On Assignment
To Sir and Mdm with Love (Part 1)
In our Teacher’s Day Special, we celebrate Home Team Trainers who’ve made a difference from the frontlines to the classroom.

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GRAPHIC: Cheryl Soh

Teachers are arguably one of the most important influences in our lives. They impart knowledge to us, and teach us many life skills and lessons. To celebrate Teacher’s Day, we speak to our very own Home Team “teachers” – our Trainers from the Home Team.

As Trainers, Inspector (INSP) Hisham Bin Sulaiman of the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) and Assistant Superintendent (ASP) Felicia Chee of the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) believe in going the extra mile for their trainees. That’s why they’re constantly reviewing their teaching methods to ensure that their trainees are engaged in their learning.

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Converting screen time into a tool for learning: INSP Hisham saw an opportunity after noticing how much more receptive his trainees were to mobile phone content. PHOTO: Jade Tan

Using Technology to Expand Learning
Throughout his five years as a Trainer, INSP Hisham has always embraced technology. So, when he noticed that his trainees spent most of their free time glued to their phones, he decided to use that to his advantage. “I got the idea to use phone apps for e-learning,” said the 44-year-old officer.

Tech-savvy since his early days as a student, INSP Hisham worked with HTA and ST Engineering to trial phone apps that encourage e-learning, and helped improve existing e-learning software and modules. His contributions foster more efficient learning, as trainees and officers alike can now do bite-sized training on the go.

One challenge for INSP Hisham is adapting his training to meet different needs. “Based on the profiles of trainees, we have to take into account their technological proficiency and pace of learning,” he said. “In the same way that I’m responsible to my trainees, I also have to fulfil the trust that CNB has placed in me and impart the skills that our officers need.”

In Their Shoes
INSP Hisham puts himself in his trainees’ shoes to better understand their thoughts and learning needs. “About two years ago, I was tasked to give a preventive drug education talk at a school,” he recalled. “At the end of the session, a student approached me to say that his father had been involved in a drug case.”

INSP Hisham empathised with the student’s plight. After gathering his thoughts, he advised the student to be strong. “My parting advice to him was, ‘With hardship comes growth’,” he said. “This encounter taught me to expect the unexpected, and to be mentally and emotionally prepared, so that I can do my best for my trainees.”

INSP Hisham's efforts were recognised at the Home Team Training Excellence Awards in 2018. According to him, one of the highlights of being a Home Team trainer is being able to raise training standards over time. This motivates him to push himself harder. “You must have that extra something to be a Trainer,” said INSP Hisham.

Making Classes Fun
According to ASP Felicia Chee, her extra something comes from the way she teaches her trainees. “My nickname is ‘Fe’, and it stands for what I want my classes to be – ‘Fun’ and ‘Engaging’,” she beamed. “This energises my trainees and helps them to better retain knowledge.”

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Learning doesn't need to be boring – that’s ASP Felicia’s mantra as she incorporates games and props into her lessons. PHOTO: Cheryl Soh

Having served at the Singapore Prison Training Institute as a Senior Trainer for three years, the 29-year-old officer has a range of teaching assignments. She brings new officers through scenario-based training on conducting cell searches and uses e-learning for senior officers on refresher courses.

ASP Felicia makes her classes more exciting through games such as “Fastest Fingers First”, introducing an element of friendly competition between groups. While her trainees are having fun and learning, they are also internalising values related to teamwork.

Questions, Not Answers
What ASP Felicia loves about her work is that it is never static. “Since I also train senior officers, my lesson plans need to change all the time,” she shared. “The challenge lies in adapting my classes to fit the profiles of my trainees.”

While games and e-learning benefit her younger trainees, ASP Felicia noted that senior trainees prefer storytelling and relate better to examples that are relevant to their own experiences. She recalled how one officer learnt better after she used real-life examples to illustrate concepts.

“I also do an activity involving a bag of old coins,” said ASP Felicia. “The trainees will each take a coin and share an experience that happened to them during the year stated on their coin.”

This simple activity energises the trainees and also supports peer learning. “As a Trainer, the biggest change I ever made in the way I teach was to go into my classes with questions, not answers,” said ASP Felicia. “This encourages trainees to consider a broader range of factors when they need to make crucial decisions.”

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No stone unturned: ASP Felicia conducting a cell search demonstration for trainees at the Home Team Academy. PHOTOS: Cheryl Soh

Despite the challenges of being a Home Team Trainer, ASP Felicia loves her job. “I enjoy interacting with trainees and helping them,” she said. “One of the best parts about being a Trainer is seeing how I’ve also developed as a result.”

To all our Home Team Trainers, thank you, and Happy Teachers’ Day!

About the Home Team Academy (HTA)
As the Corporate University of the Home Team, HTA supports the Home Team Training & Learning (T&L) ecosystem. T&L plays a critical role in both the Home Team’s transformation and to empower Home Team officers to overcome operational challenges. Effective training enables successful operations; and successful operations instils high public confidence in the Home Team.

© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Cheryl Soh
  2. 05 September 2019
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