Ig­nit­ing stu­dents’ pas­sion for words


These In­spir­ing Teach­ers re­veal the se­crets of their suc­cess

She is just 29, but in her four years of teach­ing in sev­eral se­condary schools and a ju­nior col­lege, she has in­spired her stu­dents to de­velop a pas­sion for English lit­er­a­ture .

For her ded­i­ca­tion, Ms Ber­nice Yeo was the youngest re­cip­i­ent of the In­spir­ing Teacher of English Award this year.

The award, which hon­ours out­stand­ing teach­ers of English lan­guage, English lit­er­a­ture and gen­eral pa­per, is in its 11th year.

The nine win­ners this year – cho­sen from 102 nom­i­na­tions – re­ceived their awards from Ms In­dra­nee Ra­jah, Min­is­ter in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice, and Sec­ond Min­is­ter for Fi­nance and Ed­u­ca­tion, in a cer­e­mony at the Na­tional Li­brary Build­ing last night.

Five of them, in­clud­ing Ms Yeo, re­ceived the teach­ing award for ex­cel­lence in the class­room while four heads of de­part­ment re­ceived the lead­er­ship award for de­vel­op­ing ef­fec­tive English pro­grammes.

Ms Yeo, who teaches English lit­er­a­ture in Eunoia Ju­nior Col­lege, said she places em­pha­sis on get­ting feed­back from her stu­dents to un­der­stand their needs.

“I have had stu­dents, who used to tell me they hated lit­er­a­ture, change their minds and be­come fans of an au­thor. They even quote the text back at me at un­ex­pected mo­ments,” she told The New Pa­per.

She be­lieves that learn­ing is most ef­fec­tive when stu­dents en­joy what they are learn­ing.

“I try my best to make classes fun and rel­e­vant to the stu­dents, and in do­ing so, ex­pose them to the in­fi­nite beauty and splen­dour of the lit­er­ary world.”

Mrs Mishaelle Chua, 42, who teaches English lan­guage at St Joseph’s In­sti­tu­tion, en­joys teach­ing be­cause she be­lieves she can make a dif­fer­ence to the fu­ture of Sin­ga­pore.

“I take this re­spon­si­bil­ity se­ri­ously as I know that my ef­forts in to­day’s class­room can im­pact the stu­dents and lead­ers of the fu­ture,” said Mrs Chua, who has 19 years of teach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Her phi­los­o­phy as a teacher is to al­ways de­velop the po­ten­tial of each stu­dent.

She boosts stu­dents’ con­fi­dence through de­bates, oral pre­sen­ta­tions and in­ter-class po­etry recitals.

She also ini­ti­ated and cham­pi­oned the Read­ing Cir­cle Pro­gramme in 2010 in her school to en­hance the ex­ist­ing read­ing pro­gramme and de­velop close read­ing and speak­ing skills.

She said: “With suf­fi­cient guid­ance, these young minds will de­velop a habit of re­flec­tion, thus al­low­ing them to flex their mus­cles in the de­part­ment of em­pa­thy– a qual­ity we can never have enough of in this in­for­ma­tion era.”



Ms Ber­nice Yeo (left) and Mrs Mishaelle Chua.

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