When we think back to our teachers who have guided us in life, our usual thoughts would be of gratitude and respect. This is natural, as teachers dedicate their lives to educating the next generation. This stays true even during our national service, as our trainers guide us through the highs and lows of military life. Teachers' Day falls on 3rd September this year, and we would like to celebrate the occasion by sharing the experiences of our beloved trainers from our Army.
CPT Rachel Tan, a Platoon Trainer from CTTC
As a Platoon Trainer from Combat Team Training Centre (CTTC), CPT Rachel Tan believes that it is essential that she first puts in effort to know the ins and outs of the training requirements, mission exercises and to get to know her trainees and NSmen well.
CPT Tan shared that "there's no one way to deal with the soldiers as they come in different types of personalities, learning capabilities and personal issues. So ultimately, it is important to engage each soldier, getting to know them better and learning what works for each individual."
CPT Rachel Tan debriefing her cadets following a training session.
As a trainer, one is bound to face many unexpected challenges, where quick thinking and sound judgement is required. Hence for CPT Tan, being a good trainer is also having the desire to learn to overcome these challenges.
"It is a continuous learning journey in this role because you can never know every single thing and sometimes, my trainees would even teach me new things and perspectives as well. One of the best parts of being in this appointment was being able to impart knowledge and skills, while at the same time, learning and relearning old and new things. As trainers, we constantly update ourselves on new skills, ensuring that we plan our training as best as we can, to execute our training safely and effectively."
2WO Brydon Yap, a Frame Warrant Officer from DETC
Following CPT Tan, we have 2WO Brydon Yap, a Frame Warrant Officer from Division Engineer Training Centre (DETC). 2WO Yap said that the motivation of his trainees is one aspect he pays particular attention to.
"Changing their mindsets requires intrinsic motivation, which can be triggered by some extrinsic stimulation. Therefore, I usually prefer the gentle approach, where I can take the time to understand their needs before moving forward."
2WO Brydon Yap going through the footwork with his trainees (Photo taken during pre-covid training).
2WO Yap's role as a trainer is to reacclimatize NSmen soldiers back into military life when they come back for their In-Camp Training.
"I believe that a good trainer should be patient, which I am perpetually leaning towards. When trainees make mistakes, we must be patient to help them learn from their mistakes. Furthermore, we should enforce standards and have the fighting spirit to allow our trainees to try and try again, until we and more importantly our trainees are satisfied with their standards."
2WO Pandian S/O Paneer Selvam, an Assistant Company Trainer from AUTC
Meanwhile at Active Unit Training Centre (AUTC), we have 2WO Pandian S/O Paneer Selvam, an Assistant Company Trainer of Alpha Company. 2WO Pandian feels that it is their responsibility as trainers to guide the unit in order for them to achieve and maintain high standards for the company to achieve mission success for their Battalion.
As a trainer, 2WO Pandian places emphasis on forging close trainer-trainee relationships in all his units. "I feel that forging positive relationships cultivates and creates an open-learning culture between the trainer and trainee, therefore allowing knowledge to be shared easily and with enthusiasm. Subsequently, this would aid the unit's improvement and overall performance after each rotation."
2WO Pandian Selvam engaging his trainees before their outfield exercise, ensuring they understand the mission objective.
The current COVID-19 pandemic brought about considerable challenges to the training regime at AUTC. Despite this, 2WO Pandian and his team of trainers were undeterred, swiftly implementing various safe management measures into their training plans to ensure the safety of the trainees and trainers during this COVID-19 period.
"Although these implementations pose as something out of the norm in our training, our training objectives have not changed and we continued to set out for the same training objectives and Key Performance Indicators for our trainees as per pre-covid period. In this way, we continue to be deliberate in the way we train and continue to set high training standards and strive for our trainees to continue experiencing high quality training despite the limitations."
SSG Chia Bing Hong, Assistant Platoon Trainer, ITC 2, SMI-I
Finally, we have SSG Chia Bing Hong, an Assistant Platoon Trainer from Intelligence Training Centre 2 (ITC 2), SAF Military Intelligence Institute (SMI-I). SSG Chia trains NSmen who come back yearly for their In-Camp Training, while also training and evaluating active Battalions. SSG Chia believes that as a trainer, it is vital to have patience, to understand their level of competency and knowledge before commencing training.
"Every soldier has a different style and pace of learning. Therefore as trainers, we must be patient and adapt to the soldiers to find a balance between training tempo and retention of information during their one or two weeks of ICT."
SSG Chia Bing Hong briefing his trainees on the training procedures.
Serving as a trainer for our Army involves many difficulties and challenges. SSG Chia added that having the passion to teach is extremely important, and one of his main motivations is guiding his trainees towards excellence.
113 C4I Bn gathering for a meal after their ICT (pre-covid times).
In gratitude to their trainers from ITC 2, NSmen from 113 SAF Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence Battalion (113 C4I Bn), sent us a commendation letter to congratulate their trainers' exceptional work in supporting their ICT recently.
113 C4I Bn carrying out their ICT refresher training.
LTC (NS) Marc Goh, Commanding Officer of 113 C4I Bn, shared how ITC 2 has been an exemplary NS training centre over the five years they have supported their ICT. "Their thoughtfulness and service orientation for this year's ICT surpassed our expectations. One defining moment was when we realised that they took it upon themselves to draw all the stores in advance for our training and manning. We recognise this required extra effort from ITC 2's end, but one that also made a big difference for our ICT amidst a pandemic, so that training time is purposefully spent."
We thank all our trainers who have given their all, constantly striving for the best interests of their trainees, motivating them and ensuring their safety throughout their soldiering journey. Do you have a trainer who you are thankful for as well? Do make time to contact them, or drop them a phone call to wish them a Happy Teacher's Day!
Written by: CPL Steve Lee (Army News), with photos contributed by the respective units.