Friday, September 15, 2006

Here is me doing cheap promotion for my own poll. Please vote on the latest GROW plan and what you think of it at the online poll at the right of the blog. Current results indicate that, er,

2 people think it's ok
2 people think it makes no difference to their careers
3 people still feel like quitting anyway

and no one feels more motivated to continue working.

Hahaha... I'm tempted to think this is the true viewpoint of those on the ground, but I have to reluctantly state that the sample size is too small to conclude anything. [damn that stats module I took!] So please vote if you haven't already, and also leave a comment on why you feel that way!

Teachers are going crazy!

The good things about being in school on a PSLE day are that the school is quiet, the children are not around, and there are no lessons to plan :)

The bad thing is that you [or rather I] get more tired easily, because of no exercise, you stare at your computer screen too much trying to finish planning lessons before the weekend, doing research for upcoming exam papers, and other assorted admin work. X(

Now I realise how unsuitable a desk job is for me.

Anyway, there is a current thread going on at Moe's forum about whether teachers are going crazy. According to either unfounded rumours or hidden facts, [whichever you choose to perceive it as] there is a significant number of teachers who end up at IMH for......... you can go ahead and guess for whatever reason. :)

I tried reading the threads, but I almost went crazy doing so [haha, cheap pun] so here are the main points as supplied by my friend:

1. Prioritise your time.

Work is work, leisure is leisure and never the twain should meet. I only realised how important leisure time was when I started the real work. True enough it does take up time that could be used planning lessons or looking for resources, and the worst thing is that I end up procrastinating a lot and doing a lot of last minute work. :p

The upside is, I get my recess time, and something about being forced to meet a deadline no matter what has resulted in some of my better lesson ideas. Mwahaha. At least my creativity and quick-thinking skills are improving.

Put it this way: You won't want your kids to sit through lessons the whole day without recess in between would you? So why subject yourself to the same torture?

2. If you can't, you can't

Everyone has their limits, and a wise man knows his. If you know you can't do it, why force yourself to do it, and then convince yourself you can? It's true enough that nobody knows their real limits, and that if you never grow, you will never know. But you know when you can't do it. That's when you start dreaming of nightmare scenarios involving you, your students and your HODs and endless piles of unmarked papers. Or you sweat uncontrollably at the sight of a red pen.

Face it, if you think you need learning support, don't force yourself to join the A stars.

3. Eat bananas

So you don't go bananas. No really, according to someone on the forum, bananas contain anti-depressants, so maybe there is some truth to the statement after all.

And my very own point at the end of it all... when all else fails....

4. Just Don't Bother

Fergeddabudit. Throw the red pens into the bin, switch off the laptop, ignore the pile of unmarked books, and just go do something fun. Tell yourself you owe yourself that much.

IF you don't agree with any of the 4 points here, I sincerely hope you don't land in IMH one day.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

We Are Not Happy. Why?

It's telling how, simply by glancing through the website, one can come up with the number of grudges, grunts, and overall noises of dissatisfaction against the System.

Why I Hate Teaching

D&T above all else

And wow, even a petition for a principal to please, quit already.

Ironically, I remember when I went for the mandatory Reflective Practice course, the trainer was trying to tell us that we had the power to change our situation. If we could just take our own positive affirmative action, then we could drastically change our teaching outlook and approach, and generally, at least life would look a little better for us.

I think I can only half agree with her.

Firstly, there are just too much crap going on outside of the actual teaching that is causing dissatisfaction within the teaching profession. In my very-short career, talking to other contract teachers and senior teachers and reading other blogs has yielded one result: that it is NOT the children that is causing the dissatisfaction, but all other things like the leadership, the administration, the non-curriculuar activities.

Above all, it is the expectations. It is telling in the trainer's presentation that the reason why WE suffer is because of US and that WE can take action to solve that, while having faith that the system is doing its best behind the scenes to help us.

There is a lot expected of teachers isn't it? Is it because we are working in a vocation [as opposed to an occupation] that people think it's only right that we suffer all these with a whisper of complaint? I feel as if we are expected everyday to do more and more and more for the children, but only for that few extra peanuts. [and not gold-plated ones, to boot]

But on the flipside, I have seen situations where the teacher in question could have avoided extra work with a few simple actions. For example, one BT in school was looking particularly strained because 3 different HODs had suddenly called in her children's workbooks for checking. And suddenly she had to examine and sort out piles of English, Math and Social studies workbooks and files to be handed in the next day

I told her to tell the HODs that she was swamped, and to ask for an extension. After all, it was the eve of the holidays! Why can't she just hand in the books either during the week, or even in Term 4?

She didn't. Maybe she was nervous, after all, a BT telling a HOD that she can't do it, would she look bad? Would the HOD just demand it of her anyway? Maybe she was afraid that it would give her a bad, or unprofessional image to the HOD, but still! Isn't this a pretty impossible uphill task, even for a senior teacher???

Why not at least make the effort to ask, in a professional way, and explain the situation to the HOD? If you asked, at least you get the chance of a reprieve, rather than suffering in silence all the while.

[anyway I learned my lesson from her situation. From next week, I'm hounding my students for all workbooks, worksheets and files, and I'm making sure they stay in school, unless it's exam period. That way anytime someone wants to see my books, they're prepared.]

I hope our suffering is not caused by our own silence. There is only so much that we can all take to a certain point. Why allow others to put you past that point? If you think people are shitting on you, then raise a stink and make sure they know of it!

I hope I never reach the point where I suffer things blindly.

Monday, September 04, 2006


The new measures to make teaching more attractive and retentive are out, announced during the Mass Lecture at the Singapore Expo yesterday. [incidentally how many of you were there? And how many of you left after the speech/informal break/lecture? ;p]

Among the measures: [as stated by Straits Times]

- Increase in gratuity bonus
- Higher starting salaries for graduates with pass/pass with merit and dip. holders [I joined one year too late!!!]
- Salary review for mid-career grads
- More opportunities for promotion
- Full-pay sabbaticals for teachers with at least 12 years of experience [I'm so out!]
- Learning-related expenses of $400-$700 to be made claimable [the most flexible, it will be available to everyone]
- More emphasis on staff development [whether this gets translated to the ground level, remains to be seen]

Unfortunately our salaries are already found to be quite competitive with the private sector, so no changes in that direction. Shoot :p

At first glance though, most of the goodies seem to be more for the long-term employees rather than the newbie BTs. Is anyone interested in whether we'll stay beyond our 3/4/5/6 year bonds? And most of the goodies don't focus on the purely material but instead seem directed towards making our life and career development as smooth and varied as possible. Which means you'll only feel the full benefit if you stay for as long as possible.

Hm. What do you guys think?