September 13th, 2021

You need more than good grades to be a good teacher

LETTERS: I would like to discuss the question posed by a portal recently which is whether one needs good grades in high school to be a teacher.

The portal implied that many of our teachers are not of a high quality when giving the headline: '70 per cent of teachers have no more than 3A in SPM.'

NSTP file pic, for illustration purpose only.

As a former educator, I am called upon to give a little insight based on my experience who has trained prospective teachers at Educational Institutions. I would also like to share with you that the statement from one of the Teach for Malaysia officers is not true at all.

In practice, the recruitment of trainees to government-dependent teacher training IPTs must have a grade of more than 3A in SPM but for private IPT recruitment, the minimum qualification may be at least 3A.

According to the Malaysia Education Development Plan 2013-2025, candidates selected for teacher training institutes are evaluated based on various factors including attitude, teaching ability and character.

Grades reflect how much material you have learned (received, processed and retained in a credible memory mindset). It is difficult to obtain a good value grade without understanding the material.

Most of the teachers (before graduating and qualified as teachers) felt capable and in a good position when they were in school. Of course, not everyone gets the highest marks of all time, daily performance is usually between 70 and 90 per cent.

Many never evaluate themselves during schooling and their presence to school is because school days are something exciting. Many enjoy studying and want to go to university. We are in school not to get or chase grades.

For most individuals, they have a relatively modest grade point average during undergraduate studies. Many enjoy and feel happy when they have the opportunity to continue their studies at institutions of higher learning (according to the field of major) and try their best.

Either the Cumulative Grade Point Average in high school, for a bachelor's or even a master's grade is not a barrier to getting the next degree, but the situation may be different for individuals.

Grades Exam scores are enough to get into university, making many not have to worry about a low CGPA in the event.

You need a moderate or higher average value to show that you have self -discipline and are able to make yourself work.


A low-Grade point leaves the impression that you will not be able to, not reaching the level or you did not try.
But again, in knowing the requirements for admission to IPT/university and successfully reaching the desired level, there is no point here or in all directions if only one or two things are important.

What I mean is that if you know what you have to focus on, you don't have to work too hard to be the best at all things - it's not necessarily worth it. Of course, you need good grade points in school to get into a good college including into an undergraduate programme of education.

If you want to go to master's level then you definitely need better grade points. But, it's not just grades, to be a good teacher, you need an interest in your subject and a deep interest in it.

Being a good teacher is hard work and you will make a lot of impact on your life, so don't take it too lightly and easy.

Those who are successful and doing great, praise the growth and development of their subject matter to a teacher who inspires them.


So focus and try your best if you want to make a difference. Also, having a good grade in a subject does not mean that you can and are able to help explain the subject in a meaningful way to others.

For example, university/college professors. While they may have a Ph.D. in their field and have spent years  researching, studying or doing the most complex research on a subject they are very passionate about, and are widely regarded as leaders in their field ... but not everyone is capable of teaching a group of adults anything helpful about their subject.

Therefore, students should learn all the things themselves. Another point - good teaching is not about having good grades in school. It is about how well you understand the subject and are able to present it in a way that can be internalized by the student.

The best teacher I have ever had is not an academic teacher. They are professional educators.

Their job is to make sure their knowledge can be disseminated, so that they have an interest in breaking something down into several meanings and intelligible ones that can then be put together to build a whole understanding.

Azizi Ahmad Kuala Lumpur

Azizi Ahmad New Straits Times Opinion Letters 14 September 2021