Sunday, February 21, 2010

facebook groups

Today's the last day of my 9-day CNY break *sigh*

I wish the break can be extended but maybe work is good for me; as it means less hibernation and more productivity :-) Besides, the following week is a non-teaching week. The students will sit for their February Test *yeay!*

Though I feel sorry for the students, I just can't express how much I love exams --just as long as I'm not the one setting the paper and I only have to mark MCQ answer sheets :-)

To my students who might be reading this; Life is unfair, I know... :-p

So to brighten up their day, I'm listing the groups related to teaching/teachers I've come across on facebook.

They are meant to elicit a few laughs, but as a teacher, they sort of remind/caution me of what not to do.

Most probably, you've already become a fan of the following groups:

1- I love when teachers tell the class stories that make the class waste time.
2- Teachers trying really hard to tell a joke... it's sad to watch. [*ouch!*]
3- I love it when teachers come into the class and say: Please do your own work.
4- "It's so easy!" "Of course you say it's easy!!! You're a teacher!!!"
5- We pay for an education, not a lecture on how we look.
6- Sitting in class thinking WHEN AM I GOING TO USE THIS IN MY LIFE!!

I haven't come across many groups that teachers create and join but I think Guna's status post can be converted into one. He wrote, "So you think you can teach? My class can be a new reality show".

Another good one is, "I'm a teacher, GET ME OUT OF HERE!" which is the title of a book by Francis Gilbert and Tasha's blog entry.
It's easy to see the love/hate relationship between teachers and students, no?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

CNY Holidays

Alhamdulillah, the holidays are finally here. Toward the end of week 6, I was getting chronically disoriented, totally frazzled and a bit insane.

I have serious time-management issues. Though I stay back after school and continue to do some work at home, I still couldn't keep my in-tray manageable.

Many times, I didn't come into class with a well-thought of lesson plan and the unmarked books kept on piling on my desk mercilessly. These unfinished tasks just made me feel like the most incompetent teacher ever.

So I kept praying for the holidays to come since Feb 1.


Talking about time management, I read a very interesting interview in The Star the other day.

The person being interviewed was Steve Leung, a "trendsetting Hong Kong architect" who was named "World's Best Interior Designer".

He was asked, "When and where did you receive your training in design? What was the most valuable lesson you have ever learnt?"

His reply was: "...The most valuable lesson was in time management. I wasn't the most "hard-working" of students, only one-third of my time was used for study. I like sports a lot (all sorts of sports, such ball games, swimming, track and field, etc.). I was an athlete in several sports and I was the sports captain. Therefore, one-third of my time was for sports, training and leading my team. Another one-third of my time was for personal interests, including learning French and doing design-related freelance jobs. I wore several hats but needed plenty of rest at the same time, therefore, I realised the importance of good time management in order to succeed in all my roles."

I thought the answer encapsulates what educational institutions are all about. We learn so many subjects in school (Biology, Chemistry, Add. Maths, Grammar, etc.) that we may or may not use in real life.

But what will certainly be put to use are the values and skills subconsciously taught through all those subjects and through our involvement in extra-curricular activities and through other experiences that schools have to offer.

Values and skills like time management, public speaking, cooperation, learning how to learn, punctuality, discipline, problem solving, decision making, etc.

I've touched on this issue before but this is to illustrate again why our exam-oriented culture is detrimental to students in the long run.


Anyway, the past three days have been great (i.e. stress-free); no lesson plans, no school-related work, no register, no students... Aaah *sigh of contentment*

As much as I love my students, some do cause me high blood pressure. So, a loooong absence is needed for the heart to grow fonder again.

I've been to 2 places so far: The National Zoo and the TIMES Warehouse Sale.

The former was for my nieces and nephew's sake but I had a great time as well.

The latter was very therapeutic. Book browsing has that effect on me. What makes it even more pleasant is that there weren't many people around. So, there was no need for jostling and I took my own sweet time checking the books aisle by aisle.

I wasn't planning to buy cheap books by the truckload since I still have many unread books on my shelves. But I found so many tempting titles which I KIV-ed. I only bought one so far which is Ali Smith's The Whole Story and Other Stories. What made me buy the book was its very engaging (and cute) opening passage:

"There was a man dwelt by a churchyard.
Well, no, okay, it wasn't always a man; in this particular case it was a woman. There was a woman dwelt by a churchyard.
Though, to be honest, nobody really uses that word nowadays. Everybody says cemetery. And nobody says dwelt anymore. In other words:
There was once a woman who lived by a cemetery"

So do come to Sunway Giza if you like book sales like I do :-)

Happy Chinese New Year!
Enjoy the holidays!

(Oh, btw, driving in KL is so pleasurable these past few days. The roads are deserted!)

Monday, February 08, 2010

Tennis and Debating

The Tennis Club and the English Debating Team are two of my responsibilities this year. I'm kind of excited by both. I've played tennis before in school so I'll not be completely clueless when taking charge of the club like I did last year with Pandu Puteri. I knew nothing about marching, panji-panji and whatnot. The only contributions that I could offer them were my chauffeuring and chaperoning service.

I have very enthusiastic players in my tennis club. So, managing the team is a breeze. We hit a major stumbling block trying to find a suitable place to practise. But once that was settled, we had a great first training session and hopefully, subsequent sessions will be as well-attended and enjoyable.

During the training though, I realised just how great the divide is between the haves and the have-nots in my school. The majority of the tennis players come from a well-to-do family. When they gave me their mobile phones for safekeeping, they handed over Blackberries and other expensive-looking phones. In contrast, I know of a student who has a hard time paying the 50 cents per week class fund.

Then, there are students whom English is their communication language and there are those who think that the verb 'rise' is nasi.

When I was first posted here, I wondered why I was given this school. Maybe the school is a microcosm of our society -- it reflects all the social injustices, imbalances; and other stuff that I have yet to discover.

As teachers, we are also privy to our students' lives. You wouldn't believe how complicated their family problems are. When you got to know of their background, you sort of understand why certain students came to be problematic individuals in schools -- they just don't have that stable family life or strong parental figures to guide them.

I'm totally digressing from my main story here...
So yeah, tennis is great so far! hahaha
Hopefully, we'll get to win a lot of medals in the coming MSSD competition :-)

My second responsibility is the English Debating team. I never thought that I would be in this position. I was a lousy public speaker in school. Wait, I think I still am. I'm not really the talky-type but last year, I got the chance to see UIA's annual debating competition. And I am hooked on debating ever since.

I think these student-debaters are just amazing. Where do they get the confidence, the charm, the excellent speaking skills? I was just so impressed that I wanted to see more debates in the future. I guess my wish came true.

So, last week I met the aspiring debaters. The number of students who showed up exceeded my expectation I gave them motions to prepare over the weekend and the first mock-debate was successfully conducted today (Feb 8).

The motion was: "Public Schools Are Better at Educating Students Than Private Schools".

Some of the students were visibly nervous and were not well-prepared. But they could certainly do better with the benefit of training, exposure, practice and more preparation time. Two of them really impressed me though. They have the potential to do very, very well.

There will be 3 other mock-debates and the motions are:
1) Exes Should Remain Friends
2) A Jack-Of-All-Trades Is Better Than A Master of One
3) Men Make Better Bosses

After the debate, I told them that the main purpose of joining the team is not to win trophies or collect extra-curricular marks. They should take the opportunity to develop their public-speaking, critical thinking and effective communication skills which will serve them well later in life. Even if they do not get selected, they should still come for the mock-debates and competitions to get exposure and tips to polish their skills. They can always try again next year. So they shouldn't give up or think that they are not good enough!

See how bersemangat I am about this? haha