A Special Kind of Teacher

Born in Malaysia, educated in the U.S. and now working at ISD teaching children from China, Brazil and Korea, Grace Leong explains her diverse perspective.
TEACHER Grace Leong
FROM Malaysia
SCHOOL International School of Dongguan (ISD)
SUBJECT Special Needs Education

What do you do, exactly, as a teacher in special needs education?
We didn’t have this position until August 2019. Fortunately, in ISD, we don’t have severe cases. Imajored in Special Needs Education in the U.S., and here in ISD, though I am the only one in this position, we work as team. I will observe the students in class and find out what they need in order to help them to do better.

For example, if I notice a kid having problems reading. I will take a note and have a discussion with his or her teachers and parents. We will work out a solution to help the kid to overcome the difficulties. You know, some kids are visual learners, some are more auditory. We do what we do to personalize their learning experience so that they can thrive as who they are.

If you must choose an animal to describe a teacher’s role, what is it? Why?
It’s really difficult, and I have never thought about it. Well, I think a teacher can be a lot of things: an educator, a coach, a caretaker, a leader, a helper and a counselor. What kind of animal is a teacher like? I’d have to say like a mother hen, drooping her wings to protect her chicks.

Is there any advice that you can give to the parents?
Be patient with your kids. They will grow at a different pace, eventually. Don’t compare them. It’s just not fair. I come from an Asian family, and I understand how furious the competition can be. But I am very lucky that my parents love me for me. They didn’t compare me with my cousin or require me to be someone else.