Both teachers and parents are similar in the way they want the children to grow well, learn more and develop positive attitudes towards life. Both teachers and parents ride the same emotional roller-coaster when the children under their care do not listen. But they celebrate with together with a child when the child has achieved something previously difficult to do.
Sometimes, teachers are even teachers of their charge’s parents! When my older daughter was in preschool, a new young teacher asked to see me. I was surprised to find myself being scolded by her!
She told me that during lunchtimes at school, my daughter would sit still and eat. However, every Monday, she would return to school unable to do so. This, the teacher said, meant that the appropriate discipline was not being reinforced at home during the weekends. And I, as the mother, was the culprit!
Today, I sent my younger daughter to school with presents for her preschool teachers. I told her to say, “Happy Teacher’s Day” as she hand each teacher her present. She even practiced saying it in Chinese for her “laoshi”. Nevertheless, I wrote in the communication book, “But if she is too shy to say it to you, please know that she appreciates you. And I do, too.”
I’ve asked parents and children to share their stories of how teachers have inspired them, and for the biggest lesson they remember from their teacher. This is what they say.
If someone else can do it, so can you.
Ms Christina Ambarwati, 39, a Vice President at Manulife: “Since I was four years old, my mom, who was also my English teacher, kept telling me ‘If someone else can do it, then why can’t you?’.” It was annoying, she says, but it’s certainly helped her to become the motivated person she is today!
Amelia, 15, remembers what her French teacher Madame Cisca told her, “Two years ago, I received a phone call that told me my husband had died of a heart-attack at work that day. The first thing that came to my mind what that I was thankful I had a job.”
Matthew, aged seven: “My violin teacher said her house is not a public toilet. There is no auto-flush. You have to flush after you are done.”
Everyone’s the same.
Nicole, nine, marveled at the wisdom her science teacher imparted: “Mr. Lim said Racial Harmony Day is not just a day to remind us to respect other races, but also people who are different than us.” He was referring to how the children should treat people with disabilities.
Draw to understand.
Nicole also remembers what the same teacher told her about how to understand and remember things better. He once made the children each drew a life-sized digestion system on a plain white shirt. “Mr. Lim said you have to write or draw it and not just read it. So I’m going to draw my Scales and Arpeggios to remember them”. So she came up with visuals in preparation of her Grade 3 piano exam.
David, nine, remembers his form teacher, Madam Tan, saying: “If you don’t know anything, you must ask. Do not pretend you know”. Another piece of advice that he learnt form her was: “Cultivate a habit of checking your work before submitting them”.
Listen. Respect. Care.
Madam Teresa, a retired primary school teacher, told me she kept doling out the same advice to her students: “Listen carefully before you answer”, “Give respect if you want people to respect you” and “If you don’t care, no one else will”.