2023’s 1st Staff Learning Day
On 17 March, the teaching staff at Presbyterian Preschool Services gathered at Orchard Road Presbyterian Church to consider a weighty but essential question: what is the collective story of our lives? And if it were to orient around the good of the children under our care and the colleagues we cross paths with, what might that life look like?
Our morning begun during a time of praise and worship led by Ms. Joyce Chia (Head of Pastoral Care) and Ms. Gao Jie (Assistant Curriculum Specialist) by considering that Christ is our hope in life and death.
In a world fraught with difficulties, sorrowful news and death, this modern hymn brings us encouragement as it expresses the comfort and assurance that comes from placing our trust in Christ. As our voices soared and filled the sanctuary, we were reminded that Christ who has conquered death also guarantees our future hope through his resurrection. If then our hearts were arrested by the depth of God’s love for us through Christ, we will be empowered to extend grace and love to one another too.
Caring about the Right Stuff
a Story on Loving Others Well
Mr. Lim Ee Tuo (Executive Director) then continued to challenge us to think rightly of our work in PPS through the story of Bunny Finds the Right Stuff by Emily Lim-Leh.
With the help of Mr. Joed Che (Education Support Teacher) and a tiny army of stuffed toys, our staff team journeyed with a worn out Bunny whose seams had come apart and stuffing had become floppy. When all hope seemed lost and no suitable stuffing could revive him, his friends came along and gave up parts of their own stuffing in order for Bunny to be filled up again. They gave, and thus became less full themselves. In exchange, the Bunny was no longer floppy.
Mr. Lim brought the story to life. More importantly, the story represented and demonstrated the spirit that ought to drive our organisation in our day to day work. That is, in a world where we are conditioned to put ourselves first, the call to love others well remains. In PPS, it matters that we answer the high calling to purposefully seek others out and care for them with commitment even at our expense, and to serve them with real significance because we are convinced that the impact of our work is immeasurable. As much as it is countercultural, it is a much needed gap to fill in our world today.
...in a world where we are conditioned to put ourselves first, the call to love others well remains. In PPS, it matters that we answer the high calling to purposefully seek others out and care for them with commitment even at our expense...because we are convinced that the impact of our work is immeasurable.
Having tuned our staff’s heart to care about “the right stuff”, the next segments of the day involved helping our team to get the stuff right starting in our classrooms.
Getting the Stuff Right
a Workshop on Symbolic Representation (in partnership with Singapore Kindness Movement and LEGO)
What is symbolic representation? Why does it matter that our teachers understand it and are able to apply it in the classrooms? How might their teaching practices be aided by LEGOs?
In both Jean Piaget’s and Jerome Seymour Bruner’s theory of cognitive development, the importance of symbolic representation (first expressed through symbolic play in toddlers) is emphasised. Fundamentally, as this ability is developed more fully, children are enabled to make connections and identify patterns in the future.
To put simply, symbolic representation is the use of something concrete or visible to represent something else, or even something invisible! Some examples include using the letter “a” to represent the /a/ sound in phonics. Other examples could include using a box roughly the size of a smart phone, pretending that it is a real phone to have an imaginary conversation with a friend! Symbolic representations take place in a multitude of ways in children’s conversations and play, and the teachers revisited this fundamental theory to consider how their classroom practices could be enhanced.
Ms. Alicia Yah (Curriculum Mentor) and Ms. Sun Ying (Head of Chinese Curriculum, Research and Professional Development) brought our teaching team through an intensive afternoon of theory and practice on Symbolic Representation. Other than recapping key elements of the theory and underscoring how it aids a child’s development, teachers were also given opportunities to practice using LEGOs as a tool to heighten a child’s ability to use basic shapes and structures to represent far more complex ideas.
Teachers had time to exchange ideas, share their experiences and appreciate one another’s perspective. It was a heartening sight especially when our staff interacted across Centres. The gathering of the teaching team as one body enriches our conversations and enlivens the learning that took place.
Being the 'Stuff'
PPS endeavours to persevere in our mission to meet the challenges and needs in our community in Christian witness. Practically, this means staying the course and responding to God’s call to this organisation even when the circumstances do not seem favourable, or when the economics does not make sense.
It is our hope that our staff body embodies the purposeful commitment to sacrificially love in the face of challenges; to be willing to give away our own stuffing for the benefit of others. This was the path Christ walked, and we hope that many will respond to the call to do the same.