It's one thing to say that I was very happy to find out so many of our students have passed their National Exam for the Grade 12. It's another level to feel proud and accomplished. I started out last year teaching Khmer math for the first time since I have opened the Institute. In the beginning, I only focused on the American curriculum due to my lack of Khmer vocabularies especially all those technical terms in mathematics. However, last year I decided that it was time for me to take on another challenge and teach math in Khmer. It was quite difficult in the beginning. I read a lot of books, planned a lot of lessons, and wrote down many terms the night before. I made sure that I explained to the students in a way that they could comprehend. I definitely got better as time went on. Soon I realized language barrier was not the only challenges I was facing.
As I got to know the curriculum and the students' needs better, I realized how afraid they were. The students' main focus was to pass the exam, obviously, but that drove the lesson lopsided. Everything that I taught was redirected towards the exam. I found myself day after day focusing my lessons on "how to pass the exam." And then I lost it. I lost why I taught math. There were days where I dragged myself out of bed just to go to teach. That had NEVER happened to me before in 8 years that I have been a teacher. I think I began to understand what teachers in Cambodia are going through. I finally understood the needs to change the curriculum and its goal. We cannot teach our students to solely focus on tests. Students must taught to deeply understand the concept and its applications. Students must learn to appreciate mathematics in its true form and principles. And that's what I did. I did not prepare them simply just to take the exam. I showed them the world through mathematics.
So when I saw so many of my students passed, I realize just how proud I am, not only of them, but also of the way they have emerged themselves in mathematics. When mathematics is taught correctly, passing exam is just an iceberg on top of the surface. There are so much more for them to learn and appreciate. For that, i definitely feel accomplished and achieved.