A good teacher

Disclosure – Douglas Choong taught my son, he was the ONLY teacher in the school system who bothered to understand my son and his learning style. 

Teachers like Douglas Choong need to be nutured and rewarded. I wish I had just one teacher like him. They are few and far between.

Douglas Choong used to be a waiter – then one day a customer changed his future.

Now the 40-year-old is one of New Zealand’s most inspiring teachers.

The Howick man says after moving to New Zealand from Malaysia he struggled to get a job in his chosen profession of marketing.

“I was told that I had no Kiwi experience so I was doing a lot of part-time jobs like waitering.”

“There was this regular who was a retired principal and he said to me ‘you don’t belong here, you look like someone who should be doing more than being a waiter’.”

Mr Choong says the customer jumped right in with a solution and said ‘have you thought about teaching?’  

As a 15-year-old old Mr Choong had started tutoring English and maths which had sparked an interest in the profession.

“But I was discouraged because of the culture I was from – a man teaching at that time was not really something flash so I was talked out of it.

“When you think about it, it is almost like destiny. I came all the way to New Zealand and ended up doing something I have wanted to do since I was younger.”

After completing his teaching diploma Mr Choong landed a job at Mellons Bay School and has been there for 11 years. He says that first day was nerve-racking.

“I didn’t grow up in the New Zealand education system so I was quite panicky – even down to something like how was I going to decorate my walls?”

But he adapted quickly and every day he crafts his teaching techniques.

“As soon as you stand in front of a classroom of kids you need to dazzle with inspiration,” he says.

“If you have strong knowledge that is a way to inspire them or even how to look at things and share your insights.”

Mr Choong dazzles with the most unlikely of subjects – maths.

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