About Mr Donnell Koh, the Founder
Donnell graduated from NUS Chemical Engineering with 2nd Upper Honours. He used to work as a Chemical engineer however deep inside he always wanted to be a teacher, so after 3 years of working in the private sector, he enrolled into National Institute of Education (NIE) to get his Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE).
His first posting was Merdian JC. He was the pioneer teacher in MJC and he was very excited to be part of a new ‘start up’. It was a brand new school and the students who first came in had high O level scores. Teaching there gave him a clear picture of the problems faced by weaker students in the study of Chemistry. He always had to think of ways to simplify the concepts to enable them to understand the subject with ease. His teaching methods also became very precise and clear so students knew exactly what to focus on and the thought processes involved in solving the questions. He did extremely well with his first batch of Meridian JC students. They came in with 17 to 20 points but eventually in those classes he taught, many scored As and Bs for A Level Chemistry Paper.
Later in Raffles JC, he faced a different set of challenges. Some gifted students who already completed the Chemistry syllabus on their own had to be challenged further to excite them in the subject. They read beyond the syllabus and always asked thought-provoking questions. These students provided much for classroom discussion. Donnell, with his wealth of knowledge and experience teaching Chemistry over the past 13 years, has been able to understand the needs of a wide spectrum of students from extremely weak ones to those who are very highly motivated and do not settle for anything less than A. With this wealth of experience, he is able to adapt his teaching style to help the weaker students to catch up and yet excite the better students to think more critically.
Teachers make a huge difference to classroom teaching, not just what they teach, but also how they teach and connect with the students. Clarity in teaching is of utmost importance. A teacher needs to put himself/herself in the shoes of the students and see problems from their point of view. Only then, can students’ queries and doubts be accurately addressed. This comes from years of teaching experience.
John C. Maxwell once said “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” How true this is! Teachers are in the “business” of educating and moulding the lives of students. Teachers need to connect with students and students need to feel comfortable approaching the teachers when in doubt.
Teachers need to be passionate and enthusiastic about the subject they teach and get the students fired up too! To encourage students to think deeper, we need to constantly challenge them and excite them with the subject.
Donnell’s Raffles Junior College class of batch 2006, 27 out of 28 scored an ‘A’ for Chemistry! This is truly a remarkable achievement for him as well as the class. After starting Twig Learning Center, about 90% of my students have obtained A and Bs consistently.
To do well in A-Level H2 Chemistry, students need to have strong concepts and awareness of Chemistry in their daily lives as many A-Level questions are very much application-based instead of just rote-learning. Having strong concepts and clear understanding are critical for doing well in H2 Chemistry.
His lessons focus on getting students to understand the basics and helping them to make connections among the different Chemistry topics. If they have a good grasp of these key basics and can make connections, they will be able to solve many higher order application problems. A typical classroom lesson will be on concept explanation followed by hands on practice. Students also learn through going through examples that he does with them. It’s because many students have a weak foundation that they end up struggling with Chemistry at A levels. If they can understand and solve Chemistry questions, naturally they will be motivated to do well in the subject!
Donnell’s method of teaching ensures that students understand the concepts in his classes and are able to do his carefully-selected questions. The role of the students is to be able to problem solve. How can this be achieved? Students have to do the extra questions that are given out and make homework and revision of his notes as part of their daily routine. They should REVISE THE COPYRIGHTED NOTES as they cover the essence of the concepts and many application questions tested in school exams are already in there. If they can do all the questions within the notes (without looking at the answers), they will have understood all the key concepts and be able to ace the A-Level Chemistry!
As a A-Level JC Chemistry tutor, Donnell strives not only to help his students get good grades but more importantly, inspire them to discover the amazing wonders of Chemistry. Take a leap of faith and join him. It could change your life!