When Mrs Martiana, principal of primary school SDN 006 in Tanjung Selor, Bulungan, was awarded the Adiwiyata Mandiri Award from President Joko Widodo in 2017, she was determined to keep innovating. Recognised for her efforts, she wanted to keep improving her school – turning it into a literacy school.
As soon as you enter the grounds of SDN 006, you can tell that learning is in motion. The school looks like a park. Beautiful and well-kept flowers grow around the campus. One of the classes even has a fish pond. It’s easy to see why SDN 006 Tanjung Selor received the award, with even the physical environment cultivating and supporting an active learning culture.
In addition to the clean surroundings and beautiful flower gardens, there is something else that sets the school apart. Each class now has a reading corner, which has become a favourite place for students.
“I always go to the reading corner every day,” said Aqilla Fathiyah, one of the students at SDN 006 Tanjung Selor.
Aqilla reads various books before her class begins. “Before we have reading corner, students just sit and play around before class starts. Now that we have a reading corner, students can read the book first. In fact, we are given 15 minutes of special reading time before study time,” Aqilla said. She hopes that the school will soon have more fairy tales and folklore books.
Mrs. Martiana said the reading corner was one of eight literacy activities at the school. These activities include:
- 15 minutes reading. Each day before the class starts, students and teachers do the reading activity together for 15 minutes. This activity is carried out in the classroom. Children are free to read any book.
- Joint Literacy. Students and teachers read together for 45 minutes outside the classroom. Children may sit anywhere where they are comfortable. This activity is divided into two:
- Grade 1-3 students who cannot read yet, then the teacher will read the storybook for them.
- Students grade 4-6 who can read already, then the child is asked to present the contents of the book.
- Reading corner. This activity aims to bring the book closer to the child. The reading corner is made of used pipes and filled with books. The books were supplied from the school library and Bulungan district’s library, and from parent donations.
- Notes. Each child has a note to summarize the books he or she reads, when they read it, their reading progress, and the contents of the books.
- The reading nook outside the class. This reading nook is placed in special locations, like under the trees, on the outer walls of class, and in a gazebo. The goal is for parents to read books while waiting for children to come home from school. Likewise, when children wait for parents to pick them up, they can read books.
- The booklet. The mini book is a medium where students write poetry, essays and learning outcomes.
- Learning media. The early classroom teachers make learning aids to help students read better.
- Library visit. Once a week, students make a visit to the school library for 35 minutes. The purpose of this visit is for children to become accustomed to reading books and visiting the library.
Mrs. Martiana said that the physical school environment must be conducive to and support the academic program in classrooms. A comfortable environment makes the child feel at home, and should be balanced with good academic services. “A comfortable environment plus high quality learning will produce high quality students,” she said.
Since increasing efforts to improve the school’s reading culture, literacy programs are well underway. Parents are also participating. The reading corner in the classroom is equipped with dolls and comfortable pillows, brought in by children from their own homes.
Mrs Martiana explained that leading by example is key for changes to take place. “I have to set the example first, then ask others to follow”.
“If I want the teachers to arrive on time, then I should come first. This rule also applies when I initiate the Adiwiyata school. I first plant and care for the flowers, so the other teachers see and follow,” she added.
In enhancing literacy at her school, she has continued to lead by example, actively reading books and with students. After that, she invited other teachers to do the same. “All changes in schools must be started by the principal and teachers,” she said.
Mrs. Martiana also tries to be democratic in making decisions. Each new school program was consulted first in the teacher forum, with all opinions taken into consideration and final program design.
With a passionate and proactive principal, SDN 006 Tanjung Selor looks set to continue innovating and improving student learning outcomes. For Mrs Martiana, she is excited to work with INOVASI and learn more about how she can improve her pedagogy and teaching skills, so that SDN 006 can continue to improve its reading culture.