When I talk about an idea repeatedly, people around me might think I am getting crazy. Surprise! I met a group of young educators at the Singapore Management University (SMU) echoing my sentiments. More young people with special needs are entering college. What can colleges do to keep them and ensure that they complete their program of study? This is not an easy question to answer because so many actions are at play. However, that is not the only problem that confronts higher education; peer acceptance, instructor’s perception, and society perceptions are high on the list. Let us look at SPED students who are bullied, ostracized, and ignored by peers on campus.You can imagine that such students’ self-esteem, worthiness, and sense of belonging can begin to crumble.
SMU supports SPED students in equity providing levels of opportunities disadvantage groups in Singapore encounter. The college sets in place accommodations to enhance SPED students’ full an active participation during their college years at SMU. The Department of Diversity and Inclusion has taken on the bold step of looking at social adjustment and the steps needed to accomplish this goal. The department has published its first guidelines about disabilities and is making the concerted effort to changed fixed mindset to a growth mindset.
located at Victoria St. in downtown central business district of Singapore
According to President of SMU, diversity and inclusion is everyone social responsibility.It will challenge us but we are living in a global world so we need to know who are our neighbors. We need to learn to help, examine our assumptions about others, and have informed perspective. When we help others, we help ourselves. We are strong us our weakest link. United we stand divided we fall. Each of us is a masterpiece with different gifts and talents and we need to celebrate it.
We all come to this world with a “hand” to play the game of life. Some come with a good hand but play a bad game. Others come with a bad hand but play a good game; still others come with a bad hand and play a bad game, and there are those who come with a good hand and play a good game. How do we empower our students to play a good game with the hand given?
Our charge as educators is to remove the barriers and restrictions we put in their way. Instead, provide them with opportunities to expand their brains. Individuals can change and grow through experience and training. Do you believe that given the proper motivation and education anyone can become Beethoven or Einstein? Do you know the potential of your students? The potential is unknown so it behooves me when systems limit them and tell them what they can and cannot do. With this mindset, what game are we helping them to play? Conversely, we should begin to apply a growth mindset and realized that we cannot foresee what can be accomplished with training, our passion of inspiring our students to shoot for the star and access to opportunities.
When we change our mindset, we come to realize that the belief we hold about some students begin to change and blossom into new avenues of actions, “you enter a mindset, you enter a new world,” and a new paradigm shift.
As individuals on a journey through life, I often wonder why we behave the way we do. Have we considered that we are accountable for the deeds, good or bad that we do when we disembark the train of life? I do not want to become political, but I want to make a contrast. We criticize Mr. Trump for his desire to build a physical wall between Mexico and the U. S. A. but let us look within ourselves; have we built any invisible walls? As I travel to different schools in this country, walls are erected in the name of ranking. While this intention maybe commendable, walls have stifled the voices and talents of a great number of students whom I believe can fly but their wings are clipped. My belief is they are yearning to breathe and fly to explore the vast universe to carve a path for themselves.
As educators, I challenge you to have a growth mindset and open the door of opportunity for the good, the bad, and the indifferent child who sit in your class. Be that individual that challenges them and helps them to see that they have gifts to share and the world is waiting. Let us teach them to fish so that tomorrow we do not have to give them a fish. Give them wings to fly and soar as an eagle. Here is a story that brings tears to my eyes when I share it. A couple years ago, a student, I will call Mike came to my school from a district in another city. When I read his IEP, it stated that he was mentally retarded. I was his Resource Room teacher and talking with him, I realized something was wrong. I was impressed with his use of words. Immediately, I conjured that the evaluation is a misrepresentation of the individual standing before me. His weakness was Math but his strengths were reading and writing. I was also his co-teacher for English and Social Studies. After working with the content teacher to differentiate lessons, using lots of organizers, technology, small and large group discussions, one-to-one instruction, Mike passed his regents with scores above 75%.To overcome his weakness in math I used his strength writing. I introduced journal writing for math. After each session, he would journal what he learned, explaining the meanings of the math vocabulary words and how to solve the problem. He then used his journal writing to review for math quizzes I would give to him. At the end of the year, he sat for the New York States regents Integrated Algebra exam. When the result was published he a scored 65. He was shocked, and I was thrilled with excitement. He came and gave me a big hug.
