Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Registration at NIE
My path started on the 20th of June, with registration and briefing at NIE. As a graduate, I was put into the Post Graduate Diploma in Eduation course, known as PGDE (Pri) on all official documentation.
That's when they informed us that we had to go for classes the very next day, bringing me to the next step, which is...
Content Upgrading Modules
Because of feedback from the public, [darn parents...] MOE has decided to make sure all its teachers are aware of the higher levels of English grammar and language, so that their English teachers didn't end up sounding like PCK trying to sound educated.
Simply put, the course is supposed to make us clueless teachers grammar experts in 4 days.
So for about a week, I went for these language classes, and absorbed a lot of information that, as Dr Andrew Lim put it, I would probably never use in my teaching, because it's just too cheem for the kids I'd be teaching.
After the good Dr did all he could, I went on to the...
Teachers' Preparatory Workshop
This is where, for 2 days, I went back to NIE for a Teachers' Preparatory Workshop. This time, it was a crash course on teaching methods and classroom management. [incidentally, classroom mgt could be one of the most important skills to learn as a teacher, but i'll touch on that later]
Thankfully, I had an interested and well-experienced tutor, who managed to teach us and make us listen to his voice, rather than the sounds of the refreshment tables being set up outside with our tea break snacks.
There were other interesting tutors of course. I heard from Turtle that as a filler at the end of the lesson, his tutor played Abba. (?????) not quite sure of her educational purpose in that.
Then, comes the final step before full-time study in NIE.
Enhanced School Experience
I was sent to a local primary school, which for personal reasons, I shall call Neko Primary School, as part of my Enhanced School Experience.
The ESE is actually for trainee teachers like myself who have had no formal experience teaching in schools. [as opposed to contract teachers, who first start out teaching, and then make their way to NIE] It's a new programme, and my batch is the first batch of trainee teachers to be going through this.
Now, the situation stands as such: I'll be a trainee teacher at Neko Primary from now till the 22th of July, taking on whatever teaching duties is necessary, and possibly observe other experienced teachers at work.
If my performance at Neko Pri. is satisfactory, I will then enter NIE as a full-time PGDE trainee teacher.
Following which, the Journey will continue on...
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Eg, from the first entry:
"You know, before we come to Japan, they tell us a lot of ultimately useless stuff. What kind of computer to bring, if our DVD's will work, clothing sizes, that kind of nonsense. Nowhere, and I mean nowhere, in the 3-4 months of orientations did anyone ever mention that at some point, a Japanese kid may try to stick their fingers up our butt. That's something I would have liked to know, personally.
It's called Kancho, and just about any kid can be a Kancho Assassin. Even the sweetest little girl may be prone to jam her fingers up your ass the second you turn around. This happened to one of my friends, which just goes to show - don't trust anyone. I'd say the little girls are the most dangerous cause they have natural ways of lowering your defenses."
So.......... anyone feel like teaching English in Japan? :p
Thursday, June 23, 2005
If you know Yenn, you will know that she's the kind of person that CANNOT stand any kind of bimbotic behaviour, and it urks her to no end. [and also you will know that that's my favourite strategy for urking her out.]
It turns out that our lecturer for this particular lecture is an atypical motherly-henly kind of woman. And since our lecture is about how children acquire language in early childhood, she loved to punctuate her lectures by giving us audio examples of how these children would speak in early childhood.
"Lookie that! It looks like an E! How clever!" she cooed.
"Daddydaddydaddydaddydaddy" she chattered happily.
"This is my cat. My cat is nice. I like my cat." she clucked.
And so on, while Yenn and Turtle cringed for dear life on either side of me.
Anyway, here's the cartoon:
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
While we were doing his tutorial today on text types, he gazed into the distance, for a while, and started telling us stories about his teaching days. [Now which tutor will do the same and distract you from his own tutorial, I have no idea]
One particularly amusing one concerned the vice-principal of one of the institutions he was teaching at. For anonymity's sake, I won't mention any names, but only briefly describe her.
She was an old single woman [we all know the common 'nick' for such a woman] who had a truly, er, ancient sense of fashion, thick spectacles, and walked, or rather hobbled around school with a slight slouch, and she was pretty short at that.
