Good teachers have the skills to know exactly how to get the best out of each and every young child. They inspire our young to be lifelong learners, and create a culture of independent enquiry with their enthusiasm and passion. At The Learning Lab, we pride ourselves in selecting passionate and nurturing teachers who don’t just love to teach, but teachers who teach with love.
We speak to Mrs Florence Wong, one of our senior teachers, as she shares about what it takes to be a great educator.
Mrs Florence Wong
As a teacher for more than 10 years, I have become more involved in the training process of fresh hires, as a member of the Teacher Training and Quality Management team at The Learning Lab (TLL) in recent years.
My current role is to continuously improve the onboarding process to ensure our new colleagues received adequate training in areas needed to excel as a TLL teacher, on top of being a mentor to the new teachers.
The teachers we select must be a good fit to the TLL culture. Even though they might be young, they are more open minded, and can easily adapt to our processes.
This might sound a little cliché, but age is not a good indicator of a teacher’s abilities. What really matters is whether he or she has that passion for teaching and children.
A teacher needs to have that innate creativity to come up with new and interesting ways to relay complicated concepts to her students.
Trust me, it can be very boring to teach three of the same content plans in a row.
We look for a passionate individual who will come into class and motivate students with his or her contagious enthusiasm towards the subject.
Although there has been many shifts in the institutional direction of education, passionate teachers would have always kept to the same goals – to help their students gain more knowledge and enjoy the learning process.
From my experience, I think it is important for our TLL teachers to embody the following qualities.
A passion for teaching.
This trait would be most apparent in the classroom.
Teaching is certainly not the job for you if you’re only keen on going through the motions. You will be jaded quickly. It will be very obvious to your students if you don’t enjoy your job and do the bare minimum. Ultimately, it will be students who will lose out the most in this situation.
The only way to be truly satisfied in your job is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do.
A desire to learn.
Just because one is an experienced teacher doesn’t mean he or she has nothing to learn.
It is even more important for senior teachers to always be on the lookout for what’s new in the education sphere. You need to constantly upgrade yourself so students can benefit from your increased knowledge or streamlined teaching methods.
This is what I love about teaching at TLL! I’ve been given the opportunity to assume new roles that enhance my teaching skills. For example, while mentoring the nursery and kindergarten teachers, I learnt how to handle situations that I’ve not faced before.
And if you really enjoy your job, wouldn’t it be a pleasure to find out what more you can do to help students?
There will be times when the workload gets overwhelming. Teaching is not simply a 2-hour monologue in front of students. It requires plenty of time for planning, not just to deliver the lesson, but to get the students excited to learn as well. Coupled with the copious amount of marking, this all might seem daunting to a new teacher.
But when you see the joy on your students’ faces when they proudly announce their grades to you, or that eagerness to receive the new worksheet or learn a new topic in class, that’s when you know that the hard work is worth it.
Faith and confidence (in yourself)
Take risks in your teaching. While the curriculum team provides guidance on how you can conduct a lesson, you should do what you think is right, as long as it benefits the students.
Be more vocal during meetings! We love to hear suggestions about what you think would help yourself and the rest of the teachers, in the classroom.
Suggestions don’t necessarily need to have fully fleshed out action plans but it builds great ideas, and will make you stand out as a great teacher.
Remember, a teacher who loves teaching, will teach children to love learning.
As a parent (and grandparent) yourself, what advice would you like to share with other parents who have worries about their child’s education?
Look for the best in each child and bring that out. This is especially important since academics are such a large part of a child’s life. When they don’t perform well in school, they feel inferior to their peers, and subsequently they come in to lessons with a defeated mentality that hinders their improvement.
Parents have to find that spark within their child and highlight it – make them understand and realise what they’re good at and it will give them the confidence they need. I also try to push my grandchildren to achieve their personal bests instead of aiming for an absolute score that equates to an A or A* in school.
As TLL celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, do you feel that it has changed since you’ve joined?
When I first joined, we had a very small team of teachers and only provided English lessons.
Now, we have a family of more than 400 staff, and cover a much wider range of subjects and different streams.
However, our basic ethos is the same.
We’re always moving with the times, adapting current affairs into our lesson plans.
What sets us apart is that we don’t repeat our content. The curriculum teams are continually refreshing our materials so our students would always be the first in the know about the latest current affairs.
While there is often the debate of whether to incorporate technology into the classroom, I don’t think anything can beat the personal touch a teacher provides, and I am glad that TLL has not wavered from the ethos that technologies can never replace great teaching.
Another thing I can say for sure hasn’t changed is the TLL culture and beliefs. We still hold true to our vision of providing premium education for our students, and are constantly working hard to inspire and ensure that each student has developed that love of learning.
After all, it is only through this passion for learning that will propel them to excellence in their chosen paths.
Come speak to our teachers at TLL’s 15th Anniversary Grand Carnival this June! Find out more about the event here!