Archive for the ‘Educational Issues’ Category

Advice to education officials

Thursday, March 21st, 2019
RANAU: State Education Director Mistirine Radin called on educators, especially principals, teachers and senior officers to understand and appreciate the “New Narative of Education Practices” as a guide to empowering world-class Malaysian education.
She said the National Education Philosophy (FPK) calls on all parties whether the Ministry, Department, District Education Office (PPD) and school level to implement “Narrative” as part of an educational practice.

“We all need to understand the goals of the FPK which clearly states “Education in Malaysia is a continuous effort towards furthering and developing the potential of individuals”.

“This is done to create a balanced and harmonious human being from intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical based on trust and belief in God.

“The effort is to create Malaysians who are knowledgeable, skilled, noble, responsible and capable of achieving their well-being and contributing to the harmony and prosperity of the family, society and the nation,” she stressed.
Mistirine told teachers everywhere to make education as belonging to all, and same goes to the culture of Malaysian society that should not be separated from them.
Also held was the “New Narrative Practice of Education” briefing, presented by Unit Head, Development Unit and Registrar of JPN Sabah School Management Sector, Juanaidi Yunus.

Sector Head, Sabah NRIC Academic Management Sector, Abidin Bin Marjan presented a briefing on the Abolition of Practice of Level 1 Examination and Evaluation Assessment in Classroom (PBD).
In conjunction with the programme, several schools received a Certificate of Appreciation based on school achievement, namely SK Kota Belud, SJKC Chung Hua Kota Belud, SK Taginambur Kota Belud, SK Kopuron Telupid, SK Pekan Telupid, SK Bundu Tuhan Ranau and SK Malinsau Ranau.

By: Clarence G Dol.

Service-learning prepares graduates for the future

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia students at the My Asean Community Initiative in Kampung Sanchey, Wilayah Kratie, Cambodia.

STUDIES have identified positive improvement in the competencies of students who attended internship or industrial training.

In other studies, significant changes were noted in undergraduates’ attributes after they completed certain courses, particularly in terms of their teamwork skills as well as professional abilities.

However, not all undergraduates completed their industrial training or have internship opportunities.

Not all educators emphasise improvingtheir students’ generic and professional skills in the classroom or projects.

At the same time, the classroom or lecture method of learning does not give students “real experience”. Learning in the classroom is limited to discussions and learning theories. Real-life situations, as some scholars argue, can only be experienced in field studies outside the classroom.

The Education Ministry stresses on the implementation of High Impact Educational Practices which include 11 best practices in teaching and learning.

Among them are firstyear seminars and experiences, common intellectual experiences, learning communities, writing-intensive course, collaborative assignments and projects, undergraduate research, diversity or global learning, serviceor community-based learning, internships, e-portfolios, capstone courses and projects for final-year students.

These practices have been widely tested and shown to be beneficial for college students from many backgrounds.

So, what is service-learning? It is defined as a method of teaching and learning that utilises experience in providing service to the society.

It is an approach that combines academic learning objectives, soft skills and students’ community service by giving meaningful contributions to society. Service-learning has been widely implemented in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia since 1970s.

The method has its root in John Dewey’s theory of experience. Although Dewey never addresses the specifics of service-learning, yet his writing closely informs and links the philosophy of education to theory of inquiry, experience, social service and social transformation.

Experiential learning is a process of learning through experiencing or learning by doing.

It immerses students in an experience and then encourages them to reflect on the experience in order to develop new skills, new attitudes or new ways of thinking. Technically, servicelearning is part of experiential learning that ful fils a course’s learning objectives by performing services in the community.

Srvice-learning is part of an experiential learning approach that links students with their immediate community. It differs slightly from volunteer work although many consider the two comparable. This transformative method of teaching and learning provides avenues for students to engage in structured activities intentionally designed to enhance their learning and community service while fulfilling their needs.

Service-learning blends community service with specific course goals. At the beginning of the term, students will be informed from the course syllabus that community service will be part of their assignment and assessment, and that service-learning is one of the approaches of learning they will experience.

By the end of the semester/course, meaningful learning aims and community service can be reciprocally achieved.

