Today's post is dedicated to one of the most inspiring students that I have met in my many years of teaching experience! I hope you will be inspired by her too!
When I first started tutoring math many years ago, I met an insanely impressive student who truly inspired me. It wasn’t her intelligence but her dedication and discipline that I respected. Sarah (Not her real name) joined my math tuition class at the end of secondary 3 when she failed her end of year math exams in sec 3. After a long chat with her, she told me that she wanted to score distinctions for her O-levels E-Math because her dad promised to bring her to Rome (A place she read about in books and have been wanting to visit since she was very young). Although I thought it was a pretty trivial reason, the look on her face told me that she really meant it. When she asked me, what was the one most important thing she needed to do to achieve her goal, I replied her “Practice”.
As I wanted to get a grasp of her level of competency, I assigned her a homework to attempt one of the papers in her E-Math TYS. The following class, she submitted a horrendous paper to me. Her mathematics foundation was so weak, I suspected that my secondary 2 students would have scored better than her. We formulated a plan to start revising from the lower sec mathematics topics and fill up the gaps in her understanding.
The following week, when she came for math tuition, she told me she did another paper in the E-math TYS and asked me for help with a few questions before we resumed our original revision plan. Of course, the paper was still poorly done. However, she continued that habit of doing TYS papers every week without fail. She does between one to three papers every week. And that was on top of the homework I assigned her!
Sarah went on like this for the rest of the year. She told me she did one hour of math tys every day before school without fail. She started re-doing papers that she did before and repeated the cycle. I offered her school prelims and other higher-level practice to work on, but she never stopped doing the ten-year series. I partly suspect that she was addicted to doing math TYS.
During the O-Level math boot-camp in September, when I flashed some of the TYS questions to the class, she would know the method and the answer before I even finished reading a question myself. By then, she said she had already finished the ten-year series at least 8 times over (no kidding!). She was probably more familiar with the TYS than I was!
After the O-levels, Sarah went on her month-long trip to Rome and other countries (she deserved it). She also got her distinction for E-Math for O-levels. Although her method of studying is not something I approve of (repeating the same TYS 8 times is a little redundant and ineffective), I respected the high level of dedication and consistency she had. Please note that she did not merely do TYS, she completed a lot of other prelims and worksheets too!
After a decade of teaching, she is still one of the most “insanely” impressive student I had. I hope her story would inspire all of you students too!
“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” ~ Colin Powell
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