Close this search box.



Learning as he teaches: Science educator grows with every lesson he conducts
Lee Hong Liang MOE Teaching Award scholar
Mr Lee Hong Liang wants to make learning an immersive experience for his students. PHOTO: SPH MEDIA

This NTU-NIE scholar uses a reflective approach to sharing and gaining knowledge in and out the classroom

As he nervously entered the classroom on his first day as an intern teacher, eager to deliver a memorable lesson, Mr Lee Hong Liang did not expect he would be the one walking out with newfound knowledge.

“A student started crying even before I could start the lesson – I was shocked,” he says, as he reflects on the start of his 10-week Ministry of Education Teaching Internship Programme (MOE TIP) attachment, fresh out of junior college.

Prior to this, Mr Lee’s teaching experience had been limited to helping his peers at school. He enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing their eyes light up when they grasped new concepts.

That day marked a significant shift for him as he realised the importance of being sensitive to his students’ emotional needs, not just focusing on the academic content. 

Eventually, Mr Lee found out the student was being bullied by his desk mate and the situation was dealt with. 

More on this topic:
The original influencers: Why he believes teachers can never be replaced by social media
How a handwritten note and thoughtful words from her teachers propelled educator’s career

“This incident reinforced my aspiration to become an educator because I realised there was more to the job than meets the eye,” says the 24-year-old.

It was a real-world experience that no textbook could provide, highlighting the complex nature of teaching. Mr Lee understood that his educational journey was just beginning, filled with more invaluable lessons to come.

A journey of self-discovery

A nature lover who enjoys bird-watching in his free time, selecting biology as his teaching subject was a natural choice for Mr Lee. He remembers the National Institute of Education (NIE) field trips to Singapore Botanic Gardens and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

Mr Lee has also led school excursions to Jurong Lake Gardens, where he observed his students’ keen interest in the local plant and animal life. Through this experience, he picked up the value of immersive learning in sparking curiosity and motivating children. Mr Lee intends to incorporate such enriching activities in his future classes.

Meeting students from different backgrounds, home environments and varying learning abilities has also taught Mr Lee to be more aware of how to engage his students. 

“While imparting knowledge, I am also shaping the character of my students and preparing them for their future endeavours.”

– Mr Lee Hong Liang, recipient of the MOE Teaching Award

During the pandemic when online classes were the norm, he realised some of his students were self-conscious about turning on their videos and revealing their living situations. He permitted them to turn off their cameras but asked more questions to keep them alert.

“When you give students a choice, it empowers them and motivates them to participate,” he says.

“When I chose to be a teacher, I was solely thinking of being a science teacher and sharpening my skills as one. During my undergraduate journey, I have realised that while imparting knowledge, I am also shaping the character of my students and preparing them for their future endeavours.”

Embracing the full spectrum of education

Today, Mr Lee is at the tail end of his four-year MOE Teaching Award scholarship undergraduate programme at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) under the NIE Teaching Scholars Programme (TSP). 

He is pursuing a Bachelor of Science with a double major in biology and education with a minor in chemistry, along with annual teaching attachments. The scholarship comes with a four-year bond. 

Mr Lee is appreciative of how the programme is structured. “As I am immersed in education-related courses the whole duration, I have more time to think about the sort of teacher I want to be.”

Though now on the home stretch, he has not forgotten his initial struggles with the compact-yet-intense course load. With the support of his friends, family and lecturers, he learnt how to take a step back and tackle challenges one at a time.

“I realised if I have 10 struggles now, after I’ve worked on them, I’d have 10 triumphs,” he says.

He is also appreciative of how the scholarship programme is structured. His highlights so far include a sponsored semester exchange to Canada and a trip to Ireland for The Global Undergraduate Awards Summit 2023 where he won the award in the Education category for a research paper he wrote on measuring students’ creativity before and after a stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activity.

“It was a great opportunity to share my work with undergraduates from across the world and meet like-minded individuals who are passionate about teaching,” he says. 

Mr Lee is also grateful for the programme’s role-play practicums, where undergraduates take turns leading lessons as their peers act as students, offering feedback and identifying areas for improvement.

In these interactive sessions, Mr Lee gained insights into the nuances of teaching, such as signalling students to begin note-taking or pausing briefly during a lesson to check if they are keeping up.

It is this adaptive and receptive mindset that he wants to bring inside the classroom once he starts his permanent teaching job.

“The best advice I have received is that we teach the child, not the subject,” he says. “In a way, I am also learning from my students and experiences. Teaching is a two-way street.”

Back to main page