How did she get started in this career? Nurul Amira Bte Abdul Rahim had a passion for Special Education (SPED) from a young age, when she listened in awe to her aunt’s stories about her work with students as a SPED teacher. She was also inspired by the SPED educators who worked with a family member who has Down Syndrome.
Ms Amira coaching her students during a weekly remedial lesson in literacy and numeracy.
Through these experiences, Ms Amira was certain about her choice of career and joined the SPED sector immediately after completing her studies in Community Care and Social Services at the Institute of Technical Education. At the same time, she also pursued a part-time Diploma in Learning Disorders Management and Child Psychology.
After serving for four years at AWWA School, she joined Tanglin School as a Teacher Aide in 2017. She teaches students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Mild Intellectual Disability (MID).
What are the duties of a Teacher Aide? In a nutshell, Ms Amira works with her students to develop their independence and confidence. She cites her work with a student, Aryan, as an example of her work as a Teacher Aide.
Ms Amira with her student, Aryan, and his personal journal book.
Diagnosed with ASD, Aryan was struggling to communicate and express himself when he first joined Ms Amira’s class as a Secondary One student in 2020. At that time, Ms Amira, together with Aryan’s Form Teacher and Literacy Teacher, decided to introduce him to journal writing as a platform for him to share his thoughts and feelings. They started him on simple topics, like what his favourite part of the day was, and got him to either draw about it or write it down in a simple sentence.
“Over the past 1.5 years, he began to develop greater confidence and is now not only able to share his opinions on various topics in paragraphs, but also take part in class discussions!” shares Ms Amira happily.
Thanks to Teacher Aides like Ms Amira, students like Aryan are better supported in SPED schools to ensure that they develop the skills and knowledge needed. To guide students on how to complete tasks independently, for example, Ms Amira may implement a personal chart and work system which breaks down the steps needed, while she and their parents may assist them if necessary.
Ms Amira and her colleagues during one of their regular team discussions, where they exchange ideas on student programmes and engagement.
“My students’ growth is something that I hold very close to my heart, and I hope to discover more talents in them with each passing day.”
Nurul Amira Bte Abdul Rahim
How does she cope with challenges? “I still remember when I first witnessed my student’s emotional outburst,” recounts Ms Amira. “I was at a loss and unsure of the interventions needed. It was only after exchanging ideas with my colleagues, and attending professional development opportunities, such as the Signpost course, that I became more confident in managing such meltdowns.”
In her journey as a Teacher Aide, Ms Amira is thankful for her fellow educators, including Teachers and Allied Professionals, for working closely together for the good of the students. For instance, at the school’s Leisure Arts Assembly Programme, Ms Amira worked with her colleagues who are more artistically inclined to prepare resources and activities to introduce students to various art forms and music.
(Left) Ms Amira assisting a student with colour blending during a Tote Bag Design Workshop, and (right) listening to a student’s presentation on her drawing.
When asked what her most memorable moment as a Teacher Aide was, Ms Amira sums it up beautifully. “These are moments when my students reach their goals and are not afraid to explore areas which are unfamiliar to them,” she says. “It’s not easy for them to be where they are now, so no matter how small their successes are, I will always be very proud of them.”
| What Teacher Aides do
Teacher Aides in Special Education (SPED) schools work closely with teachers and Allied Professionals to provide customised and well-developed learning support for children with moderate-to-severe special educational needs (SEN). MOE continues to partner SPED schools and Social Service Agencies in the professional development of Teacher Aides.
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