Speeches/Interviews

July 11, 2012

Speech by Ms Sim Ann, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Law at the NIE Teachers' Investiture Ceremony at 9.30am on Wednesday, 11 July 2012, at the Nanyang Auditorium, Nanyang Technological University

His Excellency Wei Wei,
Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary,
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China

Ms Chan Lai Fung,
Chairperson, NIE Council

Professor Lee Sing Kong,
Director, NIE,

Colleagues,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

A very good morning to all,

I would like to welcome you to the Singapore Education Service. You are among the 2133 graduands who are about to join the 32,000-strong teaching fraternity in Singapore.

Teachers of Excellence

You are joining a profession that has significant influence on the lives of children. At the Australian Council for Educational Research Annual Conference in 2003, Professor John Hattie from the University of Auckland presented a paper on teachers who make a difference in the achievement of students.He identified six factors, namely students, home, schools, principals, peer effects and teachers, which influence the achievement of students. The study showed that the students themselves account for about 50% of the factors, followed by the teachers who account for 30%. This showed that “it is what teachers know, do, and care about which is very powerful in the learning equation”.

Professor Hattie also identified three dimensions of expert teachers’ behaviours that the research showed are especially important. They are: challenge, deep representation, and monitoring and feedback. On challenge, an expert teacher provides appropriate challenging tasks and goals for students. By deep representation, Hattie means the ability of a teacher to know not only what they want to teach, but also how they will organise and structure it in the context of their particular students and their circumstances. Finally, monitoring and feedback means the ability of a teacher to monitor student problems and assess their level of understanding and progress so the teacher can provide more relevant and useful feedback.

Students who were taught by such teachers also show better achievement levels, and “appear to exhibit an understanding of the concepts targeted in instruction that is more integrated, more coherent, and at a higher level of abstraction than the understanding achieved by other students”.

The study affirms what we have always asserted—that teachers have far-reaching impact on their students. This reminds me of this well-known and oft-quoted saying “I touch the future. I teach.”

Teachers Held in High Regard

According to a public perception survey commissioned by MOE in 2010, teaching was viewed by the public as among the most respected professions in terms of its contribution to society. Respondents ranked teachers 2nd highest, next to doctors, and above other professions such as lawyers, bankers, and nurses.

Yet another survey, conducted recently by a human resource company, Adecco, revealed that becoming a teacher is the top career choice amongst the 7-14 year olds surveyed, followed closely by the desire to be a doctor, pilot or flight attendant.

Indeed I want to thank teachers, both serving and retired, for their good work which has contributed to the high regard for teachers. I would like to also remind you, as new members of the teaching profession, that you are in a privileged position of influence when you start to undertake your teaching duties. This is because you interact with your students for the better part of the day and have ample opportunity to shape their values and character. It is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. I, therefore, urge you to uphold the good standing and ethos of the teaching profession by ensuring that you discharge your duty professionally and with utmost care for the wellbeing of your students.

I am glad that we will be reciting the teachers’ pledge later. It contains the teachers’ creed which sets out the aspirations, beliefs and conduct expected of members of the teaching profession. I hope that the creed and the ethos of the teaching profession will be a part of your professional life so that you will be inspired to uphold the high standing of the teaching profession.

Personal and Professional Development

Given the high regard for the teaching profession, it is crucial for teachers to model the right attributes and values. I am, thus, pleased that the National Institute of Education (NIE) continuously reviews and revises its teacher education programmes to ensure that teachers are well-prepared for teaching in the 21st century. The Meranti Project, for instance, reinforces student teachers’ understanding and commitment to the teaching profession through informal dialogue sessions with veteran teachers. Through the Meranti Project, student teachers are able to understand the culture of care, trust and friendliness, and hence the importance of respecting others as well as accepting and celebrating diversity.

