Take A Step In My Shoes; This Is Why I Teach

Posted by Shafina Jaafar on March 17, 2017

In the pursuit to inspire each child who walks through our classroom doors, our teachers go to great lengths to teach with love and help students achieve their dreams. But the greatest gift for a teacher is witnessing the love of learning that our students acquire; nurturing a love of learning in your child.

Straight from the heart, our teacher, Mr. Lim Yan Pin, shares how his 16-year-old student has inspired him.

Dear Parent,

I am pleased to share with you the accomplishment of one of my former Sec 4 (now JC1) students.

When my students received their ‘O’ Levels results two months ago, many of them joyfully conveyed to me their good news of having received As, while two of them scored B3s. Understandably, the two students who scored B3s were disappointed, but I was most proud of and inspired by out of all nine students, of one of them; Klemens Chia Yi Lin.

When I first took over the class, I was quite concerned by Klemens’ work. His sentences lacked coherence  and he had no proper application of tenses. Reading his written work was like taking a journey through a faulty time machine. I dared not even grade his work because I did not want to discourage him with ‘fail’ grades so close to his ‘O’ Levels.

What struck me about him, however, was his earnestness. After three lessons, when he finally seemed to feel comfortable enough to send me jokes and quizzes over WhatsApp, he eagerly told me that he wanted to score an A2 for his English at the ‘O’ Level Exams. I was initially quite taken aback and felt he was overly optimistic and ambitious, but I did not want to dash his hopes. I encouraged him to do his best.

In class, Klemens continued to stumble. With a weak foundation, he was struggling to grasp even simple skills and techniques, and my worry grew as we crept closer to the exam date of 24 October. I was frustrated as he was not consistently applying the skills and techniques I taught him. Furthermore, Klemens was reluctant to share with me how much he scored for his Year-End Prelims, but only that he had passed. I later learned that he was ranked second from the bottom of his class for English.

In late August, Klemens asked for my help in editing a write-up he was going to submit for a Scouts award. He was impressed by how quickly and elegantly I did it, finally admitting that summary skills were useful. I took that opportunity to share with him how important and practical all the different test components are in our daily lives. From that moment on, he started to stay behind after class to complete his work more diligently and ask me for help and inputs.

In October 2016, he texted me in the evening and asked me if I was willing to help him mark an essay every single day. He reiterated, very seriously, his dream of scoring an A2, and lamented the toll his poor grasp of English was taking on his subjects in the humanities. I told I would give him all the help he needed, as long as he was willing to work hard in return. Given that it was extremely close to the ‘O’ Levels, I told him very seriously that we were no longer working on addressing any core concerns he may have but we would instead be working purely on mechanics (e.g. focus on ‘what’ tenses should we use instead of ‘why’). I told him that the efficacy of his practices could only be guaranteed if he worked diligently to rectify the mistakes I highlighted to him.

From that day till the day before the actual English 'O' Level paper, I set him an essay question from The Learning Lab's English Management Unit's compilation of essay questions each day. We dealt with a wide range of topics so that he could kill two birds with one stone by getting some revision across different thematic areas. For every exercise, he would write, scan and email his essay to me, and in return, I would print, mark, scan, comment and send it back to him. On some days when he was unable to send an essay to me, he would make up for it by sending two the following day. As I was also marking such essays from a couple of his other classmates, I was not always prompt with my replies, but he would hound me via WhatsApp.

20161001_180622-long-header.jpgMr Lim Yan Pin and Klemens (third student from the right) with their Secondary 4 English class.

Through it all, he impressed me immensely with his perseverance and ambition. He had a goal and he worked tirelessly to achieve it. A total of 15 essays, all done within two weeks, scanned and saved in my computer, is a testament to his hard work and determination.

Just when I thought he could not top it, he asked me, on 22 October, if I was free to meet him the following day for him to consult me on some questions he had. Initially reluctant as I wanted him to get enough rest before the big day, I was swayed by him repeating his goal to score an A2. He wanted to, in his own words, “clarify all his doubts”. I agreed to meet him, and from 1pm to 5pm, he asked me many questions pertaining to every single component of the examination. In the evening, he thanked me and I told him I was very proud of his determination. I told him to give it his very best, and to take pride in his performance, no matter what.

After the paper, he told me he felt confident for an A2. I was not as hopeful as he was, because he might have made some missteps based on what he told me about his approach for the papers. He asked me for my frank assessment of his chances. Hoping to moderate his expectations as I expected to no longer meet him, I cautiously shared that as long as he scored a B3, I would be very happy for him. If he could prove me wrong with an A2, I would be very glad to be proven wrong. I told him to focus on his other subjects.

On 11 January 2017, Klemens told me he scored an L1R5 of 6. He was initially quite unhappy with the B3 in English, but he then admitted that he may have held an idealistic goal and that I correctly predicted his B3. I detailed his journey since the first day he came to me on 7 May 2016. I told him, for the first time, that he came to me a C5 / C6 student, but through sheer hard work and determination, he was able to attain a B3.

I could not be prouder of him, and I told him he was the student I was proudest of in his class of 9. I told him that he would need the very same spirit for the next two years, because it was only going to get tougher. He seemed to have been heartened by this exchange, and we spent the past week discussing the way forward for him, now that it was clear many doors have opened for him.

I have been sharing this with my upper secondary students (in not so many words), as I hope it will impress upon them that attitude is critical in achieving success, and that each and every one of them should strive towards their own personal targets.

Nurturing Your Child's Love of Learning


The jump between each academic level can be challenging for students if they are unable to build a strong foundation in the secondary school syllabus in Secondary 1.

At The Learning Lab, we aim to create a suitable learning journey for each student in their IB, IP or 'O' Level streams. The curricula for our secondary school programmes go beyond the traditional tutorial approach and focus on the development of critical reasoning skills, abstract thinking skills and overall personal enrichment.

New Call-to-action

If you are interested to speak with our enrolment specialists about our 2017 programmes, please email ENROLLMENT@THELEARNINGLAB.COM.SG or call us at 6733 8711 and we will be happy to assist.

Classes are filling fast!

If your child is already a student with us, secure your child’s place for the new term by logging on to the PARENT PORTAL to accept the allocated class(es) for your child.