Sunday, August 28, 2005

Good Mood =)...Punishment issue

Im in the most splendid mood this evening because my internet problem has been solved! Woohoo! Finally=)! And this weekend has been really great! The family gathering at JB wasn't so bad after all..heheh. My grandma was all excited about me becoming a 'Cikgu' that they had a small prayer session for me. That was a sweet gesture which i really appreciate of course. But in the midst of it all, I also felt like I was embarking on some crucial mission and everybody was furiously praying and hoping the best for me hehe =P.
Anyway, something just crossed my mind and I thought I'd better pen it out here before I forgot. There are 2 scenarios and questions I'd like to put across. (A) First, it's with regards to giving remedials and detention. I had this experience of 2 students skipping remedials consecutively without valid reasons. So i actually met up with them personally and gave them extra work. Actually, initially i wanted to give them offence form for truancy( which automatically requires that they serve detention) but what happened was, when i approached another teacher for her opinion, she said something like, "Better not. Otherwise they (the discipline committee) might think you're just taking the easy way out by giving detention without trying to solve the problem 1st. It won't look nice." The idea that i got was, if i were really going to send the students for detention, it meant that i was undermining my own capability in handling these kids and was just taking the easy way out. So in the dilemma I was in, i resorted to giving extra work and supervision to the kids. My Qn: What are your opinions on giving detention as modes of punishment in these instances? (B) The second scenario, I remember this parent who actually called up my CT because she disagreed with her punishing method of making her students write lines repeatedly. Her reason was that it was a waste of time and that her child was not learning anything meaningful or useful from doing that. For eg: I will not forget to bring my Geog textbook again (50-100x). (I actually emulate this method when I temporarily took over her classes). Qn: With this, how about having a sharing session on different methods of punishment for various offences committed by students? For example, not bringing books, not completing homework, being disruptive in class etc. I understand that different teachers have different approaches to solving disciplinary problems and it'd be good if we share tips so we can adopt the most feasible and appropriate method in instances when we need one. Just a suggestion.... =)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Difficult Parents

Aite, let me share some things i learnt from my school experience with regards to encountering and handling difficult parents. One of the discipline committee members actually ever highlighted to me that it is very important that before we meet up with parents (especially for discipline cases) we should prepare 'evidence'. What does she mean by 'evidence'? Ok what happened in my school was, i was helping a rather new teacher with her form class and we had this very difficult smart aleck student who simply likes to distract his friends. There were a lot of complaints abt him in the class diary and despite having taken disciplinary actions against him, he didn't change. So the form teacher called his mother down hoping she could help change his behaviour for the better. Luckily, this form teacher was superbly prepared with a compilation of all the subject teachers' feedback, the class diary and also the discipline records. This is because when the boy's mother came down, in the midst of the meeting, she was totally adamant that her son wasn't the kind of boy that we described he is. She kept insisting "How can like that one? Impossible. My son very good boy at home. He does his homework without being told. " Then she went on implying that it must be the teachers who haven't done enough and the worst part was she even targeted the Maths and History teachers bacause her son complained that their lessons were boring and all. Me being the observer there and having met a parent for the first time, was appalled at her reactions. The discipline mistress eventually took over and actually went through all the ''evidences' with the mother who eventually seem more receptive of the teachers' feedback. That's when she realized that oh her son wasn't that angelic after all in school and she started giving fierce glares at her son hehe. K don't think i need to account for what happened subsequently la. It's just the thing is, next time if any of you need to see a parent with regards to discipline cases, prepare sufficient 'evidence' for your feedback to fall back on. Good Luck ;)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Classrm procedures

I’d like to share some classroom practices with you guys. In the school I was from, we had this standardized classroom procedures, which were amongst the first set of rules drilled into the sec 1s when they first came in. I also learnt a few tips from my CT, which I tried to practice during the school experience.
(1) Don’t enter the class straight if the pupils are noisy (the previous teacher might have left earlier or you were late). Stand at the doorway and give them a stern look till they actually settle down.
(2) The pupils should know that when it’s your period, you expect to see only your materials ready on the table and they should be quietly sitting and waiting for you (which is usually of course not the case).
(3) Once they stand to greet you, just do a quick attire check like making sure shirts are tucked in, name tags are on etc before proceeding with the greeting.
(4) Other expectations or routines you can instill during lesson itself is :
· No slouching. Sit up straight.
· ‘1 conversation’ = when the teacher is explaining something, everybody should give their utmost attention to her or him and nobody else should be talking.
· ‘Take turns’ = students to raise up hands and take turn to ask questions and give answers
· ‘6-inch voice’ = this is applied in group discussions
Hope this helps =)

Personal Blogging Incident

That discussion we had on ‘teachers being professional not just in school but also in the public domain because we’re scrutinized at all times’ reminded me of an ex-colleague cum friend’s story. She shared with me her unfortunate incident she had with personal blogging, which nearly jeopardized her teaching career. She had this personal blog, which she kept updated almost daily. I have never actually read her actual blog but she described it as her breathing space where she could release all her frustrations and stress of the day. So you can imagine the details of her daily activities all typed out, with bits of complaints here and there on issues like the poor school management system, the heavy workload and of course, the students. The thing was, she kind of used offensive language in her entries. So what happened was, another colleague came across her blog and finding its content somewhat inappropriate, she forwarded it to the Principal. To make the story short, my friend was called into the office and asked to explain herself. Subsequently, she was given a stern warning and asked to remove her blog and that’s exactly what she did. (At that time, she was still under the one-year observation period.) My friend personally felt that her colleague could have instead approached her instead of going straight to the big boss (as she calls it). That colleague could have voiced out her concerns about the blog to my friend who would then have done something to it. She was disappointed and felt that she had been “backstabbed”. It’s rather scary to think that you have people watching you and telling on you behind your back. I guess this is one incident that reminds us of the ethics we have to abide as teachers; that we have to be mindful of how we carry ourselves not just in school, outside but also in cyber-world.

