M any of us have had a remarkable teacher at some point in our lives. Teachers are often mentors and role models who impart to pupils valuable knowledge and skills that will last a lifetime. We speak to two MOE scholars to find out how they are enriching minds and encouraging lifelong learning in our younger generation.
Tan Mei Hui
Education Merit Scholar
Music Teacher, Regent Secondary School
Tan Mei Hui: Back in school, I was fortunate to have met many inspiring and wonderful teachers. They helped shape me into the person I am today and made me realise the valuable role that teachers play in exerting a positive influence on someone’s life, and I was inspired to do the same. Also, having experienced the intrinsic benefits of music and arts education since young, I wanted to help others develop a deeper enjoyment and appreciation for music. To me, it comes very naturally that when you love something so much, you would want others to share and experience that love as well.
Huang Huimei Sophia: I wanted a career which would allow me to impact lives directly. Through teaching, I have the opportunity to be involved in the growth and development of students. It also enables me to inspire others to love science as much as I do!
Tell us about your roles and responsibilities as a teacher.
Mei Hui: Apart from teaching music, I am also involved in character and citizenship education, professional learning projects, co-curricular activities (CCAs), school events and committee duties. On a daily basis, I do plenty of teaching resource preparation, administrative work, marking (that goes without saying), attending to discipline cases and speaking to parents – this list is by no means exhaustive!
Sophia: As a science teacher, I always seek to extend learning beyond the textbook. Besides organising enrichment activities, I also encourage my students to ask questions and make connections with global issues. I try to inculcate values and bring out the best in each individual student. This also means motivating weaker students by helping them achieve small milestones and spurring them on with words of encouragement.
Besides teaching, I do assume other roles, such as being part of the Student Leadership Development Committee (SLDC) and professional learning team. I also lead the Strategic Games Club, where I collaborate with my colleagues to create programmes that develop talent and instil values in my students. Additionally, my role as a subject head requires me to work closely with the Head of Department in the professional development of the Science Department.
Share with us about some memorable episodes you have had in your teaching career.
Mei Hui: Recently, I had a student with selective mutism, which means that he does not speak a single word in school but speaks fine at home. After consulting with his form teachers, we felt that we should challenge and push him out of his comfort zone. I spent close to an hour and a half with the student, trying to coax and encourage him to read a short passage. Eventually, he managed to overcome his fears and complete the task! Although his reading seemed hesitant and tentative, it was still a major step forward. The feeling of helping a student exceed his own expectations is indescribable.
Huang Huimei Sophia
MOE Teaching Scholar
Subject Head (Physics), Juying Secondary School
Sophia: As a teacher in the SLDC, I have mentored student leaders in organising several school events, one of which was a Student Leaders’ Investiture in my previous school. The members of the Student Executive Council put all their heart into planning the event. There were a few setbacks, but they persevered and succeeded in making the investiture an impressive and memorable event for all participants. Seeing the pride and joy on their faces made me really proud and happy too!
I used to conduct polymer paperweight making workshops for Secondary Three Chemistry students. It was something I enjoyed back in school when I was a student, and I wanted to recreate the experience for my own students. It was great fun experimenting with my colleagues before we held the workshop. The students were pretty excited that they could design and create their own paperweight!
What development opportunities have you received as a teaching scholar?
Mei Hui: Throughout the course of my undergraduate studies, there were opportunities for me to undergo attachments at schools and MOE. I also went through an attachment at a school in Melbourne, Australia, which was approved and supported by MOE. Most recently, I had the opportunity to accompany and understudy some NIE (National Institute of Education) undergraduates at Zurich, Switzerland for an International Practicum. As a teaching scholar, there are also opportunities to attend talks and workshops on education and national policies throughout your career.
Sophia: The scholarship gave me the opportunity to receive a first-class education at a renowned university, Imperial College London. The student community at Imperial is very cosmopolitan, and that encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and interact with students from all over the world. MOE also arranged attachments to Jurongville Secondary School and Hong Kah Secondary School during my term breaks for me to gain exposure. During the attachments, I worked on special projects to improve pedagogy and discipline approaches in both schools. The attachments gave me a good head start in the profession, and I learnt a lot from experienced teachers.
What personal qualities do you think have helped in your teaching career?
Mei Hui: I think I am a pretty passionate musician, which shows in my personality and teaching. Whether Music or English, I try to inspire my students’ love for both subjects through my enthusiasm and passion in the classroom. I also enjoy interacting with people, which helps when I am building rapport with my students.
Sophia: There is a saying that goes: “The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book”. Having a heart for students is essential. While they sometimes make my days challenging, they are also the ones who can brighten my days – this is the very reason why I choose to stay in this profession. Teaching may be challenging, but it is truly a meaningful and rewarding career when you see your students grow and mature as individuals. You must enter with the right motivation and possess the resilience to overcome whatever obstacles and challenges may come your way.