So what are the advantages of servicelearning?

It increases retention of academic

content by providing students with experiences that have real-life consequences.

The students may find out that the science and theories they learn in classes are relevant and applicable in real-life situations. In a long run, service-learning produces future-ready graduates who are holistic and are able to function well in a society.

Various studies on service-based learning have proven that students can improve their academic achievements, build leadership skills and strengthen their desire to serve the community. In fact, experience in service-learning has given students the added professional and career advantage, apart from inculcating civic consciousness and providing ethical services to society.

It also improves and fosters students’ life skills and qualities such as self-discipline, team-building, collaboration, respect for others, respect for quality work, character growth and interpersonal and community engagement.

University students are exposed to positive community service experiences during their undergraduate years, which allow them to learn about life skills and build understanding and caring connections to the world around them. In addition, students connect with people living abroad which enriches knowledge and broadens their horizon and way of thinking.

By Dr Najah Nadiah Amran.

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Education Ministry targets four groups for increased higher education enrollment

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

BATU PAHAT: The Education Ministry has identified four groups it wants to see increase their enrolment at higher education institutions nationwide starting this year.

Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the four groups were athletes, orang asli, those from the B40 lower income group and the disabled.

“It is a basic right to get an education, and under the new government, we want to provide such a platform for everyone.

“We are working hard to provide as much information as we can on opportunities available for people, especially from the four groups, to further their studies at the tertiary level,” he added.

Maszlee said this when met after officiating at the southern zone Jom Masuk IPT 2019 at Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) here Saturday (March 2).

He pointed out that the ministry would provide a special lane for the four groups to enroll as undergraduates.

“They will be chosen based on merit, which is the main priority, but they would be competing among themselves,” he added.

By Mohd Farhaan Shah
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RM100 aid for each IPT student

Thursday, February 28th, 2019

PUTRAJAYA:  The Ministry of Finance (MOF) on Sunday announced aid of RM100 each for Malaysian students at institutions of higher learning (IPTs).

In a statement, MOF said the Government, in response to a suggestion by the Education Ministry (MOE) to help reduce the financial burden of IPT students, had agreed to approve the Higher Education Student Aid (BPPT) for this year.

The aid, to be disbursed end of next month using existing mechanism, namely the Bank Rakyat debit card, is expected to benefit 1.2 million students and involve an allocation of RM120 million, it said.

It said details on the implementation of BPPT 2019 and the criteria on the eligibility of students to receive the aid would be announced by MOE soon.

The disbursement of BPPT is in tandem with the Government’s announcement last Feb 20 to provide Cost of Living Aid (BSH) of RM100 to Malaysian singles, it said, adding that the BSH payment would benefit more than three million individuals and involve an allocation of RM300 million.

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Educating today’s students for tomorrow’s world

Monday, February 18th, 2019
TIMES have changed, and so have schools. Gone are the days of sitting in rows, poring over textbooks, memorising facts. Advances in pedagogy, the latest academic research and technological developments have all helped shift our understanding of what great teaching and learning looks like.
Students as learning leaders
At Taylor’s Schools, learners are empowered to take control of their learning. Through the adoption of enquiry-based curricula like the IPC (International Primary Curriculum) at Nexus Malaysia and the integration of world-leading pedagogical approaches such as Quantum Learning at Taylor’s International School and Visible Learning at the Australian International School, students are nurtured to become resilient, curious and analytical thinkers.

Taylor’s Schools also understand that it’s important to offer students outstanding learning environments to support great learning.
The award-winning campus at Taylor’s International School Puchong is just one example of this, while the innovative learning environments at Garden International School and open-plan classrooms at Nexus Malaysia also help to inspire and engage students.

However, it is the quality of teaching that makes the greatest impact on children. Good teachers should be qualified, experienced and above all, passionate about what they do. In addition, strong professional development programme and regular opportunities for professional collaboration- featured in all Taylor’s Schools are crucial to ensure that teachers are able to bring out the best in every child.

Nexus Singapore: A centre of excellence .

Nexus Singapore will welcome students to its innovative new campus in 2020.

