Q: Hi Mrs Somaya, how long have you been a Dover Court teacher?
A: I first started teaching at Dover Court in April 2007, soon after my husband and I moved to Singapore, over a decade ago. I spent 5 terms teaching the Early Years children before I left to have my son. I chose to be a stay-at-home mum for a few years and then came back to Dover Court in August 2013 and have been here ever since. In fact, this year I have been fortunate to see some of my old Reception children from 2007-2008 complete their iGCSE’s and graduate, one of whom has graduated from Dover.
I have seen Dover Court in the pre and post Nord Anglia days and it’s so amazing to see how much the school has grown and changed in a short span of time.
Q: Why do you love being a teacher?
A: Teaching is all I have ever done, and I wouldn’t trade my job for any other in the world. I absolutely love being with the children every day, hearing their stories and telling them mine. Even though I’ve been in the same profession for over 15 years, each day is different and comes with its own set of ups and downs. I have predominantly taught 3-8 year olds and I find these children to be so witty, spontaneous and fun-loving which keeps me on my toes and leads to many exciting days. Having been at Dover Court for so many years, it’s great to run into past students around the school and see how well they are turning out. I love the mutual respect that I gain with my students and being a role model drives me to be a better person every day.
Q: You are one of our EAL, English as an Additional Language, teachers, can you tell us a bit about what it is like to teach students who speak little or no English.
A: Can you imagine starting school in a foreign country where no one understands you and you don’t understand anyone or anything? That’s often the case for many of our new EAL students. They are bright, motivated and highly resilient children who require patient and compassionate teachers to understand them and support their needs. I have taught EAL classes for 4 years now and I absolutely love it. The key is to identify their specific levels and needs and to build on from there. We are fortunate to offer EAL lessons in smaller groups at DCIS, where we can differentiate the learning to enhance their progress. One of the challenging parts of the job is the realisation that every word we say must be understood and hence we need to simplify the way we speak to them. However, over time, the most rewarding part of the job is seeing the confidence these children develop in themselves, the level of English they are able to achieve in their reading and writing tasks and mainly their ability to speak with greater fluency. If I can have a ‘reciprocal conversation’ with my EAL student, I am a happy teacher!
Q: You have participated in quite a few events over the years, which ones have you enjoyed the most?
A: One of the things I love about Dover Court is that we celebrate our differences of culture and nationality through various festivals and events. Each one comes with its own charm, though I think UN Day is possibly one of my favourites. It is wonderful to see everyone dressed in traditional outfits, taking pride in their culture while being respectful of others. The atmosphere at school is so vibrant and festive, with the entire school community coming together. It is truly a day for us all to be proud of our heritage and an incredible opportunity to pass on the values of peace, harmony and global citizenship to the next generation.
UN Day celebrations at Dover Court have changed considerably over the years that I have been here. Many of you might not know, but when Dover was a smaller school, each Country would be assigned a classroom and the parents of that nationality would decorate the rooms (much like we do the tents today) and serve traditional food, which would be the highlight of the day! I still remember all the Belgian waffles, Swiss chocolate, English pastries, Japanese sushi, Indian chaats and so many more exotic cuisines I have relished over the years.
Q: As a seasoned expat, what would be your top tip to families joining us in August?
A: Explore, Explore, Explore!!! Singapore has much to offer for every age group so it’s good to get out and make the most of your time here. From zoos, to museums, to national parks, the beaches, concerts, sporting activities, brunches, high-teas and so much more… the Little Red Dot really is an amazing country to live in!
Q: As lovely as our school is, there’s also a life outside of school. What do you do to unwind?
A: When I leave school, I still take a little part of it home with me – my son! 😊 So, when the teacher hat comes off, the parent hat comes on almost instantaneously, which leaves little ‘me time’ in the day. What I do enjoy in my free time is catching up with friends, watching movies, baking and creating photo albums. On the weekends, as a family we often go biking down the ECP and stop for some cricket and breakfast, swim in our condo and play lots of board games.