Showing posts with label students. Show all posts
Showing posts with label students. Show all posts

Friday, June 19, 2015

Treat Them Like Our Own?

When I first joined the school, there was a meeting a week before the beginning of Term 2. We had the meeting in the library. The meeting was chaired by the CEO, and the Founder was there too. The Founder made a speech, and in that speech, he mentioned: "We have to treat each child as our own, then things will turn out alright." - in brief, he was merely trying to tell the newbies that we have to treat them well, the way we do our own children. I was touched; to me, it made a whole lot of sense because if we don't love them, there's no way they would love us and pay attention in class.

Six months had passed (a tad too slow), and I realise that whatever the Founder had said was just his words of wisdom. I have tried to be nice, to be a "parent" to them, but it backfired. They won't listen but would continue with what they were doing at that time, be it chasing their friends, talking too loudly or not doing their work. Maybe I wasn't strict enough from the beginning, but then, they are not my kids and teachers are not allowed to impose physical punishment including getting them to stand on the chair. When they cause trouble, I tried talking nicely to them but it didn't work - not the primary kids whom I'm teaching.

I began to think... 

It is easy for others, particularly those who have never been teachers - or those who assume they know what it's like to be one - to tell us to treat students like our own children. This is pure fallacy; it's just fatherly talk. In reality, we can't treat students that way, not in this era. Firstly they aren't ours; we can't impose our rules on other people's kids because they may rebel (one of my students recently spread rumours about his teacher because he dislikes her), and their parents may not like the way we try to mould their children. Heaven forbid, they may even sue us if we say or do things that we know is right, but to them it's wrong. Secondly, those who offer such advice to teachers have dealt with only two or three children (of their own); they may not even have brought them up by themselves!! They obviously do not know the problems that we have in dealing with hundreds of kids of various backgrounds, varied attitudes and different upbringings. We deal one student differently from another, and we certainly can't help all, or even ten of them, given the amount of teaching load and non-teaching duties that we have per week. Some are able to accept our ways, others are not. And when things get too heated up due to the number of students teachers have to handle, they would not be motivated and will end up being burned out just trying to educate the recalcitrant or obnoxious ones. Teachers are humans, so they do get stressed out easily if the expectations are too great but the results too insignificant.

So, do we still need to treat students like the way we treat our own children? Nope. Students don't want another "mommy and daddy" - they already have enough naggers at home. Perhaps the Founder was trying to make his point across metaphorically, not literally. I don't know. Go ask him.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Routine

It has always been a routine the past two years. I wake up, brush my teeth and do my daily business on the throne. Then I change, and have breakfast at the nearby cafe or kopitiam. Then I'd sometimes go to NTUC to get my weekly groceries. In less than a hour, I'd be back in my rented apartment in the central area. 

I turn on my trusted Lenovo notebook, and begin cracking my head on what to prepare for my students that range from Secondary 1 to 4. I need not worry about those kids from Primary 3 to 6 which I'm also teaching because the worksheets have been prepared by a team of teachers. I'm often lost, but I have to thank the Internet resources, as well as the books that I've invested to help me through each day. Staff at POPULAR bookstore must be smiling each time they see me at their premise. Work doesn't officially begin till 4:00 PM - wait, before you say "Hey, I wish I could go to work at that time", think again. Despite starting late, I unofficially begin at 8:30AM at home, and spend a good 2 hours preparing worksheets for my unappreciative students - or perhaps it's my worksheets that are too simple (or too hard) for them. By the time I get back from work, it's close to 11:00PM, feeling weary. So when others are ready to go to bed, or literally rolling in bed with their partner, I'm just getting ready to eat dinner - or should I say, supper.

I work 6 days a week; weekends are a full 8-hour job from 9:00AM, which means I get up about 6:00AM and get ready to catch the bus, MRT or LRT (sometimes all three) so that I'd be on time to have breakfast at my destination (it's a different location each day). There's a lot of talking involved in my line of work, and when a large class is filled with boisterous kids, then my voice would be raised. There would be silence but it's only temporary, for the whole cycle begins ten minutes later. Kids these days have short term memory, or they're just hyper-energetic, I guess.

My only day off is on Monday. Take note that it's a "DAY OFF", which means I don't have to be physically present in class, but being the perfectionist and scardy-cat me, I'd spent half my off day doing preparations for the next week. I know other colleagues would just ignore work and go lay at the white sandy beach, hang out with friends, or shop till they drop, but I'm somehow "different". I feel guilty if I don't do any work, for that's what I'm paid for. Often, I end up getting very uptight or frustrated when my preparations boil down to zero when students refuse to do the worksheets as they are just too exhausted after their regular school hours. I won't blame them, but then, they're paying me to learn something - they fail to see that. I'm not a master teacher or the best teacher ever, but I have helped a couple of students pass the O-Levels when they had failed just a year earlier before coming to me for help. I've had a parent begging me to continue helping her daughter at secondary level even though my schedule is filled to the brim. So, I'm not that bad, right?

When I share all my grouses above with my girlfriend or friends, they'd tell me things like "hang in there" or "you must know what is it that you want in life". I often compare myself with other friends of mine who are less qualified academically but more successful now. I sometimes wonder if the Master's in Computer Education degree which took me seven gruelling years to complete (part time) was all worth it. I was an assistant lecturer at a renowned Malaysian university, and later a lecturer at a business school in Singapore, but now I'm a measly English tutor here. I've told myself NOT to compare or feel bad because despite being "demoted", I'm actually in a better place, and a better position now. Honestly, I can't agree more with that. It's an experience that not many of my ex-colleagues would have.

So what now?

I don't have a freaking clue, except that I know I've started to drag my feet to work - and that's always bad news for me when that happens. Yet, I don't have a choice; I have to earn a living by helping my students as much as I can to the best of my ability, and not bother much about whether they're in class to study or just to waste their parents' hard-earned money. Those who want to study, will; those who don't and expect the class to be an entertainment club, they won't. I don't have time to sit with them to counsel them as I'm not doing face-to-face personal tutoring. 

What's the worse case scenario?

I hope that this will not happen - having to say goodbye and going back to where I came from, and start looking for job all over again. It would be excruciating painful to my emotions and to my wallet. MTMY (anonymous friend) once warned me that I wouldn't survive working here, but I've so far proven that person to be wrong. I wish to continue for as long as I can... if not in this organisation, in another - perhaps in a different profession where I could proudly tell others: "I'm very contented with my job". Until that day comes, life will be a routine.

It's 11:46AM now, and in 2 hours, I'd be at the bus stop... and another (to transit) to get to my place of work at Marine Parade Rd.