Sunday, August 28, 2005

the home room and the principal and other short stories

during the period of my school experience, the school i was in adopted a home room system. i remembered kenneth saying that it was good although he stopped short of elaborating what benefits the system brings to a particular school.

well, so far i only know that the home room allows the teacher to prepare the class in advance and also allows him/her to set the class environment to his/her preference. i am quite sure there are other benefits. but i really can't think of any others.

definitely my experience with home room was bad. that's simply because the home room does not belong to me. so i still have to go through the process of setting up the lesson. alright, so that's not really a valid reason since i was a special case. but one definitely bad thing about home rooms is the fact that students take their time to go to the class. this is especially so for neighbourhood schools. i had to wait for 15, and sometimes even up to 20 minutes for them to reach the classroom when they have just finished PE.

you can throw that lesson plan out the window.

well, i suppose it should work better in better schools. but still, every school and every situation is different.

which reminds me of principals. i am so afraid to be sent back to that school mainly because of the principal. he was actually posted out of his last school because the teaching staff signed a petition to post him out.

scary isn't it? and the next school to get him must be most unfortunate. it was not long before i could see why the teachers did what they did.

he called for a staff meeting in the middle of the day. out of the blue. within a 10 minutes notice. not only that, he was to speak for 2 periods while the students were running havoc in the school. all teachers were in the meeting room and the school belonged to them. some teachers, like me, had that period for a break. and right after the meeting, we had to continue with lessons, foregoing our break to get even a drink. welfare does not seem to ever cross his mind i suppose.

he had made some decisions and during the meeeting, he announced it to the teachers. even as a newbie, that particular decision seemed queer to me.

i was wondering why nobody voiced out against it. i thought it was pretty weird that everyone was quiet. so i waited. and one teacher did voice out her disagreements to his decisions. and soon, other teachers followed suit. i thought to myself FINALLY!

and guess what? he stubbornly stuck to his decision. even when teachers were madly trying to show their point, he simply stood his ground. it was the entire teaching staff minus the newbies, against him. and he still saw his point as the right way to go. i could have seriously picked up a chopper and butchered him on the spot seeing how stubborn he was.

well, the point is, principals have the power to make decisions. do we teachers just remain quiet or do we come in to state our point of view on matters of school management? are we teachers trained enough to handle management issues in the school?

well, honestly i think we should be given a say to what happens in the school. and that is why i pray that prinicipals like him will just go 'poof'.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

lonelyyyyyy...i'm so lonelyyyyyyy

yes. if you had read jenny's blog before mine, you would have known that yesterday i was an ostracized little kid. nobody wanted me in their group and when i was sort of squeezed into the group consisting of josephine, yizhen and jenny, they continued to leave me out of their dialogue and discussion.

hurt was an understatement. i was traumatised! haha. yah right. i was actually pretty disturbed that wenhui did not reprimand the other 3 for their ostracizing acts of cruelty. so i realisd that i was halfway into this act, not sure when i was in and when i was out. but the 3 ladies were definitely in all the time, not mentioning that they were obviously having a time of their lives being cruel to me. yizhen found it so entertaining that she continued doing so after the lesson.

so teachers. what would YOU do when faced with such a scenario? honestly, you can't force someone to like another person in an instant. if you force someone into a 'natural social group' who clearly has reservations about that particular person, you are bound to have trouble in your hands. the child might feel so bad that it could turn out ugly. and it was YOUR activity that caused this antagonistic behaviour to be more pronounced.

my thoughts? i'm not really sure. but i think that i'd have to give a short sermon to the class on respecting individuals. i am very much a team player. as the captain in my floorball team, and even as an instructor when i was in the army, i meet many such scenarios. and i would be totally pissed if anyone does not give due respect to their team member. well, it usually works after i give them my point of view and get them to get stupidity out of their narrow minds.

but we have to face this fact of life. not everyone likes everyone else. what to do when they TOTALLY hate the guts of another lonelyyyyyy soul.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

co-curricular or extra?

different people take different stances on CCAs. i know many teachers or fellow NIE mates who see CCAs as something impeding their work. but to me CCA is very very important. the same way as i see it as a student.

i must admit that CCAs take up a lot of your time, especially when you have to come up with objectives, reports and paperwork that eats up the time you need for lesson plans. where do we draw the line?

