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A relief teaching stint helped her discover her passion
By Jo-ann Huang

MOE scholar Chloe Lim never expected to be a natural in the classroom, but found that she grew to love the profession the more time she spent with her students

MOE planning officer Chloe Lim enjoys taking on multiple portfolios and contributing to the development of a well-rounded education for future generations.

Unlike many of her peers, she did not grow up wanting to be a teacher. Life, however, had different plans for Ms Chloe Lim.

The 27-year-old credits her former teachers at alma mater Victoria Junior College for helping her to explore possibilities when she was invited to teach her pet subject English Literature during a relief teaching stint with the school in 2014. “It was during this time that I realised how much I enjoyed teaching, and how fulfilling it can be,” she says.

Seeing this as a meaningful career path opening up for her, she applied for the Ministry of Education (MOE) Education Merit Scholarship. After acquiring a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the University of Oxford in 2017 and 2018 respectively, Ms Lim went on to pursue a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (Secondary) at the National Institute of Education, graduating in 2020.

She is glad that her foray into teaching happened the way it did. She explains: “There is a common narrative that paints teachers as selfless individuals who have always known that teaching is their calling. But that’s a one- dimensional view and does not apply to everyone. I’ve grown to love my work more with time and that, to me, is a much more rewarding journey.”

After a two-year posting as an English Language/Literature teacher at Presbyterian High School, Ms Lim joined MOE’s Education Policy Branch, Planning Division, as a planning officer earlier this year. Her duties include assisting in the formulation and review of pre-school education policies.

She hopes to incorporate the valuable insights she gained as part of her overseas scholarship experiences in her work. While studying in the UK, for instance, she volunteered with a charity that provides English Language home tutoring for underserved communities and was paired with a Somalian refugee for a year.

“Connecting with her allowed me to learn about her home life and culture, and taught me to empathise with those whose first language isn’t English,” she says.

During her internship at a public school in New York, she also got to observe a different education system in action. “Classes there are based on ability rather than age group. That was eye-opening as it showed me alternative ways of conceptualising teaching groups, and the importance of keeping an open mind.”

A supportive culture

While many educators are content to remain on the teaching track, there are plenty of opportunities beyond the classroom to explore. 

MOE offers three career tracks: the Teaching Track where teachers can hone their expertise in pedagogy, the School Leadership Track for those who are keen to contribute to the effective management and leadership of schools, and the Senior Specialist Track for teachers who are inclined towards more specialised areas in educational development.

As a scholar, Ms Lim is also able to take on a variety of portfolios. “Our industry is not just about teaching. In areas such as policy making or operations, there are many people working together in order to create a good environment for our young people to learn,” she says.

Since starting her career, Ms Lim is grateful for the support she receives from her organisation, such as when she was trialling e-pedagogy during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Home-based learning was a challenge at first as she had to learn to work with children with additional learning needs and those who could not connect with her because they had never met her in person. But with encouragement from her peers and perseverance on her part, she managed to forge a connection with her class.

To those who hope to follow in her footsteps, Ms Lim says: “Teaching requires a lot of commitment, but what helps me reaffirm my purpose when work gets overwhelming is knowing that it is part of a larger mission to improve the lives of others.”