Head-prefect? Hehe..

Haha it was totally ironic that Daphne exclaimed I was playing the head-prefect role during Shou Wee’s session! Ok I admit I wasn’t being vocal and naughty enough during the micro-teaching sessions. The thing is, there are different types of students in a class. Besides the loud ones, naughty ones, there are the studious ones (which believe me, I wasn’t one), the quiet and shy ones and also the quiet and lost ones. Hehe, I for one, fell into the last category most of the time in secondary school. That was exactly what I was trying to re-enact in class. Physically there but mentally in planet Mars. I was lying on the table, all restless and inattentive. And Shao Wee, having really sharp-eyes, was quick to call me out when she was checking around for understanding. That’s really good because it was teachers like that, that ensures my mind is in class at least 70% of the lesson.
As a student, I consider myself a slow-learner. I catch things and understand concepts slower than my classmates (If you’re wondering how slow, I have friends calling me 28.8 kb because I’m always the last to laugh at jokes or understand something. Ya sad I know =/) and that is why during secondary school, I made it a point to revise at home because I was more comfortable studying at my own pace. So sometimes, when the teacher’s teaching something that I didn’t understand or I think he or she was going too fast, the tendency was my mind would wander off (ya very short attention span I know). It’s embarrassing and is a habit I’m not proud of. The point I’m trying to make here is, based on my experience, I think it’s important as a teacher not to just keep a look out for the naughty ones but make sure that your attention is well-spread across the class. It’s not practical of course to be giving your utmost attention to each individual student. Just make sure that, the quiet and supposedly well-behaved ones are genuinely that because otherwise they may be epitomes of Mas the blur queen. Now that I have the opportunity to teach, I’ll be more aware of the existence of students like me. When I was having my school experience, I made it a point to stress to the students that “It’s ok not to know but it’s not ok not to do anything about it. Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t understand and please do stop me if I’m going too fast.” It’s more important that students understand your teaching, rather than rushing to complete the syllabus without having really digested and understood the content itself.

Shou Wee's lesson

Shou Wee’s lesson very much reminded me of my lower sec Geog teacher. Her delivery of the lesson was very clear and smooth such that students can grasp the concepts effectively. I was very much impressed with her voice projection, she had her eye contact spread out across the class and the delivery of the lesson content was very well-structured and organized. I especially liked the way she handled the students’ questions, even those that she couldn’t answer immediately. She came across as a very experienced teacher indeed! Shou Wee’s idea of using tapioca paste to demonstrate viscosity of lava is superbly genius and I hope to try that out someday myself heheh. Thanks Shou Wee! Speaking of Vulcanism, I remember teaching that topic (to sec 1 kids) using newspaper articles and powerpoint. The students (especially the boys) were very enthusiastic about this topic and were keen on watching a documentary on volcanoes. Unfortunately, because of time constraint and limited resources, we couldn’t get around to viewing it. Hopefully, the teacher who took over provided that chance for them because I personally think we should capitalize on their enthusiasm of a topic or an issue. That way, when you assign them with work, they’ll be more motivated to do it and do it well. Alternatively, to teaching this topic in accordance with TTLM, rather than giving the content straight to the students, we can also get them to create volcano models as group projects. This way, we can induce self-directed learning as students would have to conduct research and self-learn the parts of the volcanoes. This is not a new idea of course but I’m sure the students would be enthusiastic about hands-on projects like this. Ok, that’s all I guess. Before I end this entry, Shou Wee if you happen to read this, I think you really did a great job! =)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

many thanks

hehe sam if ur reading this im sure you're going to gloat because im going to highlight your name and your mini contribution to my recent engagement with this geogblog hehe. Before that, i'd say thanks to kenneth for encouraging us to be more involved with IT (despite all the frettings and anxiety, i know it's going to be a BIG help in the future) and also to sam my dear cousin cum good friend who's been willing to set aside his precious time to share his expertise on all stuffs IT. I know Sam was bewildered at discovering my ignorance and blurness in this field. I could imagine him rolling his eyes every 10s whenever i went "oooohhh like dat arrr"...ah haha! =P Thanks for patiently guiding this techno-idiot through hehe. Oh sam also shared some of his podcast files and there was this hilarious radio programme (sheesh forgot the title) which really got me interested. Hopefully, i can explore more of that after this upcoming podcast project.. once ive brushed up on my It skills that is....
Anyway, speaking of podcasts...yesterday's lesson was... phew! Heavy! And being the techno-idiot i am.. sigh.. i was trying my best to jot down step by step of Kenneth's instructions but to no avail, my understanding got all haywire and i was jotting down all IT terms that do not really register with my brain =P. Emmm ya so sad. For those techno-savvy people reading this, you must be pondering over which planet i'm from =/ ... but then again, im not feeling that hopeless because luckily, it's going to be a groupwork and that means i can learn from the rest. The best part is, its hands-on so im sure i'll do better after lots of trial and errors with this technology. So fingers-crossed everything will go well. Got to end now for lunch. Good luck to all!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Mz Geog Blog

Welcome to vintage blogspot people. As you can see, I have this affiliation towards the term 'vintage'...too long a story to tell though. You will also learn that my intellect is somewhat vintage as i unashamedly admit that this is my first attempt at creating a blog hehe. I'm not very friendly with anything IT. But as a responsible civil servant, I shall undertake any IT challenges posed as a new learning experience that i can hopefully apply in the course of teaching. =)