Would you help someone you have never met in real life? Our teachers do so freely, in an informal online network. Three teachers explain what motivates them to share their ideas and resources with the Singapore Learning Designers Circle (SgLDC).
Teachers are no strangers to sharing and working together on lessons. This happens all the time in our departments, at cluster events or among subject-based professional learning communities. However, it is increasingly common for teachers to exchange ideas online, and collaborate with others virtually – even if they have never met before in person.
The Singapore Learning Designers Circle (SgLDC) Facebook group, set up by MOE’s Educational Technology Division in 2017, is one of the platforms where the magic happens. Last year, the group grew exponentially with the onset of Full Home-Based Learning (HBL). Members pooled together ideas and resources to help each other cope during crunch time. Today, the group counts more than 17,000 educators from different schools as members. Hardly a day goes by without at least five new contributions to the group.
For Mr Heng Kai Le, English and Science teacher from Naval Base Primary School, the SgLDC group is a platform he can count on for ideas. He says: “I have come to rely on the SgLDC community as I know that I will receive helpful tips and advice within minutes should I be stumped on a challenge. I once asked for mnemonics that can help students remember Science concepts and got more than 10 responses within a day – for which I (and my students) am very grateful. That’s why for me, sharing on SgLDC is a way to pay it forward.
The group is also an immense morale booster. I really enjoy reading about the unique and creative ways teachers conduct their lessons. Witnessing how much love and pride the other teachers have for their subjects steels my resolve to do as much as I can for my students too!”
Kai Le recently posted about how he used a poem to help students understand the role of light in photosynthesis.
Mr Teo Yee Ming, HOD ICT at Hai Sing Catholic School, is an advocate for professional sharing. He explains the unique appeal Sg LDC has for him:
“As teachers, we have many channels to share good practices and collaborate. Official platforms like cluster workshops and Networked Learning Communities (NLCs) are more structured, tend to focus on certain topics, and only take place at certain times of the year. Sg LDC is different. We can share anytime, on any idea that piques our interest. This spontaneity is empowering.
Having joined the group before COVID struck, I could also see how the group has evolved. In 2019, people were posting more technical tips and guides to use SLS. Last year, a lot of buzz was on e-pedagogy and now most of the updates are on Blended Learning. So in a way, the conversations really move along with the needs of the time. I tell my colleagues – if you are part of this community, you won’t get lost!
Lastly, I share because I see the possibility of collaboration with like-minded colleagues. No matter what school we are in, we can build on the synergy here to help our students learn better.”
Mr Teo (also known as Roy Teo in the SgLDC group) believes in the power of Open Classrooms. He hopes to see more teachers sharing and collaborating across schools.
A Sense of Community
Mdm Shannon Pang, a Chinese Language teacher from Punggol View Primary School, had never imagined that she would be an active contributor to a virtual network of teachers.
“As a mid-career teacher, I knew I had a lot to learn when it comes to teaching. It was not really in my nature to post regularly on social media, so for a long time, I was an observer in the Sg LDC group. I also felt a bit of pressure - what if my lesson is not good enough to share?
However, seeing how helpful and kind the teachers in the community are gave me the courage to post my first question in the group. Slowly, I gained the confidence to comment more, share my lessons and participate in the discussions. I soon realised that there’s nothing to be afraid of. I am learning as I open up, and their feedback only makes me grow as a teacher.
Besides a platform to exchange ideas and resources, the group is also a source of great comfort. The encouraging messages from teachers who face the same issues as me keeps me going. I know I am not alone!”
Because of the sharing in SgLDC, Shannon took the leap to introduce a weekly ICT day for her students. She believes it motivates her to try new ways to engage her students.