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20 Kramat Lane
United House, #03-05
Tel: +65 8138 6011
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are your qualifications?MRS D: - BA Hons (2nd Upper) English (which means Literature in NUS) (English Literature & English Language major and Philosophy minor) - Dip. Ed (Institute of Education) Credit with Distinction in Teaching Practice - Public Service Commission Local Merit (Open) Scholarship - Pre-University-cum-Overseas Merit Scholarship for Humanities at Oxbridge at Hwa Chong Junior College
Where and what have you taught? What other experience do you have?Victoria Junior College Raffles Institution, Gifted Education Programme (during first ten years when it was only three schools) Nanyang Girls' High School, Gifted Education Programme * Literature at "A" Level (H2) * General Paper at "A0" Level (H1) * English Language at "O" Level (Gifted Education Programme) * Literature in English at "O" Level (Gifted Education Programme) * English Language at "O" Level (Express and Special) Subjects taught and lessons developed in two English Enrichment centres: English Language at O Level (S1-S4) PSLE English Language K2 and P6 Bridging Programmes Storywriting and Wordbuilder programmes for alll levels Understanding Different forms of Poetry Tackling Unseen Poetry Studying Set Texts Studying a Shakespeare Play Specialist experience: Founded 2 English Enrichment centres and set up teaching programmes for pupils for pre-university to pre-kindergarten Served as supervisor for the National Institute of Education (NIE)'s Certificate for Teaching of Pupils of Higher Ability; Consultant on teaching practices for gifted education/ special needs programmes in schools; Writer of profiling tools: Entrepreneurial Profile/ Business Quotient Test used by PSB Academy in serving the KhaliFa Fund in Abu Dhabi; Success Through Achiever's Roadmap (S.T.A.R.) VALUES profiling tool used by Life Mastery Academy for sales professionals, entrepreneurs, students and corporate training programmes; S.T.A.R Learning Styles profiling tool used by Life Mastery Academy (LMA) for student programmes. "Identify your limiting beliefs" template used by LMA and Skillsmart Pte Ltd for sales professionals, entrepreneurs and corporate training programmes
How many years of experience do you have?I know how movie stars feel; I appreciate their need to be cagey about their age. Let's say some of my oldest students have 3 kids each, are senior academics in the National University of Singapore, senior medical specialists, head teachers in top primary and secondary schools, really senior officers in the Singapore Armed Forces and published poets. (latest update: some recently promoted Navy officer that made the news - that's my student too) Hints: Worked under great pioneer-generation principals Mr Eugene Wijeysingha (first Headmaster of independent RI), Mrs Lee Phui Mun (who founded Victoria JC).
How are your lessons conducted?Each lesson is one and a half hours, and conducted once a week. The lessons were planned for 15 a class but my preference is 12. I have only one consistent rule in all my teaching strategies - to engage my class in higher -order and more rigorous thinking. So my lessons are not always predictable except for the readings and my never allowing the pupils to complete their work at home with extra time.
Is there any homework?There is no written homework for the pupil. All written work is done under time pressure in class and specific to the teaching objective of the lesson. Typically it allows the pupil to demonstrate what he/she has learnt. Yes, there is homework but it is mine - marking and reviewing what was learnt, the work done and reading, reading, reading! What the pupil has to do is to complete or go through the selected reading of the week. It should be obvious why this is a good practice.
Is there any placement test?No, because I am very familiar with the damage placement tests can do to a child's esteem if admission to a programme is dependent on the performance in the test. Currently, placement tests are sometimes used for what appears to be a commercial objective - to sift out potentially weak kids that may bring down the results and offer clients (in this case worried and anxious parents) a false sense of pride if their child is accepted. If the referral came from a specialist, I am likely to figure at which point of the learning curve the student is. I only ask a few questions, to find out if there is any medical history, diagnosed learning disability, record of fights with others or dislike of groups. It does not serve the parent to have me teach the child when I can direct him or her to the specialist that is more likely to offer the needed intervention or therapy. What is most important is saving the student's time. I would want no less from any teacher I hire to teach my children.
What sort of student can benefit from your lesson?Any student in Primary Gifted Education Programme, EM1 or 2, or Secondary Express, Special or in the Integrated Programmes. Perennial participants in my classes: RI students, ACS (Ind) O level students, HCI IP students but also many Express stream students from many other schools. I always tell my students that the HCI (Ind) students forced my hand; they practically stayed put until they could see what I was planning was serving their needs! That said, what's important is being very tuned to their thinking process during the lesson. While all written work is corrected rigorously and errors analysed, the goal is intended to get the student to mature and improve. There is a clear healthy competitive spirit in my classes but no fear of unnecessary competition after that because comparisons are not made out loud for all to hear. In my one-to-one lessons, I have taught pupils from the whole spectrum - PSLE pupils with Asperger's syndrome, borderline autism, expressive language disorder, anger management issues, or under-achieving "O" Level or PSLE pupils suffering from low self-esteem as well as highly convergent thinkers like Maths Olympiad winners. There are some special needs that require sub-specialist attention and intervention, such as dyslexia, and I will refer such pupils to known qualified professionals. In gist, my on-going classes follow the pulse of a school and build up towards the terminal examinations while my one-to-one lessons work on diagnosing the error patterns in the pupil's work before charting out a series of lessons to address the problems. Most unusual one-to-one lesson: a personal shopping trip for a student whom I guessed did not have ready study resources for all his "O" level subjects (someone had stolen all his books). He was my zero-to-hero student - he went from "O" level no-hoper aggregate of 30 to a 9 for his L1R5!
What kind of parent may NOT be satisfied with your classes?It would be the parent who *believes that good teaching is equated with a backbreaking volume of work for the student, (no written homework from me) *wants me to "stream" my students, when my experience allows me to level up very impressively (high-performing RI & Hwa Chong students have stayed on year after year, knowing full well some of their classmates are from lower band schools) *looks to tutors to provide "tips" (I provide "insights") *merely nags the child to read but regularly laments that he or she cannot stand reading, (while parents can pay for superb specialist programmes, they cannot hire anyone to convince a child to change from lazy to industrious if the parental model at home is not supportive, ie, if shopping and gambling (especially mahjong) - even social - are the only obvious activities *is overly pleased with surprisingly high marks and untowardly anxious about a sudden dip as well (my timeframe is much longer term than the average parent; the A* in PSLE is no long-term indication of superior writing or analytical ability). I am known for putting a high value on students making all the mistakes they can with me before their final examinations and not surprising themselves in the exam hall. I manage through a judicious mix of interaction and competition to get your children to pay attention to their own errors and idiosyncrasies.
Why can't I get your kind of lesson in school?If I can tell you, you would have to gag me. But seriously, your average teacher is working in a very pressurising environment. Those who have the interest may not have the time and those who have the time may not have the inclination. Some teachers' strengths are decidedly in pastoral care and character development and these areas are undoubtedly, trust me, very important. Me? I focus on developing analytical and linguistic skills. My students, unless they are bone-lazy and caught in endless conflict with their parents, get into the habit of reading and thinking for themselves. It always makes my day to teach a student something new, seemingly difficult, or out of their comfort zone.
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