i heard from someone in the school that i was posted for experience that to be a good teacher, you have to be excellent in three categories. academic, CCAs and something else that i forgot. haha. but my point is that we still have to excel in the way we handle our CCAs.

now, the problem arises when we get CCAs that we totally not in tuned with. like chess club for me. i would seriously die on the spot. serious.

the other question is how possible it is to start a CCA in your school? how feasible is it? and how will your principal take it? i think the most common issue would be the availability of budget. money talks. and gets you places. no doubt about that.

oh well. i was considering this because i am in the process of trying to start up a new game in singapore called tchoukball (pronounced chook-ball). i have shown it to some people in class like daphne. yesterday, i received an e-mail from the president fo the tchoukball federation in Switzerland who is helping me personally to set up a federation in singapore. he is sending a guy from taiwan to conduct a course in singapore. but he was hoping that the people who attends the course would be teachers. so that these teachers can start up the game in their individual schools.

i approached the CCA HOD during the sch experience and he said that it would be good for the national youth achievement award (nyaa). the students who are going for the award will have to learn a new skill, can be recreational, sports and few other categories. well, probably it'd be a good avenue to start off. and see where we go from there.

anyone has any thoughts on CCAs and related issues? oh, anyone interested to go for the course? it's a simple but extremely fun game. you get an official certificate once you finish the 3-day course. let me know!

Friday, August 19, 2005

students behave better on fridays

like yeah! we were all so much more well-behaved. definitely because of the fatigue we were experiencing.

i said to my voice recorder just now: "note to self. thursday is a bad day for microteaching. good luck dude"

well, i guess i will get more practice in class management. yippee. the only consolation is probably that the geogNUT is going to be my videographer. phew. bananagirl is still around though.

alright. on to my reflections on liyan and yz's microteachings.although much has been discussed in class, but i think i shall just put my thoughts down for my own future reference.

liyan

i think she put in a lot of effort into producing the lesson.i liked the fact that she had the real examples for us to study. too often in physical geography in singapore that we see real life examples. when we learn about vulcanism for example, many of us have not/will not be able to see a real volcano in person. the students are brought further and further away from the context.

i think the EZ link card strategy was alright. but maybe she should have used a preventive measure and warned us that our cards will be confiscated if we misbehave beforehand. i might be wrong but i don't remember her telling us what the card is for. only when someone misbehaves that the class finds out why we had to place the card in front of us.

at times, she was a bit shy and lost her confidence. but i believe that it was because of us being her peers more than anything else. i am pretty sure the situation could be different when she is in a real classroom environment.

and i agree with jenny that she was very lenient with daphne! as i listened back to the recording, i realised how noisy daphne was but liyan only took action in the later part. i hate bananagirl!

all in all, i thought her lesson was handled pretty well. =)



crabbit yizhen's microteaching

other than her voice i think her lesson went well. haha.

i really liked the initial part where she did the recap followed by the linkage to the present lesson. i think continuity is important so that the students see the larger picture.

the other thing that i mentioned in class just now her eye contact. it was too much focused on geognut and bananagirl. as a student i myself tend to switch off if my teacher don't look over to my side.

the big issue was of course wesley's bad acting. i think yizhen did not react promptly enough because half her mind was telling her that the situation is not real. the urgency simply does not kick in as long as you know it's not real.

this is just like all the fake scenarios that i got for RAMS training. everyone took their own sweet time to apply first aid and performed RAMS even though the incident was a spontaneous one.

letting a student go with a fellow student in a medical case is probably not a good idea. even in the army, i cannot even trust trainees to do the right thing in times of emergency. in secondary school, i don't think we should expect anything at all. also, yizhen could have checked on wesley's condition after some time. but then again, i attribute it to the 'fakeness' in the situation.



SW on vulcanism

i agree with geognut that the bar has been raised. other than what kenneth has mentioned in class, i think SW was very firm and confident in her lesson. she presented herself well.

but not forgetting that we were all too exahusted to be an irritant bunch.

