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The transition from a government school teacher to private tutor in Singapore

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On August 6, 2018

I’ve always loved teaching.
The eureka moment when students understand an abstract concept when you break it down into simple chunks for them to understand is immensely satisfying. I also loved Chemistry as a subject so when I had the opportunity to take up a teaching scholarship during my junior college years, I applied for and was successfully awarded the teaching scholarship. The scholarship was for teaching in Singapore government schools which was the mainstream education pathway that most students would go through in Singapore.
Most aspiring teachers like myself eventually ended up teaching in a government school. Although we had the opportunity to interact and teach students in classroom settings, there were several other responsibilities that educators had to handle such as administrative paperwork, school committees and ad-hoc projects that took time away from what I was most passionate about – teaching. So after a few years, I decided to leave the teaching service to teach Chemistry as a private tutor.


I was liberated from all the administrative nightmare and countless meetings for various committees and could focus on teaching Chemistry properly. It was then I had the freedom to explore different ways of teaching Chemistry to enhance student learning. I realised that a small classroom setting is much more conducive than a lecture setting as the teacher is very close to the student so can gauge the understanding of the students by their facial expressions and during a question and answer sessions. Students are also usually shy to ask questions directly in class so they prefer to seek consultation after class. I also allow them to ask me questions via Whatsapp outside the classroom setting so learning need not take place in the classroom only.


After several years I realised there were many common questions that students tend to ask, which prompted me to record these questions as short video lessons and upload them on my website and YouTube Channel so that my students, as well as any other visitors who were interested in A Level Chemistry syllabus, can view them.
To be honest I wasn’t expecting much response as A Level Chemistry was a rather niche subject but I was quite surprised to have more than a thousand subscribers on my YouTube Channel. I would also share my videos with students when I found them relevant to the lessons I was teaching. Sometimes students would also seek me for consultation with regards to the videos that they had watched online. I like the fact that students can take ownership of their learning which takes place outside the classroom setting, even when I am not actively teaching them. This has spurred me to create online lesson packages that students can purchase and watch at the comfort of their homes, saving traveling time and money.


Making use of video lessons to supplement teaching Chemistry is still in the infant stage for me, and I am still learning how to use them effectively and to create better quality lessons. But I am encouraged by the good response so far, and it will motivate me to pursue innovative ways to make teaching and learning Chemistry more fruitful and enjoyable.


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Last modified: August 6, 2018

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