A bit on myself. I am Shirleen Tan, commonly known as Teacher Shirleen or Mrs Neo. I am an ex MOE teacher turned tutor. I have 10 over years of experience teaching English and Science. I am currently the founder of Sowing Seedz.

The beginning of 2017 has been a sweet and fruitful year. I am humbled to be conferred a “Star Tutor” title recently by a tuition centre I am teaching in. It is good to be recognized for my efforts once in a while. Another sweet deal was that my interview article was also published by Little Magazine!

At a professional level, I am inclined to include my years of experience to put parents’ minds at ease when they engage me. On a personal note, it is quite a hassle to keep repeating myself when I am so tied down with work and family. Thus, this is one of the main reasons for me to set up this blog. Not that I have a lot of achievements to begin with(oops) , but I understand from a parent’s viewpoint the need to do so. To be fair, I will also want to know a teacher’s background so I can entrust my children to the teacher. Here goes! (Note: I will not disclose the actual schools unless asked privately)

Names of institutions and years spent teaching at each school:

  • A primary school in Ang Mo Kio (before NIE enrolment, 1.5 years)
  • A top school in Bishan (NIE attachment training, 1 year)
  • A primary school in Yishun (3 years, Level In Charge of SEED pilot programme for Primary One, Total Defence Co-ordinator, P5 Camp Assistant Commandant, Discipline Committee)

Number of years spent giving private tuition:

18 years of experience

Levels and subjects taught:

English (all levels, especially upper levels)

Science (P3-P6, especially upper levels)

Personal Growths / Challenges:

• English and Science curriculum writer and designer for an enrichment centre.

• Conferred a “Star Tutor” status in an established tuition centre.

• Educational article featured in Little Magazine, May Issue, 2017.

• Contributed to writing a set of Science exam tips for Learn Super Mart and was its top 16 well received series (http://learnsupermart.com/article/academic-learning/Top-16-Learning-Resources-16).

• Contributed a 2nd series for Learn Super Mart again (http://learnsupermart.com/article/academic-learning/7-easy-fun-science-experiments-intro).

• Pursued a Special Needs diploma certificate.

• Created children church programs and led camps for my church.

• Part of the Expert Panel Team in PSLEhub.com (an up and rising educational portal which helps prepare parents and even teachers like myself to be updated for any changes.)

• Curriculum developer for Future Smart Families. (Work includes Science and English materials, manipulatives, study cards, board games, card games)

• Created my own personal curricula: English Reading & Writing Book, English PSLE Guidebook on Oral, Composition Writing and Comprehension Open Ended Book, Lower & Upper Block Investigative Tasks (Experiments based) Books (all reflected in my regular posts)

• Featured in Parents Guide Asia on 31 August (https://www.parentsguide.asia/people/my-parenting-journey-shirleen-Tan)

My Teaching Philosophy:

“It takes a village to raise a child.” This African proverb resonates deeply within me. Raising a child not only involves his family, but extends beyond. I see myself not only as an educator, but as a “parent” to my students; to love, nurture and help them achieve their best in their lives. While academic results are important, I believe a child should also be equipped with moral values and characters that will help build resilience and strength in their lives, to allow them to cope well in future. I enjoy engaging with my students’ parents and always involve them by updating how their children fare in a holistic manner. I am humbled that the parents trust me enough to leave their children in my hands. What is priceless is their heartfelt thankfulness and appreciation when their children improve, academically or holistically (eg, better learning attitude). I celebrate every milestone along the way and that keeps my passion alive. 10 years on and still going strong. That is how I love what I am doing.

My Teaching Style:

This is going to be a frank and honest reply, after been asked countless times by parents. There are two sides to a coin. My teaching can be at the top of the world, but if their children display attitude problems in class and they are not smart to start with, do not expect them to do well in their exams. My teaching style, I believe is the same for most educators. Firm in delivery of the lessons and compassionate when it comes the welfare of the students. It is like flying of a kite. When you control the kite (child) too much, the string (communication) breaks and you lose (trust) of the kite (child). Learn to reign in and release the strings of the kite at the right place, at the right time, and the kite will soar high and confidently. This is my teaching style. I am very firm and take a no-nonsense approach when the students I am dealing with are either not serious or have a learning attitude. I can be fun too, when there are pockets of time for class discussions (English classes) or Science experiments. I have a hard time getting them back on track though, too much fun to end!

Effectiveness Of My Teaching:

Another popular question asked by parents. Having the experience in teaching gives me the edge to allow me to get a sense and feel of how a child learns and I will advise the parent accordingly. “Teacher’s Instincts”, maybe? Thankfully, the parents I work/worked with are/were very understanding and they agree/agreed with what I have/had pointed out, and we work/worked towards the common goal – helping their children to maximize their learning capacities. Yes, I have helped my students attain stellar results for their PSLE, but I have also had some of them scoring low, just passed or failing their PSLE. In short, I cannot create miracles, but I create opportunities for my students to grow beyond their comfort zone and encourage them there is still life after PSLE, no matter how well/bad they fare. I was also asked by friends to “collect” my students’ results and display them for advertising my services. I do not believe in that, as I see my students as individual precious human beings, not trophies collecting dust on shelves. So, I am sorry, parents, if you wish to know how many As/A*s I have taught. I keep them close to my heart. =)