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Photo credit: JORDAN CHIA

The teachers who inspired me to become a teacher myself

Many of us have been taught by an inspiring and encouraging teacher. I had the privilege of learning from two.

Jordan Chia


Published: 2 September 2020, 2:10 PM

Teachers’ Day is a time to celebrate every teacher’s hard work and how much they invest in nurturing their students.

This year is special to me as it is finally my turn to be on the receiving end of Teachers’ Day celebrations. I wanted to take some time to remember two of my teachers who have played a big part in getting me to where I am today.

My secondary school days were difficult, especially because of the English subject.

I hated it so much because of the endless compositions we had to write. I had no idea how to encapsulate a narrative, and often resorted to ending my essays with “then I woke up and realised it had only been a dream”, which I soon learnt was an express route to an ‘F’ grade.

Over time, my dislike for the subject turned into detest.

But this all changed when Mrs Thesiera took over my class for English in my final year.

 

Kind and loving, Mrs Thesiera (third from right) made an effort to understand students’ interests and what kind of materials they enjoyed reading. PHOTO CREDIT: JORDAN CHIA

 

Mrs Thesiera was different. She was one of the teachers that got to know me as a person, and then encouraged me to switch to argumentative essays. This was a huge struggle for me, as I had no experience with such essays, but she availed herself to meet me week after week to teach me how to write well.

Beyond going through my work and telling me specifically what I should improve on, Mrs Thesiera constantly encouraged me with messages such as “a good attempt” on my papers which pushed me to try harder.

To my surprise, I eventually graduated with a distinction in English for ‘O’ levels. When I approached Mrs Thesiera to share the good news, she gave me a huge smile and a thumbs up, saying: “Well done, your hard work paid off.”

I knew this grade was not possible without her help, and will always remember the sacrifices she made for me.

The next stage of my life in polytechnic had a new set of challenges. Although I was enrolled in a diploma course in law and management at Temasek Polytechnic, I wasn’t sure if this was the career track I wanted to pursue with my life.

I worked hard and even tried to love my course, but it was so difficult to excel in something that I didn’t like. Trying hard to maintain an average GPA of 3 was just tiring me out, and I often wondered if I should change course.

The turning point came in my final year when I had managed to secure a placement at a marketing firm for the legal industry, where the focus was not on law itself.

My internship mentor, Mr Wong, was a lecturer that most of my classmates found blunt and sarcastic.

But I loved his honesty and was receptive to his unconventional advice, telling me that “this course really isn’t something for you” and that I should “go and do something else, where it suits your character more.”

 

Mr Wong spent time with me outside of classes, and tried to understand my passions in life and why I took up this diploma. PHOTO CREDIT: JORDAN CHIA

 

I initially felt that this lecturer was really weird, or even crazy to tell his student things like this. But his statements sparked an evaluation of my life and whether I want to pursue a future-focused on my passion or just following what other people want me to do.

His advice stayed with me to this day and taught me to follow my passions in life.

Today, I am a preschool teacher, investing my time in the early years of my students. I want to be like my teachers who stood by their students, and also able to tell hard truths.

These were the things my teachers taught me that had shaped me to be who I am today, and I hope to be able to do the same for the next generation. Happy Teachers’ Day to all teachers.


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