Aiming to shape aspiring teachers into well-rounded educators, the Teaching Scholars Programme (TSP) is a new Ministry of Education (MOE) programme that seeks to close the gap between learning to be a teacher, and teaching in the classrooms. As part of the first batch to experience this programme, 23-year-old Lin Siyue shares her story.
Why did you decide to take up the TSP?
It was at a tea session held at MOE that they introduced the TSP and highlighted the benefits of the programme. The most impactful statement was made by the Dean from NIE, “If you want to be a doctor, you’ll study in medical school for five years. If you want to be a lawyer, you’ll study in law school for four years. If you want to be a teacher, shouldn’t you also study it for four years?” I was then convinced that studying my content subjects and teaching pedagogies over four years in an integrated programme would be the best training I could get to become a teacher.
More specifically, I was attracted by the numerous overseas opportunities. The most interesting one was the International Practicum experience, where we would teach in an overseas school.
Teacher, Chung Cheng Secondary School (Yishun)
Bachelor Of Arts (Education) (Sec),
Honours (Highest Distinction) – Nanyang Technological University Singapore
Please share about some of the overseas opportunities you enjoyed.
I did my Year 2 overseas practicum in California, USA. It was really eye-opening to see how English language is taught so differently there. Many of my preconceived ideas of education in USA were challenged and I was able to think deeply about the culture and background of students which influenced the way things were taught. In Year 3, I did a semester exchange programme at Cambridge University. There, education is studied in a much more theoretical and philosophical way, which gave me a more macro perspective and helped me to balance my practical knowledge with a bigger understanding of education. In Year 4, I was given the opportunity to attend an International Linguistics Conference where I presented the findings from my research about Mathematics teachers’ use of language.
How has the TSP prepared you for teaching in an actual class?
Being in the TSP gave us lots of exposure to the classroom over the four years through practicum. By the time one graduates, the classroom is not an unfamiliar place. The TSP has also challenged me to be innovative in my teaching. Over the years, we were challenged by our professors to think deeply and creatively about how we teach, to achieve the learning objectives that are set out in the syllabus. This has translated into the way I teach today.
How would you encourage others who are thinking of joining the TSP?
The TSP will give you a wonderful community of like-minded friends, numerous local and overseas opportunities, and a practical education that best prepares you for the teaching profession. I enjoyed my four years thoroughly and see its fruits every day as I teach now. Get the best education you can to become the best teacher you can be.
Shaping Creativity In Students
RRather than churning out students who learn by rote, a holistic education is necessary to nurture young minds to the best of their potential, something which the Ministry of Education (MOE) constantly strives towards. Theodora Huang, 29, who’s been involved in teaching students as well as developing a suitable curriculum for them, shares more about her experiences as a teaching scholar and educator.
Education Merit Scholar
Subject Head (Performing Arts),
Nanyang Girls’ High School
Master of Arts, Music & Music Education – Columbia University
What motivated you to apply for MOE Teaching Scholarship?
The scholarship presented an opportunity to pursue a personal interest in music, but beyond that, I saw it as a way to pay forward the blessings I had received through my education in the arts. I came to realise that my exposure to the performing arts has developed my confidence, shaped my way of thinking, and given me a unique set of tools and skills that were relevant in everyday life. The scholarship also offered a chance to be directly involved in the arts experiences of young people and share the joy of music with them.
How did your scholarship give you the opportunity to fulfil your aspirations?
With the scholarship, I pursued an undergraduate degree in Music and Mathematics at the University of Birmingham in the UK, and subsequently a Masters in Music and Music Education at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City, USA. The years of study abroad included rich learning experiences that deepened my knowledge and skills as a musician. I even had the opportunity to conduct several university music ensembles. I also met accomplished arts pedagogues who advocated teaching and learning approaches that would empower students in their musical discovery. The research and ideas seeded then became part of my personal teaching philosophy and have stayed with me in my capacity as a music educator.
How did your roles and responsibilities change during your stint in MOE HQ?
I began as a music teacher in a secondary school, and was responsible for the design of students’ music and arts experiences within the school. Transiting into MOE HQ offered a broader perspective on arts education at a national and systemic level. As an Arts Education Officer, I was involved in the development of teaching and learning resources for use across many schools, as well as review work to support implementation of the current music syllabus and shape the future direction of the syllabus and other policies related to arts education.
Any words to encourage aspiring educators hoping to follow in your footsteps?
Being an educator is so much more than the act of teaching; it really is a continuous process of learning – learning on the job, from colleagues, and most of all, from your students. Beyond the subjects we teach, education is about nurturing values and skills to prepare our students for the future. There is a great sense of purpose in the work that we do.