Teachers’ Day in Singapore is held on September 1st every year. On this day, all schools will hold a series of activities for students to express their gratitude. So what is the gift that teachers look forward to the most on this special day?
Chong Chee Sia, a teacher of the N2 class, understands that parents would typically prepare presents to express their gratitude. In her capacity as a Tzu Chi volunteer partaking in environmental protection efforts, she understands that the core of protecting the environment lies in reducing wastage from buying unnecessary items. Therefore, she sent messages to all parents beforehand, expressing that she would be content with parents just sending simple cards.
Although the teachers did not expect much from the children themselves, the planning team from Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool still put their heads together to come up with a simple yet enjoyable “Teachers’ Day Celebration and Gratitude Session” for everyone.
Two weeks prior to the event, the planning team had already started collecting well-wishes from the children and their parents. Lim Lay Hong, the principal of the Yishun branch, printed all the well-wishes and decorated it as a ‘Wall of Love’ while Toh Ee Ling, the principal of the Toa Payoh branch, coordinated efforts to make origami hearts for the teachers. According to Ms Toh, the initiative symbolises the special love that teachers have for each student.
On 1st September, the celebration started at 10.30am, and the Yishun branch’s principal Lim Lay Hong and vice-principal Au Foong Yee went to each class alongside their colleagues from the admin team. They jokingly said that it was as if they were holding a wedding, likening it to a joyous occasion.
Serving Teachers tea to Express Gratitude
Ten classes ranging from PG to K2 held simple tea ceremonies to show appreciation to their teachers. Under the guidance of the principal, students served their teachers warm tea to express their well-wishes for their teachers – the first sip for good health, the second sip for peace and prosperity, and the third sip for dreams come true.
The children were no stranger to the tea ceremony – one could tell that the older the children are, the more skilful they are with tea-serving. K2 students Remy Woo and Wong Yu Qing did not go through prior rehearsals but knew what to do when they heard the cue to kneel. Following the teachers’ instructions, Remy respectfully lowered his head to serve the tea and whispered to remind Yu Qing to do the same.
After the ceremony, when asked why he lowered his head when serving tea, Remy meekly replied, “My parents taught me to do so, as it expresses my gratitude and respect for my teachers.”
At the end of the ceremony, Principal Lim Lay Hong led five students who graduated from the Infant class to serve their teachers tea. Their infant care teachers Ke Xiu Yuan, Tracia Ang and Guan Rui Xia were smiling from ear to ear as they received the tea from their former students, and exclaimed, “Our students have finally grown up, and can serve us tea now!”
The teachers were elated that the students could grow from learning tea-serving as a form of play to actually doing it in the ceremony. Apart from serving tea to the teachers, the school also arranged for students to serve tea to the school cooks, cleaners, part-time teachers and Great Love Mothers.
Inspiring Grateful and Caring Hearts
It was N2 teacher Chong Chee Sia’s first time participating in the activity. From her colleagues, she learnt that parents would prepare presents every Teachers’ Day to express their gratitude. As a Tzu Chi volunteer partaking in environmental protection efforts, she understands that the core of protecting the environment lies in reducing wastage from buying unnecessary items.
Therefore, she sent messages to all parents beforehand, expressing that she would be content with parents just sending simple cards, and emphasised that everyone should strive to leave behind a clean planet for their children.
Under the influence of Teacher Chong, Yu Qing drew a cute thank you card, showed it to her teachers, and took photos with all of them. The small yet sincere action from her filled her teachers with joy. Alexander Poh, a student who usually threw tantrums, was well-behaved on the day itself and exclaimed, “I have a present for you!” which melted his teachers’ hearts.
For Chinese Teacher Xie Qiong Mei, this was her second year partaking in the celebration. After the ceremony, she was moved to tears and hugged the children to reciprocate the love. She also thanked her fellow colleagues for planning the celebration.
English Teacher Tan Shan Hui who experienced this for the first time, felt that the activities were touching and extra meaningful.
On the day, the school also prepared a simple yet scrumptious buffet lunch for everyone. For the teachers, they could finally take a breather from worrying about the children and enjoy the meal with their fellow colleagues. For the teachers of the younger classes, they were still worried about their students, but after the principal and vice-principal insisted that they take a break, did they sit down to enjoy the meal.
Psychologists have theorised the 5 love languages: acts of service, gifts, quality time, words of affirmation and physical touch. We tend to send gifts during special occasions to express our gratitude, but we fail to realise that there are more ways to express our love.
For Teachers’ Day this year at the Yishun branch, the parents, children, and planning team expressed their gratitude to the teachers through a plethora of activities like tea ceremonies, setting up of a love message wall, presentation of gifts, and origami making. To the teachers, so long as the parents and children have the thought to thank them, they are immensely grateful no matter how it is expressed.