<p>Ms Munirah has found an effective and positive way to connect with parents and deposit into her students’ emotional back accounts – by making sunshine calls.</p>
“In the past, I had been guilty of raising the anxiety of parents with my calls. I decided that I would do things differently and the results have been so heartwarming!”
“A sunshine call is a phone call a teacher makes to tell parents something amazing their child did. It could be as simple as ‘I really appreciate her positive attitude in trying her best to come to school early each day. She sets a great example for her friends. And they look up to her caring nature too.’ These might seem like little things, but parents need to be reminded that their children can be and are good.”
Parents have responded positively too, “Thank you so much, Teacher Munirah. I am so happy to see such a motivating message about my daughter. We thank God for giving us a wonderful daughter and also for bringing in such caring and motivating teachers like you into her life. This means a lot to us and we will make sure that she continues her positive attitude always.”
In addition to sunshine calls, Ms Munirah seeks to nurture a growth mindset in her students, and she strongly believes that this requires teachers to have a growth mindset too.
"Once I read an article that reminded me of the importance of reflecting at the end of every day, especially the bad ones. We can learn a lot from our toughest students and biggest lesson plan flops. If I did not take time to reflect on what went wrong, I would never learn from the experience and get better as a teacher.”
During the full Home-based Learning period in 2020, she checked in regularly with students not only from her form class but the entire Primary 6 level via the Student Learning Space.
“My main focus going into full HBL was to continually hold my students’ hearts while ensuring that they grasp concepts with confidence. I start most of my mornings by calling my students. I let them know that I am thinking of them and that I miss going into lessons with them. I believe the connection for my students is greater when we get to hear each other’s voices. The students are usually very excited during the phone conversations, always eager to share more.”
“I find that routines that foster connection are an essential part of classroom life. It is important to find ways for students to communicate and express their thoughts, be it on school work or personal experiences. Hence, I check in on them around the same time each day to make certain that I clarify their doubts and they are feeling emotionally well at the same time.”
When Ms Munirah plans level programmes, she makes the effort to get a sensing of her students’ interest areas first. This explains why the programmes are well-received by the students. For example, when she planned the post-PSLE programme for her Primary 6 students, she ensured that there was a diversity of programmes from the physical to the cognitive and aesthetics to engage them holistically.
Being passionate about environmental education and going green, Ms Munirah initiated a recycling corner in the staffroom. The items that were being collected were used for various school projects such as bottle gardening for the Primary 6 level CCA. She also oversaw the school’s participation in the Clean Up South West recycling drive, where staff and students could recycle their old clothes, paper and e-waste and a food donation would be made to the needy in exchange for the recycled items.
Quoting the Native American proverb, Ms Munirah reminds us: “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.”
In her journey as an educator, Ms Munirah has discovered how building strong relationships with her students has been critical to building their character and guiding them to resolve conflicts. She offers companioning to support their healing and encourage moral choice. Her students can sense that she is fully present with them, which allows them to “empty their cup” and feel safe to express their feelings. Once, she helped her student work through a dilemma and practise the virtues of honesty and humility.
“If not for Ms Munirah, I would not have said sorry to my grandfather. I took something that belonged to him without his permission. She helped me to call my grandfather so that I could say sorry and ask him to forgive me,” the student shared.
Indeed, Ms Munirah would not hesitate to go the extra mile for her students, and was awarded the Blangah Rise Learning Campus Inspiring Teacher of Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) in 2020. The compliment by a grateful parent best sums up how students and parents feel about her: “Thank you for always having the children in mind.”