“Teacher Pat! Teacher Pat! Teacher Pat!”
Hearing the excited greetings of little children in the morning keeps Teacher Pat going as an early childhood educator for the past 37 years. Bespectacled, with short hair, and decked in her favourite colour blue, she is the endearing face for many children in the early childhood centre, from the reserved to the outgoing.
Teacher Pat believes that humour is one essential quality of a good early childhood educator. Indeed, she embodies this conviction with her personable and lively demeanour when interacting with young ones. Breaking down the age barrier between adults and children, her flair for storytelling, dramatising, and spontaneous singing makes her a fun, and approachable person to be with.
Vibrant and expressive, Teacher Pat is not simply a teacher but a friend to parents, and confidante to children. Whether it is a child’s animated account of an incident over the weekend, or a parent’s worries for her child’s arm injury, she is ever ready with a listening ear, and encouraging words. Cherishing her relationship with children, she makes them feel safe and secure in her company so that they are able to express themselves freely and honestly.
The tightly knit friendships that she has forged with them in their formative years continue to persist long after they have graduated from Kindergarten, and entered into Primary School. She speaks fondly of some children, and their parents, with whom she still meets up. She plays the role of the trusted advisor, and guide as they grapple with challenging issues growing up, and provides a reassuring presence.
“I’ve always believed that relationship and security go together.”
Despite being petite in size, her love for children is in great abundance. Teacher Pat considers her height to be “a gift” as it allows her to fit into the classrooms of children with ease. Stepping into their shoes daily, she sees the world through their eyes. She shares their curiosity, wonder, and delight as they make new discoveries with each lesson. Possessing a childlikeness that is unburied by the passing of time or the busyness of life, there is never a dull day with Teacher Pat.
For example, an outdoor lesson does not always require expensive equipment. A creative use of what is readily available in the environment can achieve a good lesson. For instance, the lines of tiles on the floor can be used for children to skip and hop; “EXIT” signs on doors can be tools for teaching children new words …this simple but innovative method is what she calls “environmental teaching”.
Teacher Pat values children as individuals and encourages them to be curious. She considers their interests and learning styles to develop lessons that dwell into topics of their interest. Never suppressing their questions, she accrues to each child proper respect, and turns every enquiry, even repeated ones, into an exciting quest for knowledge and understanding. Hence, no one class is the same. This is possible because of her years of experience, self-reflection, and observation. 37 years is definitely not a short time!
For Teacher Pat, education is not simply about literacy, or numeracy. More importantly, it is the learning of moral values, and proper behaviour that has to be modelled by teachers, and practised daily by children.
When asked what is next for her, she replies, “Mentorship.” She desires to mentor younger educators who are passionate about teaching, and want to continue in the early childhood industry. She believes that insight is gained not only through textbooks but experience on the ground. With mentorship, she will be able to journey alongside younger educators, and through them, make a larger positive impact on the lives of many more children beyond her classroom.
- This article was written by Chloe Fong -
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