Friday, April 6, 2018

A delusional teaching journey

Years ago, I wrote about a delusional investment journey. It is one article that I faces up to my inner demons regarding investment. Nothing much has changed or perhaps a lot has changed after that, I am very much at peace now as compared to years ago in terms of investment. In terms of portfolio size, investment strategies, etc, I would think the changes or improvements are incremental or insignificant, but it just felt different, emotional no more big roller coasters. Yes, I banging my head on the wall for selling my winners too early. But I couldn't explain it clearly, it still very different from the earlier years of investing. I thought I will write about my inner demons in teaching too.

Of Learning, marks and achievements

Truth to be told, I want all of it. But while they are not mutually exclusive, the area of overlap is overstated

In fact, I think my concern or apprehension about my KPI and hence my pupils' mark have a direct bad impact on MY care and patience for kids. Mindset become too fixated on the components and less on the encouragements and causes of learning deficiency.

Also, given my position as a middle manager,. how do I lead with convinction if there is no track records.

Hence, although the big exam is half a year away, and I think I am finally connecting even with my last reticent pupil in putting in efforts and being focus in work, I am still not at peace.

At one end of the spectrum, I am very happy with what I have achieved. A improvement in attitude in learning for almost the whole class as compared to a year ago, the exemplary cases are really communicating with me in Chinese, which I thought is really important in learning a language. For the first time, I tried to get pupils to record their reading and oral topics and WhatsApp me instead of using any online platforms. The reason is simple, I can listen to their work using my phone anywhere anytime and I can give feedbacks to them in a timely manner. But 1 unexpected benefit also happened. I manage to convince the pupils to communicate with me by typing in Chinese. I also finally find the time to find out more about the challenges they are facing when doing their work and encouraging them to continue.

This to me, is already learning.

But since I came back from my 4 months course, I think my self-awareness and accuracy of assessment of pupils proficiency in exam has increased too. All of them except perhaps 1or 2 will still fail their PSLE if they take it tomorrow and 6 months is hardly enough given the low entry level.

I must say it bothers me a lot. Just yesterday, I reminded myself that even if they fail, because Psle still work in a aggregate score style, every marks count and they might still be better off for whatever improvement and learning they get.

But, the next thought that flood my mind immediately is my KPI and how do I face my department teachers.

My colleague encouraged me, said that I have the courage to take the weakest of all, and should cut myself some slack. But nope, I still fear my KPI.

Doing the right thing about learning or tangible marks. I have 3 pupils who should rightly be streamed to take the subject at foundation level.

I didn't recommend them at all. Each for different reasons, one of them I think he has quite a good foundation in the language, at least in the spoken part of it,he just need to focus and should be able to cope. I am right,he is coping well and is not the weakest in class, but I dun want to go into his writing which would most probably be the weakest link if he fail.

The other 2 are really weak. But one really tries very hard to do all my work and I hope he dun give them all up. He is applying my memory techniques very well and remember a lot of the recently taught words and even oral samples and templates, but is struggling with the assessment at P6 level.

The other is unmotivated and is also weak,but I notice he learns fast, is witty and grasp concepts quickly when he is focused. I had a heart to heart talk with him recently and I finally see a change of behaviour but I am.not sure if that will last.

The rest of my pupils are not clear-cut cases to be learning the subject at foundation level but almost all of them have their struggles .. some.mentally and emotionally have barrier to speak up, some are scared off or scarred by writing ...

I thought I perhaps only had 1-2 pupils who if they continue their good work, has a good chance to.clear the exams. Well, by KPI I am.suppose to have only 1-2 failures ...

Through the learning lens, I perhaps should not be too hard on myself. The weakest of them all are now trying their personal best (not exactly hardworking) to do their work. They are reading better and understand how to read and understand  a notice (vocabulary limited in this genre).

But is this learning enough to clear the exam or translate into tangible marks, that I am not sure.

I am also not too sure if there are better pedagogy or resources that I could have mastered that quicken their learning curves.

I ask myself had I let those 3 to just take the subject at foundation level, (I dun have to recommend, I just need not to oppose, perhaps I could have been able to focus better on the others?)

I could have also recommend those botherline cases into that stream and they can be spared the misery of writing ...

So, now u see, there are plenty of inner demons voices questioning if I had make a right choice.

I told my pupils that we should not take the easier way out, even if u fail, u would still have learn the language at a higher level, and also learn the value of resilience and overcoming handicap.

I wonder if I have been too idealistic? Since importing talents to win competition is permissible, exporting weakness to the right program is ethical ? I have a pupil taking the subject at foundation level due to other valid reasons although she is one of my beer pupils last year. It is a breeze for her now. She still come join me in the morning sessions, but she will just do her own work. Sometimes I ask her if she would like to join in with the rest in the reading exercises etc, she would refuse. How do I define "better off"

Feeling tired ... Especially when there are so many things taking time.away from me with my pupils.

I also wonder if I have been just finding excuses to justify my incompetent to produce results. 

7 comments:

  1. Hi,

    Do your best and don't bother about the rest.

    Ben

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  2. Once a decision is made, never look back. Don't think about "what if...", just focus and focus on what can be done. Your fear and negative thoughts will just slowly eats into you and drains away your energy. Although it sometimes makes you feel better, but it din help you at all. Just be prepared but don't over worry.

    KW

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi,

    It is great to have passion for your job and put so much effort and thought to groom your students. The life lessons you thought are more valuable in the future than it will be to the students in the present.

    It is good to be focused on hitting your KPI but not to the point of burnout. Hopefully you can consult someone more experienced in your teaching journey and find a way to manage the difficult situation.

    All the best!

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