Keep an open mind and try to learn as much as you can

Full Name: Mr Chung Wai Mun Melvyn

Email: pract@nie.edu.sg

I was attached to St Gabriel's Primary School for my practicum and was assigned to teach English Language and Mathematics for two Primary 3 classes – the former is a mixed-ability class while the latter, the top class in the level. In addition, I taught Social Studies to another Primary 4 class.

Some people may bear the assumption that teaching the top class equates to having an easier time managing them, but that may not be so. Even within that class, there are pupils who are mischievous, who do not hand in their work, who may not understand what they are taught, etcetera. Thus, having good class management skills is vital.

This is even more so for a mixed-ability class, as there will be more cases of pupils with special needs, like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Dyslexia, Anger Management issues, among others. This is in addition to other common situations like family issues, disagreements with friends and classmates, and the likes.

As per Maslow's Hierachy of Needs, if pupils' needs like food, shelter, family love, friendship and safety are not met, how can they be expected to achieve good results? As such, the role of a teacher is not only to teach effectively, but also to ensure that every child under his/her care is well taken care of – physically and psychologically.

Granted that the aforementioned may be too much for an NIE trainee to handle, so for practicum, just focus on your teaching and classroom management first. Nonetheless, do try to keep an eye out for pupils whom your Cooperating Teachers (CT) have identified as the ones who might possibly pose problems in your lessons.

Having said that, some of the boys can be very sweet as well. They know if you have their interests at heart, and though some may not respond immediately, they will eventually do so and make your practicum experience an enjoyable one.

All in all, practicum has definitely helped me to better prepare myself for my life as a beginning teacher.

My advice for those who are embarking on this journey is to keep an open mind and try to learn as much as you can from your SCM, CTs and other staff. Find out from them how best to work with the pupils and always remember to keep your pupils' interests in mind and work hard for them. Whatever you do, do it for your pupils!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the staff, parents and pupils of St Gabriel's Primary School for making my practicum experience an enriching one. Special mentions to the principal, Ms Antonia Teng, vice-principal Ms Liew Pang Hai, acting vice-principal Mr Soh Kai Guan, SCM Ms Palaniammal, CTs Ms Sharmaine Tan, Ms Selvei and Mr Neo Yong Teck, and the good friends I made there, Mdm Lim Keat Mei, Miss Pascalene Tan and Ms Jessica Hoon.

Chung Wai Mun Melvyn
BA(Ed) Pri Jul 2006 intake

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