Here in Malaysia, Taylor’s Schools are well known for the high quality of education they offer, but Nexus Singapore is also well known for being a centre of excellence. The school’s recent “Topping Up” ceremony, at which guests and dignitaries gathered to ceremonially complete the foundations of the main campus building, marked an outstanding achievement for the Nexus brand.

Outstanding learning environments are important to support great learning.

Beating stiff competition from some outstanding competitors, Taylor’s Education Group won the bid for an outstanding piece of land in the centre of Singapore upon which to expand Nexus Singapore – an overwhelming endorsement by the Singapore government.

The new Nexus campus will welcome its first students in 2020 and will include innovative and flexible learning spaces, world-class theatre, music recording studios, sports fields and an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Find out more about Nexus Singapore at

Great facilities support an outstanding education experience
A heritage of excellence
In Kuala Lumpur, Taylor’s College has been delivering an outstanding Sixth Form experience and consistently impressive results for many years. Recently, the college celebrated its 50th anniversary – an outstanding achievement, which highlights the robust academic foundations and impressive heritage of the college. At the celebration, hundreds of alumni gathered to share some of their fondest memories of being a Taylorian and how their education at Taylor’s institutions played a key role in their personal and professional success.
Both in Malaysia and in Singapore, Taylor’s Schools deliver an outstanding education that ensures students are “future ready”.

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‘Verify programmes to ensure degrees are recognised’.

Sunday, February 10th, 2019

PETALING JAYA: Verify the accreditation or quality assurance status of programmes offered by universities, local or foreign, the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) advised students, parents and employers.

MQA chief executive officer Datuk Dr Rahmah Mohamed told The Star that the quality of higher education is a priority for the government.

“For that purpose, (the government) has set up an accreditation system through MQA and other professional and regulatory bodies.

“Every country has an accreditation and quality assurance system, which the public can access.

Dr Rahmah explained different countries have different regulations and arrangements for accreditation or quality assurance.

“It is advisable to engage relevant authorities of the country to get the right information,” she added.

A list of accredited local programmes is provided on the agency’s Malaysian Qualifications Registry and List of Provisionally Accredited Programs website, she said.

Other professional and regulatory bodies, too, Dr Rahmah said, have provided their recognised qualifications on MQA’s website for easy public reference.

Last year, the Education Ministry launched the University Degree Issuance and Verification System, or known as e-Scroll, to tackle the increasing number of fake degrees.

The ministry said the blockchain technology is secure and has the potential to increase the efficiency in authenticating genuine certificates.

The system was developed by a team led by International Islamic University Malaysia.

Higher Education Department director-general Datin Paduka Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir said a consortium of six universities has agreed in principle to adopt the e-Scroll system in their coming convocation.

“We are enlarging the membership of the consortium to include the rest of the public universities; private universities have shown interest to adopt the system, we will gradually (include) them.

“We have presented the blockchain system to the Malaysian Examination Syndicate and Malaysian Examination Council committees who are in the process of getting approvals from their highest management.

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TVET, the way forward.

Sunday, February 10th, 2019
Yeoh (left) and Junita share the stage during the forum.

Yeoh (left) and Junita share the stage during the forum.

EXPERIENCED Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) practitioners need to be part of the education system as specialists.

Innovation in TVET must be strengthened.

Integrate STEM into TVET.

These were some of the points that were put across during the Malaysian TVET Forum 2019; a one-day forum organised by Kingsley Strategic Institute (KSI), that discussed important aspects of TVET over four sessions.

KSI president Tan Sri Michael Yeoh said as the nation moves towards the fourth Industrial Revolution and digital disruption, TVET will be critical in providing the skilled manpower the industry needs.

“We need (more) public and private partnerships to further scale-up the delivery of TVET programmes,” he added.

IBM Malaysia government and regulatory affairs director Hasnul Nadzrin Shah said TVET must be seen as a strategic enabler for national competitiveness, in the digital economy.

“In today’s world, we have to ensure that the country implements a “no one gets left behind” policy.

“TVET enabled employees will be an integral part of the digital transformation revolution.

“We have to make sure that TVET students are digitally literate and we leverage on their natural propensity to enjoy materials from the web.

