Prize encourages three teachers to nurture the skills that students can use to educate themselves AGROUP OF English teachers who won the Chief Executive's Award for Teaching Excellence believe that cheerful teachers encourage students to learn. 'We were not working purposely for the award. Actually, these are the things that we always do,' said Janet Au Yeung Yau-wei, of St Paul's Convent School. 'We are always ready for challenges.' Angela May Ng Kit-may, Kevin Brunton and Ms Au Yeung said it was encouraging to get the award. 'We know that people recognise our work,' Ms Ng said. 'We always work in a team,' Ms Au Yeung said. 'We enjoy it and have a lot of fun.' 'Cheerful teachers make students willing to learn,' Mr Brunton said. 'This is like a cycle. When students see teachers teaching joyfully, they can learn more happily and they can produce more creative work. When teachers receive good work from students, they are even happier. We value each and every student.' Ms Ng described her students as 'really lovely'. 'They'll chase after you and ask if they can add extra pages into their projects,' she said. 'They are always trying for improvements. They'll e-mail you in the middle of the night asking for your opinion of how to improve their projects. They are proud of their work.' St Paul's Convent School's mission is to nurture students who can contribute to their home, profession and society with charity, conscience, confidence, courage, creativity, competence and commitment. To achieve this goal, the school has launched a new curriculum, Integrated Humanities, which encompasses subjects including English language, English literature, history and geography. Students can learn language and generic skills by working on group projects and oral presentations. The lessons are flexible to keep pace with the changing world. A teacher's role has changed with the internet. It is more important for students to learn how to acquire knowledge rather than to teach them the knowledge. The Integrated Humanities teachers meet every week to exchange their experiences and share teaching materials. Teachers have a different subject they are specialists in, so they can help one another. New teachers can learn from the more experienced ones. They can also review and modify the syllabus together. Integrated Humanities is a skills-based curriculum rather than one based on content. Through discussions, presentations, speeches, debates, videos or even drama, students are given hands-on experience in subject content and language skills. They can use English language in context. 'Of course we still have to cover certain core things we want our students to know,' Mr Brunton said. 'We also cater for class differences.' Ms Au Yeung said this generation of students did not need to be spoon-fed. 'All they need is language, analytical skills and the right attitude to learning and being,' she said. According to Ms Ng, it was a battle to get the syllabus trimmed. 'We agreed that we'd rather spend more time on training them to become independent thinkers rather than feeding them too much from the textbook. [That way] they can acquire knowledge on their own. Actually, by trimming the syllabus, they are not learning less but more. 'The girls are quite shy and passive at first. It is important to create a safe environment for the students to speak out. An open liberal atmosphere can encourage them to express their opinions. This is essential to develop creativity. After a short while, students will get used to this way of learning. Their progress surprised me a lot.' Ms Au Yeung said it was rewarding to be a teacher. 'When I see my students applying what I teach and become more mature and critical, I get a sense of satisfaction I can never get elsewhere. Sometimes students may become very critical in your classes. We can understand this because we taught them this way of thinking. We're proud of them.' The trio said they had the principal, Sister Margaret Wong, to thank. She gave them the freedom to expand their ideas and fought to secure the resources to enhance their teaching.