Saturday, September 15, 2018

Kuno Method - Interview with Teacher Shenlynn

Emma picked up some animals cards and shouted out, "Let's play a game!". It's not a game cards, but she just came up with a game herself. "Let's see who has the bigger number, the one with the biggest number win". There are 3 numbers on each card, and she read out the largest number of all. It followed by us reading out the largest number of my card before she announced the winner among us. To some, it seems like a silly game and she didn't nail the right largest number all the time but I saw her creativity, understanding of the concepts of comparison and numbers as well as her ability to express ideas.

Games, puzzles, story telling, dialogues and worksheets are just a few activities out of many in Emma's Kuno Method classes. They are fun, interactive and integrated! It's not difficult to understand why Emma has been enjoying Kuno Method classes over the last 7 months. 

Using a structured concept-based curriculum and experiential learning method, Kuno Method helps Emma to acquire logical & lateral thinking. With a strong thinking skill and understanding of the basic concepts, it encourages the children to engage in independent learning. 

Kuno Method focuses on 6 keys basic concepts - (1) Comparison, order and measurement, (2) Numbers and operations, (3) Spatial recognition, (4) Geometry, (5) Language and effective communication and (6) Other essential life skills. Introducing these concepts help to build a strong foundation for learning. It has certainly sparks the Emma's natural curiosity in and awareness of the of the concept learnt. I observed that she sometimes draw connections between the lessons and what she sees/experiences in everyday life subconsciously.

I'm really loving how Kuno Method builds foundation for learning especially when the preschoolers are at the peak of their development! And, it surely takes a teacher with the same belief to run the class. With much curiosity, I interviewed Emma's teacher, Shenlynn, to find out more about her teaching journey and what she thinks about learning.

First, how long have you been teaching at Kuno Method? How was your teaching journey been so far?

I did not aspire to become a teacher, however, I always believed in helping and explaining things to others. My teaching journey would not have started if it had not been for my mother who encouraged me to enroll for the Diploma in Child Psychology and Early Education at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (now known as Early Childhood Development & Education). From then on, the passion for teaching blossomed. It gave light to the importance of early education and early intervention. I then joined the Dyslexia Association of Singapore for 2 years as part of the Lien Foundation Scholarship I was awarded before I left to pursue my education in Psychology & Linguistic Studies at the University of Melbourne. Whilst studying in a different country, teaching was not put in the backseat as I tutored children 6-10 years old in Melbourne and obtained a certificate in Play Therapy. After graduation and upon my return to Singapore, I joined Kuno Method in February this year.

Why do you like teaching? What keeps you going?

To be a teacher is also to be a student. I think the best part of teaching is that in every lesson there is always a learning moment. Be it something a child said and to what experiences they bring to class, it always surprises me. The joy I see on their faces where they thought they cannot do a task but able to do it independently and the confidence that they gain after the experience is what I love about my job.

What’s your teaching style? Has it always been the same?

When I first started out, I thought a lesson should follow a lesson plan to the “T” with no deviations as after all, the whole point of it to deliver a lesson with as much information as possible. However, through trial and error, I soon realised that each child is different and how they internalise information differs from one another. Young children benefit from play-based learning whereby learning comes in a form of something they like to do. This allows children to find joy in learning and explore it in their own way. Children will then be able to cope better in later years when what they need to learn gets even more challenging.

Do you have any inspiring figure in your life? Has anything in your childhood mould you to what you are today?

Possibly my greatest influence as a teacher has been my father. Even though it was a few short years that he helped me in Primary school math, it could be considered as a foundation of what my teaching has become. Yes, there were some days where concepts that he was trying to teach me was way too complicated for me to comprehend and we were both frustrated with each other. But he would never walk away from it and try different teaching methods. If one way did not work, try it a different way. He had acronyms for every lesson to help me to remember better.

Share your favourite moment as a teacher 
There are some days when teaching I wonder to myself “Does this child really understand what is going on?” Even though I try to teach the concept one-on-one, I feel like I am at a roadblock with this child. The utopia moment of realisation and breakthrough when the child is able to comprehend the concept and retain it, is the time when I feel elated that I have done my job my imparting life skills through my teaching.

What do you think children these days need? What are your challenges?

I feel that children these days often give up on things that they find difficult even before they try. Yes, it is good that children ask for help when they need it, but there has to be a line where asking for help becomes more of an escape rather than a hint to the problem. To get them to try and be persistent at trying for a while before saying “I can’t” is a challenge. Give them lots of encouragement and support.

How different is teaching for you at Kuno Method

Kuno Method has opened another scope of teaching method of which children are taught logical and critical thinking skills which are very relevant to today’s world. Previously, when I taught, it was more often teach the concept and “Do you understand? - Yes/No” type of method. But ever since starting here, I had to remind myself not to give answers so quickly. Allow the children to think and often encourage them to try out a problem before saying that they can’t do it. Probe their answers regardless if it is correct or wrong. This not only encourages them to be confident in their answers but allows them to explain how they derive at the answer.

Over the last 7 months, has Emma change or improve?

When Emma first started, I found that she was often distracted and not motivated in doing activities. But once she found that it was not all sitting and writing but moving and interacting she opened up and became more confident. Furthermore, each lesson is different and made it all the more exciting for her as each lesson uses different manipulatives thus, gives her a sense of surprise. Emma has also become more confident in her answers where she tends to copy off her friends without understanding why that was the answer. Now, she does her own work independently and is able to explain how she arrives at her answer.

I'm thankful that Emma has been improving under the wings of Teacher Shenlynn. I pray that Emma will continue to enjoy the class and enjoy learning!

Happy Belated Teachers' Day!

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