“TVET must become mainstream and (be made) an integral part of the education (system),” he said.

Provide a platform for TVET students to improve on their skills, said National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan.

“This is so they can serve at a higher level.

“This is what we aspire to have, and it is a challenge we are facing,” he added.

Tan said the country needs to look at TVET not as an alternative, but as the main way forward. “Academics propel the country forward, (but) it cannot build (the nation).

“We need to stand up on our own feet and the only way we can progress is by (implementing) good policies,” he explained.

Taylor’s University faculty of innovation and technology executive dean Prof Dr David Asirvatham believes TVET will be a major supplier of the workforce as it is critical for the economy of the country.

“Some of the things we need to look into is how to introduce innovation in TVET.

“Among the approaches to strengthen innovation in TVET is, we need more project-based learning.

“The teaching of concepts must be strengthened, especially in terms of ideas, skills and knowledge, as well as building a (collaborative) team because innovation isn’t about individuality,” he added.

Relevant programmes and suitable career paths must be looked into, he said, to prepare graduates for a global market.

On the integration of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) into TVET, Eduspec Holdings Berhad chief executive officer Lim Een Hong feels TVET offers an ideal platform for integration.

“When STEM is taught, we need to focus on critical thinking, problem solving and creativity, which are essential for the workforce.

“(Here), there are similar elements between TVET and STEM, and how we can integrate them,” he explained.

It is possible to integrate STEM skills into each subject, he said, but more research needs to be done.

Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said the 11th Malaysia Plan projects an increase in the percentage of skilled workers among the local workforce from 28% to 35% by 2020.

“In order to achieve this target, TVET is to become a game changer so that it could easily meet the demand and requirement of the industry in terms of addressing the mismatch.

“The target is to increase TVET students’ annual intake gradually from 164,000 in 2013 to 225,000 in 2020,” he added.

His speech text was read by human resources department planning and research division director Junita Mohamed Ali.

Kulasegaran said there are 564 public and 690 private TVET institutions in the country.

Among the challenges TVET face, he explained, include factors such as dual accreditation bodies, overlapping of courses offered by the institutions, non-uniformity of entry requirements and different fee structures.

Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said changing the social perception of TVET is not an easy task.

“We have made significant progress in addressing the acceptance of TVET into mainstream education. “However, it is still perceived as the ‘second-best option’ in comparison to general education,” she said.

Her speech text was read by Education Ministry polytechnic and community college education department senior director (academics) Zainab Ahmad.

As economies transform, Teo said, TVET must as well, as it needs to adapt to the new configuration of the economy and a different cluster of needs.

By Sandhya Menon
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Let’s go back to basics

Sunday, February 10th, 2019
The right fundamentals: By cutting out the ‘fanciful non-productive’ elements, we can beef up our core curriculum that would increase the standards of our education at no additional cost overall.

The right fundamentals: By cutting out the ‘fanciful non-productive’ elements, we can beef up our core curriculum that would increase the standards of our education at no additional cost overall.

Reforming Malaysian education can be affordable and simple – if we put our minds to it.

THIS piece was prompted by a very interesting exchange during a “townhall” dialogue session with the Education Minister at the Malaysian High Commission in London last month. In the said townhall, the Minister had reportedly alluded that “70% of education budget is spent on salaries, hence the remaining 30% is not sufficient to radically revolutionise and reform our education agenda”.

This reminded me of an open letter by the Perlis Mufti, Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, to the Prime Minister and Education Minister on Dec 22 last year.

Now I am not prone to quoting muftis and ulamaks, but when one makes sense, I will acknowledge it. This letter makes so much rational and economic sense that it is amazing that it has been basically ignored by the government and the mainstream media.

He even conceded that we could not deny that our national school (Sekolah Kebangsaan) environment has become Malay-Islam dominant.

In a nutshell, here are the Mufti’s proposals:

1. One school system for all, being the national schools, must be truly Malaysian in character, which would allow all race and religions to learn in comfort.

2. Eliminate all religious elements that tend to produce unconducive learning environment for all races in the schools.

3. Carry out Islamic education outside of the normal school session, not during the hours where children of all races and religions are learning.

