Friday, March 15, 2019

Random thoughts: The 3 little joys from teaching

Let me start by being me, cynical. I don't change lives, kids change lives on their own,because of circumstances or will. I just hope I am part of the positive influence in those circumstances.
So the joys I derived are from the small stuff. I however know of real flesh and blood people who stories are like those u see on advertisement.
So here goes.
1) when pupils understand the lesson and overcome a particular fear of learning.
When pupils finally understood the thinking process behind a language task, be it reading comprehension, or writing, they no longer need answers. They know how to get answers, nevermind that the answers may not be perfect. When they know they can apply it across different exercises, confidence is built.
The lesson where there is sparkle in the eyes, is just the begining. The famous 10K hours of practice for mastery hold true. Depending on the pupils competence, no one need 10K and no one has 10k hours, but if someone tell u there is no need for drill and practice, tell him to invest successfully after reading 2 books.
I remembered vividly that pupil who could not speak. She could memorise and prepare the work in advance. When ask to answer inprompt questions, she will panic.
I remember drilling her word by word, day after day, everyday. Advising her what could be said, how to say it, what are the common topics.
When she came up excitedly after her PSLE paper, telling me she could manage the questions, I knew she has a high chance of passing. I almost gave up. A year has passed when she wouldn't even open her mouth to utter a full sentence.
I knew she wanted to do well very badly and is trying very hard, so we all buckle down and do it, literally word by word, sentence by sentence.
That was last year batch. I think it also brought out the fighter in me. I remember going to my pupils word by word, having them do spelling by the strokes of their fingers 3 times a day. Going through the common words required for writing.
Words like ”thank you", "should", they couldn't write, but we just keep practising. In the morning before school starts, during recess, after school. Walking along the corridor and practising, countless make up lessons, just so that I can reach as many as possible my 10 weakest pupils.
I know many still frown on such drill and practices. I just have this to say. They are under my care to learn, and I teach. They need a score to go secondary and I make sure they work hard to get it, I am not dogmatic about ideals and is unapogetic about drilling.
Perhaps over drilling kill the joy of learNing for high achievers. But when u teach the weaker pupils, u are telling them u have not given up on them

2) When pupils enjoy learning.
I hope pupils enjoy coming to my class. But if I have to do 1) at the expense of 2) and will do it.
I like my class to be filled with laughters.
Problem is, I just have that much tricks, old tricks no longer funny.
But the younger ones usually more easily entertained.
3) When pupils share with me their personal problems
It is only this year, that pupils share with me their problems. Their social problems with friends (although the underlying cause is more than that hahahaha)
How their friends are talking behind their backs, spreading rumors and how they felt affected.
They say they want me to help or advice. But They dun want me to punish or scold their friends.
I am not too sure I am doing a great job advising. Hahahah. But when pupils came over and asked "Mr Ng, can I talk to u for a while", I felt trusted.
And wow, after listening to them, the kids' world are so happening! I can write a Korean drama with jealousy, betrayal, threats, spying, social traps... with adaptation.
My world even as as lower secondary teenager wasn't so happening.
Thinking back, after 13 years of teaching, that I have pupils willing to tell me their problem or sharing their frustration, I am not too sure if I have been missing something in the last 13 years.


  1. Haven't comment for quite a long time, but your words still touched me as usual. It is such a blessing for the pupils, u let them feel trusted. I hope that I can be your student too, so that I can also freely said "can i talk to u for a while." Hahaha

    1. KW,

      Hahaha sure. One text away...

      But hor... one good thing is because they dun want me to handle it in a rules based way, I simply tell I genuinely feel. Dun know they will be so stunned or shocked that that will be the last time a not.

      But come to think of it. If no one share because no one has a problem, that's great too

  2. Very emotional post. Seems that you had an excellent connection with you pupils. Very rare to see these things these days.

    1. Hi MMF,

      Not really rare. But I wouldnt lie and say its common. It can be found every school.

      Just that I am the shameless kne that post it. Hahahahaha

  3. Your pupils and their parents are blessed to have you as their teacher. I believe lots of their parent are grateful to you.

    1. Hi Anon,

      Actually yhe blessings are mutual. I dun know ahat I do without them too.

      Other aspects of the work is really ...

  4. Hi SI,

    I love teaching and the 3 points you mentioned are super impt.

    1) A teacher must be able to inject the "dun give up" attitude in the kids. Diff kids diff talents, with diff results. But most important is progression and do not be lazy and do not give up. If you do not give up, God will not give you up, and the people you love or people who love you will not give you up too.

    2) ability to learn in a student is so important. The only time kids want to learn is when they enjoy it. Unlike adults are always more objective to drive success, but kids requires to enjoy learning.

    3) the only reason a kid or even adult is willing to divulge personal matters to you is because of relationships. They feels comfortable with you, because there is some spiritual un-explained connection. Actually it is because of "love". They know that you truly care, hence they tell you.

    Kudos my friend.

    1. Hi Rolf,

      Thank you for your comments. Yes. This year only one term, but I did so many and exoerinced so many first times...

      Really grateful... but I think I do neEd to warm up a bit more throughly

      Really here paun there pain

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