Educator Spotlight: Meet Nam Ngo Thanh
Technology advocate in Vietnam meets students and teachers with compassion, kindness
This story is part of a series that celebrates outstanding educators within the Flipgrid community. Stories by Angela Tewalt.
Nam Ngo Thanh has a big, warm, incredible heart.
As a former elementary educator and tech adviser to fellow teachers today, he has always looked beyond the textbook to encourage learning. For Nam, knowledge lives not in the lectures but in the human connection.
He takes time to really see people for who they are and help develop whomever it is they want to be someday. With teachers like Nam, students go on to believe in themselves like never before. For him, it all begins with empathy.
“I think a teacher should be able to understand a kid’s condition,” says Nam, who has been in education for over 10 years now in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. “The teacher should be able to read a kid’s face and talk about any problems with the student, like a best friend. If a teacher can empathize with a child, he or she can create confidence in him.”
Nurturing Life Skills in the Classroom and Beyond
Nam says he grew up in a poor countryside where learning was a burden for many families. As a student himself, he longed to improve how education could be offered – to all children, no matter their vulnerabilities.
“From an early age, I knew that only knowledge could help me and my family and the people around me,” says Nam, who was awarded in 2017 the Asia Educator of the Year, and, in 2018 was among finalists for the Global Teacher Prize. “Today, I believe that offering knowledge to help children get ready for their future life is the greatest asset each of us can give.
“I am proud that I have not only taught my students the knowledge in textbooks but also given them a passion for learning, life skills and values necessary for the future.”
Over the years, Nam has worked in all educational sectors – teaching from public to private to international, both in places with good living conditions and those without – but all the while, his one constant is the sacred list of skills he works to nurture in each student: Creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking and tech literacy.
“These skills are intended to help students keep up with the lightning pace of today’s modern markets,” says Nam, mentioning, too, the importance of problem-solving and leadership. “Each skill is unique in how they help students, but they all have one quality in common: Developing confidence. Children are active students in learning as well as in life, and I want each of them to always feel comfortable using their voice.”
Using Flipgrid to Connect with Children
Nam is incredibly passionate about using technology in teaching and excitedly turns to platforms like Flipgrid to find that voice – both in the educator and in the student.
“Flipgrid has really changed my teaching,” Nam says, highlighting how efficient he became connecting with each child. “My students are more excited because they feel heard and like they are an important part of class, and they also learn to respect their classmates.”
Over the years, Nam has used Flipgrid to train teachers in Vietnam as well as collaborate with schools from around the world. Often, he takes it upon himself to complete community projects for children in Vietnam and worldwide, using Flipgrid to not only give each child a voice, but to reach children from anywhere.
Most recently, he created a Flipgrid for World Read Aloud Day, where nearly 800 young students across 100 different schools in Vietnam read warmly to one another, peeking up from their books with a smile.
Teaching with Creativity and Joy
Much like the compassion Nam brings to the classroom, he sees nothing but hope and possibility while training his fellow teachers in the tech world, too.
“My favorite job is to assist teachers in transforming their classroom – changing them from someone who knows nothing about technology to someone who has become interested and knows how to apply it effectively,” Nam says. “My hope is for teachers to always be passionate and creative in their teaching.
“As a teacher, one should always love and encourage their students to be creative so students can feel more interested in studying. Then, every single day of school is a joy!”
But, for Nam, it begins with heart.
“Once the teaching comes from love, you can easily awaken any student’s passion for learning.”