- A Sly Hero -
One of our most loyal teachers is the Biology teacher, David Relex. He has been tutoring at our branches for a few years now and is one of our most popular teachers. A witty disposition and an appetite for academia fuels his big personality, so we sat down with him to ask him some burning questions about the way he teaches.
ECA : Do you have any special technique that you use when you’re teaching?
DAVID : Okay. (Laughs) In the first few classes, I would set ground rules. There’s this thing they have to recite in the first few classes. (Laughs) The first rule is “If you don’t understand, say you don’t understand and you have to be honest”. Two, is definitely “I want you to acknowledge every single thing I say. So if it’s a ‘yes’, say ‘yes’. If it’s a ‘no’, say ‘no’.” That kind of thing. Usually, if they keep quiet in the middle of the year and they get silent from time to time, I’ll just say “...And what are the rules of my class?” and they have to say those two again. But it DOES work! I’d say it in a joking way, because it’s really important for me to know whether they understand or not. I would ask them over and over again, “Do you really understand?” I also came up with a second part. If they say that they DO understand, I’ll ask them back “What do you understand?” and they have to explain to me the whole thing again. So, It turned out good.
ECA : How did you come up with the teaching methods you’re using now?
DAVID : You know what? The way I teach now, it’s a sort of restructuring and accumulation of things that I knew before. It was what I needed in school. When I was planning my A Levels classes, I was like, “This is actually okay”, you know? I was already doing my Bachelor’s and learning things a certain way. I realised when I go back to revise, I was seeing it in a different light. I see these kids and these kids are learning it the way I was learning back in school. So I’m trying to reinforce the way I was learning at uni and teach these kids HOW I learned it, so they get the techniques earlier, so they don’t have to go through the things I went through.
ECA : Do you have any experiences about teaching that you’d like to share?
DAVID : At the end of the day, I don’t mind where I work or where I teach. It’s about the connection which I have with these kids. One full year has given me the opportunity to get close to them and I’m thankful that they actually turn up with As and Bs. You know how some kids just need a push? I was with this one kid. I made it clear to him that I see potential in him. Throughout the whole year, when new students come in, I would say “Can you look through his notes? He has the best notes.” I felt like it gave him confidence. If any students needed notes, I would ask them to go to him. You know, if you were in a position where you are a student and your teacher decides to go to you first, even when nobody can answer the question, it’ll give you some sort of confidence. So he noticed that “I can actually do it”, you know? I was so glad that he ended up with getting an A, when he has NEVER PASSED. So I’m just really happy he texted me , “I got an A”. I was like “NO WAY”. I’m so glad that he got an A.
ECA : Has teaching tuition helped you in your everyday life?
DAVID : I’m doing Bio as my Bachelor’s degree and teaching O Levels and A Levels Biology seem to be a very good practice for me to recall the basics that I need to apply. Technically, it’s a thing that doesn’t affect me directly. I’m Marine Biology, doing Oceanic Certification and Climate Change-related Biology. What A Levels and O Levels are doing is nothing related to it. But they have theories that I need to know to have small talk with other academics, because… I really need to socialise with other academics, other lecturers in UBD. When they give presentations, these are the questions that they can come up with and I can actually understand their talks. Yeah. (Laughs)
ECA : Do you see yourself becoming a lecturer in Bio?
DAVID : As for now, I plan to follow my research assistance. My current supervisor, we’re aiming for getting me a place for Masters first, in Marine to be specific. But yeah. I believe so. I’m starting to run practical courses for my lecturer now, in such a way I’m teaching young adults now. I like teaching… I used to enjoy O Levels, because I started there. Once I moved on to teaching A Levels, I realise I like the real discussions that go on in it. And then when I stepped in to run practical courses for my lecturer, I love the discussions even more when I was teaching Bachelor’s, you know. So, it’s just going to keep getting better.
His methods are unorthodox, but his heart is in the right place - and hey, they seem to actually work! Between 6 classes at 3 branches, David has managed to touch the hearts and minds of many students and we can't wait to see how many more people he gets to teach in the future. We wish you all the best of luck in becoming a lecturer, David!