We interviewed a current MOE school teacher with about 3 years school teaching experience at a local Primary school.
What are some of the biggest problems/challenges that students in Singapore face today?
Students today are faced with a myriad of choices when it comes to learning resources, e.g. books, apps, internet, manipulatives, etc. They need to know how to filter through and look for authentic materials that will really help them in their learning, especially when it comes to resources from the internet. Educators play an important role in facilitating and guiding students to make these choices.
How is the education scene different between now and 5 or 10 years ago?
There is a lot of focus on learning experience now. It used to be “just memorise and you will do well”. However, many times rote learning deters true understanding of the concepts. When students learn through experience, they are more inclined to internalise whatever they have done and therefore leading to understanding and retention.
Do you think private tuition is effective? How so?
I think private tuition is effective to a certain extent. After all, the student gets 1-1 attention. The tutor is able to better focus on the student and have more time to find out and correct misconceptions. However, not all tutors are up to date on the latest syllabus or pedagogy. Therefore, this might cause conflicts in learning methods or techniques that were taught in schools.
How do you usually prepare for a school class?
At the start of every week, a teacher will have already gotten the week’s lesson planned out and prepared. These include but are not limited to, topics to cover, strategies to be used, resources required for lesson and formative assessment tools to gauge students’ understanding.
Tell us more about some of the more memorable students you’ve had.
I had my fair share of students that made an impression. I remembered there was once I had an ADHD boy in my class who also had learning difficulties. He was always moving around the class and could not read or write properly. Basically, he could not understand most of the lessons taught in class.
The only thing I could do to maximise his learning was to get him to do simple tasks like copying the answers to questions, artwork or reading. He was provided with a space around his desk, which I termed his “house”. He had to stay within his house and take care of it. This helped to a certain extent the problem of him always roaming around the classroom. I guess he just needed to have a sense of belonging and a place of his own. The student actually responded to what I have done for him and ended up being one of my most enthusiastic helper in the class.
What are some practical advice that you can give parents in preparing their children for learning/exams?
To best prepare for children’s learning, parents should take time to look through their child’s work and see what are the topics or type of questions that they are weak in. Blindly doing tons and tons of assessment books or practices might not be the best way as the child might get tired and lose interest in learning. The idea is to target what the child is weak at and help him or her understand or correct the misconceptions. Therefore, parents should make it a habit to check regularly on their child’s work.
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