais to become self-sufficient. We want them to excel in Math, Science, and Foreign Language Education. We know this dream can come true.
I recall my favorite teacher in grade school who told my mom to have my eyes checked as I “come too close to the board to read and write.” I got eyeglasses after the check-up and if not for this caring teacher, I would have gone blind. I grew up to become an architect, but because of caring teachers in my life, I took the path of becoming a teacher too.
I worked with the Ministry of Education (MOE). Under its Design and Technology Department of the Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology, I saw how curriculum and instructional materials were developed for teachers and students.
In 2000, I joined my mom in managing PMR School. With 2,500 students, Pramochpattana Kindergarten School was well known and received the Royal Awards thrice. However, we did not expect a drastic change — families started moving away from our district or had fewer children, and we lost many enrollees. It was a big challenge.
Nevertheless, we faced this challenge head-on. I remembered the strategies we discussed among fellow school leaders in a SEAMEO INNOTECH regional school leadership program. Schools need a support network, be it local or global, to empower teachers in improving learning outcomes.
We need to attract students to survive. We need to make our programs more attractive and relevant to them and I cannot do this by myself. We need to expand our pool of partners.
As PMRS school director, I became the main ambassador of Goodwill. I became very active in MOE activities. I reached out to community leaders and other possible local and overseas partners.
These partnerships strengthened the school’s programs and reputation, allowing us to win awards again: the Princess Jubillee Award (2005, 2010, 2014), the One School One Innovation competition (2010 and 2011), and the OPEC Awards (2017, 2019).
I believe we have become more flexible as a private school. Our teachers have worked together to create innovative learning programs and enrich our curricula across all levels. We have programs for Special Science, Math, and Language, complemented with a strong program on Sports, Music, and Thai culture.
One of our students said: “PMRS nurtured my interest in languages and prepared me to pursue this passion in the university.” This speaks of how our programs improved our students’ performance. This is the source of parents’ joy and our teachers’ pride.
We continue to do what we do best. We have carefully mapped strategies to support our teachers to stay despite meager salaries and limited resources. We hired a university faculty to help us develop teaching strategies in Math and experienced public school officials to mentor teachers in the use of technology. We sent our teachers to workshops. We arranged for experienced teachers, like Chanchanid Srisawad, to help new teachers communicate with parents, and Prapaporn Lekdumrongsak, to help in their professional development.
We also partnered with schools in Japan to learn lesson studies and other innovative practices. After a series of scholarships with SEAMEO INNOTECH, I have built a special relationship with its people. Its team has visited us on several occasions and documented our practices as part of their online course. This happened during the development of Southeast Asia Teachers Competency Framework (SEA-TCF), a project to guide teacher development. It was made possible in partnership with the Teacher’s Council of Thailand, SEAMEO Secretariat, and 11 Ministries of Education in Southeast Asia.
SEA-TCF made it very simple. It showed us the list of core competencies we need to help our teachers understand what to teach, help students learn, and engage our communities. It was a teachers’ framework to have a simple guide on becoming better everyday. It has helped us work on their evolving needs based on the PMRS context.
In June 2019, I volunteered PMRS to test the use of SEA-TCF. INNOTECH designed an online course and we had a workshop organized where the teachers, students, and myself, interacted using the specific activities and tools. I was glad because the “learning conversations” helped my teachers to confidently raise real concerns to improve student engagement and their teaching practices.
I saw in this workshop the fruits of our labor: our Generation Z students have been more confident about their future after PMRS honed their skills and talents. I have witnessed how these students now have so much care when they shared their dreams with their teachers.
I continue to support my teachers, and there is no need to force anyone.
PMRS currently serves a lesser number of students, but we are here, and we are happy to teach them, as our teachers are equally happy and empowered. We see how our students have grown and we always make the step forward for their learning and well-being.