Sangeetha started her teaching career in 2001 as a part-time assistant preschool teacher. 20 years in this field have seen Sangeetha complete her Certificate in Preschool Teaching and Diploma in Preschool Teaching and Leadership. Her interest in learning about children's behaviour and cognitive development further spurred her to attain a Bachelor's Degree in Counselling and Childhood studies.
Sangeetha sees children as curious minds, capable of seeing the world vividly, and firmly believes that when children feel secure, respected, and inspired in a learning environment, they show no inhibition in maximising their potential to explore and discover.
1. Tell us more about yourself.
My name is Sangeetha, I have been teaching at EtonHouse Mountbatten 223 for 7 years now. I am currently taking a Kindergarten 2 class and hold a Senior Teacher position at the centre.
2. What inspired you to become an educator?
A part-time job I took up at a child care centre while waiting to join a Polytechnic after my 'O' levels triggered a love for children and curiosity to understand how children think. I was 17 years old at that time and bonded well with the children, playing and singing with them. What inspired me most and gave me a sense of purpose was when a 3-year-old child with autism and speech delay said his first words as I read a story with him. I felt moved and proud that I could be a part of a child's growth and decided to venture into this field and contribute to teaching young children.
3. How has the pandemic shifted the dynamics for you? What are some resources you utilise during this period?
Home-based Learning (HBL) via Google Meet and Zoom was very unfamiliar and new to many of us in the Early Childhood field as we never faced a need for it before the pandemic struck. It is definitely harder to execute a lesson via these online platforms than conventional classroom teaching, as your interaction with the children is stifled. At the same time, discipline and focus are compromised at times. Considering their age, the children's adaptability to technology has been excellent but for them to be able to understand teaching methods and concepts online was not 100% effective. To capture their attention and interest as much as I could, I made use of Powerpoint slides, educational YouTube videos, and games to conduct my lessons. We also had cooking demonstrations and craft activities which involved the parents too!
4. Has HBL given you a different perspective on education?
Definitely! It has shown me that technology can connect us in unexpected ways, and as teachers, we need to keep up with the trends and upgrade ourselves accordingly in this new age. Looking at how Primary and Secondary schools have conducted lessons online, I understand that children have had to learn fast and apply skills beyond their cognitive age's capabilities. For example, 5 years ago, a 5 or 10-year-old, may not have had the need or knowledge to access an electronic device to study via online platforms. However, in recent times, they are exposed to various skills and ideas that they can easily comprehend, which makes us wonder about children's vast potential.
5. What are ways educators and students can stay motivated during this time? Can you share some of your experiences?
Motivation to cope with the pandemic situation definitely comes from the school itself. What amazed me most was the capabilities of my fellow colleagues and the teamwork we all showed when setting up a platform for HBL to commence, in terms of putting together resources, sharing ideas, and tapping on each other's expertise. We all knew it had to be done within a short timeframe, but the key focus was not to compromise the quality of the resources offered to the children as much as possible. We had a strong leadership team that continued to check in on teachers to ensure no one was struggling and communicated with parents effectively to ensure they too knew how to access the HBL platforms etc.
Building a good rapport with parents is also crucial as they are watching us teach online. It also lightens the mood on screen and enables the teacher to be relaxed when interacting with the children. One thing that worked for me while conducting HBL, was that I had informed my class parents to look out for potential difficulties they may face (microphone, poor connection, volume, pin screen, etc.) before the first session. I also had tech-savvy parents help out during a live session by instructing other parents on what to do. When parents and teachers work together with an understanding, the children will show more interest and respond better.