A role model is someone we admire and aspire to be like. We learn through them, their commitment to excellence, and their ability to make us realise our personal growth. Whilst a role model can be anybody, Han Dong’s journey is a testament to how teachers can be some of our most influential and life-changing heroes.
My Junior College mathematics teacher inspired me to pursue a career in education. When I was at the crossroads of deciding on higher education, he encouraged me to forge my own path. I eventually took on the MOE Teaching Scholarship and pursued my undergraduate studies at Nanyang Technological University–National Institute of Education (NTU–NIE) under the Teaching Scholars Programme (TSP). The curriculum’s thoughtful integration of academic rigour and pedagogical content, including the myriad of opportunities that the TSP programme offers, appealed to me. I was also eager to embark on my journey in education with like-minded, passionate individuals.
I was positively surprised by the small class sizes that NIE offers to TSP students. The small teacher-to-student ratio enabled me to experience the benefits of small class sizes, where clarifying doubts during lectures is encouraged. With the rich teacher-to-student interactions, lessons are better catered to individual learning needs.
I was also not expecting the TSP programme to be reviewed regularly in response to real-world needs. I was thrilled to discover the introduction of digital literacy topics and the use of a digital portfolio platform for student teachers to reflect and inquire into their teaching practice. Using the digital platform meaningfully for my inquiry work, I proposed a research project under NTU’s Undergraduate Research Experience on Campus (URECA), seeking answers regarding the teaching and learning of proofs in mathematics textbooks. The regular review of the programme and honing of inquiry skills assured me that I would be better prepared to tackle challenges the complex world brings.
The 2020 Peace Summit of Emerging Leaders held at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok was an opportunity that my scholarship programme offers. It was my most memorable learning experience. At the summit, I interacted with delegates from around the world. With the variety of cultural backgrounds present, I was amazed by the rich conversations I had with the participants. I learnt that all of us are humans striving for the betterment of the future despite differences in our upbringing. The summit made me reflect critically on how educators can harness their students’ experiences to contribute towards group learning and discovery. Such overseas experiences go beyond what I can learn in a classroom.
My scholarship journey has been paved with accomplishments and challenges. My semester breaks were spent meaningfully in different settings. From internships at the Ministry of Education Headquarters to the attachments at primary and secondary schools, I could fully appreciate the nuances put into developing and thinking about education at different levels. It was challenging to adapt to the changing environment of each semester break, but the fulfilling learning experience that accompanied these opportunities is what I value most.
Outside of academic activities, I was involved with the TSP Club for three years, eventually serving as its President. The club’s goal was to develop the TSP identity and build a tightly knitted community that stays together even after graduation. The club commitments did stack up but being able to organise team-building events for the TSP family and bring joy and laughter to every gathering gives me satisfaction.
Having a growth mindset helps me juggle academic and non-academic activities, allowing me to view all my duties as an opportunity for learning and improvement. I also see it as a personal challenge to better balance my commitments.
My destination in the pursuit of a career in education is to become a teacher who places my students at the heart of my educational decisions, a colleague who can collaborate on improving education for our future generations, and a contributing member to the profession. I aspire to pursue a master’s degree overseas to deepen my knowledge and broaden my exposure to cultures beyond Singapore. My vision is to contribute positive developments in education in this increasingly complex, unpredictable, and competitive landscape of the 21st century.
My advice to future scholarship applicants is to think deeply about the path that fits them best. Everyone is unique and has different goals for their university life. TSP is a tight-knitted community grounded on a passionate commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of others. We always love supporting and developing like-minded individuals. If you are passionate about joining such a community and aspire to be the best educator you can be, I would encourage you to consider the MOE Teaching Scholarship opportunity.
TAY HAN DONG
MOE Teaching Scholarship
Now: Bachelor of Science (Education), Nanyang Technological University
From: Pioneer Junior College