This grande dame of the school looked so unintimidating, in fact, that during the first three months, one of the JC1 students, not quite acquainted with the school hierarchy yet, went up to her and said in Chinese:
"Aunty ah, the tables in our class dirty, later can come and clean can?"
The grande dame must have been in a forgiving mood that day, since she stared at the student and let him go without so much as a scathing glance. It was only later that the [probably horrified] student realised his mistake and he probably keep a very low profile in school for the rest of the 3 months.
Anyway, the point Dr Andrew Lim was trying to drive at, was that teachers develop various eccentricities in their teaching career. Apparently, it comes about from the stress of the job, and the outnumbering of juvenile minds to the adult ones.
He also named some of the possible eccentricities:
- Poor sense of dressing. Untidy, unkempt, or clothes fashionable during the times of Queen V
- Bad hygiene. [one VP was seen picking her nose in public, in the bus stop right outside her school]
- A tendency to order other adults around, like they were 7 year olds. [following this, he proceeded to warn the men never to do this to their wives, something which prompted me to think that he must have learned this lesson the hard way]
He then went on to say,
"Some of these teachers, they spend so long in the teaching force, they develop all kinds of strange, eccentric behaviour! It's so funny to see them!" Following which, he started to laugh, a little nervously at first, and then ascending to a slightly more neurotic, out-of-control pitch. This caused some of us in the class to look nervously at each other and think Is he, like, all right? and Are we going to turn out like him???
Anyway, he stressed that as teachers, the one key survival tool we needed to have was a sense of humour. At the end of the day, we had to be able to look at everything, all the crap that happened, and still be able to laugh at it all. And if you had that, somehow, you'd make it through.
Following which, he proceeded to laugh slightly more maniacally............
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Get your notes ready.
Welcome, then, to your first class.
Welcome to NIE.
This is where all future teachers are taught to be teachers, by those who were teachers, and those who were teachers for a while, became aghast at the thought of teaching Spore's precocious young things for the rest of their earthly lives, studied frantically to gain their Master's in Education, and then took up a career preparing other people for the career they so frantically jumped ship from.
Well, ok, maybe not all.
I'm glad you survived the bus ride into campus. Enjoy it while it lasts, because when term time starts and the rest of NTU start classes, you will no longer be able to find breathing space on either 179 or 199. In fact, you will be lucky if you weren't squeezed up against the glass pane of the bus as it trundled dangerously through army training grounds, or if you didn't suffocate and die unnoticed in the crowd in the bus.
Did you find your way here? Despite the rudimentary map with the lack of labels and names? You did? Without help? Man, you were smarter than we thought.
How did you find the briefings? Were they helpful? Did they give you a good idea of the courses you'd be taking in NIE, the level of difficulty of the courses, and the amount of the coursework you might have to do? Did they emphasize the seriousness of the course, that you weren't students anymore, you were paid employees of the government, and that your ass may now be severely kicked if you skipped classes with the same regularity that you did in your previous institution of learning?
Well, if you didn't run screaming with despair out of the lecture theatre, then I don't think they did a good job in the above.
How about the food in the canteen? What food have you tried? The undersized cups of drinks in the canteen? The suspiciously rubber-like western food? The unappetizing... well, pretty much everything? Did you manage to find a table, with a fan blowing comfortably at you?
You did? Man you have to tell me how you did that.
How about the tutorials and lectures? Yes, the ones we surprised you with on the very first day of school. Man you should have seen your faces!
All right? Well, of course. It's only the first ones. Trust us, it will get more interesting...
And we hope you understood that lecture on the development of the English Language from the Celts to Present Day Singlish. We hope you diligently wrote down piles of essays, like that girl who was sitting three rows down in front of you. Amazing isn't she? I think she actually wrote down more information than was given by us.
And we hope your first tutorial on the different forms of text was interesting too.
And the lecturer? Yes, the Andrew Lim dead lookalike.
He was interesting too?
Hm. We'd have to have a little talk with him over that...
Anyway, it's been nice talking to you.
We're hoping you will stay around a while.
Oh wait, you HAVE to anyway. What am I talking about? There's still that matter of the 3 years of servitude you owe to our government.
Oh well then. See you again soon.
Don't despair... yet.