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Q&A with Alison Flinchum, Preschool English Language Teacher at GESS

LearnPost Category - LearnLearn - Post Category - SchoolsSchools

What is your background and training?
After my university training and two years of public school service in the US, I taught in schools in Spain, China and now Singapore. Five years ago, I joined the IB programme, which immediately changed the way I viewed teaching and learning! In addition to the strong professional collaborations that GESS has established with schools across the Asia-Pacific region, we receive IB and inquiry-related trainings throughout the year.

What made you want to become a teacher?
I have always wanted to work with children. At some points this passion took shape in the exploration of paediatrics, but by the time I went to university, I was confident I wanted to work in a more continuous fashion with children, in the classroom setting. By being an agent of international education, I prepare the children to be principled participants in a globalised world.

What do you love about working at your school in particular?
GESS offers an amazing school community to our children, families and teaching staff. We are a caring collective of people from around the world. Each member of our school community enjoys contributing to the school and relishes seeing the growth of each of our children.

What is your take on ‘play-based learning’?
It is commonly accepted that children learn best through play, but our teaching staff goes one step further in ensuring that the children’s play is authentic.  This means that we listen to the children and their many languages and manners of communicating. We use their voices in determining the next steps of inquiry, which ensures that the children’s learning is meaningful, playful, and enjoyable.

What is your favourite game or activity to do with your students?
As we believe in a child-centred, teacher-responsive approach, my favourite activity is any learning moment that promotes learner agency. I love to see the children taking ownership of their learning and pointing the direction they want to take. I remember one of our children went to have chicken rice one night at a hawker centre and the next day the children were designing and constructing their own hawker stalls. The next day they deeply engaged in a trans-disciplinary role-play. The learning and play was so rich and exciting for me to see unfold!

How will your new campus enhance your approach to early childhood education?
We are thrilled to be moving into our new campus as of the next academic year. Our rooms are light, bright and airy. Inspired by the Reggio-Emilia Philpot of education, we embrace art and a learning environment that engages children as soon as they walk in through the doors. Because of this, we will offer children a unique opportunity to explore concepts in the digital atelier, which features the latest artistic, creative technological tools.  We will have learning pods connecting classrooms which will allow the children to collaborate across classrooms and age-levels in their exploration of light, tinkering, and art. Most of our classrooms will open into a magnificent sensory garden which stimulate the children’s natural curiosities as they bring their learning from inside the classroom to the outside learning environment.

Read more about GESS here!

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