Physical Education Subject Head Teo Yong Chin’s philosophy in life shines through as she leads her students to give 101% in all that they do, whether in sports or when paying it forward.
Teo Yong Chin, Queensway Secondary School, President's Award for Teachers 2021 Finalist
At the end of each semester, form teacher Teo Yong Chin tasks her students with writing a note of appreciation to a classmate. In the process, they learn not only to thank but also to receive thanks.
Her effort to cultivate values such as empathy and gratitude in her students pays off when the students start writing these notes for people outside of their class too, including their teachers and school staff.
As Subject Head of Physical Education and Outdoor Education at Queensway Secondary School, Yong Chin also works values into the skills inculcated on ball courts and football fields, because sports should not only be about winning.
Having taught at Queensway Secondary since 2007, and as teacher-in-charge of the boys’ and girls’ volleyball teams for the past 14 years, the former Combined Schools netball player has been motivating her students to be disciplined, resilient,
and to give back, even in the face of challenges.
Some students join the sport with no experience, others may come with issues related to discipline, attendance and academic results at school. But to all her players, no matter their background, Yong Chin reminds them that life is about doing your
best not just on the court but off-court too.
In fact, she is known for her philosophy in life – “be good, do good, be grateful” – as an athlete and as a teacher.
“You have to be good because it is the right thing to do, not because somebody asks you to do so. And you do good not because you want to be rewarded,” says Yong Chin.
“A lot of teachers say that children in sports CCAs behave very differently in the field than when they are in the classroom, which is true, so, we need them to have that mindset that here and there is the same. You have to give both 101%.”
What 101% looks like can be seen clearly on the school’s volleyball court. Thanks to the leadership of Yong Chin and her coaches, the girls’ team were South Zone champions in 2015, 2017 and 2018. For the boys’ team, the C Division
boys made it to the finals for the first time in the South Zone Championships in 2018, achieving second place.
Leading by ‘doing good’
After graduating from Tanjong Katong Secondary Girls’ School, Yong Chin would return regularly to coach the school’s netball team. Over the years, she has been helping other netball coaches sharpen their skills, and has been coaching the
Singapore national schools’ netball team for the past 10 years.
The deep ties that the sports community offers and the strong spirit of giving back is something Yong Chin cultivates and celebrates at her school.
“Recently, I decided on an impromptu training session on a Saturday. I messaged some of them the night before and a team of seniors showed up the next day,” she shared happily about the alumni’s strong rapport.
She attributes the success of the girls’ team to the commitment and hard work of everyone involved, including coach Ng Chee Hoe and the volleyball alumni. One of these alumni, Lee Pei Ying, now 27, started with no knowledge of volleyball but
grew to love the game, thanks to Yong Chin’s and Chee Hoe’s dedication. Lei Ying is today the captain of the Singapore national women’s volleyball team.
These success stories belie Yong Chin’s commitment to develop her students by addressing their different competency levels and ability to pick themselves up when they fall.
One way she does this is to encourage them to proactively modify exercises or use other equipment based on their fitness levels. This enables them to “experience firsthand how it feels to acknowledge their differences and be comfortable in their
own skin”, she said.
And when the students need moral support, Yong Chin is there, showing up at their games with a “high five” or a consoling word.
‘Being good’ in the classroom, as on the field
Yong Chin’s steady influence on the sports field can also be felt in the classroom.
As she used to teach Maths, some students would find their way to her for help when facing difficulties in the subject.
One of them, a Secondary 3 footballer, had been failing Maths since she was in Primary 1, and was looking for a way out of the doldrums. “She started talking to me some time last year,” Yong Chin said. “I’d go to their
football practice and she heard about me from her friends. That was when she started asking me for help with Maths.”
Yong Chin offered her learning tips and worked with her football CCA teacher and Maths teacher to motivate her. They helped to overcome some family issues too, which had led to her frequent truancy. This year, the student not only passed a Maths
test for the first time in her life, she also topped her class.
Dorcas Chu, 19, Yong Chin’s former student and now a footballer on the national team, also struggled with Maths. She remembers being distraught at failing a test in Secondary 3, despite having studied diligently for it. She was on the verge
of giving up when Yong Chin reached out to her to remind her it was okay to make mistakes, and remember to learn from them.
It was a lightbulb moment for Dorcas – her attitude and hard work mattered too, and who knows where Yong Chin’s mantra to “be good” could take her? Dorcas, who started off in the Normal (Technical) stream in Secondary 1,
went on to the Normal (Academic) stream a year later, and sat for her GCE O-Level examinations in Secondary 5.
Yong Chin recalled of Dorcas’ journey with pride, “She was so determined to prepare for her GCE O-Level examinations that she stuffed her luggage with books when she went overseas to compete in a football match.”
Dorcas added, “I knew the transition wouldn’t be easy. But she was there to help me every step of the way. I believed in myself because she believed in me. I wouldn’t be where I am now without her guidance and support.”