“My fellow teachers, you will never know how much impact you will leave on the children with every word you say and every action you take.” — Teacher Ang Yiam Hong, winner of ECDA’s Individual Outstanding Educarer Award
A school could offer you the finest infrastructure, huge open playgrounds and state-of-the-art facilities but if it is not run by deeply committed and passionate teachers, it would all add up to nothing.
It is not brick and mortar, but good teachers who lay the foundations of your child’s learning journey.
When we send off our little one’s to their preschools, we hope that they will be cared for, nurtured and encouraged to develop a love for learning. We put our ultimate faith and trust in our children’s teachers.
It is therefore heartening to see our children’s teachers being recognised and felicitated for their vision, commitment and passion towards their job as well as the learning and overall development of the little ones in their charge.
Recently NTUC’s My First Skool won several of the ECDA Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Development, including those for individual teachers as well as those for their centres.
We spoke to some of the principals and teachers involved to understand how they approach teaching and what is it that they are doing differently that distinguishes them from others around them.
The level of thoughtfulness, farsightedness and commitment displayed by each one of them is remarkable.
Teacher Ang Yiam Hong of My First Skool @ Bishan Blk 245 (Right) has been awarded the ECDA Outstanding Early Childhood Educarer Award 2015.
Teacher Ang Yiam Hong: Individual Outstanding Educarer Award
You have to be pretty special as a teacher to win this particular award, and Teacher Ang Yiam Hong of My First Skool @ Bishan Blk 245, is definitely that and more.
She has been awarded the ECDA Outstanding Early Childhood Educarer Award 2015, which honours passionate educarers who are role models in early childhood care and education.
Her attitude towards her own role as an early years teacher becomes very clear when she explains what she sees as the teacher’s role in that stage of a child’s life. “To me, there are three roles a teacher plays in a child’s early years,” she says.
“They are to support, participate and guide. Teachers have to give constant support to the children and always be ready to offer any help, always giving them a happy childhood experience.
“Apart from providing support, teachers should also participate in our children’s class activities as a friend instead of as a teacher, thus building good relationships with the toddlers. Last but not least, to allow them time and space to grow into physically and mentally healthy children.”
Part of this exercise, she believes is instilling good hygiene habits in the children so that they will stay healthy and not be as susceptible to illnesses that come with poor hygiene habits.
She finds that as a Mother Tongue Language teacher, it is her duty to ensure that children are able to understand and able to express themselves freely in Mandarin. She also believes that “It is very important to integrate a child’s cultural background into his learning experience because Singapore is a multicultural country.”
At the same time, it is important to her that “we have to let our children understand that despite the differences in skin colour, food preferences or the way we dress, we must mutually respect and love one another.”
On being asked what does she think she is doing right as a teacher, what is it that makes her a role model, she says that it is a combination of her own experience and the training given by My First Skool that has brought her to the conclusion that each child needs to be taught in a way that is appropriate to him/her.
She adds, “As the Chinese saying goes, “Children are the feet, teachers are the socks” (孩子是脚，教育是鞋, I believe that every child is different and we have to apply the most appropriate education method that is best suited to their interests.”
Her advice to other teachers: “Early childhood education is not an easy job. If you have selected this profession, please devote time with much love towards the children under your care and have a positive attitude at all times. Allow the children to learn in a loving environment as health and happiness is of utmost importance. My fellow teachers, you will never know how much impact you will leave on the children with every word you say and every action you take.”
Teacher Ang has worked with My First Skool for 23 years and believes that here she has been given plenty of learning opportunities thus allowing her to become a role model.
She describes herself as an “aspirational teacher” who always wants to “improve my skills and abilities” and appreciates the fact that My First Skool has offered her the opportunity for improvement through continuous training.
She thanks My First Skool for giving her “such a great opportunity to become a person of my dreams – a teacher who is able to be a beacon of light to my students.”
Principal Wendy Ong: Outstanding Early Childhood Leader Award
Principal Wendy Ong of My First Skool @ Blk 140 Serangoon North, has been recognised by ECDA for her outstanding leadership contributions and achievements of Supervisors of Child Care Centres and Principals of Kindergartens in early childhood care and education.
We spoke with Principal Ong to understand how she is leading her team and the way in which she engages in their continuous learning and mentoring.
The fact that she leads her team of teachers from the front becomes clear as soon as you begin talking to her.
She is very clear that “Every child has the ability to learn, and it is the teacher who has to act as the catalyst to draw out the interest of the child.” She believes that it is a teacher’s responsibility to encourage the learning and development of the child, and not just for today or right now, but for their entire future.
