An effective school means that the school can always improve students and school staff for wellbeing and success at school.
“Schools have to provide students support system for physical health, mental health and safety. Teaching is thus the heart for supporting students, and whether the heart functions well or not, it depends on school administration,” explained Assoc. Prof. Dr. Lekha Piya-atchariya, subcommittee of the board of directors of TSQP (Teachers & School Quality Program).
What’s more important between ‘school administration’ and ‘learning approach’?
We might have seen that many Thai schools’ administration aims at maintaining enough budget, keeping the alignment of the number of teachers and students, and creating a practical scheme of work to represent the quality of the school. Although school staff puts effort into administration for the final outcomes for the students, the students would still drop out of school, especially those in remote area, if the school staff doesn’t prioritize changing learning approaches all together.
Equity Education Fund (EEF) thus established ‘Teachers & School Quality Program (TSQP)’ or commonly known as ‘active learning school program’ for schools in all regions in Thailand. The program has entered its second year. This year it extends the working scope to Suphan Buri province in collaboration with Kanchanaburi Rajabhat University. The staff from Kanchanaburi Rajabhat University supports the program by supervising, creating learning approaches and following up on the process at six model schools in Suphan Buri.
Decode CAR model, a learning model for development
At the beginning of the program, professors and experts from Kanchanaburi Rajabhat University had passed on the ‘CAR model’ to the teachers who participated in TSQP and were supervised by the ‘coaches’ or mentors, the professors from Kanchanaburi Rajabhat University. The teacher coaches encourage school administrative staff and teachers to adopt CAR model in their own classes.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Puchit Puchamni, Dean of Faculty of Education at Kanchanaburi Rajabhat University described CAR model that the model consists of three elements which are: 1) Cooperative learning, a learning approach that allows students to learn by doing group work 2) Active learning, a learning approach that allows students to learn through doing and 3) Reflective learning, a learning approach that allows students to learn with their own reflections. Teachers have to prepare a more detailed teaching plan. Also, they have to design their teaching plan with the concept of smart classroom. The smart classroom concept includes six steps which are creating mutual agreements in classes, setting learning objectives, doing CAR model activities, presenting the gained knowledge, assessing learning behavior and following up on learning behavior after a class. These processes will allow students to exercise their thinking skills, create their work, present their projects, review their knowledge and record their own reflections on their learning. These processes don’t only improve students but also improve teachers in every class. As a result, the processes make the learning approaches more systematic.
The direction of CAR and Thai education
The Teachers & School Quality Program (TSQP) and Kanchanaburi Rajabhat University have been working on learning approaches for a while to bring the model into practice at local schools as soon as possible. Despite how ready the program is, the improvement of learning approaches wouldn’t take place without the collaboration of local school staff and Educational Service Area staff.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Lekha Piya-atchariya, subcommittee of the board of directors of TSQP, explained that Educational Service Area staff is responsible for fostering the development of schools. With much effort of Educational Service Area staff put into TSQP, the program would support teachers and the whole school system in preparing the schools to be ready for constantly creating its quality development in terms of intellect aspect and student support aspect. Therefore, TSQP staff has to follow up on the progress of how schools support students in physical and mental wellbeing and how the schools encourage the students to make their best efforts to achieve their own academic goals with their individual skills and competencies without competing with one another.
Thus, the processes of TSQP help school administrators and teachers to develop schools without judging their performances or mistakes, but rather observing the methods the schools use and how communities and parents support the schools for children’s learning development and happiness.
“The Faculty of Education at Kanchanaburi Rajabhat University work based on an interesting concept which is integrating education fund with TSQP since its goal is to develop its institution can be integrated with the program. This’s what makes it very interesting. The main goal of TSQP is to enable schools’ autonomy that allows schools staff to develop their own schools where they toss their own ideas, make their own decisions and put their ideas into action according to their schools’ context. They are also supported by the teacher coaches from Kanchanaburi Rajabhat University, a local university that supports local schools in the program. After TSQP ends, the development of schools has to proceed as it’s an important measure of the program. The second measure is that schools have to provide students with support system for physical health, mental health and safety. Teaching is thus the heart for supporting students, and whether the heart functions well or not, it depends on school administration. Teaching is the main responsibility of teachers supported by administrators. But to administrate a school for all students’ equal chances of education, the main responsibility belongs to the school administrators. It depends on which method they use to explicitly develop all aspects of the school,” added Assoc. Prof. Dr. Lekha.
Effective model with ability of further long-term development
Six model schools that join in the project of TSQP in collaboration with Kanchanaburi Rajabhat University include Wat Khok Chang School, Ban Lawa Wang Kwai School, Ban Phu Nam Ron School, Ban Wang Yao School and Ban Thung Makok School. All of the mentioned schools are subject to Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC). All of which intend to develop whole-school approach for effective learning development and effective administrative system for school staff. The biggest goal is to make everyone at school happy.
Mr. Somchai Limprachan, deputy director of Suphan Buri Primary Educational Service Area 3 (PESA), said as a representative of Suphan Buri PESA 3 that the schools subject to Suphan Buri PESA 3 joining the project of TSQP and with Kanchanaburi Rajabhat University are all effective schools in terms of school administration and teaching administration. Their efforts are to foster students’ 21st century skills, higher desired characteristics and higher learning achievements. These schools have leading learning approaches of the Suphan Buri Primary Educational Service Area 3, and they also join the education fund that has been operating since 2012. Therefore, the fact that these six schools join the project of Equity Education Fund (EEF) means the hope of Suphan Buri PESA 3 staff, teachers and students that they all together could reach the goals of TSQP.
The six model schools have been starting to adopt CAR model. They share a similar approach which is increasing opportunities for students to work in groups so that they can interact and learn together based on cooperative learning. When students gain their own set of knowledge and exchange it with their classmates, teachers will let them create their own work based on active learning. And teachers will allow them to assess themselves, whether how much they’ve learned throughout the process, how much they’re content with their work according to reflective learning.
As for the outcome of the program, Mr. Somchai said that it’s satisfactory because students show improvement in learning. The teachers and project staff are encouraged by the positive result making them want to further improve themselves and their students. Mr. Somchai also added that he supports the school administrators, teachers and students of the model schools as well as the teacher coaches from the Faculty of Education at Kanchanaburi Rajabhat University. The teacher coaches were parts of the project because of important reasons regarding the project and area. The quality schools were the very first to be chosen because these schools’ readiness to pass on knowledge to other schools meets TSQP’s requirement. The selected schools also have potential to be the model schools for other schools to learn from their classrooms, especially the use of CAR model which the teachers need practices and experiences to apply CAR model in their teaching plans. They also have to include strategies to learn about their students through their teaching and students’ self-reflection. The TSQP project and Kanchanaburi Rajabhat University are certain that all six model schools will help extend success to other schools.