Youth in Focus

ACJC’s inspiring teachers

Nov 2013    

Two teachers from the Anglo-Chinese Junior College (ACJC) English/General Paper and Mother Tongue departments have been recognised for going the extra mile to inspire their students in their respective subjects.

Mr Patrick Sum, who has served ACJC as a General Paper (GP) teacher for 13 years, was awarded the National Heritage Board – Ministry of Education. Most Inspiring Teacher of English Award 2013. The award recognises all English teachers who ignite a love for the English language in their students and who are passionate in their delivery of English lessons, engaging students to help them learn to speak and write better.

Mr Sum empathises with the fear and apprehension that many of his students view the GP subject with when they begin Junior College. Thus, he aims to make his GP classes a safe and laughter-filled space where students can grow in confidence and skills as they find their personal voices with informed opinions to make sense of an increasingly complex world.

He shares: “I often use ‘trigger’ or ‘teaser’ activities that employ variations of Dr Spencer Kagan’s “think-pair-share” approach where students have the chance to exchange their initial knowledge and even likely guesses on the new concept introduced. This is especially exciting when students from different nationalities and ethnicities offer rich hues and ideas to their discussion.

“A firm believer in the educational impact of story-telling and the age-old oral tradition, I would often share with my students how I or my own family and friends respond to various issues that are grey and controversial. This has helped them gain perspectives and learn vicariously the rationale behind the formation of these opinions, all of which I believe would scaffold their own ideas-generation and demonstrate the means to construct informed opinions.

“The students also take responsibility for their own learning by taking turns to upload links and references onto our shared Facebook page for each other’s enrichment. This inter-class online platform using social media has helped evolve a fresh buzz as the students are able to join me as collaborators of their desired learning experience.”

His colleague, Mrs Ramani Gopalan, was conferred the Most Inspiring Tamil Teacher Award 2013 by Tamil Murasu. The award recognises Tamil language teachers who have inspired students and contributed significantly to their development in this subject.

Mrs Gopalan has been with ACJC for 27 years, and was nominated for the award by one of her students, Navin Kumar Subramanian. He described her as “one the most unforgettable teachers” he has ever met and added: “Mrs Gopalan treats us like her own kids. She puts our interests first before considering her own. If there is any reason why I feel at home in ACJC, it is her.” This care for her students is integral to how Mrs Gopalan

teaches Tamil in the face of an increasingly English-speaking society: “When teaching my students, I first think of them as my own children and learn of their needs. I express my care and concern and use this to change my students’ ways. I increase usage of activities that encourage independent learning and bring up many examples of how a mother tongue can help to address many challenges that we face in our lives.

“Many knowledgeable individuals have said that in a person’s best and worst times, he always speaks in his mother tongue. I have often used this saying to stress the familiarity of and enjoyment in learning a mother tongue.”


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