Classroom Libraries in Practice
By Kyla Solinger, Teacher Trainer
The brand new Chanleas Dai Junior High School building has proven to be an excellent location for our classroom library training. Months of planning and designing the classroom library model have been put into practice and the classroom library units are now in their classrooms! We recognized that simply putting the books and lesson plans in the classroom was not going to be enough to enable teachers to use these units as part of their class. Therefore, we are focusing on an ongoing training, which we expect will be the most important key to the success of this program.
Our initial classroom library training was a two-part logistics and skills-based training. The first part focused on how the program was designed and the steps needed for implementation. Our trainers looked at how the books were chosen, the labeling system used to level the books and the responsibilities expected from the teachers, the principles and PEPY, amongst other things. We saw a great deal of enthusiasm and excitement from the teachers after this first day but there was still interest in learning more about how to use the books in the classroom.
The second skills-based training was given over a two day period and was aimed at empowering teachers with the necessary skills needed to use books in the classroom, and to encourage a love of reading in their students. It became inherent in our training to realize that ‘less is more’. Therefore, we focused on the skills needed for reading aloud and telling stories to students, with the idea that completing more abstract activities will be the objective of later training sessions. Participants were attentive and receptive and everyone enjoyed themselves, and learned a lot of new skills. We had great fun as we acted out “good teacher/bad teacher” skits, yelled out ingredients for “Stone Soup” and played around with animal flashcards. The majority of activities and feedback sessions were facilitated by Ratana (Education Program Manager), Awatd (Community Program Manager), Srey Tho (Chanleas Dai Librarian) and Saly (Literacy Teacher and Child-to-Child Educator), and they did an amazing job! It was wonderful to see the confidence and organization that has come, in part, from attending previous trainings.
Most of the activities that focused on engaging children in stories had been modeled on earlier trainings given by BETT but were adapted and recreated beautifully by the our local PEPY staff. The last day of this initial training scheme was recently completed and we have come away with both a feeling of success, and a recognition that there is always more to be done. The classroom library model has the possibility to increase a love of reading in approximately 2000 students at 10 schools but to make this possibility a reality, the focus must be on providing training for teachers. Next up… opt-in training courses for all government teachers in Chanleas Dai commune starting in the fall!