Possessing a passion for teaching English, Mrs Grace Lee’s classes are fun-filled and exciting. Inspired by her Secondary Four Teacher, who lit up her passion with class discussions on current affairs, Mrs Lee aspires to develop a thirst for knowledge in her own students as well. Every week, Mrs Lee’s students look forward to her class discussions on current affairs. Taking the news articles from the Little Red Dot, a publication from The Straits Times for primary school students, Mrs Lee engages her students in discussions about the world at large.
By engaging her students in deep discussions, Mrs Lee encourages her students to use the English Language to communicate effectively with one another. “Knowing what is evolving around the world is important. My students love the current affairs and inspiring stories from Little Red Dot, which provide a context and platform for enthusiastic discussions,” says Mrs Lee.
Mrs Lee uses thinking routines to extend her students’ learning. An example is the ‘Circle of Viewpoints’. This thinking routine helps students see and explore multiple perspectives. It helps them understand that different people can have different kinds of connections to the same thing, and that these different connections influence what people see and think. Using an old photograph of St James Power Station, Mrs Lee asked her students to take on the perspectives of the people in the photograph, thinking about their actions, thoughts and feelings from analysing the photograph. This activity allowed the students to stretch their thinking, extend their vocabulary and learn to empathise with one another.
Besides using current affairs to frame her teaching of the English Language, Mrs Lee is an experienced teacher who readily shares her strategies with her peers. Her generosity in sharing has encouraged her peers to seek her advice often in matters pertaining to the teaching of English. As a STELLAR Mentor for Upper Primary teachers, Mrs Lee helps to maintain the rigour of the English Language curriculum by guiding and observing teachers who are new to teaching. She also conducts workshops on STELLAR teaching strategies for these teachers as well. Miss Phang Seow Ling, a new teacher who is being mentored by Mrs Lee, is grateful that Mrs Lee provides her with sound advice that helps her to improve the way she teaches. “She checks in often with me to make sure that I am prepared for my lessons. She is understanding and has shown me examples of how to teach English, sometimes with her students’ work to illustrate the strategies.”
Even while she mentors others, Mrs Lee is committed to her own continued professional growth and is open to feedback and new ways of teaching and learning. A few years ago, she even gamely decided to take on the role of a Learning Support Coordinator for Primary 1 and 2 students who are weak in language and literacy. That allowed her to increase her repertoire of skills and strategies to teach a wider range of students from different levels and of varying abilities.
Mrs Lee has been a part of Professional Learning Teams (PLT) that look into how to improve literacy among students. Since the start of 2020, Mrs Lee has been working with her PLT in collaboration with a Master Teacher, Mr William Grosse, on how to enhance reading comprehension in Primary 6 students. Besides reading comprehension, Mrs Lee is also working on improving the school’s Oral Booster package to help our students develop their oral communication skills and share their personal thoughts and anecdotes.
Indeed, Mrs Lee is a role model to all teachers in BRPS. In recognition of her efforts, she was awarded the 2019 BRPS Inspiring Teacher of Teaching and Learning. Her firm belief in her students, coupled with her passion in the teaching of the English Language, has led her to continuously think of different and interesting ways to inculcate a love for the language in her students. “When students drive their own learning, they will learn so much more,” says Mrs Lee.