His father said, “I don’t know how you did it, but you’ the best.” That young man is a police officer today. If I followed the evaluation that accompanied him and using a fixed mindset, his dream would never be realized. As educators, let us not use one evaluation to nail the coffin of a child’s future. Think of all the other intelligences that are not tested in an evaluation. I have not even added all the other variables about bias for these tests.
Let us have a growth mindset and help our children’s brain to grow but using multiple ways to present concepts to them. You will be surprised. As you teach, give your students wings to fly.
As I sit here reflecting on my practice and examining areas that can improve, I cannot help to mention how our best intentions are sometimes flawed because of certain biases we hold. We profess we want to change the system, but the things we do daily reinforces the paradigm we want to change.Confusing is it! Why are people afraid of change? One might say humans like comfort and not all changes are of good intention. Change, however, is good when it benefits the mass; when we change from a fixed mindset to an growth mindset. With a growth mindset, the stage is set for exploration and learning.
Being away from family, friends, and coworkers can sometimes be stressful. But the stress can be avoided if we make ourself available. I have found a new family, my church brothers and sisters. Through their hospitality, they have nourished me spiritually and emotionally and I am thankful.
The day began as usual; the bright ray of the sun piercing through my window pane, the shuffling of feet outside my door, and the monotonous gliding of the MRT along the tracks reminded me it’s another work day. Yesterday was public holiday, Chinese New Year. I have no attachments today so I have the day free in a sense.
Before coming to Singapore, a colleague, friend gave me what I would describe a brochure, pullout map and guide of the top 10 places to visit in Singapore. I pulled it out and began looking at the different places. I chose to visit the Thain Hock Keng Temple to coincide with the Chinese New Year celebrations. I made a good choice. I learned that it is the oldest Chinese Temple in Singapore and was built in 1839. The architecture is southern Chinese style and was built without using nails, quite a feat.
Many worshippers were there burning incense, praying, and giving offering. Some had a small plate with two oranges as gift. In the temple along the side, there are shrines to several deities. Here is a sample. Check out more in the photo gallery.
Next to the Thian Hock Temple is the Nigare Dargah Indian Muslim Heritage Center which was built in the 1820s. The director was excited to meet me when I told him I was from New York. We chatted for a while and then I toured the museum. He gave me his information and some brochure when he learned I was a teacher Continue reading “Enjoy Life it Lasts”→
Today, I sat at home recuperating and doing some research at the same time because I have no school attachment. Tomorrow promises to be different. I have a long day ahead. I’ll be visiting a school and will be talking with teachers about transition and post school activities of their graduates.
I was invited to be guest at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic Forum for Special Educational Needs(SEN). This is the first time I have been given such an honor to address over 200 hundred educators. An interesting fact is that Singapore divides it special education population into two groups. Those who are on borderline and the others are mainstreamed with their peers in the public school system. How do you bridge the divide?
One of the interesting architectural designs I want to share with you is St. Andrews Cathedral at City Hall
. I was told it was consecrated in 1862. It resembles the English Anglican church. I have put a few pictures to capture its beauty.
The rain fell all day. This has not stopped Singaporeans from going about their daily chores. Luckily I had no attachment so I slept in late. I also had to visit the doctor because I am eating too much spicy foods. I am feeling much better. I spent the greater part of the day relaxing then I canceled my evening class because I was having a terrible headache . Yes, my class at the National Institute Education runs from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm. It takes me about an hour and half to get home. Currently, I am working on a proposal to present in Thailand at their educational conference in March.
After this chef prepared the noodles for cooking, I had a dish for dinner. It was delicious.