Transforming Classrooms in Vietnam

August 3, 2016 • Vietnam
Do Thi Lan Huong learned teaching strategies to encourage and challenge her students.

Teacher trainings in northern Vietnam bring excitement and creativity to the classroom

Lo Thi Chieng comes to her classroom at 7 a.m. so she can receive her students whose parents leave early for work in the rice fields of northern Vietnam. She makes lunch for her students and walks them home after school to be sure they return safely. The days are long for this dedicated kindergarten teacher.

Chieng’s class this year included 14 children, ages 3 to 5. She cares about her students, and because she wants to be a good teacher for them, she participated in early childhood development training with Samaritan’s Purse.

“I gained confidence to focus on the students and interact with them more—not just tell them information,” Chieng said.

Our staff taught Chieng and kindergarten teachers in northern Vietnam how to better connect with their students. The project trains kindergarten teachers and school administrators in understanding more about how children learn and grow and how to encourage active classroom participation.

Chieng, like most kindergarten teachers in Vietnam, does not have a college degree. The simple teaching techniques she gained from our staff have gone a long way in bringing excitement to the school day.

Lo Thi Chieng works hard caring for her kindergarten students.

Lo Thi Chieng works hard caring for her students.

“I organized learning corners in my classroom so children can make their own choices for activities,” she said. “I integrate the subjects I teach and read aloud to my students.”

Chieng also received instruction in encouraging good classroom behavior and working with parents. But, more significantly, she now has an improved relationship with the children.

“The most important thing I learned was how to be gentle and patient with my students,” she said. “Never did I see this kind of teacher before. This is how I want to be with my students.”

A Safe Place to Learn

The school where 35-year-old Do Thi Lan Huong teaches kindergarten had become too crowded to accept more students. The school constructed makeshift classrooms using cement, tarp, and wires in order to make room for more students.

But when a violent, sudden storm hit, students in these classrooms weren’t safe. Huong and other staff had to quickly move students into the main classroom building.

School principal Pham Thanh Loan feared for their lives.

“There was chaos, with such heavy wind and strong rain,” she said. “It was the first time I saw such a strong storm.”

After the storm, Samaritan’s Purse stepped in and built more classrooms and provided tables, chairs, toys, and books.

We also offered our early development childhood training to teachers at this school and several schools in surrounding villages.

Houng’s school is about a 30-minute motorbike ride up a mountain. She’s taught for 10 years and welcomed ideas for making her classroom more inviting. Huong now uses crafts, games, and outdoor activities to reinforce her teaching instead of relying only on lecturing.

“Children enjoy the activities more, and they noticed more decorations in the classroom,” she said.

Classroom activities aren’t all that’s changed. Like Chieng, Huong’s greatest takeaway from our training went beyond a teaching strategy.

“I learned how to handle situations better,” she said. “I treat the children more gently and kindly. I try to create a relaxing, comfortable environment.”

Huong’s students noticed the change in their teacher and their attitudes changed, too.

“The children cooperate better and pay more attention,” she said. “They work harder because of the way I treat them.”

Vietnam Projects Samaritan’s Purse has been working to better the lives of Vietnamese families since 1996. Our teams are focused on supporting maternal and child health, especially during pregnancy; preventing child abuse and human trafficking; and providing educational and vocational opportunities for vulnerable and disabled children. We also have projects focused on clean water, agriculture, and livelihoods, as well as disaster response.

Vietnam Projects 013323