Day in the life of a special education teacher

Hi, Cher!

Meet Daisy Khng, a special education teacher for 9 years. She currently works at Rainbow Centre over at Margaret Drive.

Daisy initially worked as a relief teacher at Towner Gardens School under MINDS. Fortunately for her, she managed to witness a father’s unwavering love and devotion to his son with special needs in a bus ride. She noticed that even though his son did not listen, the father still loved him unconditionally. Moved, she eventually converted from her relief teacher position to her current full-time position at Rainbow Centre.

She currently teaches the Junior Section, for children aged 7 to 10 years of age.

Starting the day right

Every day, Daisy does a check-in with her fellow students.

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The check-in involves taking their attendance, talking about the weather, and last but not least “Letters of the week”.

“Letters of the week” is about sharing words and things associated with the alphabet. Essentially, it is a word-association activity.

Daisy reflects that the daily check-in is helpful:

because the kids like structure and routines

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Routines help convey a sense of order and allows the class to be primed for Daisy to teach.

Teaching style

Daisy has to adapt to the learning conditions of her students, of which most can’t speak.

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Yet, it is not a setback for Daisy. She is still able to have fruitful and engaging conversations with the students through Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display (PODD). PODD is a system with various visuals in attempting to aid sentence formation, prompting a response from her students.

The visuals on the PODD system are sorted into categories such as food and drinks, activities, etc.

Besides helping the non-verbal kids to communicate, it also encourages the rest to speak up more.

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The children point towards specific images and attempt to construct sentences. The visual aid enhances the learning of both verbal and non-verbal students to be able to engage in a discussion and communicate together. This gives students a platform to speak up and express themselves.

The students also do try to engage in a bit of fun:

Though sometimes my cheeky students use the PODD to say nonsense

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Ahh, kids will be certainly be kids.

Challenges in teaching

Daisy once reflected on having to teach about the challenging abstract concept of emotions, explaining that it was extremely difficult for her students to be able to grasp the concept.

She remembers teaching the feeling of being scared, but students could not capture the emotion she was trying to explain.

The implementation of cartoons saved the day: used as a teaching tool, they greatly helped facilitate her teaching.

Daisy reflects that teaching strategies should constantly be tried and tested to cater to the needs of the children.

Fostering communication

It is important to have patience and an open mind.

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Teachers like Daisy inspire us to take the time to learn more about others, that we ought to have patience and have a willingness to treat those with special needs as individuals before their needs.

She also comments that while some of those who have special needs may not have verbal capabilities, they still have a voice. It is up to us to give them a platform to establish their voice and accept them for who they are.


Cover images from here (left) and here (right).

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