WINNERS OF THE INSPIRING TEACHER OF ENGLISH - TEACHING AWARD 2016

Secondary School Category

Ms Naznin Rehana Begum

Dunearn Secondary School

“I truly enjoy working with teenagers, and the opportunity to continue enjoying one of my favourite subjects (Literature) through young people is what keeps my passion for teaching strong. Many students come into my Literature classroom at the beginning of the year either with an air of indifference or anxiety towards the subject, mostly because they lack subject awareness. So I design lessons based on the philosophy of open and shared learning so that my students engage in lively discussions and debates, and can get to enjoy and eventually become comfortable participating in literary discussions.”

“I find most satisfaction when I see my students becoming more and more confident. I remember one particular class where, despite being uncomfortable at first, persisted in enacting every scene of the play they were studying! Their enthusiasm during lessons showed the love they had gradually cultivated for Literature and that is the best kind of motivation for me.”

Miss Teng Chin Yang Sandra

Nanyang Girls’ High School

“When we design tasks that are relevant to our students’ lives, we require them to use the English language purposefully and effectively. The English language cannot be relegated to just form or vehicle for thought – it is thought itself. The more ways students can express their thoughts, the sharper the thinking. Teachers, I think, need to model and get students to practise “think-aloud” – the aural equivalent of visual annotation. I think the use of thinking routines and the deliberate teaching of annotation skills must figure into the teaching of the English Language.”

“Last year, one of my Secondary One students declared, when I was trying to interest her in a book from our book cart, that she saw no point in learning English — she was good at Mandarin and cared only to read Chinese books. This stung. When we came back to school this year, we shared our December holiday reading assignment. She raised her hand and said: ‘Reading is very important because Literature teaches us about life’. Later that day, she asked to meet me about the reading assignment. She wanted to discuss the virtues of studying Literature! She had chosen Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘Never Let Me Go’. I do not know what gave rise to her interest but it is enough for me to know that something did.”

Mr Joseph Toh

Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary)

“I believe that every student wants to learn and it is the teacher’s responsibility to ensure that the best learning takes place in the classroom. A student’s desire to learn is derived from motivation, a willingness to invest time and effort in a subject. To be motivated, a student should be clear of what is to be learnt, how to go about learning it and how to self-evaluate that the content or skill has indeed been acquired.”

“The role of the teacher is to ensure that all these are achieved, by having clear learning goals through the use of appropriate pedagogy. Learning has to be enjoyable as well, and ultimately, the knowledge should help students in their lives. A teacher should also help students understand how they can apply learning in real life, so students can have an enriching and meaningful journey in school.”

“I used to underestimate the impact I can have in my students’ lives, and I am often reminded of the part I play through the personal notes they give me. It’s surprising how sometimes the ones I’ve had the greatest influence on are not the ones who stand out in class, but those who opt to remain unassuming.”

Junior College and Centralised Institute Category

Mr Tan Xing Long Ian

Raffles Institution

“I always seek to communicate my passion for Literature and the written word to my students – it’s what motivates me to give my best in the classroom every single day! I love seeing how poetry excites them and touches them emotionally, and enjoy the energetic discussions about the subject which urges them to think more deeply about their lives and the lives of the people around them. When students connect with a piece of great writing and what it expresses so beautifully, the classroom becomes not only a space where authentic learning takes place, but also a portal to life-changing discoveries.”

“What I love about teaching is the two-way process of building knowledge that comes from student-centered activities and discussions. When students understand how language shapes thinking and understanding, they are empowered to use the language skillfully in order to express their individualities and unique views about life. Through teaching Literature and English, I know I have given students an invaluable set of tools with which to ‘take-on’ the world more confidently and humanely.”

“I remember a lesson involving analysing word choice and diction, when students had to discuss three different versions of a short poem and which they liked the best. A student, who was usually shy in class due to a lack of confidence, delivered a wonderful presentation on the topic and willingly shared her views. This made me realise that students can be moved to engage with Literature and language at a deeper level if teachers made the effort to draw connections between students’ lives and the subject.”

WINNERS OF THE INSPIRING TEACHER OF ENGLISH - LEADERSHIP AWARD 2016

Secondary School Category

Mdm Sukhjeet Kaur

CHIJ Katong Convent

“Teaching is not just about the subject, it is about the child. I believe strongly in the dictum that students are co-creators of knowledge, along with English Language teachers, who merely facilitate learning in the classroom, and do not perform solely as providers of answers.”

“Language appreciation can only be achieved through reading, writing, listening, viewing and speaking, which needs to be modelled by the teacher, and ultimately adopted by the learner. As an avid reader and one who loves to deconstruct texts for deeper understanding and appreciation of meaning and more, I am always excited by the chance to savour the beauty of the English language and to explore how language can be used for a variety of emphasis, effect and outcomes.”

“In the English classroom, I savour every moment a student expresses enjoyment of a well-written text. Once, in a class with low-progress learners, a student expressed joy at finally having finished reading a novel (albeit in class)! I celebrated that moment too. It means much when students strive to achieve learning against all odds.”

Ms Foo Soo Ling

Nanyang Girls’ High School

“Working with like-minded colleagues to design programmes and provide opportunities for our students to cultivate their own voice gives me purpose as a teacher of English.”

“Inspired by a visit to UWCSEA where I saw how students were reading a range of literary texts as they prepared for their individual oral commentary, I worked with two other colleagues to adapt that task so as to encourage our students to engage in an English Literature Oral Assessment that would require them to participate in a conversation about their literature text. This mode of assessment has been found to be thrilling and fulfilling for our students. Strategies that help to excite and engage our students keep me going!”

Junior College and Centralised Institute Category

Ms Lim Yin-Shin

Hwa Chong Institution

“I keep to two tenets about teaching: to always have the overall well-being of the student at heart, and to always make learning meaningful. Teaching is about impacting lives, and I find it important to centre the reason for our teaching and for students’ learning on the development of the person. Students work and learn better when they believe that their learning has value. When students discover that what they are learning has meaning in today’s world, they are more engaged and motivated to strengthen their skills.”

“I enjoy teaching General Paper because it is about getting youths to make sense of the world, in a critical and reflective manner. I hope that as they explore various issues, they gain a deeper understanding of and are able to articulate why these issues matter, and want to make a difference to society beyond the school, in the future.”

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