Blog General Singapore Education News The Difference between Average and Excellent MOE Teachers

The Difference between Average and Excellent MOE Teachers

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In the last article, SG50: Let’s Celebrate and Honour Our MOE Teachers, we took a moment to appreciate our MOE teachers and gave them the credit they deserved.

All of us have had great teachers ourselves who changed our lives for the better.

However, let’s face it. Not all teachers are great. We’ve all had our experiences of good and not-so-good teachers.

Some teachers lack the passion. Some have plenty of passion but lack self-control. Some have passion and self-control, but lack leadership.

If you’re a MOE school teacher and would like to improve yourself, you’ll first ask: “But what makes a good teacher?”

Fortunately, we recently surveyed MOE teachers and asked them what they did to make their teaching more effective.

With this information, we’ve compiled the 8 qualities and practices that separate excellent teachers and average teachers. Let’s begin!

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1. Be Positive

Positive Teacher

Average teachers often see things negatively and focus on their students’ bad traits, ignoring the positives. You’ll hear them (or yourself) say, “This student of mine is hopeless. He is too ____ (insert word: Mischievous, Lazy, Stupid etc)”

Excellent teachers are the opposite. They are always positive and focus on their students’ strengths. They often give praise and positive encouragement, which motivates their students to make their teacher proud.

2. Have High Expectations

Excellent teachers also believe in the potential of their students and always have high expectations. They understand the power and influence they have over their students. They understand that their young students often look to their teachers for validation of self-worth.

To be a great teacher, you must not only believe in your students but communicate often that you trust and expect them to do well.  For young students, having a teacher who completely trusts and believe in them can have a profound effect. When you truly believe in them, students will “catch the fire” and unknowingly behave and act like good students. Invariably, results will follow.

3. Set the Tone Early

MOE Teacher Singapore

Excellent MOE teachers set the tone early. They uphold standards for what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in their classes. For example, they will have non-negotiable class rules such as “Raise your hand if you want to answer a question”, “Do not interrupt your classmates”, or “Do your homework on time”.

Most average teachers don’t set the tone early. As a result, their students do not know what to expect or how to behave. When they do set down some rules and transgressions occur, average teachers also often fail to enforce the punishments consistently. When you allow transgressions to easily go unpunished, the other students will start to lose their motivation to behave as well.

4. Understand Your Class Well

Excellent MOE teachers always seek to have a strong understanding of their classes. Prior to the school term, they will do their due diligence by finding out from previous teachers about their new students; who works well together, who should not sit together, who are the mischievous or playful ones, who are the hardworking ones, who needs extra motivation, who has family problems etc. This information allows a teacher to be administratively effective, unlike an average MOE teacher.

5. Treat Everyone With Respect

Excellent MOE Teachers treat themslves and their students with respect. A good example of this is a scene from Coach Carter (2005), an excellent movie that you can learn from.

Coach Carter took a losing basketball team of hooligans and transformed them into one of the winningest basketball teams in the country. Not only that, but he earned the respect of every player on the team, and influenced their lives for the greater good.

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How did he do it? He started by treating himself with respect and teaching his students to treat themselves with respect by making them hold themselves accountable for their actions.

Average teachers tolerate just about anything from their students. Good teachers don’t – they teach their students respect, even if at first it’s the hard way.

6. Lead By Example

Great teachers lead by example and walk the talk. You must model the behaviour that you preach. Often you see teachers lose their temper with students. Is this the kind of behaviour that is appropriate and that we want our students to follow?

Understand that students don’t learn from what we say, but what we present. For example, if you preach the importance of reading, read with your students during reading periods to show them that you truly value reading.

7. Create a Safe Learning Environment


Excellent MOE teachers create a safe learning environment by never punishing students for not knowing. Often we see teachers reprimand their students for “silly questions” and for not knowing what they supposedly should know.

Even if you’ve taught a concept before, it is perfectly acceptable that the student did not get it fully the first time. Since students today study so many different subjects, they will often have to revisit what they learnt. Good teachers are always slow to reprimand, and patient in teaching.

To create a safe environment, you must be exceptionally nice and understanding to your students, showing exemplary patience and love. Also, smile often. This will make students like you more, which will make them more receptive to learning.

8. Be Open, Honest and Vulnerable.

Students listen to teachers they like. And the well-loved teachers are also the ones who don’t put themselves on a pedestal. They love their students openly and are not afraid to be open, honest, and vulnerable.

Laugh with them, sit and eat with them, converse with them. The only way to win trust and earn respect is to be open and vulnerable. That way, your students can see that you are genuine and will open themselves to you. You’ll be able to have a great influence over them and impact their lives for years to come.


Whether you’re a new, budding MOE teacher or an experienced one, there’s always room to improve in the way you conduct yourself as a teacher. We sincerely wish you the best and hope that our article has inspired you on a path of self-improvement. Teaching is such a noble profession and we salute you for it!

Thank you for reading and if you loved this article, please let us know in the comments below!

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Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.