4. Revamp the Islamic education content such that it is enhanced and improved, and it does not disturb the character of the national schools, which is the domain of all races and religions.

5. All costs for Islamic education should be borne only by Muslims from zakat and/or the respective Islamic state departments. The same should be for other religions, borne by their respective communities.

6. All Islamic schools, Chinese and Tamil primary schools can carry on as supplement to the national schools as an evening session after the main school sessions are over.

Tell me now, is that not one of the most progressive and impactful ideas forwarded by anyone in a long, long time with respect to Islamic education and its possible impact on our school system, children and society?

We need our Government to take these ideas seriously. It is consistent with our Constitution’s requirements that funding for religious activities should only in principle be from that community itself.

There is, however, one issue that needs to be thought about when implementing these suggestions. The Chinese national-type schools have today became a refuge for students from all races wanting to have a more secular and challenging learning environment compared to our national schools. In fact, even the Tamil schools are becoming more credible primary learning institutions compared to before. They are no longer a place where parents seek ethnic identity but more a place where the parents feel more assured of its standard of education than the national schools.

In fact, the educational standards at the national schools has eroded so much that Chinese national-type schools are the school of choice for demanding parents who cannot afford international private education. Therefore, while the aspirations for a single-school system devoid of religious classes and environment are laudable, we need to also address:

1.  A transitional strategy to convert Chinese national-type schools into a single-school system without losing their high standards.

2. Strategies and plans on how to raise the standards at national schools.

We cannot do one without the other. In fact, the second need is more important and critical and must be achieved first, i.e. that the standards at national schools be raised first such that a single-school system would be of high standards overall.

To do that, we need a revamp of the school curriculum. A secular and scientific school curriculum and learning content will achieve such objectives. Recall that prior to the 80s, that was the emphasis of our primary and secondary schooling.

We need to remember that primary and secondary educations are basic education. A time to learn the fundamentals of thinking and basic methodology and principles of the different disciplines – through subjects like mathematics, science, biology, physics, chemistry, history, geography, art and language (or literature). Our students completed their O-Levels or SPM in those days and had no trouble being accepted in tertiary institutions all over the world. It is not that hard. We just need to return to the old fundamentals of education, the way we did it in the 70s. Specialised knowledge and skills are for tertiary education – vocational, colleges and universities.

This then takes us back to the Education Minister’s claim that since 70% of his budget is for salaries, therefore the remaining 30% is insufficient to revamp and revolutionise our education system. This cannot be further from the truth.

If we were to implement the proposal put forward by the Perlis Mufti – to remove Islamic classes and any other religious influence activities from national schools – no additional cost would be incurred; in fact the budget would be reduced. This would allow us to allocate the freed cost to increase other classes that would raise the standard of national schools – mathematics and science related ones, especially.

We would be able to enhance our curriculum for even primary students to encompass a more in-depth learning in the sciences such as in history of science, evolutionary biology and genetics, astronomy and cosmology, and modern technology that would perk their interests going into their secondary schooling.

And as suggested by the mufti, the religious classes provided as an option in the evening or outside the formal educational curriculum or session for the national schools will be financed by the religious bodies, including funds from zakat.

Everybody wins.

I would like to point out another aspect to our primary and secondary national education, which in my opinion is excessively unnecessary. We put our children through too many hours of Bahasa Melayu and English. There is no necessity for that. Language is learned primarily by practice, not by attending classes. Reading is the biggest contributor to learning a language. The next one, will be listening and practising. That should be the emphasis in the learning of Bahasa Melayu and English.

We can again halve the hours spent in language classes and beef up our other core curriculum that would increase the standard of our education at no additional cost overall.

My 70s and 80s Malaysian education served me well then and so did it for my friends, who took up very difficult disciplines in science, medicine, engineering, business and many other challenging vocations.

Malaysian primary and secondary education needs to return to its fundamental roots, curriculum and teaching. It needs to rid itself of all the fanciful non-productive elements of religion and those associated with it. It needs to focus on what is real knowledge and preparing our children with the thinking methodology and skills needed for them to survive and progress and be competitive as world citizens in the 21st century.