She points out that it is essential that teachers respect every child’s individualism – their ethnicity, their values, their culture, their interests and learning abilities when engaging with them.
All teachers, but especially those working in early years education, must be passionate about working with children and possess a nurturing and caring personality and have a positive disposition. What are the three values that she looks for in her teachers? “Perseverance, patience and confidence.”
However, she is quick to point out that teachers need to be supported and guided too, if they have to be effective.
Principal Wendy Ong believes that teachers too need guidance, support and training constantly to be able to improve themselves and become better teachers.
“A principal must have a supportive environment for the teachers and ensure their well-being if she wants to create an environment that is conducive to the learning and development of children.”
So what does Principal Ong do to create a supportive environment for her teachers? She explains, “As a leader of a centre, I strive to create such an environment by spending quality time with my teachers, creating bonding time with them and encouraging reflective group practices.”
She adds, “While I share the macro picture with my teachers, I also share with them the micro practices that will help them achieve that. I work with them on creating day-to-day practices and even assist them in classroom set-up.”
“I am a very hands on principal,” she admits.
But the most important thing, she says is that, she encourages them to take responsibility and ownership of their own learning and professional development.
She adds that she has been fortunate to have superiors who are supportive and believe in providing training to enhance leadership and development. This she says, “empowers us to a lot more development with teachers and students, such as developing our specialised relationship based curriculum for children aged between 0-3.”
Project Greenhouse: Outstanding Early Childhood Innovation Award (Merit)
My First Skool @ Blk 18 Marine Terrace was awarded Outstanding Early Childhood Innovation Award (Merit) for its Project Greenhouse.
The award recognises child care centres and kindergartens which have nurtured a culture of innovation and implemented innovative practices that have improved existing programmes, processes or services, and benefited the children under their care.
We spoke with the Principal of the centre, Ms Siti Diyana to get a better understanding of the project and learn how did their project stand out and what are some thoughts process that emerged when they were working on the project, what were some of the difficulties they met and how did they overcome them.
The very first thing that Principal Diyana shares is the fact that the centre aims to build a “community of learners” and this includes more than the students and the teachers. For them the community includes, parents, community organisations and other external stakeholders. It is important, she says, that everyone understands how children learn and what is it that they are learning about.
The objective is to have different stakeholders involved in creating meaningful learning experiences for the children.
The team behind Project Greenhouse at My First Skool @ Blk 18 Marine Terrace.
The project started quite simply in 2013 as an investigation into the issue of haze and parents were asked to work with students to make greenhouses at home. At that time the objective was to get the children to understand how does a greenhouse function.
The children had initially built mini greenhouse.
But seeing the level of interest demonstrated by the children and marrying it with the objective of involving other stakeholders into the learning process, the project was taken up a notch in 2014 – by creating a bigger version of the greenhouse. This was done with support from the NEA and NParks as community partners.
According to Ms Diyana, it has been wonderful to see how forthcoming the community partners are in providing support to the centre and the children. What has also been extremely rewarding is observing the change in children during the course of this project. “One thing is evident, there has been a paradigm shift in the children’s attitude towards learning,” says Ms Diyana.
“As adults we tend to believe that teaching in the preschool has to be done in a certain way, but that is not so.”
Going forward, the centre will be taking up a new project every year, which will be led by their project leader, who Ms Diyana describes as “the lighthouse that guides the project after building on all other teachers’ suggestions.”
Besides the ECDA awards, the passion and commitment of My First Skool teachers has also been recognised by the MOE and NIE.
Senior Teacher Wang Yanli from My First Skool @ Blk 308C Anchorvale is passionate about teaching students their mother tongue language.
Senior Teacher Wang Yanli from My First Skool @ Blk 308C Anchorvale was awarded the MOE Outstanding Pre-School Mother Tongue Language Teacher Award for her passion in making Mother Tongue Language learning interesting and for her unique ability to kindle a love for the Mother Tongue Language in pre-schoolers.
Teacher Intan Ismail from My First Skool at Blk 742 Woodlands Circle won the The Leading Foundation Teacher Award 2015. The award recognises passionate and dedicated teachers who have made significant contributions to the care and teaching of children in the fields of early childhood and special needs education.
The passion and commitment of the teachers and principals of My First Skool to the learning and well-being of young children is evident from the recognition and accolades that they have received from the highest authorities.
So, if you are looking for a preschool for your little one, you know where to head to.
My First Skool congratulates and salutes all the awardees for their true commitment to early childhood education.