The Fellowship is a 2-year commitment. What made you decide to do more than that?
I intend to stay on in teaching as a career. I didn’t always know this – teaching has not been easy. There were challenges, but I found joy in small teaching successes. If I had 5 classes in a day, and just one of them went well, that was enough motivation to get up to teach the next day. I had good feedback from my fellow teachers as well, who said they could see me staying on in education.
What do you hope to achieve in your 3rd year that you couldn’t have achieved in 2?
Personally, in my first two years, I’ve not yet achieved my goal of becoming a firm educator. I want my kids to excel, and I need to be able to drive that point hard. Another factor was my subject change: I used to teach Maths, now I teach English. I’ve found that I really like teaching English! But because of the subject change, I’ve only had a year to get used to teaching it. I want to become a better English teacher and help my students master the language.
At the same time, I want to be able to continue the projects that I started in my second year as a TFM Fellow – even though both my project collaborators won’t be continuing with a 3rd year. The project is aimed at increasing Affect and Access. We take the kids on field trips to visit workplaces and the like. This is so they have a better idea of post-SPM options.
We’re introducing a new part to this project, which is organising night classes for kids. A lot of our kids work part-time, and they’ve mentioned that they study better at night. They’re often tired during the day. We hope that by introducing this, we help them maximize their learning potential.
My students are currently in Form 4. They’ve another year to go, and I’d really like to see them through to SPM. Right now we’re a Band 6 school struggling to make it to Band 5. I really want to see this school go up a band. This and all my projects require consistent, continuous effort. 2 years is definitely not enough for me to achieve all the goals I’ve set for myself.
Was this something you saw yourself doing before?
Not at all! My degree is in multimedia. Before I heard about the Fellowship, I’d worked for about 4 years in Employee Providence Fund (EPF) as a designer. The life I saw ahead of me was filled with desk jobs, computers, and animation. But even then, I gravitated towards customer service, and discovered that I had a passion for it. At one point in time, I was in charge of training my co-workers. They told me that I was really good at teaching. Another hint I had was I loved working as a barista in Starbucks, where I’d always strike up conversations with my customers. That got me thinking about my love for interacting with people. When the Fellowship came along, it seemed perfect for me to explore that.
Is your family supportive?
Yes, my wife and parents are very supportive. My mother is of the opinion that working in education or government is a good, stable career. My wife is a teacher herself, so she was quite happy to support my entry into the teaching world.
What advice do you have for 2014 Fellows who have yet to begin their 2-year stint?
Always expect challenges and obstacles. Celebrate successes, no matter how small. And never, never ever give up!