By Leong Jun Wei (23A01D), Lezann Lee (23A01C), Joy Tan (23A01D)
Cover Image by Tay Yu Ning (23S06E)
Ever wondered what your beloved teachers would be doing if they weren’t waking up at 6am every morning and rushing to school amidst the relentless morning traffic, just to see the faces of students even more sleep-deprived than them?
This year, we interviewed some of our teachers to find out more about their alternative career paths – and if they have any regrets choosing to remain a teacher.
NAME: Ms Sanjeeda Haque Munmun
Featured 2 years ago in recognition of the sacrifices she has had to make in order to teach here in Singapore, Ms Haque, an Economics teacher well-known for the sweet snacks (i.e. Muffins, Magnum Ice Cream!) she frequently treats her students to, now offers us some insights with regards to whether or not her “dream job”, teaching, has lived up to her expectations of it.
During the interview, Ms Haque revealed with a wistful smile that she used to work as an economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a number of years. However, she had always known deep down that her true calling was in education, and hence decided to pursue a career in teaching.
Having previously done relief teaching in ACS(I) for 3 months, she fondly recalls that those were the “most memorable” months prior to her career here in Raffles. “And that’s when I thought I would love to teach if the opportunity arises,” she explains.
From the way that Ms Haque never hesitates to organise extra classes at 8am on Wednesday Gap Days, holidays, and even Saturdays, it is evident that to her, her students will always come first.
Thankfully, we firmly believe that Ms Haque’s efforts have not been for naught – to Lye Sze-Ann (23A01D), Ms Haque has empowered her to constantly “look forward”, guiding her students towards “personal progress”.
“Ms Haque has definitely taught me not only about Econs, but also more about how to be a student, inspiring me to put in the same amount of effort into the rest of my studies,” she adds.
In spite of the high praise undoubtedly recurrent amongst her students, we wonder if Ms Haque is truly satisfied with her choice of occupation.
In response, Ms Haque thoughtfully mused that though teaching is, in reality, “harder than expected”, she is still grateful to be in her current position.
Additionally, for Ms Haque, a huge perk of the job includes “being with [her] students, even if it means spending more time with them than [she does] with [her] colleagues and family!”
Of course, there are downsides to everything – as Ms Haque commented good-naturedly, “I do not get weekends, [I] go to sleep thinking of my students, [I] dream of my students and fear that my students did not understand [what I had explained in class].”
However, despite the understandable concerns that every teacher is likely to have encountered more than once, we believe that perhaps going to sleep thinking about one’s students may not be a downside at all!
“Actually, I am just enjoying each day, learning to be a better teacher myself every day,” Ms Haque concluded emphatically.
Name: Ms Fiona Lio
For Ms Lio, teaching was her very first job – but she came closest to being a cook.
Students of Ms Lio might find it difficult to picture her in a kitchen, donning an apron and seasoning chicken wings by the counter, considering that the only conversations they have had with her about food were in relation to “Malaysia halting its exports of chicken in June” and about whether the YED of instant noodles was <0 or between 0 and 1.
As Marianne Wang (23A01C) said, “This was quite unexpected. I think cooking is an explorational activity that is not particularly economical in its use of resources.”
As we now know, economics is not her only forte!
“I used to work part-time in casual restaurants after my A levels and break times when I was in University, and was seriously thinking of pursuing it after my studies”, Ms Lio said, fondly recollecting the time she spent dabbling in the field.
“I’m a live-to-eat person, as you can easily tell,” Ms Lio remarked. And for many of us who can say the same, we know for a fact that that in itself is a clear indicator of how much food (and eating) means to Ms Lio – or in the very terms students of Ms Lio ought to be familiar with – of the marginal private benefit she derives from her daily meals.
“I love working with food. Food preparation is rather therapeutic – and I like chopping things,” she explained.
“I can slice onions rather quickly without chopping my fingers off. Also, I like to play with fire.” Even in the humble professions of her love for cooking, Ms Lio revealed to us how adept and artful she is at the sport. After all, it is not every day that you hear a casual proclamation of someone readily armed with the skill of “chopping quickly” and “playing with fire”.
“I also like the excitement of working in a kitchen when it is super busy. We must keep an eye on multiple stoves and pans as orders come in.” Even when things get heated up in the kitchen, Ms Lio does not falter – to her, the frenzy is nothing but a thrill. “And I also enjoy the fact that people actually pay for the food that I cook,” she added.
But to Ms Lio, her decision to stay in teaching was far from regrettable.
“I have invested too much time in teaching to leave!” she exclaimed jokingly, claiming – in typical fashion – that she had been subjected to loss aversion and the sunk-cost fallacy.
“On a more serious note, there are many good reasons why I have stayed in teaching – there have been many lovely and appreciative students over the years who have made me feel that I may actually be good at what I do,” she chuckled.
“I’ve come to appreciate how being a teacher is truly a privilege and something I will not take for granted. That old dream of mine has become a hobby – I still get to cook for my friends and family when I want to.”
Perhaps several years down the road, we may be savouring delights prepared by Ms Lio herself! In her wise words, “A lifetime is a long time, so you never know what is going to happen in future.”
“I am now thinking, how about a travelling coffee truck, with the best brew ever? Will you buy my coffee?” she concluded, with a smile.
Name: Ms Samantha Prakash
Of course, Economics teachers are not the only ones who might have considered alternative careers – Ms Prakash, currently a Literature teacher, once had other unique dreams of her own.
Having always been fascinated by “the world of textiles and fabric”, particularly Indian textile, Ms Prakash shares that “[she] might have taken the academic route and studied textile history, textile design or related fields.”
With such a rather distinctive field of interest, it might have come as a surprise to some that Ms Prakash eventually chose to become a teacher.
However, she explains her decision reasonably, commenting, “sheer pragmatism and a worry that what is now a hobby that gives me much joy would become stressful if it were a 9-5 job.”
While she might have had to make sacrifices to be where she is today, Ms Prakash is still able to derive great fulfilment from being an educator – in her very own words, “Young people are just so much fun to talk to.”
“The eureka moment (for the student) when the various parts of the idea or concept that [she’s] teaching suddenly amalgamates in their mind and [they] have a moment of clarity or understanding,” is, to Ms Prakash, one of her favourite parts of the job. “It is very satisfying to think that I’ve had a small part in that,” she adds humbly.
Emmanuelle Kay (23A01D) confirms this wholeheartedly, saying, “Ms Prakash is very detailed, and her comprehensive teaching style has helped me to understand the content a lot better! She is also very dedicated and carves out extra time to meet us if we need to clarify any doubts.”
On behalf of all of our classmates and peers, we would like to sincerely thank all teachers for consistently going above and beyond to support us in both our academic and personal journeys. Happy Teachers’ Day!