SW's lesson reminded me that if we can preempt students' mischief, it would really save us lots of trouble. exactly what SW did just now. yizhen and daphne was trying something but SW was swift and sharp enough to notice prevented it from happening.

one point. i feel at this point many of us still give handouts, samples etc. before giving definite instructions. students usually get very excited when they get something from the teacher. the next 2 minutes, they will simply shut out whatever the teacher is saying as they discuss with their friends about the handout/sample.

now that the bar has been raised, it would be interesting what's in store next thursday.


on a final note, for the record as an old victorian, i am truly against VS going co-ed. what will the world come to if VS uniform includes skirts. *shock horror*

i think many schools have their own unique identity. some stronger than others. i think as teachers going into such schools, we will have to blend in and integrate ourselves with the traditions/identity and believe in it. i had many teachers in victoria who felt that the traditions in VS was not irrelevant. we students have always seen these teachers more like outsiders, not part of the family. just a note to ourselves in the case that we get postings in such schools.

and traditions SHOULD stand! especially those that have lasted more than a century. sheesh.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

miss wang says "class staaaand..."

just can't help it. miss yizhen's voice keeps ringing in my head. very irritating i must add. whoops...just kidding.

well, as most of you would have seen, i did a recording of both liyan and yizhen's microteaching yesterday and it turned out pretty clear. so if any of you would like to have it, i can pass it to you.

the recording for yesterday's initial microteaching discussion can be found at my temporary website.

actually i have lots of thoughts on yesterday's microteachings. but i have to rush off for class now. maybe after i share my thoughts with the class later and sort them out, i'd put up a proper entry later tonight.

tchuss.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

time to fill it in

i am almost tearing here as i type this entry. because FINALLY i have time to fill up this blog with something other than that entry about emptiness. that must have been a jinxed word. emptiness.

this past week has been simply exhausting for me. all started with 3 ultimate frisbee games in a row last saturday in the hot blistering sun in preparation for the Singapore Opens. national day was spent waiting with my camera and tripod next to the vomitting merlion in order to get a good spot to photograph the fireworks. (can't wait to see the end product. with fireworks, you never know what can go wrong). well, in any case, that, together with my floorball trainings with NTU and my club, my body has decided to quit on me and thus, the perpetual cough and sneezing you'd probably hear in class.

on the issue of podcasting, i am terribly fortunate that kenneth is urging us with this technology. i have thus far, only been listening to podcasts ever since iTunes integrated it in its latest version 4.9. but now that i know how to create and share it, this is gonna be bloody brilliant.

honestly, i cannot even start to see the un-usefulness of the podcasting. to me, it is all good. of course it helps that it's associated to Mac technology. anything Mac is good to me. =) the fact that students can listen to it on the go, simply shows how powerful this tool is. it's like a "take-away" lesson compared to the usual "eat-ins" that we are all used to. yesterday's recording of the microteaching by chan ying easily proves my point. normally, you'd go back not remembering what has been shared in class, unless of course, you dictate the entire conversation that was taking place! i just finished listening to the podcast by kenneth and even though there's some noise in the background, you still get the gist of the discussion. best of all, i can listen to it on my iPod while travelling when i can't afford to do so at home.

on a side note, i can't tell you how delighted i am that kenneth is using the mac. and showing it's ease of use and functionability. ever since i used the mac about 5 years ago, it was a tough 'advertising campaign' trying to convince my friends how much better it is comparatively to windows. definitely, many just put aside the mac deciding to stay on the safe side rather than make that big leap. i think kenneth has had it easy because everyone has to watch what the mac can do and inadvertently, many now know how (well) it works. especially my dearest friend miss zhenyi.

on chan ying's lesson, i felt that she did a good job and i applaud her for having the courage to be the one to go first. she also had an interesting activity for us, the students.

here, i felt that before giving out the postcards, she could have given out the full set of instructions and probably show us which part of the postcard she wants us to look at before giving them out. once she gave them out, i realised that we were all looking back and front and i think that may cause the students not to pay their fullest attention. well, other than that, i felt she deserved a pat on her back!

looking at her microteaching, i was wondering what kind of activity i can do with a physical geography topic like rivers. is it probably easier to do a group discussion with human geography topics? well, i'd better get my head cracking coz teachers' day is coming up pretty soon!

phew. i HAVE to start updating more often. this entry is way too long.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

emptiness, the starting point

Bruce Lee once said, "You know why a cup is so useful? because it is empty. a cup which is full is useless. the usefulness of a cup lies in its emptiness..."

so here i am in NIE, like a cup. my mind dropped of all preconceived notions. flexible, neutral, like water. hopefully i get to fill it up.

with good stuff of course.

oh, before i forget. welcome to my blog.