Classroom Thursdays: Andrew Lew

Every other week, we bring you a story from a Teach For Malaysia classroom. This week, learn about 2012 Fellow Andrew Lew and how he put his engineering skills to good use in the high need community he teaches in, courtesy of Leadership Development Officer Sawittri Charun.


Andrew Lew had so much at stake when he joined Teach For Malaysia. A young engineer working towards a very promising future at Sime Darby, Andrew decided to put his engineering career on hold, and in exchange be rewarded with the incredible opportunity of giving back to the community.

When Andrew first started teaching, reality hit him hard, and it hit him fast. The school he was posted to is a beautiful multicultural entity. In Andrew’s classes, students typically speak between 2-3 different languages, but mastering only their own mother tongue. The students also come with diverse primary school experiences, and many of them have had little contact with peers of different ethic groups, languages and values. Class size kept expanding due to shortage of teachers, up to a point where there was barely space for students to move. On top of everything, Andrew also quickly realised that a teacher’s job involves a lot of administrative duties as well.

It was then that Andrew decided to bring in valuable lessons from his engineering days: efficiency, meticulousness and dedication.

He particularly increased his efficiency to cope with administrative duties, became more meticulous in planning his lessons so as to minimise challenges due to language barriers and demonstrated great dedication to overcome all possible challenges he was facing in school. He worked with another Fellow to devise an electronic tracker to help him efficiently track assessments and dedicated his school holidays coming to the office to work on his classroom management plans, marking his students’ books and planning for lessons.

True enough, his efforts have engineered success as Andrew is experiencing far more success today with his students then when he first started.