Just recently, MOE launched the Teacher Growth Model (TGM). The Teacher Growth Model presents a holistic portrait of the 21st century Singapore teacher with five desired outcomes: the ethical educator, competent professional, collaborative learner, transformational leader, and community builder. This is closely aligned to the Values, Skills and Knowledge (V3SK) Framework of NIE’s Teacher Education Model (TE21).

The Teacher Growth Model encourages Singapore teachers to engage in continual learning and become student-centric professionals who take ownership of their growth. The Values, Skills and Knowledge (V3SK) Framework of NIE’s Teacher Education Model (TE21) has provided you with the required values, knowledge and skills to function effectively as beginning teachers. At the same time, the Graduand Teacher Competencies, or GTCs, outline the competencies that require further development as a teacher grows in the profession through a suite of courses carefully mounted under the Teacher Growth Model Framework.

Every year, MOE also awards the MOE Postgraduate Scholarship (PGS) to outstanding Education Officers as a form of professional development opportunity. The MOE Postgraduate Scholarships signal the Ministry’s recognition of these officers’ value to the organisation. The scholarships also contribute to the building of MOE’s professional bench strength by deepening the officers’ knowledge in key subjects and specialised areas. Eighty-two officers will be receiving this scholarship today.

As part of the effort to strengthen our Education Officers’ professional expertise under the TEACH Framework, MOE has introduced the Postgraduate Award (PGA) to provide Education Officers with more postgraduate sponsorship opportunities. For the inaugural launch this year, 12 officers have been awarded the PGA.

I encourage all of you to build on the strong foundation that NIE has provided you by availing yourselves of the various opportunities as you pursue professional development as a teacher.

Role Models

I would like to use this occasion to commend three young teachers, who have been given the Outstanding Youth Educators Award, for inspiring their students with their enthusiasm and energy beyond the formal curriculum. They are Mr Elmi Zulkarnain Bin Osman from Pasir Ris Primary School, Ms Pham Hong Lien Phyllis Gabrielle from Clementi Town Secondary School and Mr Lee Wee Siong Donny from Northbrooks Secondary School. I hope they continue to inspire not only their students but their peers as well so that the teaching profession continues to grow.

I am pleased to also highlight student teachers who have exemplified the meaning of being caring and committed teachers. I am heartened by their sense of dedication and understanding of the ethos of the teaching profession.

One such example is Tan Shu Tian and her team working on their Group Endeavours in Service Learning project. Their project entitled “PAW-Pets Are Wonderful” had two objectives: to educate the public on responsible pet ownership and to create public awareness about animal abuse prevention. The group conceptualised, organised and managed five educational booths at SPCA’s World Animal Day event. The event aimed to correct common myths and misconceptions regarding pets and animal abuse among the public. The group achieved this through the use of creative and interactive activities designed to facilitate learning for all ages. The group managed to successfully source for sponsorship from various organisations amounting to $11,000 which was used for printing brochures and pamphlets with information on animal care. SPCA, the beneficiary of the project, applauded the group for their effort.

In the spirit of life-long learning, I would like to highlight the work of a student trainee, Glanies Ng, whom I met recently during a school visit. She did a poster presentation on “Racial Identity among Chinese and Malay Adolescents in Singapore”, at the prestigious Society for Research on Adolescence biennial convention held in Vancouver, Canada early this year.

Besides academic pursuits, student teachers from our physical education programme did the nation proud through their participation in the various sporting events. One such example is Kimberly Ng Yu Qin who was selected to represent Singapore by the Singapore Sports Council in the coming South East Asian Games (Archery National) held in Indonesia. Kimberly will also represent the university in the Singapore Combined University contingent in Archery.

I am sure these student teachers have learnt much from their involvement in these projects and events. I hope they continue to be just as passionate in the classroom when they engage their students and continue to inspire their peers to pursue professional excellence and make a difference in the lives of their students.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I wish you all a successful and meaningful career in the teaching profession. We look forward to your contributions in nurturing our students in the years to come.

Thank you.