THE Education Ministry should be commended for recognising teachers' contributions and services by awarding them special awards for exemplary and excellent service.
The icon award for those who excel in their fields irrespective of age and years of service was newly created for exemplary teachers ("Icon award for exemplary teachers" -- NST, May 1).
This award is in addition to the existing excellent teachers' posts.
However, the selection of excellent teachers and the newly created icon award should be streamlined and reviewed.
The post of excellent teacher is a highly sought after one in schools as it is a fast track to a higher pay scale and an upgrading and promotion exercise.
The "excellence" in the post signifies the creme de la creme of the teaching profession.
A successful candidate should possess skills and knowledge of the subject matter far beyond the ordinary teacher.
An excellent teacher should be passionate about teaching and be vibrant and eloquent in communicating.
A successful candidate should be a role model and a reference point and pride of the teaching fraternity.
Careful consideration and care must be put into place before selecting and awarding an excellent teacher.
The head teacher, the senior assistants, the panel heads and the parent-teacher association board members should sit together and nominate potential candidates in their schools for the post of excellent teachers.
Students should also be interviewed to get a better assessment of a teacher's potential and expertise.
Shortlisted candidates can then be inspected by officers from the education ministry, who can check their record books, documents and files.
Though these documentation procedures are important, emphasis should be on the teaching and learning process in the classroom.
The inspectors should focus more on the teacher's classroom interaction and teaching abilities.
The observation procedure should not be staged. Most of the time, the teachers are told well in advance to prepare for a model lesson to be presented to the inspectors.
Teachers would then rehearse their lessons and stage an ideal lesson for the inspectorates. This should not be done.
Passionate teachers would be able to teach at short notice without much preparation.
Some are born to teach. These teachers should be rewarded.
Nominees for these prestigious awards should be meticulously selected.
At the core of the selection criteria should be how the teacher teaches and functions in the classroom.
There's a saying that goes:
A mediocre teacher tells,
A good teacher explains,
A superior teacher
A great teacher inspires!
Moses S.Y., Seremban, Negri Sembilan New Straits Times Letters to the Editor 12 May 2013