This article is a sequel to my previous entry. If you haven’t read it, I would suggest you read it first by clicking here. In the previous entry, I pointed out 2 things that I observe during my volunteering sessions in a primary school in Sheffield which I consider to have given a good impact on students ; allocation of reading time and providing stationery.
Here are the next 2 things I would like to point out for your reading.
1. A teacher for whole semester; Initially, I wondered how a teacher is going to teach everything for the whole semester, but after a while, I realised how this could be worked out. In contrast to secondary school or college, the syllabus being taught in primary school is mostly general knowledge which comprises but not limited to science and history, and the essential skills which include reading, writing and mathematical problem-solving. I realised that you don’t even need to have a degree to master these 2 components. So, it is not about the contents that a primary school teacher really need to master, it is the approach that they are going to use.
In contrast, a different system is applied in Malaysia, where a teacher is allocated for a specific subject. This means the students will meet different teachers in every one or two hours. Correspondingly, the teacher is responsible for the students’ performance in their particular subject.
So how does this affect the students’ performances?
From my opinion, allocating a teacher for the whole semester allows them to get to know the students more. Since the students are with them most of the time, there are more chances to understand the students’ behaviour and identify their strength. Some students might be performing badly in mathematical calculations but exceptionally good in writing. Hence, they can make a comprehensive plan on how to approach each student accordingly. For example, those who are already good in Mathematics but bad in writing shouldn’t spend too much time doing Mathematics exercise. Instead, they should improve their writing skill. As a consequence, the teacher may provide different type and amount of homework for each student. In this way, teachers may provide homework for students according to their academic needs and priorities.
2. Discuss a problem privately; No matter how small or how big the mistake that the children have done. I hardly observed the teachers scold their students or use negative remarks against them especially in front of their peers. Frequently, they will talk to the students during recess or play time. Even when the discussion is private, the teacher will advise them positively.
I’m not sure what is going to happen if this similar approach is implemented in Malaysia, but I’m captivated how the children here admit their mistake and not repeat it again, at least for few weeks. I think, the positive approach makes the children feel they are treated like mature people, hence they start to behave like one.