Joyce Teo – Outstanding Preschool Educator Award 2023

Nurturing curious learners through creativity

Joyce Teo, Senior Teacher from Little Skool-House At-Marina-Boulevard and winner of ECDA’s Outstanding Preschool Educator Award.

When a Kindergarten 2 child asked her why the moon looked different every night, Joyce Teo, Senior English Teacher from Little Skool-House At-Marina-Boulevard, got the class to discover the reason for themselves through an experiment using shadow, light and a styrofoam ball. Placing the styrofoam ball on a small stick, Joyce positioned a lamp to cast light on the ball from one side and asked the children to slowly rotate the ball in front of the lamp. “The children were so amazed that when they moved, the shadow cast on the ball looked exactly like how the moon looked at night,” said Joyce.

Joyce introducing the concept of moon phases to her class.

Constantly researching new ideas to make learning exciting

Besides conducting experiments to help children understand science concepts, Joyce incorporates a variety of activities to teach academic skills. “I include games to help children learn numeracy or reading better. Most children learn best when they are moving. Including hands-on activities in lessons makes children more willing to participate in class as lessons are active not passive,” said Joyce.

Joyce introducing coins in different denominations to the children and getting them to add 10 cent coins to make the given value.

To encourage children to discover their strengths through trying new things, Joyce showed her class a video of a nine-year-old child who created his own game arcade using cardboard boxes, and inspired them to build their own game arcade with recycled materials. Later on, her class invited children from other classes to try out their games at their handmade arcade.

Following in her preschool teacher’s footsteps

Joyce’s own preschool teacher left an indelible mark on her and influenced her to follow in her footsteps. “In kindergarten, I had this teacher who really believed in me. Even though I was very shy, she saw the potential in me, especially when I was dancing. She told my mother to encourage me to pursue dance. Her encouragement and the way she saw the potential in me is very inspiring and I hope I can do the same for the children I teach,” shared Joyce who joined the early childhood sector in 2017.

Collaborating with parents to reinforce children’s learning

A strong proponent of parent-teacher partnership, Joyce communicates regularly with parents to understand children’s evolving interests and update them on their child’s progress. “When I notice that a child has areas to work on, I speak with his parents to find out how he is doing at home in that area. If we have the same observation, I will introduce some strategies in class and share them with the child’s parents to carry out at home,” said Joyce.

Joyce shared that a child struggled with high-frequency words like the 5Ws1H (who, what, where, when and how), which prompted her to devise a game where the child wrote these words on each face of the dice. Sharing this idea with her parents, Joyce encouraged the child to roll the dice and ask a question related to the 5Ws1H to her teacher in class or parent at home.

Staying at the forefront of an evolving industry

Constantly striving to improve teaching practices, Joyce readily shares her experiences and knowledge with peers and novice teachers whilst consistently looking for opportunities to improve and widen her perspectives in different subject areas.

Joyce keeps herself and her colleagues informed of articles on current issues in classrooms and the early childhood sector and prompts in-depth conversations and reflections regarding existing practices and beliefs in early childhood education.

Perhaps the best way through which Joyce inspires a love for learning in both her children and mentees is by modelling it herself.

“There is so much more to learn, I have not learned everything yet, I am always looking for new ideas. Being resourceful, communicating with other teachers broadens my own bank of ideas and every new idea excites me. I realise that the children are excited when I am excited,” she said.