Teoh Su Yin, Singapore | Professional Teacher Education

How far would you go? Su Yin travelled from Singapore to study with us

"I'm interested in equipping youths and young adults with skills to navigate the 21st century. I think that's important."

Tell us about yourself – who you are and what you do?

– I am Su Yin, a lawyer by training and profession. I stepped away from active practice into professional support lawyer and teacher-facilitator roles at around the same time I started studying at JAMK.

How and why did you choose Professional Teacher Education at JAMK?

– I wanted to gain pedagogical knowledge and a fresh approach to facilitating learning and developing human potential. Finland is well regarded for its educational practices and I was hoping to get a place in the official Finnish teacher training programme. JAMK offers a manageable mix of face-to-face and distance learning. I was also attracted to the University's focus on technology in education and its research and development activities to produce new pedagogical solutions.

What did you get from the studies – how’s your life different now?

– Travelling, studying, co-teaching, and mingling with new-found friends and associates in Finland over a period of two years has given me new perspectives, ideas, approaches and content knowledge. The Finnish approach to education and life in general is very different from what we are accustomed to in Singapore. However, I was pleased - and sometimes surprised - to discover many similarities between the Finnish and Singaporean realities. I have since also discovered that it is possible, in my personal capacity, to successfully implement Finnish ideas and approaches - with or without modification - within the Singapore context. My view is that this is possible because Finnish teachers are trained to provide pedagogical intervention in very varied situations. In fact, one of the greatest challenges I faced when studying and teaching in Finland was working with a very broad definition of diversity. It took some time before I got accustomed to using diversity as a driver in the classroom and beyond whilst ensuring a productive and safe learning environment for all.

What were the main challenges when studying?

– The lack of time to experience and do everything I would have wanted to! I was not able to stay in Jyväskylä for an extended time during  the contact periods at JAMK. If I had been able to spend more time away from Singapore, I would have wanted to do part of my practicum outside Finland, either via a partner institution or the Erasmus+ programme.

What drives you professionally and did the studies have an effect on that?

– I would like to empower people to stand up for themselves and to make real, positive and meaningful contributions to their communities. The studies provided me with some tools and insights to do so.

About being a teacher – what is best in that?

– Being able to contribute positively to a person's process of self-discovery and development.

What kind of qualities does it take to be a good teacher?

– It's really hard to be a good teacher! There are so many qualities that are required. I would say that, above all, it is necessary to be able to reach out non-judgmentally to students, set goals and communicate standards clearly and facilitate meaningful co-construction of self and community.

The methods used during the studies, how did they work for you?

– We were taught in a way which demonstrated to us how we could, in turn, teach our own students. This made learning real, meaningful and easy to internalize. We were also encouraged to develop and implement our own material and approaches as we progressed through the course. This enabled each of us to teach in a way consistent with our individual circumstances and preferences whilst always adhering to the overall framework and markers prescribed by the school and the applicable legislation.

Studying from such a long distance – how did you stay motivated?

– Studying at JAMK was something I really wanted to do, so staying motivated was not difficult at all!

Would you recommend our studies and to whom?

– I'd recommend JAMK to anyone who wishes to have more than a passing exposure to the Finnish education system. I am sure they'd have as much fun as I did!

5 - 21 January 2021

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