Kwa Lay Ping - President's Award For Teachers Recipient 2017
Meet Ms Kwa Lay Ping, a senior academic mentor at Singapore Polytechnic and the first teacher from a polytechnic to receive the President’s Award for Teachers (PAT) in 2017.
Ms Kwa never thought that she would be an educator, as she loved to challenge her teachers by deliberately asking difficult questions as a student. The turning point came when her professor asked her to teach a class when she was a master’s student in the University of Southern California
Ms Kwa says, “When I started teaching, the tables suddenly turned. I realised that teaching is one of the toughest jobs, and developed a respect for teachers.” When she returned to Singapore, she took up a lecturing job at Singapore Polytechnic in 2000 teaching media-related modules.
As a lecturer, Ms Kwa is always reflecting and improving on her lesson delivery. She says, “I tapped into all my ‘unhappiness’ as a student, and I used my critical side as the starting point for lesson design. If something I designed bored me and made me confused, then it would be back for a rethink.”
As an educator, Ms Kwa says she also juggles multiple roles as a nurturer, counsellor, disciplinarian, teacher, motivating mentor and sometimes an “entertainer”.
Ms Kwa does not believe in ‘spoon-feeding’ students. She believes that students need to learn to be comfortable with discomfort and sets the bar high to challenge students so that they can grow.
She says, “This is not to say that they are left to learn on their own, but learning activities are deliberately structured so that students take more ownership of their learning. They go beyond surface learning of concepts and principles to practical applications, effective problem-solving and hence deeper learning.”
Raajeswaran s/o Nanda Gopalan, a graduate from SP's Diploma in Media and Communication, shares, "Of all the lecturers I've had, she is the only mentor I look to for guidance. She doesn't sugar-coat the facts – just gives us the hard truth with straight feedback. The media industry is a very unforgiving one and she has prepared us well for that".