Good morning faculty members of the DAS Academy, honoured guests, colleagues and fellow graduates. thank you for being here for our graduation today. Congratulations to the graduates of our class June 2021 Intake of Educational Therapists(EdTs). we were ‘trying to survive’ (an inside reference to our group name) and we survived! I am honoured to be standing in front of all of you to commemorate the memories and accomplishments of our class today.
As an introvert, I definitely did not expect myself to be standing in front of a classroom as my career (As an introvert, I did not expect my career to be one that requires me to stand in a classroom full of students) During two overseas learning trips, I witnessed how teachers in India and Sri Lanka demonstrated grit and passion despite the various challenges they faced, and it inspired me to experience the same fulfilment and meaning that they found in teaching. Soon, I was involved in teaching and learning about educational psychology while I was in university. However, I often felt helpless and frustrated when I personally encountered students who faced persistent challenges in their executive skills, development and learning. Finally, when one of my students was diagnosed with dyslexia, I came to know about the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) and decided to embark on this journey.
Fast forward, the past year in this course and in DAS has been life-changing. When our batch stepped into DAS, we were thrown into a flurry of challenges- it was in the midst of COVID-19, and not only did all of us have to struggle with learning about phonemes and morphemes, we had to do it while navigating the world of online classes and getting to know our students virtually. Zoom became our best friend, and it was strange to be walking around the classroom when we returned to physical classes. Looking back, it really pushed us all to our limits, constantly testing our problem-solving, critical thinking and creative skills. Ultimately, it shaped us to become more resilient individuals, and for that, I am extremely proud of us for riding through the waves.
A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches the heart. Working with children with Specific Learning Differences(SpLD) SpLD has emphasised the importance of putting relationships before academic rigour. Initially, it took me some time to manage academic expectations, especially with the competitive nature of Singaporean society. However, I soon realised that these expectations were imposed by myself. As Spiderman’s Uncle Ben posits, “With great power comes great responsibility”. While it is the nature of schooling that students come to school to learn a curriculum that they did not choose, I’ve realised that we as teachers of students with SPLD especially have the responsibility to help uncover the curriculum, rather than just covering it. I have learnt that we have the responsibility to cultivate students’ self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth, to lay the foundation for meaningful relationships, and to positively guide the path of their future.
Lastly, although we are EdTs, in many ways we have been and are students ourselves. I am extremely grateful and honoured to have many opportunities to learn from many individuals with a wealth of experience and knowledge yet work with them towards similar goals. To the lecturers in DAS Academy, our mentors, batchmates and colleagues, thank you for investing time and energy into helping every single one of us grow. To my batch, this graduation marks the start of our journey in DAS and is an important milestone in our careers as advocates for children with SpLD. May we never lose our spark, but even if we do, I hope we stroke each other’s flames, and continue to teach with intention, joy and purpose. Teaching is hard work, but most importantly as I’ve learnt in the past year, it is heart work.