There were moments when Zhou Qiong felt apprehensive as an immigrant in the sunny island of Singapore. While she may have felt helpless, she strived to integrate and was never lost in her life course. Teaching was her calling. Having taught teenagers Fine Arts for years back in China over the past 10 years, Zhou recounts the truths in the old Confucius saying: “rotten wood cannot be carved; a wall of dirty earth will not receive the trowel.” Drawing from her previous experiences, Zhou shared that while imparting factual knowledge to children is easier compared to, inculcating the correct set of values. It takes time, effort and devotion. And this has to start from a young age. The moment of realisation of this, was the spark, which ignited a new dream for Zhou.
Being an Early Childhood educator was never an act of impulse. Neither was it a pursuit for wealth or fame. It was a journey of purpose and self-actualisation. Zhou was determined to lay a good foundation for the new generation.
“Educating a child is like building a house; you need to lay a solid foundation.”
Starting from ground zero, Zhou took up classes at SEED Institute. The real challenge started when she had to bridge theories with application on the field. A mid-career switch also meant learning new things all over again, gaining experiences and changing her mind set. Commenting on the challenges, Zhou lamented that there is still so much to learn as she interacts daily with the children. While she tries to take up courses during weekends for self-improvement, she relates how teaching young children is in a discourse on its own, skills which cannot be taught in a classroom. The lack of experience needed for classroom management created a big gap between what she had hoped to present to the kids and eventual realization. “You cannot expect the children to listen and follow your curriculum; lesson plans should be adjusted to suit the interest and development of every child,” she concluded after close to a year in the sector. When faced with new occurrences, experiences and situations each day, she acknowledged the need to increase her experience in the Early Childhood sector. With that, she came to an assertion that only with experience will she have sufficient knowledge to share and provide for the children.
“Connection before correction”, she mused. The attention Zhou rendered to the children went beyond the formal staff-child relationship. Zhou made effort to understand and build a strong relationship with every child. It was because she believed that every child is special, with unique combinations of abilities and needs that will affect learning, When asked what would be her greatest accomplishment to-date, she shares modestly that, “It is not how much one manages to teach a child, but whether you are able to inspire a child and to ignite a child’s passion in a particular area.”
“Zhou Laoshi, I love you.” These are affectionate words she received from toddler a daily basis. As she said poignantly, “Experience is good, but you need love to teach a child as well.” To make up for her lack of experience, she found that the best alternative is to leverage on her natural resource, which is her LOVE for the children. To Zhou, there is no shortcut to being a good teacher, “just love them like how you would want your children to be loved.”
This is Teacher Zhou Qiong, with her bucket overflowing with love for her children.
- This article was written by Toh Ming Rong -
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