Teacher Diaries: Ms. Jo – Teaching Philosophy

Learning has always been a personal experience to me. There was once an instance during my secondary school life, when the physical and chemical properties of sulphur dioxide just couldn’t squeeze into our overwhelmed brains, my friends managed to fit everything into the lyrics of one of the hymns in school. To this day, the song still pops up once in a while and loops itself like Let it Go. That’s why I like teaching my students with contexts of their everyday life. Associating what’s on the page with fun things like songs and movies will leave students a more remarkable impression and let them know what they learn in class are also seen and used outside their laborious school work.

There were also times when I was too lazy to check the dictionary for my homework, but would look up every single phrase that came up in a funny video lest I miss the joke. So an insight from this is that no matter how hard a teacher can try to make their students study, the only things the students will learn are those that are fun and useful to them, and that are acquired with their own effort. Making up funny examples is a way to brighten up a grammar lesson, but the more important thing is to encourage students to try despite making mistakes, which is better to learn from than to avoid. (And we all know we can learn better from one embarrassing mistake in front of our friends than ten boring lessons in school.)

One more thing from my memory as a student is that I like making notes of my own – this is the only way I can make sure that the things I have learnt are truly mine. One way to do it is through hands-on activities. Interested in making handicrafts myself, I often brainstorm creative craft ideas like paper plate clocks and 8-page mini-books for my students to make, turning a monotonous lesson into a fun project. This way, students are able to consolidate knowledge in lesson and evoke a fresher memory when they revise.

Before becoming teachers, we were all once students. Nothing is more helpful than looking back at our own learning process and distilling our successes and failures into great ideas for teaching.

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