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Week 13: where do I start?

Negativity is really bad when it affects you in a workplace environment. That said, I don’t think we’re deliberately negative, just affected by the way the people above handle and deliver their comments.

Well, that said.

I got pulled to a different centre today (the one where I started at) to teach a K-level class. Primary English for the K2s, Maths for the K1s. I have to say, being over here actually made me put a pause on the post I’d been working on about children’s creativity. It’s something that I will talk about eventually, just not now, not with homework that needs to be done on the horizon (due Wednesday, goddamnit) and a long day out tomorrow as well.

Anyway!

Today’s experience was eye-opening. It’s also a point of time that marks where I’ve come, because when I started I was given the K class to handle for all of twenty minutes. I failed miserably, and the kids knew my inexperience and took advantage of that, never once listening to me. Today however, I managed to get them to listen, I told them what to do and laid down rules clearly, something that I suppose I’ve learnt over days and weeks of (sorta) teaching and observing, and standing my ground. This comes especially when the kids are used to one teacher doing things in one way and me doing it differently, but eventually I did manage, they did about four pages and understood occupations, at least to the level of what a kindergarten child can.

Maths however, I am terrible at teaching. I am legit terrible at it, and beyond explaining to subtract is to take away x number of units from an existing number I didn’t know how else to explain. I did try asking them to gather number of objects and then remove y number from it, but I don’t know how well that worked. But that said, it turned out quite well, in my opinion at least.

Now with all this said, I have to admit. I have no idea how to deal with the playgroup children. Barring letting them play (how does one play constructive and learning play?) and making sure they don’t run everywhere and disturb everyone, how does one teach them? I can teach the Ks, I can potentially teach the Ns, but I have no idea how to deal with the PG group. It’s frustrating, because I’ve been saddled with the PGs for my current area and I’m always at a loss on how to deal with them. It always ends up fueling a mild frustration that I have to keep tamped down on for the sake of the kids, and me wanting to tear my hair out when I deal with them.

Obviously, I need to figure out what it is exactly that engages the PG group, and tweak for the demographic in the area. This is not going to be easy.

What is, honestly?

Work news aside, concert on Wednesday, book collection on Thursday, and general prop work this weekend. I can do this.

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Sidetrack: the children of today.

Now, I don’t pretend to remember the children of my generation. Hey, two decades ago, I’m entitled to forget. But I do remember that at the very least, we were a relatively polite batch who respected their teachers even if we hated them to bits. (Grudging respect, but given in deference still.) We were a generation whose parents would unfailingly punish us if we had done any wrong in school.

Of course, this is a broad statement. Certainly there are people whose forebears did not choose to do so. (I of course, remember a cane not fondly at all, something I believe many of today will have no idea of.)

This brings me to the children of today. Here in sunny Singapore where I live and breath and teach.

While I’ve only started my Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education, I’m no stranger to the education sector. I’ve been wrangling kids for about three years now, all of varying levels – from the very young to the somewhat immature but older ones. And what I see sometimes fascinates me. (Not in a good way).

This is something I’ve been seeing more recently, from the centers I’ve been in to the center I’m currently at. Words like ‘give me’ or ‘come here’ or ‘I want’ are terms that are so frequent. Less frequent are the terms like ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘may I’. Basic courtesy is completely gone down the drain, and it surprises me that teachers actually allow behavior like this to go unchecked.

Children who have no patience to listen for the teacher’s response when they state ‘Toilet’ and just disappear.

Where I am now, I see a few children who, when I’m holding something, tell me things like ‘Give me!’ very demandingly. Surprise surprise, I’m not your maid. I am not about to pander to what you want. I have kids who go ‘Come here!’ when they want to speak with me.

How is this acceptable?

I’m frankly amazed that nowadays children treat their teachers like maids, honestly. It’s kinda appalling, and I’m wondering how this kind of behavior is acceptable.

That said, I spent two months with a group at one of my old places teaching them basic Ps & Qs. Basic sentence structure, how to request things, courteous behavior. Thankfully, at the end of it, they could actually say ‘May I have some water’ rather than ‘Teacher water’ and dumping the cup in front of me. (My favorite response to this would always be, ‘I’m not water, I’m Ms. ***’. Not disclosing my surname, obviously.)

Then there are children who think themselves above rules and all. I’ve seen one too many ‘I’m going to tell my (insert parent here)’ as a threat, and I’m wondering, when exactly did we have to fear the young ones? Why have things changed so much?

While I don’t advocate physical punishments, getting to the point where teachers have to bow to their charges and pander to their whims is really unacceptable. We’re here to teach. We’re here to educate. And we won’t be able to do that if every single step of the way we have to worry about their delicate feelings which are offended when the children are reprimanded for doing wrong.

I’m not exactly new to this sector, but yet I find myself wading into this industry feeling slightly worried for the future generations.

Now with all this off my chest, I’m going to disappear for two weeks. Holiday in the States, a quick getaway before I start this new thing for sure.

Happy Labour Day, y’all!