What Makes Teachers Great?

This is an excerpt from What Students Want, an upcoming book showcasing personal glimpses into current education issues that are pertinent to students. This essay was written by Soon Teck, a former student of Brian Geh (2012 Alumnus).

What Makes Teachers Great? 01 students

It is indisputable that teachers play a pivotal role in shaping young minds for the future. The influence of a good teacher can never be erased. But here comes the million-dollar question: What makes teachers great? What allows them to leave a deep impact in the lives of their students?

Every great teacher’s story begins in the classroom, or as I call it, “The Battlefield for the Future”. What happens in the classroom today, builds the leaders of tomorrow.

A good teacher

A good teacher is one who ensures no students are left behind. All students deserve an equal opportunity to learn whether they are weak or brilliant. In a classroom, the learning abilities of students vary. Attention shouldn’t be given only to students who can learn well, but also to weaker students who need continuous help and encouragement.

Teachers should encourage students to sit in groups to allow group discussions and collaboration. Teachers can start lessons with games and quizzes to get students excited about what they’re going to learn on that day. They also need to visit other well-performing schools to analyse their teaching approaches and learn from them.

What Makes Teachers Great? 02 classroom

It is important for teachers to guide their students towards a better future, not just better exam grades which don’t necessarily guarantee a bright future. The encouragement given by teachers can help motivate students to succeed. If teachers don’t care, then students will feel neglected, start to show apathy towards their studies and even skip lessons.It really takes special people like teachers to encourage students to dream big and never give up on themselves. We are who we are now because at some point in our lives someone did that for us.

“I believe in you”

“I believe in you” is one of the most powerful things a person can tell someone. Personally, I’ve had an experience in my life as well where I was motivated by that sentence, by the faith my teacher had in me.

Mr Brian Geh is the man who did that, and he is my favourite teacher. In fact, he is more than a teacher to me. He is like my own blood brother. He took care of me and my friends. When I felt too lazy to go for extra classes that were really far from my home, he drove me there. Sometimes if we felt hungry while we were studying, he brought food for us so that we could focus.

What Makes Teachers Great? 03 Brian Geh

Brian Geh (2012 Alumnus)

He pushed us to discover our true potential. He trained us to compete at the Maths Olympiad in Kuala Lumpur; he organised extra classes during weekends to ensure that we were well prepared. He even took us to Ipoh for 4 days just to concentrate on our training.
Today, he advises us to try to get into top universities both locally and internationally. He takes my juniors to career fairs, universities and also cluster schools to engage with students over there to improve their learning.

Make teaching great again

It’s really inspiring to see passionate people like Mr Brian helping less privileged students achieve the best that they can in their lives. Teaching is often deemed as a profession full of challenges and hardships. How many youths are actually willing to empower this nation through teaching? For me, I’d definitely accept the mission if I were given a chance. I will definitely assist students who don’t want to study. I’ll counsel them, advise them to fight for their dreams and goals. I will never give up on them just like Mr Brian didn’t give up on me.

From my point of view, the relationship between teachers and students is the heart of education. Teaching is the most noble profession in the world and I salute all the teachers out there for doing such a great job in helping many students achieve their dreams without expecting anything in return. And that truly makes teachers great.

Brian Geh is a 2012 Alumnus who graduated from the University of Cambridge with a Masters in Mathematics. He taught at a school in Selangor for two years before joining the Research, Design and Impact team at Teach For Malaysia. He’s currently working at a consulting firm.

Soon Teck is currently pursuing a BSc in Accounting and Finance at Sunway University on the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation Scholarship. He met Mr Brian who taught at his school while on the Fellowship. Soon Teck aspires to attain a stable career so that he can help support his family.

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Teach For Malaysia recruits, trains and supports Fellows to teach in high-need schools across the nation. Beyond the Fellowship, our Alumni continue to champion education in different ways. To date, we’ve impacted over 87,000 students, working with the Ministry of Education and other partners.

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