Ask Ms Bernice Lee what she enjoys about her job as a pre-school teacher — and she will most probably share how she likes being able to offer authentic learning experiences that allow children to discover the world round them.
The 26-year-old, who decided to join the early childhood industry almost five years ago, has an Early Childhood degree from Wheelock College, as well as a Diploma in Early Childhood (Teaching and Leadership) from Ngee Ann Polytechnic.
Experiential learning approach
Last December, Ms Lee started working at MY World as a senior teacher.
In her lessons, she uses the centre’s Wonder-Discover-Learn inquiry approach, which ensures that teaching approaches and learning goals are consistent throughout the organisation.
The approach enables her to plan and facilitate different teaching styles to suit a child’s unique strengths.
She says each lesson starts with an opportunity to enquire. Using an object, picture or story as a tool for children to ask questions about, she then facilitates the investigative process and supports their learning.
“This helps the children learn to use various ways to find out what they want, and discover answers to their questions. They then document and reflect on what they learn at the end of the lesson,” she explains.
Once, she took a walk around the neighbourhood with the children, who noticed a lot of snails at the roof-top garden.
Recalls Ms Lee: “Some wanted to bring the snails back to class, while some started questioning what snails ate. I encouraged them to find out by bringing different types of food that they thought snails would eat. To conclude the learning process, I asked them about what they learnt.”
Effective learning is measured by the evaluation of the children’s responses and opinions, and how confidently they are able to articulate what they enjoyed in their learning journey.
“While we teach, we also learn from the children. Through the MY World enquiry process, we encourage children to be competent and curious learners,” she says.
“I enjoy learning with the little ones. There are many instances where their curiosity takes over, and I am reminded about how precious these incidental learning opportunities are.”
Ms Lee also makes it a point to develop her own skill sets.
She meets her colleagues at least twice a month to review teaching and learning practices, and share experiences, ideas and best practices to help one another to grow professionally.
Sense of achievement
Ms Lee derives much meaning and satisfaction from her work — especially when she sees a child take his first steps into reschool as a toddler, then graduate to primary school, now armed with more confidence and communication skills.
She shares: “As early childhood educators, my colleagues and I shape lives and bring out the best in children.
Such instances further strengthen my belief in the importance of holistic childhood education.”
As demand grows for more quality preschool centres that meet the needs of dual-income families, she is hopeful more people will join the early childhood sector.
“My family has always been supportive of my career. I hope more people will understand how amazing and important the role of a pre-school teacher is,” she adds.