09 May 2013

UniSIM: To Be A Better Teacher

Teaching is a noble profession that requires a heart for youths, sound academic foundations, and effective communication skills. Thanks to UniSIM, one teacher is on her way to becoming a better educator.

Nur Farhana Bte Abdul Kader discovered her love and aptitude for the English Language and Literature as a student, and was since set on advocating the language by nurturing writing talents and reading enthusiasts. “I already knew I wanted to be a teacher back in secondary school and teach either English or Literature,” she says.

Upon graduating with a Diploma in Education offered by the National Institute of Education (NIE), Farhana taught for half a year before she decided to further her studies at SIM University (UniSIM), where she took up a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English and Literature on a part-time basis.

At UniSIM, lectures and tutorials are conducted on alternate weeks – one lecture or tutorial every week for each module. Typically, students submit three to four assignments per module and sit for a final examination at the end of each.

“Every single cent I invested in UniSIM was worth it. Face-to-face tutorials were very interactive, the tutors were extremely helpful and guided us throughout the whole course, and group discussions during classes were very stimulating,” enthuses Farhana.

“During breaks, we would actually sit on the benches and engage in informal debates and discussions over what the lecturer or tutor had said. Students from our course were so involved in lessons that they would continue discussing and debating even during breaks or after classes!” she continues animatedly.

Applying what she learnt
Farhana currently teaches core subjects to Primary Four students at East Spring Primary School.

“I enjoy teaching because of the juggling of roles. One moment, I’m the surrogate mother. Another moment, I’m the influential gang leader. Another moment, I’m the judge who settles all their disputes. Finally, most of the time, I’m the educator,” Farhana laughs as she talks about the many hats she wears.

Farhana’s day does not necessarily end when the final bell rings. Outside the classroom, she not only has to think of new initiatives and programmes to implement in school, but also ways to spice up lessons in class. And this is where her education at UniSIM becomes particularly helpful.

“Without a doubt, it has made me a more competent teacher. Whatever knowledge I learnt from UniSIM has helped me shape my pedagogical techniques. I am more confident of taking up different approaches to teaching, especially in English. And when I teach, I include some creative techniques, for example, I will teach students to compose poems, riddles, articles and even write short stories,” says Farhana.

“There was one module I took in UniSIM on writing creatively,” she cites. “So, my colleagues and I came up with this poetry-writing activity in which we remove certain words from a poem and let the pupils fill in the blanks with their own words.”

Farhana knows how to extend such creativity to the other subjects she teaches as well. In one Mathematics lesson where she had to teach her students to convert decimals to fractions, she used the well-known “Autobots, transform!” command to motivate her students to complete the sums in the shortest time possible.

A juggling act 
It was never easy to juggle work and studies. According to Farhana, time was always a shortage. The key to coping, clichéd as it may sound, is to develop proper time management and to set your priorities right.

Fortunately, students at UniSIM are free to choose how many modules to take in a semester, as long as they accumulate 120 credit units for a basic degree and 160 credit units for a bachelor’s degree with honours. At the same time, Farhana is glad that her tutors understood the demands of being a working adult and part-time student, and were always willing to extend her deadlines given genuine reasons.

Despite Farhana’s hectic schedule, she always found time for self-reflection by keeping a journal, crafting poetry and writing short stories. Writing is not only her interest, but her means to de-stress.

A wise decision
Farhana has now been entrusted with greater responsibilities to initiate English programmes in school. She hopes to teach students of a higher academic level and to make it as a lecturer one day.

“I will strongly urge graduating polytechnic students to continue their studies in UniSIM. I find that it’s a very wise decision and most importantly, it is a platform for greater things such as the advancement of career prospects and academic goals. In addition, UniSIM has a diverse range of degrees, so everybody can definitely find an area of study that suits him or her, be it the Arts, Business and so forth,” Farhana concludes.

Contributed by JobsCentral Pte Ltd