In this series of chats with our staff, we get up close and personal. They share about their favourite drinks, to their experiences and motivations at work.
Hello! Could you introduce yourself?
Hi! I am Susila, and what I do here in PPS is many roles rolled into one. I am a manager - I manage a team of education support teachers; I am also a mentor to learning support educators. I conduct training for teachers as well. When I go down to the centres, I become a friend and playmate to the children, and I get to know teachers and even the aunties like the cooks and cleaners. My day is really not limited to one role but it keeps evolving. It is wonderful that I can always look forward to the things I can do, and the impact I have on people. Everyday is a new day! What does a typical day at work look like? The fun thing is that when children accept me as their playmate, they teach me how to play with them. They would correct me when I’m doing things wrong. Sometimes I do it purposefully and sometimes it is because I really don’t know how to play according to their rules! They would say things like “You so big, you don’t know this? How many times must I teach you! Do it this way.” It is such a joy because I want to be in their world - it is so different and so colourful. What is a pick me up that you need to keep you going? I think a lot of people would agree with me - a cup of coffee. A hot cup of coffee in the morning makes my day.
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of work? I love to cook, paint, and do cross stitch. I also started playing games on the laptop/phone. For games I go for things like painting by number, sudoku, shooting balls. Simple games. Above all, I love reading. Off hand, I can’t remember specific titles I have enjoyed. I love reading the Bible firstly, and books about families or children going through tough times. I enjoy stories about missionaries and parents who go through struggles. Most books don’t end with a solution but it is more about voicing their struggles out. Reading such stories helps me to put myself in their shoes as no one situation is the same where you can solve it easily.
How do you make a difference in the children’s lives? It is when I can make a child be understood by others who are struggling to relate to him, when I can be his mouthpiece when teachers and parents say “I would never have thought my child would have these kind of feelings”. Just because a child is not able to express himself or herself with words does not mean they are not communicating. Each behaviour is a form of communication. Can you recall some encouraging moments amongst the teachers? I have some teachers who say "I don’t have the training and the experience that you have so I definitely cannot handle this child in my class who has needs". Once, after equipping a teacher, walking with her, guiding her, modelling for her and supporting her, I asked her to try out one of the strategies I had taught her. The teacher then came back to say that she was going to make it a challenge for herself to try most of the strategies for the trial. This kind of things really really makes my day.
Why is important that teachers stay motivated? Some do it as a job, where at the end of the month you get paid. Some do it as a mission to work with children. Having said that, everyone has our own lives and struggles. To detach ourselves from these things and work with children is a challenge. They need the motivation to carry on.
For one of the families I worked with, I hard a time convincing the father that he should not use military army rules to raise his children. I told him, “I agree that they should grow up to be men who are strong. But how much do you want your wife to tell her she loves you?” He said “Why do you ask me this question, did my wife say anything? Yes, I want my wife to tell me that she loves me.” I then asked him, “Why do you need to hear these words? You are strong and you’re a man.” He then told me, “I think I get what you are saying. I will treat them as children until they become men.” My point is that everyone needs support and motivation, to know that somebody is there and knows what you are struggling with. That will bring a person a long way.
What is one quality that a teacher must have to join PPS?
If you come just for a job you might not go very far, but if you are here to grow with the children and their families and to go the extra mile, PPS will groom, equip, empower and challenge you to reach your potential and even more. If you want to explore your potential, to reach out to people and make a difference, PPS is the place for you. We work as a family - we want to know each other and are not here just to fulfil our own duties. We are there for you, to motivate and support you in your life and not just your job. We want to be your family.
What is one quality that a teacher must not have?
The Early Childhood sector is not a sector where you put yourself in a box and say you will only do this, and not any more than this. It is not just a job where you say that “I am not going to attach myself to or reach out to these children in my care more than what is required. I only teach.”
We are here as preschool teachers with multi-roles. Children look at us as a superheroes, a dictionary, a protector, a caregiver. If you put yourself in a box, I would want to encourage you to come out of that box otherwise it’s very difficult to stay in this sector.