Globally recognised as having some of the best schools in the world, Singapore’s teachers employ some unique methods to help the country’s students achieve academic excellence. UK teachers looking to implement new and alternative ways of working are encouraged to take a look at how they do things in Singapore for inspiration.
The foundation, structure and process of teaching in Singapore is governed by the Ministry of Education, which uses the Singapore Teaching Practice (STP) model to facilitate effective teaching and learning across the country.
The Singapore Teaching Practice is broken down into four distinct sections, (Understanding Subject Matter and Goals, Understanding Teaching, Understanding Students and Learning and Singapore Curriculum Philosophy), which focus on putting teaching into practice and reflecting before, during and after lessons with pupils. Singapore uses a practical system that is action-oriented; all educators teaching in Singapore will likely be familiar with the KWL methodology of What I Know, Want to Know and Have Learned.
This is an action based system that encourages pupils to interact and engage with classes, while using real-world examples, to give the subject matter relevance and context.
The implementation of this methodology may differ from teacher to teacher
but it normally begins with the teacher asking the class to create three separate columns, either on paper or on a computer, since in Singapore students use of computers in class is not only the norm, it’s encouraged!
The three columns are then titled 'What I know', ‘Want to know' and ‘What I've learned'. This creates the foundation for most lessons and provides a practical method for reflection during and after class for both pupils and teachers.
Teaching action: what i know, want to know and have learned (kwl).
What I know - this is a great way to get students to brainstorm all of their prior knowledge of a particular subject. For this example, let’s use the topic of elements. A science teacher could ask a class to write down everything they currently know about elements and the periodic table; this will additionally highlight knowledge gaps that the teacher can then help to fill in. It's important at this stage to talk to pupils and remind them that this section of the task is ungraded, creating an nonthreatening environment that will allow them to be open and honest.
Want to know - once an assessment of the pupils’ knowledge has taken place then the lesson can begin by asking students what they want to know. This section gives pupils an opportunity to generate their own questions, increasing their engagement with the lesson and making them feel more invested. Continuing our example, you may find that students write things in this column such as 'how is an element different from a compound?' or 'what different types of elements are there?'.
Understanding what students currently know and also want to learn provides a good basis for your lesson and possibly follow up material. What I've learnt - Last but not least, to wrap up a lesson the last column establishes what pupils have learnt during the course of the lesson. Ideally most, if not all, of the items in the second column will now be answered, however, it’s likely that there will still be small gaps. It's advisable to give students additional reading and support material that they can personally follow up with to give them a well-rounded understanding of the topic.
Singapore is a country that has embraced technology that is now used by pupils and teachers alike. Pupils can utilise computers within the classroom to communicate with each other and also to participate in lessons; teachers use technology to assess lessons and to provide peer feedback.
Ongoing professional development, utilising technology, is a key factor to the success of the country’s educational system. The open, collaborative methods used help teachers share best practices and lessons critique to improve overall performance.
The educational practices used in Singapore can be transferred and used by primary teachers, English teachers and science teachers alike to foster better collaboration and improve engagement rates in classrooms.