Educator makes classrooms more homely for students

Educator makes classrooms more homely for students

Friday, 01 April 2016

SINGAPORE — When she was given her first form class shortly after graduating from the National Institute of Education (NIE), teacher Santha Selva Raj decided to do something different: Create a sofa corner in the classroom for her students to relax, play cards and chit-chat.

Ms Santha, who taught chemistry and math at Christ Church Secondary School for seven years, believes students are more productive when they are motivated and have a balanced lifestyle.

And that homely sofa corner in the classroom was one of her ways to help her Secondary Four students relieve stress in between lessons as they prepared for their GCE ‘O’ Levels.

“It helped us bond together — we created a classroom that is not just for the delivering of (lessons), but more on building the relationships, rapport and enjoying the year together,” said the 35-year-old, one of the four national winners of the Caring Teacher Award yesterday.

In 2012, Ms Santha was posted to Innova Junior College as a chemistry teacher.

This year, she is planning to do the same thing for her form class — creating a class room that is more personalised and comfortable with an area for the students to chill out, and bond with one another between lessons and work.

At the awards presentation at Genexis Theatre in Fusionopolis, her entire class came down to support her, despite it being school hours — a sign of the bond that has developed between the teacher and her students.

On her relationship with her students, past and present, Ms Santha said: “I really enjoy spending most of my time at work with the students — teaching them content, and also building rapport with them, understanding them as part of my family as well.”

One moment that Ms Santha will never forget was when she received an invitation from one of her former students to attend his polytechnic graduation ceremony.

That invitation serves as one of the many drivers that have fuelled her passion for teaching for the past 10 years.

“That felt good because (the invitation) is not like a gift with a value attached, but more of an accomplishment that not every profession can get,” she explained.

Besides imparting her knowledge and love of chemistry and inspiring her students, Ms Santha has also been inspired by her students.

“I love working with students — I love working with young minds and interacting with them. As much as I teach them values and the content of chemistry, I learn a lot from them as well — like certain aspects of life that you won’t get by just doing work elsewhere.

“Much as I try to inspire them, they, too, inspire me to do the best for them,” Ms Santha said.

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