By Siti Kasim
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There’s no shortcut to a good education.

Sunday, February 10th, 2019

BUYING yourself a degree rather than actually studying for it isn’t a new phenomenon.

Many people, politicians included, take the easy way out when it comes to obtaining tertiary education or higher qualifications. The many degree mills that have mushroomed over the last few years is testament to this.

But the controversy invol­ving Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Marzuki Yahya has once again shone the spotlight firmly back on the business of fake degrees.

Marzuki claimed that he obtained his business administration degree from Cambridge International Uni­versity via a distance learning prog­ramme.

Cambridge International Univer­sity offers distance learning prog­rammes with degree courses costing US$5,000 (RM20,340) but on its website, the university admits that it has not been accredited by an agency recognised by the US Secre­tary of Education.

This alone should set off alarm bells for any person intending to pursue a distance learning prog­ramme.

Marzuki, also a senator, must now be regretting listing his degree as part of his credentials. He certainly isn’t the first politician to be embroiled in a dubious degree row, and one suspects he won’t be the last.

To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with pursuing a distance learning course. These types of programmes are considerably cheaper than a typical undergraduate course in a university and they also allow for flexibility for those people who already have jobs and are looking to get a tertiary qualification.

Private education does not come cheap these days and a distance learning programme is a boon to many people who otherwise may not be able to obtain a degree.

But please verify the accreditation or quality assurance status of the programmes offered by these universities before you make your decision.

Most countries have an accreditation system which the public can access, with different countries having different regulations and arrangements for quality assurance. In Malaysia, we have the Malaysian Qualifications Agency and its website provides a registry of recognised qualifications for easy public reference.

It is surprising though that people in powerful positions continue to crave acceptance or an increased social standing by buying fake deg­rees. In fact, the more prominent a person, the more impressive his qualification appears to be.

At one time fake MBAs were all the rage, but now even a master’s degree isn’t enough. The latest trend is to buy yourself a PhD.

These “doctorates” immediately give you a sense of importance with the prefix “Dr” in front of your name.

A simple Google search is all it takes to debunk or expose these type of credentials. You may have fooled your peers or your employer with a fake qualification, but there will always be the fear that the diploma hanging in your office will one day be exposed. Embar­rassment lurks around the corner.

The Star Says
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When best to remind students

Sunday, February 10th, 2019
Reminders are best given to the entire class. NSTP/ROSDAN WAHID

VISIT just about any classroom and you’re likely to hear one of these statements:

“REMEMBER to complete the task given”;

“PLEASE submit on the date agreed”; or,

“NO talking when I’m talking.”

Some educators and parents are against reminders, saying they may not be effective.

Does reminding improve one’s behaviour?

It depends on how reminders are used. When given in a certain way and at certain times, they can be effective.

Unfortunately, it’s rare to hear reminders being given in a way that improves behaviour. Most often, reminders make things worse.

The good news is that it’s easy to know whether you’re using them correctly.

In the case of assigning homework, this serves various educational needs. It serves as an intellectual discipline, establishes study habits and eases time constraints on the amount of curricular material that can be covered in class, as well as supplements and reinforces work done in school.

It also fosters student initiative, independence and responsibility, and brings home and school closer.

It’s normal to ask your students to do the work or assignment after lessons. And, of course, you need to remind them.

Giving reminders before students misbehave is better than giving them after an incident has occurred.

Reminding students after they misbehave is like giving a chance for it to happen; and you may seem inconsistent.

You are trying to make your students trust you by showing you are flexible and, thus,
things will suffer.

In the long run, inconsistency and a lack of accountability lead to frequent and severe misbehaviours.

If you have reminded your students about a previously taught rule, policy or procedure before giving the signal to transition to a new activity, it will ease their impulsivity.

It prompts self-awareness and causes them to focus on following your direction or fulfilling your goal, especially when they know that you’re watching and that you always do what you say.

Early reminders are best given to the entire class rather than to just one student. This way, you’re not singling out students. You’re not branding anyone.

Reminding everyone removes the excuses and helps ensure their performance remains sharp and purposeful.

By A.A..

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