Attachment Stint for Primary School Educators to Promote Inclusive Classrooms

To be able to connect and bond with students under their charge would give many educators a huge sense of satisfaction. Two primary school teachers who participated in an attachment [...]

To be able to connect and bond with students under their charge would give many educators a huge sense of satisfaction.  Two primary school teachers who participated in an attachment stint with SPD were moved upon seeing how a child with developmental needs went up to hug his teacher at the SPD Ability Centre.

The two educators from Lianhua Primary School – Mdm Kuan Suan Shi and Mdm Chang Mali – were attached to SPD from 25 October to 5 November, under the Ministry of Education’s Professional Development Leave (PDL) Scheme. As part of the scheme, educators can select organisations to visit or complete an attachment for continuous learning and development.

With a keen interest to learn more about the strategies to support students with developmental needs in the classroom, the two Chinese Language teachers approached SPD for an attachment opportunity.

Though this is the first time the early intervention team at SPD Ability Centre participated in the PDL scheme, SPD’s senior teacher Hasliah Hashim felt that it was a valuable opportunity.

She said: “This is a good way to reach out to the community and empower others. More so since some of our children from the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) do move on to primary schools. The partnership is also in line with SPD’s vision to build an inclusive community.”

As on-site visits were put on hold due to the COVID-19 situation, the early intervention team at SPD Ability Centre engaged the educators through virtual class observations and conversations with the senior teachers.

The educators learned about the various strategies our early intervention team use to support children with varying developmental needs. Though the strategies are tailored for younger children, the educators felt they were able to modify them to suit the student profile in their primary school.

“The biggest takeaway we have from SPD is learning how the teachers support a child with developmental needs to learn and complete a task. It was heartwarming to see the connection between the teachers, therapists and children as they work together with smiles and kind words in class,” said Mdm Kuan.

Our psychologist Michelle Tay also gave a transition briefing to help the educators better understand the pathways a child with developmental needs can take upon graduation from EIPIC. After gaining a clearer overview of the special education (SPED) schools in Singapore, the educators are now better equipped to share some of the information with relevant parents in their school.

(From left) Mdm Kuan, SPD psychologist Michelle Tay, Mdm Chang, SPD assistant senior teacher Ng Qiu Yan at the transition briefing

Beyond observing our children from behind the screen, the two educators also had a chance to engage and interact with our children through a virtual storytelling session. The interaction, albeit virtual, allows the educators to relate to our children better and contribute by providing the children with their first Chinese storytelling session in class.

3 children seated in front of a projector screen showing an animated lion, 3 SPD staff in uniform seated behind them

The scheme has provided a platform for valuable two-way sharing across the early intervention and mainstream school sectors. Our early intervention team has gained much insights through Mdm Kuan and Mdm Chang’s sharing on Chinese Language Learning for children with developmental  needs.

Assistant senior teacher Ng Qiu Yan, who coordinated the collaboration with the educators said: “It is heartening to see the enthusiasm and passion of Mdm Kuan and Mdm Chang towards helping children with developmental needs. Such collaboration promotes cross-sector partnership and allows for deeper understanding between the two.”

For Mdm Kuan and Mdm Chang, the two-week stint has proven to be an enriching experience.

“It has been a wonderful two weeks of learning from SPD. A big thank you to all the children and their parents who allowed us to observe their children. It was an eye-opening experience as we rarely have the chance to see children with different developmental needs. Heartfelt appreciation to the senior teachers as well. Our conversations were meaningful, and it was comfortable talking to them as they were able to empathise with us, giving us practical tips in the classrooms. We are thankful for their generosity in sharing their experiences and we will pay it forward by sharing what we have learnt with our colleagues. We look forward to another collaboration with SPD soon,” said Mdm Kuan.

Following this successful partnership, SPD and Lianhua Primary School will explore ways to further collaborate in training key school personnel to better support children with developmental needs in the classrooms.

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