In Conversation with an EIPIC Teacher: Hasliah Binte Hashim | SPD - Singapore

In Conversation with an EIPIC Teacher: Hasliah Binte Hashim

11/05/2018

Senior teacher Hasliah Binte Hashim sat down for a chat with UPDATES in between her lessons. Having been working as an EIPIC teacher for seven years, she has had her fair shares of experiences to recount. Hasliah sheds some light on what it takes to be an early intervention teacher, and how the job is as fulfilling as it gets.

Hasliah Binte Hashim, senior EIPIC teacher at SPD Ability Centre (Tiong Bahru).

Qn 1: Tell us more about you! How long have you been working as an EIPIC teacher?
Hi, my name is Hasliah Binte Hashim and I have been working as an EIPIC teacher for close to seven years with SPD. Previously, I was a teacher at a special school for roughly about seven years as well. That makes it a total of 14 years in the job as a Special Education (SPED) teacher. I am married and have two daughters, aged 14 and 11.

Qn 2: How did it all start?
After a number of years doing engineering work, it got mundane and there was little fulfillment. That’s when I decided to go for a change. My then-boyfriend was working at MINDS, and he encouraged me to try out SPED. That was how it all started.

Qn 3: Were you particularly interested in SPED when you came into the industry?
I did not mind the environment, and I like that it is not a desk-bound job. It allows me to interact with people. It exposes me to a lot of different learning aspects and taught me a lot about myself in the process. I grew to love the industry and formed a gradual passion towards teaching. One word of advice to all who are thinking of joining the industry – as long as you have the heart for helping children with special needs, you can make a difference.

Qn 4: Why did you choose to work at SPD after seven years in a special school?
After working in a SPED school environment, I wanted to see and experience how different a centre-based programme runs. It was all about experiencing something different!

Qn 5: What are the changes you see over the years?
I am happy to see that the government has put in place compulsory education for children with special needs with effect from 2019. Every child should have the right to be educated, despite their abilities and strengths.

Another change is the physical size and look of the EIPIC centres. SPD’s Building Bridges EIPIC Centre at SPD Ability Centre started off with only two classrooms (a gym and a classroom). An expansion was put in place and renovations were made to what is seen now at the SPD Ability Centre. SPD is constantly expanding to serve more people with disabilities.

Qn 6: What are some of the challenges an EIPIC teacher faces?
I think one of the main challenges to overcome as a new teacher is time management. EIPIC teachers are required to complete an Advance Diploma in Early Childhood Intervention (Special Needs) by Ngee Ann Polytechnic. When we need to juggle between part-time studies and work, there will come a point when we realise that effective time management is key to sustainability in this job.

As an EIPIC teacher, we also have to manage our time in and out of the classroom so that we can be effective in our roles. Apart from teaching, we collaborate with the therapists to plan lessons catered to each child’s goals and needs. We also travel outside of the centre to the children’s homes and schools so that we can understand the child’s needs in various settings and also offer support to the caregivers and mainstream pre-school teachers.

Working directly with the children is both fun and tiring. It can get especially tiring if we have back to back classes. Not forgetting that each child is unique and learns differently, teachers need to give themselves time to get to know the children. Over time, as teachers get more experienced, it becomes easier.

For me, the main challenges are time management and learning the needs of each child and how best to work with them.

Qn 7: What motivates you as an EIPIC teacher?

Having been in this sector, I have learned from the families that being a caregiver of a child with special needs is not easy. When the children are with us, it allows the caregivers a moment of respite. The delight we see on caregivers’ faces when they see their child progressing is the motivation we need to do what we do!

I believe that even a small degree of success is good not only for the child, but it is a boost for the entire family as well and I am just glad to be a part of it, however small that part might be.

The colleagues I work with also give me so much encouragement. We have a culture of strong peer support, where we help each other out and lift each other up in challenging times.

Hasliah is motivated when progress is seen in her students.

Qn 8: What are some words of encouragement to aspiring EIPIC teachers?
To be in this line of work, one requires two important things – having the passion and the heart to reach out to people in need. If you feel you that you lack the skill and experience, SPD has put in place trainings and framework to support your journey in EIPIC. If you love children and enjoy playing with them, that can bring you a long way. Have an open mind and don’t be afraid to learn new things. Sometimes when I reflect upon myself, I think the children teaches me as much as I teach them. They don’t know this, but they taught me so much about myself in their little ways. That is why I love my job!

For more information on EIPIC, please visit here or e-mail information@spd.org.sg if you are interested to learn more about being a EIPIC teacher.