New centre to boost development and training of teachers

Fifteen-year-old Cai Bingfeng twirls a washing machine drainpipe during a demonstration class held yesterday at the newly set up Centre for Teaching and Learning Excellence at Yusof Ishak Secondary School.
Fifteen-year-old Cai Bingfeng twirls a washing machine drainpipe during a demonstration class held yesterday at the newly set up Centre for Teaching and Learning Excellence at Yusof Ishak Secondary School.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

It will let trainee, existing teachers learn from master educators by watching them in action

The students were asked to predict whether sound would be produced when a washing machine drainpipe covered at one end is swung continuously overhead.

All of them said "yes", but were surprised when a live demonstration proved otherwise. The master teacher conducting the class later explained that the air could not flow from one end of the pipe to the other, thus there was no vibrating air column to create noise.

The teaching strategy - which involves students predicting and observing before finding out the explanation - is one of the progressive methods that teachers will learn at a newly set up Centre for Teaching and Learning Excellence.

The centre, hosted by Yusof Ishak Secondary School (YISS) in Bukit Batok, was launched yesterday, and will boost the training and development of teachers here.

WATCHING AND LEARNING

Through the observations, I can learn good teaching strategies, and in future, apply them in my own practices.

MUHAMMAD SHAFARIE ABDUL MANAN, a second-year NIE student who observed a class conducted by two senior teachers

Students and teachers from YISS will not be the only ones to benefit from the centre. Trainee teachers from the National Institute of Education (NIE) and existing teachers will be able to observe master teachers in action during demonstration classes, such as how they engage the students or clear misconceptions in actual classrooms.

Previously, trainee teachers had limited opportunities to learn from other experienced educators in realistic classroom settings and would have to rely on videos.

"Although student teachers do have a chance to go to schools for observations, the scale is a lot smaller," noted Associate Professor Liu Woon Chia, dean of teacher education at NIE. "In videos, you may not see the expressions of the students and at certain times, they may cut off certain things. If student teachers can strengthen their basics, they will be better teachers ."

Master teachers and experts from the Academy of Singapore Teachers, NIE and Ministry of Education will be attached to the centre. Five to seven master teachers will be attached to the school for one to three days a week. They will co-teach with teachers from YISS, conduct classes to demonstrate effective teaching methods, and provide mentoring for teachers at various stages of their careers.

Some master classes can be held in an observation room, separated from the classroom by a one-way mirror, to minimise disruption.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, who was at the launch, said the centre brings together "the best of our resources".

Muhammad Shafarie Abdul Manan, a second-year NIE student who observed a class, said: "Through the observations, I can learn good teaching strategies, and in future, apply them in my own practices."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2015, with the headline 'New centre to boost development and training of teachers'. Print Edition | Subscribe