Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Timetables are out!

Before my exam results have been released, my timetable is already out... Do I treat this as a good sign and take it that I've cleared the necessary modules? *fingers crossed* Because there are some modules that I so, so, SO do not want to retake!

How to Be A Tuition Teacher Part 1: Before-Class Revision

So in an effort to keep this blog getting too dusty over the holidays, *blows dust off*, I'm writing a segment on becoming a tuition teacher.

I'm doing this because the tuition industry in Singapore is like, one of the largest underground industries here, and also because of the sheer number of people who want to enter it. [hence, I'm also doing it in an effort to boost visitor stats to this site]

So what do you need to do to become a tuition teacher?

One of the things I found most useful then was Preparation. Yes, a highly overused term, but one that remains useful nonetheless. Before you start making those calls, you might want to decide on a few terms beforehand:

1. Your Working Hours
One of the great advantages of tuition is the flexibility in timing. If you're working full-time, you can choose to teach either in evenings, or during weekends. My usual hours during my full-time tuition days were weekday evenings [except Fri night of course...] and weekend mornings. This gave me more than enough time during the day to do whatever it is I wanted to do.

Obviously if you're taking tuition up as a part time option, then you don't have to dedicate all your free time to teaching. [unless you're possibly that hard up, or that lacking of a social life altogether] Hence decide for yourself when do you want to teach? Some would prefer to teach only during the weekends, some prefer teaching after work on weekday nights, leaving their weekends free. Again, it's up to you.

Once you decide for yourself when you want to teach, then you can save time having to negotiate with parents about your available tuition days. Just tell them straight that you are available "mon and thurs, 730 to 930". If anything, this saves you having to teach during weird slots. [I once had a student whom could only have lessons at 10pm!] Also, this keeps your own schedule relatively intact.

2. Your Teaching Subjects and Level
What were you strong in? What are you good in? If you were an accounting graduate, you can teach Principles of Accounting. If math was always your strong suit, go for it. If you've always been good in the written word, teach kids how to write great compositions.

Don't, for example, attempt to teach O Level English when you scraped through it with a C5 say, ten years ago. ^_^! You will do yourself and the kid no favours.

After you've decided on what subject you want to teach, then the next step is at what level are you comfortable teaching? Primary and Secondary school students come with their own set of baggage each. The primary school kids will tend to be, well, kids. They will be more childish, more playful, and will require more energy dealing with them. [I once had to run after a Pri 6 kid who decided to run out of the house halfway during one lesson]

However, you do get some kids who will tend to listen to instruction more, and these will be a breeze to teach, because they will be relatively docile in the presence of strangers, [yes, even though you're in their house, and after teaching them for a period of time, they will consider you as a relative stranger] and will generally do whatever it is you tell them to do. If you get these kids, hold on to them as long as you possibly can, because they will make your teaching career that much easier. ^_^

This is as compared to the Secondary school teens. The word says it all: Teenagers. They will be more rebellious than the primary school kids, and they will question you more, and be more sluggish during lessons. But you get some where, when it comes to the crucial years of Os and Ns, will be more attentive during your lessons.

You ask yourself: Which do you prefer?

3. Your Qualifications
Obviously this would influence whatever it is you're teaching, [and how much you get paid] but it makes sense to prepare any necessary documents in advance. [yes, time to dig out that ol' dusty O Level cert] Some parents and tuition agencies would want to see copies of these documents in order to ascertain that you are what you claim, so prepare your O level, and maybe A level certs, and any professional qualifications you may have, like ACCA.

Teachers and ex-teachers, you're in luck. Experience counts way more than qualifications here, so the higher the number of years you've worked, the better. Ex-tuition teachers and private school teachers can also count their experience.

4. Your Salary
And this is what we're all doing it for, ain't it? Salary, like in any industry, depends on qualifications and experience. Graduates, good on you. You get a higher salary than your poly counterparts, with rates going up to $40 an hour for honours students. [based on anecdotal evidence] JC students and below...... Better spend more time in school. With your lack of experience, and your young age, parents are least likely to hire you, one of the reasons being you might scram on their kids when you start uni/poly. [which some of you are most likely intending to do] Sorry to say, but you might have to get a data entry job instead.

Again, people with teaching experience have the advantage. Rates for teachers/ex-teachers can go up to $50-60 an hour, based on experience and the number of subjects taught. Tuition teachers can also get just as good rates, if they have a good sucess rate with their students, and good referrals.

So consider all the factors from 1 to 3 and price yourself reasonably. Bear in mind that there is no fixed income standard for tuition, and that a lot pretty much depends on the bargaining powers between you and the parent. However, if you do have a strong advantage in a particular subject, [like you're a teacher, or you have professional qualifications] I suggest you milk it to the core. Go for as obscenely high a price as you possibly can, and then bargain it down slightly to a slightly more reasonable rate.

Don't go overboard with it though. As of yet, I haven't heard of a tutor getting paid $100 a hour for teaching. o_0

Well, that's all for Part 1... After I post this up, I'll start work on Part 2: Getting the job itself. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Leavings and Beginnings

"Why haven't I received anything from you yet?"

Me: "Isn't the deadline the 28th?"

"No! It's today!"

Me: *Shrieks*

And so starts a flurry of typing...... I never knew I was capable of typing out a 3 hour English Reading lesson in less than 30 mins... ^_^!

Thankfully, this is not for NIE, but for the holiday community project we're supposed to do. [you know, the one that's supposed to instil a sense of service learning in us and make us all ready for unrestrained devotion to CIP]

Face it, it's a bit of a drag having this to do over the hols, but it has to be done...... And NOBODY wants to repeat an ungraded module like this anyway....

