Positivity is the glue that holds people together during a time of crisis, says Ms Charmain Han, Head of Department of English at Eunos Primary School. Find out how she is encouraging her students to remain upbeat and stay strong during Home-Based Learning. By Tung Yon Heong
It’s about being empathetic and having that personal touch, says Ms Charmain Han, on the secret of keeping students in high spirits during Home-Based Learning (HBL).
Ms Han, who is the Head of Department (HOD) of English and Form Teacher of a Primary 6 Foundation class at Eunos Primary School, was concerned that without face-to-face interactions with their teachers and classmates, the students would be demoralised and lose their motivation to study.
“The social aspect of schooling – having peer support and interactions with friends – are fundamental. These factors shape their motivation and engagement – and these factors go hand in hand with learning,” she says.
With that mind, she organised 15-minute daily Google-meet sessions before the students begin their HBL. “These sessions are really for the students to chit chat with one another and see the faces of their friends and teachers before they start the day,” she says.
“A few minutes every day may not seem like much, but with students sending positive vibes to each other at the start of each day, it makes their whole day much brighter. And this puts them in the right mindset to study,” says Ms Han.
A warm face can go a long way, says Ms Han. Even when she records her lessons, she makes it a point to show her face, to give students a sense that she is by their side, guiding them along. She finds that her students can better absorb the lessons this way.
Miss Han also checks in with the students through the online bulletin board app Padlet, where they can share their feelings and thoughts through messages. Some of them even expressed their moods through song playlists, while Ms Han posted motivational quotes to cheer them up.
“It’s these little things that play a big part to help them stay sanguine during HBL,” she says.
Some of her students had challenges learning at home; some had to share their laptops or other personal learning devices (PLDs) with their family, and others needed extra coaching.
“Some students may need more help than others, so I do give some flexibility over homework submissions and I also provide personal guidance. I believe it’s important to reach out to them individually to understand their situation and see how I can help alleviate it,” says Ms Han.
“I also tell them that I will always lend them a listening ear. If they have any troubles or anxieties, they can always reach out to me on my mobile phone,” says Ms Han, adding that she also checks in with their parents.During this month of Ramadan, some of her students had to fast, so Ms Han regularly checked in with her Muslim students to ensure they were getting enough rest and food (after fasting).
“The students are really embodying their class name 'P6 Resilience' during this period,” she says, “Despite the obstacles, they have remained upbeat and are continuing to encourage other to stay happy.”
During the holidays, Ms Han plans to cover a pop song on her guitar and upload it to the Student Learning Space (SLS) for them to listen and sing along to.
“I am hoping this will bring a little cheer to them, even if they can’t meet up with their friends!”