Reflections – Leadership for Literacy Training

Posted on: March 24, 2010 Posted by: Kaia Smith Comments: 0

Reflections – Leadership for Literacy Training

by Maria Hach, Program Intern 

These past few months have been busy for our Leadership for Literacy team! Last week, our mentors were introduced to their buddies, and the very first tutoring sessions took place. But first, let’s back track a little bit to see how we got to where we are!

Earlier this month, twenty-eight 8th and 9th  grade junior high school students in Chanleas Dai participated in a two day mentor and leadership skills training as a part of a new program called Leadership for Literacy. The aim of the training was to provide students with ideas and techniques to enable them to be good mentors, tutors and role models for younger students in the area. Despite the early start, our “mentors in training” were bright eyed, eager, and ready to participate.

Leadership for Literacy is a tutoring and mentoring program between primary and secondary school students in Chanleas Dai. It is driven by the idea that students have the capacity to teach and learn from one another and, if given the right opportunities, can improve education in their community. While the program focuses on strengthening students’ academic performance, it also aims to develop important skills such as problem solving and critical thinking, facilitating positive relationships, and increasing the confidence of both younger and older students.

I have been lucky enough to work with Leadership for Literacy’s Program Manager Rithy Thul since the early stages of this program, and seeing it evolve from idea to reality has been an interesting and exciting process. While we had three excellent primary school teachers leading our two training sessions, it was the students who really showed us what they were capable of. Amongst other tasks, we asked them to think about what it means to be a mentor, the differences between an effective and ineffective tutor, and the unique qualities that a mentor possesses. These are tough questions for anyone to answer, but our motivated and enthusiastic participants came up with some great responses! After discussing some teaching methods and ideas as a group, our soon-to-be mentors then broke into smaller groups and participated in student-led role plays. Acting as either mentor or buddy, students created their own teaching materials and designed their own activities. Some groups were very creative and used sticks and rocks to facilitate interactive and participatory learning activities.

It was a pleasure to be a part of this training. I particularly enjoyed observing the student role-plays and small group discussions. What struck me most was the students’ dedication and commitment to understanding the goals of the program, and their level of engagement and respect toward their peers. While our mentors will likely receive more training for this program in the future, these initial two days of training provided them with some of the tools they need to plan engaging and interactive tutoring sessions with their buddies. As we move forward with Leadership for Literacy, we’ll keep you posted with updates. Stay tuned!

There are also a number of pictures from our recent Leadership for Literacy training on our flickr site. To view them, click here