The COVID-19 situation has placed us all in unfamiliar territory. But, as Senior Teacher Seah Wei Ee discovers, these new challenges can bring some pleasant surprises too. By Marcus Wong.
The start of Ms Seah Wei Ee’s English lesson is now signalled by a short guitar recital by a student. This is just one of the many wonderful surprises that Home-Based Learning has brought, says the English teacher from Woodlands Secondary School.
“I was dedicating snippets of songs to my students before class started because initially everyone seemed uncertain and unsettled. Then one day Sharvin played a short melody on his guitar instead of just saying ‘hi’ like he usually would, which was a pleasant surprise for all.” recalls Ms Seah.
Recognising that this small act changed the tone of the lesson and allowed the other students to be more at ease, Ms Seah decided to allow that to flourish, using it as a virtual chime to start her lessons proper.
After a challenging start with students getting used to uploading assignments via Google Drive or other online platforms, her students are now guiding their peers to navigate online resources, using online conferences to talk about their concerns and seek career advice. Some even produce podcasts of their essays with classmates. Their creativity uplifts the class and injects humour.
Ms Seah Wei Ee, Senior Teacher (English), has found multiple learning points from the COVID-19 situation.
Ms Seah summarises her learning points from COVID-19 in three words: Challenge, Growth, and Thrive.
“Challenge: I see my teammates stepping up every day. Balancing their roles during the day as teacher, parent or child to elderly parents, and continuing to exchange notes (sometimes deep into the night) on how better to support each student with diverse learning needs.
“Growth: We nurture and support the student just as we would in physical presence. To borrow a sports analogy, we might be in the groan zone for certain e-tools; but if we persevere, we will be in the growth zone. I see my students, too, as they stay open to new tools, increasing their capacity in the process.
“Thrive: Our education eco-system is teeming with new approaches to facilitate online learning. Many teachers are galvanised by a larger meaning that’s bigger than ourselves. We understand the roles we play will support our larger community to overcome this situation and emerge stronger. Online learning has also provided new perspectives into our students’ strengths, while deepening our empathy and respect for each other. Students too are more aware of their competencies: resilience, discipline and problem-solving. When we get through this, and we will get through this; all these will ready us for the next growth curve.
When teachers unite, our students thrive.”