Having A Heart for Normal (Technical) Students

Mdm Yong hopes to make a difference in the lives of her students in the Normal (Technical) stream.
"Normal (Technical) students are just as teachable as students from the other streams," says Mdm Yong Shien Yuin, a teacher at Commonwealth Secondary School, who has taught students from Express, Normal (Academic) and Normal (Technical) streams.

Mdm Yong believes a teacher plays an important role in motivating students and supporting their learning. By understanding their learning needs, different teaching approaches can be used to engage students.

"A teacher must set suitable challenges, and help each child experience success. We must create a virtuous cycle of effort-success-confidence-effort...This is especially important for those from disadvantaged backgrounds," said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, during the Budget debate this year.

Caring for Her Students
It would not be uncommon to see N(T) students playing with their classmates or walking around during lessons, often due to their short attention span. But setting simple and strict routines for students to follow helps them know what is expected of them and encourages them to behave better. Though it may sometimes be at the expense of curriculum time, Mdm Yong believes in addressing disciplinary issues first.

Students from the Normal (Technical) stream at Commonwealth Secondary School have the opportunity to participate in a Work Experience Programme (WEP).
"When they see teachers going out of their way to help them in their studies and correcting their behaviour, many students are motivated to do better because they want to do their teachers proud," says Mdm Yong.

Mdm Yong would also customise her lessons to include more hands-on activities to suit the learning needs of her students and sustain their interest.

Positive Learning Outcomes

Hands-on internship opportunities are offered to Normal (Technical) stream students at Commonwealth Secondary School, as part of the Elements of Business Skills Work Experience Programme (WEP), initiated by the Ministry of Education (MOE). This has yielded positive outcomes for these students, who are often kinesthetic learners (meaning they learn better through physical activity).

"The internships serve as a good way for students to learn how to communicate effectively and build their confidence," says Mdm Yong.

Ritz Carlton hotel is one of the employers participating in the Work Experience Programme for N(T) students.
Through authentic work experience at places like Tangs Departmental Store, Sentosa, and the Ritz-Carlton hotel, students gain values beyond the classroom. Mdm Yong has also noticed that students become more responsible, disciplined and motivated, even for those who misbehaved frequently in the past. Many also showed improvement in their studies after going through the programme.

"Some of them have difficult circumstances, so being able to help these students gives me a great sense of satisfaction," says Mdm Yong.

To learn and share with fellow teachers, Mdm Yong also attends a Professional Focus Group conducted by the Academy of Singapore Teachers. During these focus group sessions, teachers from various schools discuss teaching methods and share experiences to help one another.

"When I hear about the efforts of other teachers, it makes me want to try harder for my students," says a beaming Mdm Yong.


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