Tan Zhi Shan

Tan Zhi Shan


"People around me always kept on asking the same question: “What made you become a teacher?” Still, I could not give a relevant answer to that question. When I was just a little girl, I did ask my parents, ‘What will I be?’ A drastic change in my family turned me down. As the eldest daughter in my family, I knew that I should abandon my dreams. Everything I wanted to fulfill was not on the right timing. Becoming a doctor? It was the joke of the year. Perhaps, during my youth, I thought that the only way to inspire others and gain a wealthier life was to become a doctor, lawyer or engineer. Once I started my training at teacher’s training institution, I kept myself away from my friends because I felt that I was no longer competitive.

Eventually, I graduated with flying colours and became a novice teacher. Every day before school started, lesson plans were needed and the preparation for teaching and learning sessions had to be equal. The toughest moments were learning to deliver the message. We tend to talk like adults, because we are. During the teaching and learning sessions, I have to interpret the message and information at an acceptable level for children. From this, I have learnt that as a human being, we should always walk in their shoes and never assume that every child is the same. They are never the same and a teacher is the one to reveal their potential.

Education is life inspiring life. A teacher's inspiration helps students glow, but we can also learn something from our students. Once I stepped into my third year of teaching, I met a typical playful boy in my class. He used to be a long-term guest to the disciplinary room. Every single time, I like to approach him and chit-chat with him about everything. He always made mistakes, and I believed that he did it because of not being well-informed. When he was accused of committing mischief, I would first listen to his explanation and then we analysed the problem together. He would admit his mistake if he really made one, or learned that the analysis was making sense.

As days passed by, we were going to say goodbye to each other. I still remember one day before the school holiday, I saw the children in my class were so busy writing some words on the handmade cards. My curiosity was finally resolved once I saw that boy collecting all the cards to give them to me. He said, “Ms. Tan, thanks for being our class teacher throughout the year. Thanks for always giving me a chance to transform,” and then he rushed to canteen for recess. It is not compulsory for a child to appreciate the teacher, but he did. It is not compulsory for a child to transform for the better according to our will, but he did.

What makes education successful? Teachers inspiring students, and vice versa. Dear boy, thanks for making me glow."