One of the most common questions parents ask me when I tell them that I had just left the teaching service is, "Why?"
I am not surprised as I have asked myself the same questions on numerous occasions.
Despite missing my friends and colleagues tremendously and the adrenaline rush of managing 40+ students in a class, marking assignments, preparing lessons, disciplining and counselling trouble-makers or children showing signs of distress etc etc etc etc, I am actually very contented.
The first reason is family commitment. No explanation needed on this, I guess.
The second one is the satisfaction of being able to focus and channel my energy to where I am most needed and where I think I am most talented - Educating the Children.
Aside from my home duties, I spend most of my waking hours preparing lessons. Truthfully. I find much joy doing this. As a school teacher, I was so occupied with so many other school matters that the time I actually spend thinking through how my lessons should be conducted was just too limited. Now, I think of my students. I think about their needs and research on available literature how to engage them. I have time to read up on learning needs, refresh my knowledge on educational psychology, study case studies and apply my experience as a school teacher along with the research studies when preparing for class.
So far, I am satisfied to see results.
From interaction to engagement to learning, we are progressing. There is no highway to success or a bullet train to shoot them off to their destination. There is only love, patience, understanding and motivation.
A screenshot from one of my class websites back in 2017:
When looking for tuition or after-school learning support for their children, parents are often torn between engaging a private tutor or opting for group tuition. Having children of my own and based on my school and also 1-to-1 tutoring experiences, I would like to share with you my insight on the pros and cons of each option.
The most important factor to consider is your child. It seems like the obvious right?
Well, children really differ in their learning styles. Some children are used to being the centre of attention and having close interaction with adults. They do not enjoy learning in a group setting, whereby their answers and opinions are often challenged or question by their peers. Very shy children or some with special needs feel threatened when they are required to speak in front of their peers but are comfortable interacting with a trusted adult.
Some children, on the other hand, thrive on interacting with their peers. They want to share their ideas and listen to the feedback from their classmates and teachers. Another group of children like challenges. They want to pit their ability against others so that they have a sense of where they themselves stand. To them, the gushing of adrenalin to complete the assigned task faster and better than others, spurs them to work harder. These children enjoy learning with others and benefit from the group dynamics.
In my opinion, I would prefer children to learn in groups. There is a good number of research literature to support peer learning and its benefits. In class, I’ve often seen my students taking notes of ideas and vocabulary contributed by their classmates during class. For my upper primary, I like to let them discuss MCQ answers in their groups before revealing the solution. I love to see the children tell each other,” See…I told you!”
In situations like this, the learning sticks for life. It totally surpasses a teacher telling their students repeatedly what they should or should not know. In a small learning group environment, lessons are focused and the children can benefit from both peer learning and close supervision by their teacher. This is probably the best setting for learning to take place!
What do you think?
With the prevalence of mobile devices and their predictive text and auto-spelling correct capabilities, we have all started to become more dependent on artificial intelligence to help us construct our words and even string our sentences.
I am guilty of it myself.
I almost never get to complete typing most words on my mobile devices because the letters are always filled in for me. One day when I wanted to write a note to my children’s teacher instead of sending an email, I froze for a few seconds because I could not remember how to spell ‘inconvenience’! From that day on, I remembered to make an effort to spell out the words, whether it was on the laptop or on my mobile devices.
Are the children also experiencing a similar problem?
As a school teacher, I’ve noticed how much spelling has deteriorated among our younger children. My most recent Primary Three English classes, one average-ability and one high-ability, both appeared to have problems with spelling. Despite being able to identify, explain and use a wider vocabulary when compared to their average peers, my high-ability students had problems spelling those words correctly. They also had problems spelling very commonly used words correctly. Some of these common words include – library, receive, important, attracted, address, disappear.
How can I help my child?
Using a quick search online, you will be able to find many suggestions on how to help children improve their spelling. One of the most common one it the ‘Look, Cover, Write, Check’ (LCWC) technique. It is also called the ‘Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check’ (LSCWC) technique. This is a very effective strategy, frequently used to teach spelling to children with dyslexia. As its name implies, the technique requires the learner to activate short-term memory to study the given word, cover it to try to recall. Then, write it down and check for mistakes. I prefer the second version of the technique as it requires the child to read out the word first. Some children are auditory learners i.e. their learning is stimulated by sound. Reading and hearing the words can aid in remembering. Do read the words out and let your child repeat after you if they are still weak in word recognition.
At I Can Write Too, the teaching of spelling will be incorporated into the curriculum, especially for the mid-primary levels. This is to ensure that the children will have a stronger foundation in the language before stepping into the even more rigorous and demanding stage of their primary school education.
My lessons are usually very interactive.
I love to start a lesson with something my students can discuss and talk about. A picture, an advertisement, a video, a story! In a school classroom, my students will talk among themselves and then share with the class. Most of the time, not everyone will have a chance to express their thoughts due to time constraints.
With a smaller class size, the children can share their thoughts and opinions and we can even have time to draw some conclusions! Excellent!
How does this benefit the children?
Regardless of their level, the children need to form opinions and also hold their own perspectives. When they have sufficient and guided practice, they will feel more confident during stimulus-based conversation and also feel less anxiety when they need to do an oral presentation.
I would like to share an example of one particular pupil from my class in 2017. His family did not speak much English and he had never passed English since the beginning of primary school. Needless to say, at P3, he passed English for the first time in his SA2. He was literally over the moon. However, what struck me the most was that when I took him for a non-core subject in 2018, he was one of the few pupils who eagerly volunteered to do oral presentations! This was a far cry from the shy boy who did not want to say much in class back in 2017. I know I patiently gave him ample opportunities to speak up in class in 2017, even though at first what he said made little sense. Slowly, his confidence grew and he is where he is now.
One of my proud moments! Good job, YH!
Interested in my work?
Children are always very curious little people. They ask numerous questions and expect the adults around them to be tireless walking encyclopedias. As parents and educators, we can help fuel their passion by setting the right learning environment for the children to develop and pursue their interests.
For a start, instilling the love for reading at an early age boosts intellectual development and creativity.
Reading introduces your child to a world beyond what he is familiar with, even if it is a fictitious one. This helps him develop perspectives.
Reading also helps your child pick up new vocabulary which not only helps him in school but also improves social interaction with the people around him. Being able to communicate well not only helps your child convey his ideas and thoughts more effectively, he will also be able to learn and receive more knowledge from more diverse sources.
If your child is not yet an independent reader, you could spend time reading to him on a daily basis. If your child is already an independent but reluctant reader, you can be a role model and start reading yourself. Alternatively, you can also find out what interests him and find subject and age-appropriate books to spark his interest.
For some children who like variety, I always recommend parents to borrow or subscribe magazines for their children to read. These magazines are usually beautifully illustrated and carry stories of a different theme every month / fortnightly.
At I Can Write Too, your child, especially the P3 - P5 children, will be also be exposed to a potpourri of stories in class. The perspectives gained and language items learnt will definitely contribute to building up his capacity as a competent and confident learner.