Teacher Spotlight: Ms Shobha Sanker
Written By Megan Chan
Ms. Shobha Sanker is a Math teacher at RCHK known to be incredibly hardworking and dedicated. We sat down with her recently to ask her some questions submitted by students at RCHK…
What motivates you to get up in the morning?
I’ve got a lot of stuff to still achieve in my life - I think my life has just started, even though I’m only 53 now. So, I would like to get up as early as possible before anybody else would get up in the world, because I don’t want to lose out on time. I strongly believe that “Time is precious.”
When did you realise you wanted to be a teacher?
It is when my son was in P1 and I was called in by his teacher to say that he did not have any social skills. She was a very experienced and mature teacher, close to retirement. The teacher gave me a good life lesson about deciding between career and taking care of my son. That was when I decided to take teaching as my career. I am so thankful to her as it taught me to balance life with home and work.
Why did you want to become a math teacher?
Destiny brought me here - the teaching profession was the last in my list because I’m not a very confident person and always a good listener rather than a good communicator. It’s just due to family reasons that I happened to be in Hong Kong.
What motivates you to contribute so much to RCHK?
It’s my love for children. I have seen so many of students graduating from RCHK. I always felt that they were my own children.
What is the most important thing to remember when learning math?
Spend more time focusing on the concepts as a foundation. The concepts come in different ways of understanding. For instance, the Singaporean model of math is different from UK or US. Once you develop the foundation in math, you start connecting the concepts to real life which would make one love Mathematics. But it requires a lot of time to go through this process.
What was the best part about being a student?
You don’t have to worry about money, everything is taken care of, right from your uniform to your books and to your living expenses.
Aside from math, what’s your next favourite subject?
Why are you interested in debate?
Debate all started with Mr. E, now a retired English Teacher, who taught at Heep Yun school and then South Island School. It happened when my son was in Y7, that was the first year he got involved in debating. Debate was not very popular in those days, not a lot of schools were into debating. And I understood from Mr. E how besides reading and comprehension skills , speaking skills are very important to anyone to improve one’s self confidence. Since there were not many people involved at the time, there were quite a few times when I was asked to help, to take them to different debates, so I had the opportunity to watch many debates. I then started making notes, and then I became unstoppable and went to the extend of making arguments and rebuttals for every single debate I watch. Just like how you’re a big fan of Manchester United, or a fan of Kpop, I became really passionate about debating. And I even paid on my own to go watch the world championships.
What are some pet peeves you have relating to students?
I’ve not had that problem in most of my life, probably not because I’m one of the best teachers, I personally think that students generally have a respect for me.
What subject did you struggle in when you were in school?
English. If you listened to my RCHK stress thing yesterday (Stress Less Week’s Wisdom Wednesday), even now when I draft an email or an article, I do have a problem with positioning ‘in’ , ‘on’ , and ‘at’ in a sentence. I always hoped that there were something similar to order of operations, like BEDMAS in math, which could be applicable to English but that is not always the case.
What are some of your different strategies for teaching?
My main focus would be to cater to the different learning needs of the students, especially students with different abilities and knowledge. My policy is if a student does badly, I would never blame the student, I would always reflect on my teaching and what went wrong with my teaching. So if my class’s average is 3/8 or less, then something is seriously wrong with my teaching. I would never say my class is a weak class. So I try to improve the general average of my class.
What is your favourite memory from when you were in school?
I still remember - we had a Sri Lankan girl who came to talk about her life. I still don’t understand the Sri Lankan rap she recited. This happened when I was in Y7. I still remember this because it was a very special moment. I’ve never seen a Sri Lankan descent in my life, it was the first time I am seeing somebody outside of my country, so I think what she said in the rap, we all wanted to ensure that we learned that song.
What are some of your hobbies outside of school?
Watching TV, I like to watch something that is funny and not very serious. I love reading Dennis the Menace - that’s my favourite. I also love to watch Michael Schumacher, a car racer who is not racing anymore because of his injury, and my favourite team is Man-U (Manchester United).
What is your favourite part about teaching?
What advice would you give to students regarding school?
One main thing is to make friends - try to make new friends every time, don’t just stick to a small group. You get to know more about different types of people, how you can be resilient or how you can improve yourself. Try to always come out of your comfort zone - this is the time for you to explore. If you are a very shy person and you just talk to your friends, imagine you are going to university and need to face real life, it will be more difficult for you to work in a workplace and face reality.