My Teaching Journey – Tracy Wu

Name: Tracy Wu
Specialisation: English language and literature
Levels: PSLE, O & A levels and IB

What made you choose to become a teacher?
My earliest influence was my dad. The warmth and enthusiasm with which each of his students welcomed me every time I visited his school, convinced me that being a teacher was cool! I also had encouraging and intelligent teachers who left a really positive mark in my life. Besides, I loved English language (EL) and literature and excelled in these two subjects while in school, so teaching seemed a natural choice.

What are the qualifications needed for this role?
A real interest in the subject, a heart for the students and a desire to keep learning. Great teachers possess an inexplicable charisma that allows them to manage the class while enthusing them at the same time. We have to be clear and structured but not boring, firm but approachable.

Tell us about your teaching experience.
I’ve taught in MOE schools, joined MOE HQ’s Curriculum Planning and Development Division as an EL planner, and have taught in one of Singapore’s premier enrichment centres before joining a multi-million start-up in setting up an enrichment centre. Besides that, I have started giving home tuition since I was in university. You could say that my career path has been mapped from young!

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in the course of your work? How do you deal with them?
Managing expectations and maintaining trust would be the most crucial and yet challenging aspects of being a teacher. Sometimes, the parents and their child come in with different levels of motivation or expectations, and I try to counsel both sides so that they’ll better understand each other’s point of view. Especially in the case of subjects such as English language and literature, where the marking scheme tends to be more subjective and results may not be obvious overnight, communication and my professionalism are important in building a trusting and constructive relationship.

What do you think makes your lessons a popular choice among students?
Besides my experience and resources, I focus greatly on enabling my students to clarify their thought processes. This can range from something as simple as learning to apply the right techniques for the various components of the papers, to something as complex as understanding cognitive development and using that understanding to develop critical thinking skills.

I am constantly reading, applying research-based methodologies and content into my lessons. When the student is clear of what they can do to excel, their confidence and results will usually follow suit.

Lastly, the relationship that is borne out of genuine care is also critical in maintaining a conducive learning environment.

What advice do you have for parents who wish to enrol their children in enrichment or tuition classes?
Share your objectives, challenges or concerns with the teacher, provide her with samples of your child’s work and ask for areas in which the teacher thinks she can help the child. Ask if the teacher has a variety of teaching methods to apply to different students. For example, with students who are very resistant towards the idea of doing academic work, or who are very lacking in confidence, I conduct more experiential lessons, translating the activities into relevant content and skills points. With students who are excelling the subject, I push them towards boosting their portfolio by training them for contests and showcases.

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