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Leaving a Legacy After School

(File pix) Based on the Philosophy of Teacher Education and Preliminary Report of Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013-2025), the Teacher Education Division  continuously boosts teachers’ abilities through its curriculum changes.  Pix by Syarafiq Abd Samad
Picture credits: Yarafiq Abd Samad

We were all students once. While many of us reminisce about our days in school every now and then, we can’t always put a name to the teachers that we’ve encountered. Who was your history teacher in Form 2? Do you remember? If so, why? 

We all know a few educators that stand out vividly in our memories, some of whom we may even still keep in touch with years after graduation. Have you ever wondered why that is so? What is so special about them, that we can’t seem to forget how they looked or spoke or walked, while the recollection of other instructors fade into a foggy echo? According to Coach Mohd Noor from CMN Academy, it’s because the memorable teachers don’t only teach, they focus on leaving a legacy.

Coach Mohd Noor Mohd Tahir is a coach for Malaysian educators, and owns numerous successful tuition centres spread across the country. He is the creator of the “Tutor Beyond Expectation” and “Success Tutorpreneur Mentorship (STM)” programs, which help tutors and entrepreneurs in the education industry operate their businesses in a systematic and professional way. Together with CMN Education Group, Coach Mohd Noor has mentored more than 2000 “edupreneurs” throughout Malaysia to achieve business success. During a Facebook live session in August with him and Coach Baahir from AMPAC Penang, the topic of memorable instructors came up. According to Coach Mohd Noor, there are 3 reasons why certain educators leave a deeper impression in their students’ minds. These are: content, context, and character. He calls them the 3Cs that define an educator’s legacy.

The First C: Content

We attend classes to learn. As a student, do you like having an idea of what you’ll be learning throughout a course term; or would you rather attend lessons without knowing what will happen? Most students we know prefer having the outline of their syllabus, and also a preview of what they can expect throughout their learning period. With this in mind, teachers can provide students with a lesson framework for the semester or year during the first lesson. This allows students (and perhaps their parents as well) to know what to expect for upcoming lessons. On top of that, they will also know what they will miss out on if they do not attend classes, which allows them to plan vacations and important events more strategically. 

In addition to sharing a lesson framework, teachers can also think outside the box, and furbish students with trial papers from other schools, or even other countries. A quick Google search will reveal analytics of public examinations in the past, as well as topics that should be emphasised in school and extra-curricular lessons. Teachers can use this information to add value to their lessons, by giving students tips and tricks to answer questions effectively and do well in exams. Always think about how you can give more to your students, instead of just sticking to content from textbooks. You may not realize this, but students do know when their teachers are going the extra mile. When your students feel like they’ve gained a lot from your lessons, they will remember you more fondly.

The Second C: Context

Context is where educators apply their creativity in delivering teaching material to their students. Whether it’s a funny way to memorise a certain formula, or a reenactment of historical events during a history class; there are countless ways to leave an impression in your students’ minds. How about conducting friendly competitions and interactive quizzes every now and then? Activities that can pump up students’ excitement and challenge them in a healthy way will help them learn more effectively, and help them think back on your classes with a smile as well. As quoted by John Holt, “Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.”

Another aspect of context is the “why.” As a teacher, I’m sure you have heard this more than once: “Teacher, why do I need to learn this? It is not like I will use this at all.” I still remember all the times I was slumped across my desk, almost in tears over my Biology textbook, trying to memorise the 10 steps of glycolysis and the byproducts of the Krebs cycle. “Why do I even need to know this?” I used to think, “Who cares about ATP?” (Note: Almost everybody in science cares about ATP. Yes, I realise that now). But back then, nobody told me how important energy generation is for the human body. I was only told to commit all of these information into memory. It wasn’t until years later, when I came across these dreaded processes again in my nutritional studies, did I realise how essential they are for our bodies to function properly. That made me look at these cycles in a different way, and I found it much easier to absorb the learning material then. 

The Third C: Character

How do you want to be known as? Are you the loving type of teacher, or are you the formidable instructor who always carries a cane in your hand? Will you reward your class if they do well in a test?

I still remember one of my teachers in high school who bought Vitamin C tablets out of her own pocket for the whole class during exam periods. Together with this, she would also advise us to always prioritise our health. Back then, 16 year-old me had never experienced such warmth and care from an educator before, and this left a lasting impression in my mind. I will never forget this teacher.

As an educator, sometimes you might forget that all eyes are on you when you are standing at the front of a classroom. What this means is that your character, as well as how you act, will be an example to all the future leaders of the world. Take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a role model for all your “children.”

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.” ~ Albert Einstein

No student is going to remember everything that is taught by their teachers. What will continue to remain a legacy is the teacher him/herself. I am fortunate enough to have been taught by a group of passionate teachers throughout my schooling era, and I’m proud to say that I have become a better person because of them.

So, teachers, if you’re reading this, the question you need to ask yourself is: How do you want to be remembered by your students? Or do you not want to be remembered at all?