My group has managed to get it down to a holiday camp for kids with the theme "School IS fun!", the idea being to convey to the kids that, well, that school can be fun. We've gotten a family service center to agree to the thing, and I'm hoping all goes well by then.

Or rather, I'm hoping all goes well with the kids during the camp itself. ^_^! Planning is fine. I've done dozens of planning for projects just like this, it's the thought of actually facing the kids that scares the shite out of me.

That has been something I've been thinking about so far since reading of Tym's resignation from the teaching force. It raised the question in my mind: Can I actually pull this off?

Well really, it hasn't been a new question, more like something that cropped up every time I [thought I] did particularly bad on an assignment. [conversely, when I think I did ok, I think to myself that maybe I can pull it off after all] But the question remains. I mean, if there are teachers out there tons more experienced than I am leaving the force, what the heck am I doing??

I remember the time I passed my neighbour, who was an ex-teacher with a top school, in the corridor. We chatted a bit in the lift, and she asked me what I was doing, and at the time, I replied that I was waiting to enter NIE.

"You're entering?? My god, I just left teaching and you're entering?? Are you sure??"

Great encouragement.........

But today's a day I feel particularly green about the whole thing. Like a wide-eyed little kid stepping into school for the first time. Gee, and the kids think they have it bad. What about your poor old untrained teacher who has to contend with 40 of you?

*Sigh* Ah well, no point worrying about it too long. For now, I'm hoping the community project goes through successfully, so that after early Dec, I can truly enjoy the rest of my holidays......

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Exam Fever is Here Again

And it shows, because if you were walking through campus, you'd think everyone had been quarantined and were now lying at home, recuperating.

Well, in a sense, i suppose they are recuperating. Welcome to Exam Fever Season. Bane of both teachers and students alike.

Me, in my program, I'm lucky. I had one exam, on Teaching English on Monday, and I'm cleared for the rest of the semester. Others, including the rest of NTU, I know, have it till almost the end of November.

I would gloat, but I know it'll all come back to me in karmic payments, probably in the first time I have to help mark exam papers. *sweat*

But then again, the Exam Season does give rise to some strange behaviour on the parts of some people. It's probably the overall atmosphere of stress and pressure that does it, and me being in a more relaxed mood now, have the leisure of observing these specimens at will.

One interesting foreign specimen started nesting at the staircase on the same floor as my hostel room. I don't know why she doesn't just stay in her room, but she apparently decided that the staircase was a more conducive place for her to study. The first time I saw her, I nearly got shocked into falling down the staircase. This was because I was walking up the stairs, looking down, when then a pair of feet came into view.

I looked up and I saw this pale, haggard face staring at me, wild, dank strands of hair streaked across her face, with piles of paper in her hand, and muttering some weird language under her breath. In the next few microseconds, I realised that 1. she was human, and 2. she was studying sitting on the staircase and 3. She wasn't a ghost. Thankfully, due to the astonishingly fast neural impulses of the human brain, I registered 1, 2, and 3 in time to not scream bloody murder in her face.

Since then, she's been there almost daily, and sometimes I even see her taking her lunch there. Her spot has been reserved for her, with a few sheets of paper placed there. Just tonight, she was lugging a chair up to her spot. I take it she intends to stay there for quite a while. Maybe next, I'll see her huddled in blankets and sleeping there.

Indeed, Exam Fever does bring out the strangest in some people...... Anyone know any other cases? :p

Friday, November 04, 2005

pinkcherryade: I've added your blog to the links section... Any other blogging teachers wanna exchange links? :p You're always welcome.

Not a student, Not yet a Teacher

"This is the last class for the module, so that means your holidays are starting already?"

*A happy sound from the class*

"Well, enjoy it while you can, this will be the last real holidays you ever enjoy in your life."


That was a really nice way for my tutor to wrap up the module huh? *grumble* And he's one of the nicer and better ones in the PGDE program too...

[aside: I heard on the grapevine that some girls are so enthralled with him that they actually went to find out his age, marital status... probably his vital stats as well, for all I know]

but in a grudging kind of way, the guy's actually right. When I think about it, this Nov/Dec hols will probably be the last kind of school holidays we will enjoy as students. Not as teachers, planning holiday programmes, classes and god knows what else more.

I DONWAN!!! WAHHHHH!!!!! I'm not sick of being a student yet! Honest! Lemme stick to my studies, student ID and bad canteen food! I'm not ready for responsibility yet!

Man, times like this, I feel like I should give myself 2 tight slaps on the face and shout, "SNAPOUTOFIT!!!" I seem to be stuck in that transitional stage where I'm enjoying the amenities that come with being a student, and yet, I'm not actually a student, I'm a "trained employee of MOE with all the responsibilities and obligations that go with it". [that one particular line has been thrown at us in these few months god knows how many times already]

Not a student, not yet a teacher.

But the feeling kinda sucks in a way. It's like someone pulled you out of your comfy seat in front of the TV, threw you the vacuum, and said, "It's time you did some real work for a change!" only the effect is multiplied by a gazillion.

The effect this has on me is akin to a pendulum. On one swing, when I'm particularly optimistic during classes, I see the lesson plan I write out, and I think, gee, maybe I can pull this off after all.... On a bad day, I'll thik, wtf am I doing here?!! I'm not going to make it! ARGH!!! SOMEONE GET ME OUTTA HERE!!!!!!

Trust me, I'm not turning schizophrenic.

On the [slightly] brighter side, though, most of the assignments have been handed in, done, even while the rest of NTU/NIE is still having exams. Gives me a little gloaty feeling, when I see all the anxiously mugging faces stuck in piles of books and I'm thinking of my next blog entry and how long my afternoon nap should be.

Yea, yea, I know... karma....... :p

But I really should start preparing myself... To say goodbye to being a student and start being responsible for students myself... *sigh* Wish me luck......