Home > FMSS > Main Features > 2017 Term 1 > Interview with Mdm Samsiah Bte Mohamed Diah, a Finalist of the President’s Award for Teachers 2016

Interview with Mdm Samsiah Bte Mohamed Diah, a Finalist of the President’s Award for Teachers 2016


Mdm Samsiah Bte Mohamed Diah was shortlisted as a Finalist of the President’s Award for Teachers 2016 in recognition of her passion and commitment to her students, as well as her active involvement in professionally developing the teaching fraternity. 

How did you feel about being a Finalist of the President’s Award for Teachers 2016? 

I felt really honoured to be shortlisted as a Finalist of the President’s Award for Teachers 2016. This is a wonderful recognition of the work I do.


What do you enjoy most about teaching (in Fairfield Secondary)?

a. Support from the school leaders: 
The school leaders have been very supportive of my teaching efforts and have also provided invaluable guidance to enhance my teaching. For instance, when I wanted to try out a different teaching method, they provided me with the necessary resources and sent me for professional development courses to further hone my teaching pedagogy and skills. 

b. Caring and loving work environment: 
My colleagues in FMS(S) are like my family members. We genuinely care for one another. Though there are ups and downs, we get through them together and constantly support each other. 2016 was a challenging year for me as my mother suffered a stroke and I had to look after her. With the support of the school leaders and colleagues, I was able to overcome those challenges.

Mdm Xu Hui, my Mother Tongue Head of Department, very kindly adjusted my workload and was always there to listen to me. My wonderful colleagues like Mr Yazid, Ms Thio Lay Hong, Ms Helen Chong, Mdm Toh Siew Lan, Mrs Roslind Ho, Mrs Katherine Tan and many others also offered words of encouragement to brighten my day. Apart from the teaching staff, the general office staff, counsellors and even the cleaners are very caring. The FMS(S) staff is one awesome loving family which continually provides me with invaluable support.

c. Our FMS(S) students:
Though our students are very unique and diverse, I always believe that they are teachable. In fact, I really enjoy teaching our students. The secret to my happiness is not in doing what I like, but in liking what I do. Though there are times when I get frustrated, I have come to realise that many things are beyond my control, so I just enjoy the process. 

I also believe that as a teacher, it is important to help my students who come from less privileged backgrounds, those who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and even those who do not abide by the law. Additionally, I enjoy coaching the students in my CCA, the Public Address (PA) Club, due to the strong bonds forged amongst everyone in this club. In fact, many seniors return to coach their juniors. This gives me a strong sense of satisfaction as I see my students grow and develop, as well as give back to the community. Most of them have graduated and are pursuing their interests. 

What is so satisfying about teaching (in Fairfield Secondary)?

There are just too many satisfying moments teaching in FMS(S) for me to single out.

I think it is very satisfying to try out strategies that are customised to suit my students’ learning ability. I want my students to look forward to my lessons, and enjoy learning through fun activities while achieving the learning outcomes. My lessons are usually filled with activities to make the language come alive for my students. Beyond classrooms and textbooks, my main strategy is to let my students experience the Malay language in a real world context. Hence, I plan homestays, learning journeys, and activities that allow students to experience living in a kampong. A few years ago, I planned an overseas learning journey, but it hit a snag because there were not enough Malay Language teachers in the school to run it. Undeterred, I approached my Geography colleagues who were organising their own learning journey to Bali, and asked if my class could tag along. The trip went ahead, with both groups sharing the logistics while conducting their own programmes. Immersive activities like these not only help students to improve their linguistic skills, but address any preconceptions they may have about Malay language, religion and culture. 

Do you have any advice for our beginning teachers in Fairfield Secondary?

Jonathan Kozol, an American writer, once said, "Good teachers know that sometimes at the end of these sentences are treasures.” Persevere and stay relevant. There will be times when your efforts are met with disappointment or failure but you must believe in yourself and press on. Stay relevant by being collaborative and adaptable. Continue to share relevant information and connect with educators and parents. Harness technology to make lessons exciting and engaging.