George Teo - President's Award For Teachers Recipient 2019

George with President

If you could play out your favourite reality television show in class, would you? 

That was exactly what George Teo, who is a recipient of the President's Award for Teachers 2018 did.

By his own confession, the chirpy lecturer is a "die-hard fan" of the show MasterChef, and he has used elements of the show to inspire his students.

Just like the show, his students are given a "mystery test", where they have to create a product, for example, a cake for a couple's 50th wedding anniversary. This task seeks to encourage students to think out of the box and to come up with a client-centred product in a time sensitive challenge.

He explains: "I want them to ask the right questions so that they can come up with a powerful narrative for the product.

"When it comes to Marketing, you don't just sell the product, but you sell the meaning and story behind it. These tests allow the students to realise the importance of these elements"

While this is an exciting approach, the origins of it started during a sombre period in his life.

"In 2011, my dad passed away suddenly and soon after, my mum was diagnosed with dementia. My life turned upside down and I knew I had to do something about it," he shares.

Determined to turn his life around, George volunteered to take up the year-long EQ course, which helped him become more self-aware and better able to navigate his emotions.

This experience also served him well as a lecturer. He became more patient with his students and started to empathise with them.

With new found drive, George started to create EQ profiles to better understand his students - he has done 200 thus far. These profiles have helped him tailor his interventions for each student and as a result, he has helped many of them get back on track.
George with students
One example he remembers clearly was an ex-student who told him that his "sky was black" as he was not able to realise his dream career as a football player. George made a sincere effort to understand the emotions of his student and spent countless hours helping him understand that there were other avenues and pathways to success.

Today, the alumnus has since moved on and occasionally sends George messages like "my sky is red now".

"Now that there is colour in his life again, I feel all the effort is worth it and more importantly, it has motivated me to keep doing more for my students," George quips.

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