When you think of the role model teachers you’ve had and remember fondly, who comes to mind?
The Maths teacher that stood by you and encouraged you to grow? The English teacher who saw your potential and believed in you? The teacher that helped you discover a new sport, hobby, talent – or maybe even nudged you down your current career path?
As we celebrate Teachers’ Day, we want to pay homage to the teachers and educators that have played such an integral part in shaping our lives, and to their importance in being role models.
Teachers who spread the joy of learning
For Zi Nean, the Partnership Development intern at TFM, his most memorable teacher was his secondary school Maths and Computer Science teacher – Mr Voci. Zi describes Mr Voci as a teacher who cares deeply about student growth.
According to Zi, Mr Voci taught him that there are no shortcuts in learning: “The struggle, the urge to give up, and the sudden eureka moment and the joy that follows after successfully arriving at the answer, is all part of the journey of learning.”
For Zi,what he enjoyed most about Mr. Voci’s class was that discussions amongst classmates would often continue to linger even outside of classroom hours — a sign that learning does not end the moment the bell rings.
Teachers who are passionate
Passionate teachers inspire students and get them interested in learning – regardless of the subject being taught.
“I had a lecturer who taught a course about earth and rocks. Initially I was worried that the lessons would be boring, but after attending his classes – I realised quickly how wrong I was,” shared Iman, the Marketing intern in TFM.
True enough, what changed Iman’s mind about the subject was the teacher’s passion. “You can see his eyes light up when he’s teaching. He was very passionate and that really helped me to understand the materials better. I learned to appreciate all types of knowledge even if I didn’t understand it entirely.”
Teachers who believed in us
For Rusyaidi, the Talent Acquisition intern, his favourite teacher was his Standard 6 BM Teacher, Puan Norizan. At the time, his BM ability was tremendously poor, as he had spent most of his childhood years in the UK. Three months prior to his UPSR examination, he scored an F for his first BM exam.
“Puan Norizan believed in me and went the extra mile by conducting 1-on-1 BM tuition classes for me and another student in Standard 4 in her own home,” he shared. “I remember sitting next to her at her dining table while we went over past-year questions together. She didn’t need fancy tuition centres to captivate my attention.”
Her efforts and faith in Rusyaidi was worth it – he ended up scoring Straight A’s! “I remember Puan Norizan jumping with joy towards my dad, with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on her. I am often reminded of how much she believed in me whenever I doubt myself.”
Teachers who encourage and empower
A lot of us have one teacher in mind who we feel changed our lives. For Shawn, it was Mr Lim Ah Seng. Despite being the head of disciplinarian, Shawn describes Mr Lim as having his way of getting along with students. “He was not only our teacher but he was our friend.”
“He taught me the value and power of a students’ voice,” he shared. “He would always encourage us to speak up if we were ever dissatisfied about anything. He would always listen, and was always there for us.”
Mr Lim also gave Shawn the opportunity to become a school prefect, despite him not fitting into the “norm” of the type of student a school prefect usually is. “He believed that every student has different gifts to offer and by giving them the opportunity is where you make them realise their potential.”
Teachers who step in
2020 Fellow Yaw Kwan recalled a teacher that he had when he was in Form 6, Mr Tan. He described him as a dedicated teacher who would tirelessly provide free extra classes, encouraged students to join extra curricular activities and strongly advocated for students to pursue higher education.
Yaw Kwan also remembers Mr Tan as the teacher who would step in during classroom conflicts and help resolve issues among students. “He would pause the lessons he was conducting in order to address the issue,” he shared. “He would advise us on how to deal with conflicts maturely and to take responsibility for our actions.”
Teachers who are good support systems
For Program Duta Guru intern Atsmara, her university lecturer Madam Sri Kusumawati was a strong pillar of support. Atsmara describes her as the kind of teacher who would always believe in her students, encourage them to push their limits, and would allow space for her students to prove themselves.
Atsmara also highlights that she often allowed and encouraged a space for her students to share, and never disregarded their struggles. “She is the type of teacher who understands that academic failure often stems from other factors like financial and mental health issues. She often helped channel resources to address them.”
Teachers who were kind to us
2020 Fellow Michelle also reminisced on her own teachers: “My teachers showed up to class everyday with their hearts on their sleeves.”
“I remember this particular teacher – Puan Tan, who treated us like we were one of her own children. I remember the days she would invite us to chat in her air-conditioned office, and how she would conduct extra classes after school hours,” she shared.
“She never needed to do any of those things – but she did them anyway.”
Teachers who will never be forgotten
There are teachers whose impact will live on forever, even though they are no longer with us. Melissa reflects on one of her colleagues during her Fellowship in 2014 – Allahyarham Cikgu Azam. Melissa describes him as an inspiring educator and friend – a passionate coach who understood the hours upon hours you need to put in in order to truly be great as an athlete.
“Every day without fail, even during the fasting month, Allahyarham Cikgu Azam would be out on the hot and dry field training, mentoring and moulding kampung kids, instilling discipline and humility into each and every one of them,” she reminisced.
Allahyarham Cikgu Azam left an incredible legacy – the passion and dedication he had put into training his students into athletes enabled them to stand out among other students when applying for jobs because of their discipline and commitment.
Here’s to the teachers who believed in us, who inspired us, and the teachers who will never be forgotten. We learn through them, through their commitment to excellence and through their ability to make us realise our own personal growth.
Happy Teacher’s Day!