Education

Semporna English Language Teaching Symposium 2020: Education in the New Norms

In November 2020, the Semporna English Teachers Society initiated a virtual symposium to share ideas on transitioning to the new normal in education. In this article, JODI TEACH writes about SELT and the teaching and learning environment in Semporna.

The Semporna English Language Teaching and Learning Symposium (SELT) is an initiative by the Semporna English Teachers Society (SETS) and it aims to be a consistent platform where ideas, innovations, practices, and concerns for education are appreciated and shared.

Instead of being general, the symposium has diverse contents which are grounded to
themes that reflect the reality of the teaching and learning environment in Semporna.

This year, SELTS is adapting to the new norm – taking up the virtual platform and format.

The academic and professional setting of the symposium will remain as a tool for unearthing
new solutions and ideas for improvement by teachers, schools, and the district education
office.

Furthermore, it is hoped that with this symposium being online, it will also encourage
borderless participations from within and beyond the district of Semporna.

With the main theme being “Education in the New Norms”, SELTS 2.0 provides a platform
for educators to discuss issues related to teaching and learning in the time of a pandemic
and perhaps in the future.

Over four sessions, these issues are grouped into sub-themes: Education Leadership and Administration (14 November 2020),Remote Teaching and Learning (21 November 2020), Community Engagement in Education (27 November 2020) and Teacher Professional Development and Well-being (5 December 2020).

Each session was two hours long with three presentations bringing to a total of over 8 hours of streaming, three keynote speakers, 8 presenters, and over 1600 views (at the time of writing) of all sessions.

With the exception of the Day 1 which took place on Google Meet, SELTS 2.0 Days 2, 3 & 4 are streamed live on Amanduk Podcast Facebook page. Indeed, participation for SELTS 2.0 has spanned beyond Semporna.

At the time of writing, there were at least 170 registered participants from all over Malaysia. Participants from Sabah are namely from Semporna, Sandakan, Beluran, Kota Belud, Kota Kinabalu, Tenom, Nabawan, and many more. Outside of Sabah, participants are from Perak, Sarawak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, and a few more states.

While a majority of the participants are primary and secondary school teachers, there are also participants who are affiliated with universities and non-government organisations such as World Wildlife Foundation and Teach For Malaysia.

These participants come from various education-related professions –teachers (primary and secondary schools), private tutor, student teachers, university lecturers, and activists.

SELTS 2.0 committee members with PPDS officers, Mdm Linna Bt Hassin (seated, center) and Mr Mohd Mansur Bin Mohd Zaman (seated, right)

Education Leadership and Administration (14 November 2020)

SELTS 2.0 was officiated by the Semporna District Education Officer, Mdm Linna Binti Hassin
who expressed her gratitude for proactivity and innovation amongst educators especially in this challenging time. In her welcome speech, she echoed the importance for leaders to listen to the teachers’ opinions and insights in decision making process in improving access to education for learners.

Many of us are not prepared for remote teaching and learning thus it is imperative to try to understand all stakeholders and to be accommodating to technology gaps and socioeconomic differences faced by our learners and communities.

Two presentations followed afterwards titled “Empowering Middle Leaders in Enhancing the
Primary School Literacy Performance” by teacher Jackson Lodius from SK Tanjung Labian, Lahad Datu and “The Impact of Coaching in a Primary School on an Outreach Activity of HIP” by SISC+ Officer Peh Li Foon and teacher Mardianni Bt Sardi from SK Binuang, Lahad Datu.

Remote Teaching and Learning (21 November 2020)

Keynote speaker, Mdm Fauziah Sirat (Educational Consultant Cesta 16), opened the session
with her title “Assessment during Remote Teaching and Learning: A Help or Hindrance to
Educational Purpose”.

She urged that adults (teachers and policy makers) to recognise the mental well-being and readiness of learners, especially the 2020 SPM candidates, in dealing with remote learning and assessment. In addition, she hopes that routines in education will shift from learning for test towards a meaningful learner-centred education.

She went on to share the 14 principles of learner-centred psychology which can be a guide when designing effective authentic assessments that have the ability to help learners to reflect and aim for learning goals themselves. She ended her session with a thought-provoking statement – “Anak-anak kita lapar alam, lapar bermain, tapi kenyang tekanan” (our children are hungry for nature and play yet they are full of stress).

Having learners coming back to school with varying extent of learning loss due to limited access to instructions during lockdowns and school closures, teacher Stacey David (SMK Bum Bum, Semporna) shared an alternative to approach this issue in her classrooms.

Her presentation “Simplified Individual Learning Profile (SILP)” explained the importance of identifying and encouraging learning motivation first before attempting to teach. She also described how SILP is social-distancing friendly while making differentiation in the lessons less laborious.

Teacher Nurul Salina Bt Abdul (SMK Sepagaya, Lahad Datu) presented “Foodies Project: Lockdown Trending & Real-life Tasks Improve Pupil’s Communicative Skills in English”. She explained her choice of using project-based learning while learners are at home to encourage authentic assignments and simple yet effective learning instructions.

Beyond practising communicating in English, her learners were also able to pick up tech-related skills such as video making and editing, storyboard writing, audio recording and many more. The Foodies Project was also able to generate parent involvement and collaboration as the learners were preparing the videos.

Community Engagement in Education (28 November 2020)

Keynote presenter, teacher Faiz Shakri (SK Balar, Gua Musang) shared his journey collaborating with the Orang Asli community where he is currently teaching through his presentation “Project Kindness: Building a Safe Space for Orang Asli Children through Community Collaborations”. The aim of this project is to create an alternative classroom where the OA pupils can feel a sense of belonging and comfortable to learn.

“I couldn’t do it alone. I must find a village, a community, an army to help me… bring in an orang asli village into the school.”

– Faiz Shakri, English Language Teacher.

Teacher Zaiazeyana Yantie Bt. Zainal (SK Pengiran Jaya, Beaufort) presented “SEAS: A Symbiosis of Community and Schools towards English Language Proficiency”. She shared the programmes and supports offered by SEAS to local schools and communities in making English language learning accessible and conducive for learners.

Primary school teacher, Mr Mohd Asyraf Bin Abd Hamid (SK Sungai Bedaun, Labuan F.T) shared the “Identify Identity Project” which was one of the three winning projects to receive seed fund at YSEALI Summit 2019 in Phuket, Thailand. This project reaches out to provide basic education and life skills for undocumented and stateless children, so far in Labuan F.T and Semporna, Sabah.

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