Friday, November 17, 2017

Random thoughts: Replying Myself

I wrote a post earlier, 6 months later, and being the last day of school, I read the "letter" again. How have I fare?


1) Shift your department teachers' mindset away from teaching to the test and examination. Deep learning or meta-cognitive learning have higher retention rate, it should not affect the results adversely too much. How many teachers have you convinced with your words, deeds and values? Or have you yourself thrown in the towel?

I have not throw in the towel, although at times, I do struggle about drilling for more marks or teaching pupils how to learn. I think I did well with my low progress kids. This is the first time in my teaching career I receive unsolicited notes of thanks at the end of year and not teacher's day. 

How many teachers? Hmm, maybe 1? But if I struggle, I think she is lost.  

2) With the focus away from examinations and KPIs, you hope to see education as pupils actively pursuing knowledge and in whatever capacity, applying that knowledge. You have said that the following words stick in your head, let me remind you in case you forgotten. "The world economy no longer pays you for what you knows; Google knows everything...The world economy pays you for what you do with what you know." With the zero-sum pursuit of mindless competition of who produces more A pupils a National Trend, have you hold steadfast to your belief? Do you remember going to your MLS friend's school to teach for a trial lesson? They wear different uniforms from your pupils. With the bell curve effect, they doing well in PSLE mean the bell curve work against your own pupils. (Don't give me the shit that the new PSLE is standard referenced. It is just a static preset bell curve.) But you love them nonetheless, you think they are cute. You felt proud that Singapore provide good and decent education to pupils in the neighborhood. You suddenly felt that it is really meaningless and perhaps shallow to be upset about being "below National Average". Why should I be happy? The "national average" does not fluctuate that greatly, why should I derives so much happiness or sadness in beating fellow Singapore's Children? 

Surprising, I remembered that lesson and still talk about it. I have move even further away from ranking, and caught myself competing with my colleagues in terms of results produced. I decided to mindfully remind myself not to do it. They can do better than me, I should be happy and thankful of a strong team.

3) You wanted to prepare the pupils not just for the examinations, but also the future. You believe that joy in learning, is perhaps one of the ingredient for effective learning, and that pupils must be self-regulated learners. You realize that preparing pupils for examinations and the future in that sense, need not really be a zero-sum game, as the two are not mutually exclusive.

I did taught them how to be self-regulated learners. I do think pupils pick up some skills from me, but I think I am far from igniting joy in learning. I have however, think deeper about "joy" in learning. Joy, beside fun, is about self-discovery. I am going to move further in that direction.

4) Joy of learning is not about having fun doing activities, it is about making sure every pupils can progress and achieve. You seek to do this with Differentiation Instructions (DI). You have in the past, pursuit only the form and not the substance of DI. You have a better understanding of the whole DI approach by Tomlinson , you understand what it means and possibly how to differentiate the process/ content or product according to pupils readiness or if possible, also take into considerations pupils' interest and profile. You are no expert in this, but with Formative Assessment (FA) and DI in your mind when you did the 2 trial lessons in 2 different schools the last 2 days (6-7th April ), you genuinely felt different. I think I will cut you some slack for not able to prepare lessons as thoroughly as when you are on course. But, did you stop observing pupils' readiness? Have you stop asking yourself how to present your information more clearly and preparing for multiple content sources and process to cater for pupils who cannot follow your intended lesson? If you have been doing this at least once a week, I think you are already doing well. You also want to present your true self to your pupils, you realize you are generally a fun-loving person, so the humor in class should let pupils feel more at ease. But have you become so tired or pressured about the academic performance of your pupils that you have start reverting to becoming a team commander of soldiers in a war zone?

I did this with flying colors. I am like an ah beng in class, so much so that my pupil kept laughing at my antics to her mum. Lucky she is amused and not offended. However, i did get very firm with my pupils and not everyone appreciate my "true" self. I can see some are shocked more than entertained, and others most probably think I am very "boliao"

I change my way of presentation of information at least 3 times, I didn't track that it work for everyone, it stopped when it worked for some, and I didn't prepare multiple and customized notes for everyone, although I did try to track their proficiency in reading comprehension for my high progress pupils and I think they did improve 

5) Self-regulated learners are learners acutely aware of their own learning. During MLS, you have been reading a lot about how the brain works, about metacognitive strategies, and the easy essence of it are having
1) Compare and Contrast
2) Classification
3) Meaningful Transfer
4) Self-Monitoring
5) Mindful selection process
6) Gap filling either individual or in group

1) Done, through error detection exercises, not effective
2) Classification of difficult words, if it is considered as classification, yes
3) Done, from model answers to adapted answers, yes, from adapted answers to internalized understanding, nope
4) I did that after their exam, didn't observe impact
5) Yes, in composition, Oral, Vocab, presented in comic form, given pupils more options
6) Yes, useless

You have worked hard to try to figure out how everything can be applied from reading comprehension stage to speaking and writing. Did you continue to use these? Have you extend the activities and strategies? How many teachers beside your soulmate/ friend in your department have you gotten excited about all these teaching methods. I can't write the teachers' names here, but MS, SC, JAN, NF, YZ and SY are potential champions you have considered, are they really champions now? Have you not even started? Did you keep their interest burning, did you make them turn around and help you keep your own passion alive?

Project done, but interest? I do think they see value in the project we are doing, but I hardly think they are excited, because the schedule is too punishing, and their work too hectic. I am just glad I am still alive

6) You want to streamline working processes such that you can reduce at least 5% of teachers' workload. You had wanted more flexibility in weekly PDT, you wanted technology to help in discussion and some marking. You wanted to scale down some programmes. You understand a burnt-out teachers cannot really inspire pupils. This is one area that you felt is toughest to do, if you have actually found a path, you do yourself proud. One area you are looking at is purposeful reflections, as diagnostic data collection means and stimulus for discussion. Have you done anything about it. How did it fare?

Done, but felt it is a paper exercise. flexibility is given to teachers, but many are still burnt and tired. I have not read all their reflections, so maybe this part need to KIV

7) You have wanted a more systematic approach to integration of various learning objectives across levels with strong build-up of differentiated resources. One key success factor shared selflessly by your HOD friend about active selection of topic to drill in the final year is not a short cut, but a meticulous and calculated move(3 years prior to ensure maximum exposure and repetition), much like company prospecting in investing. Have you embarked on this journey? 

Kind of tried to do it for reading comprehension, did not turn out the way I envisioned, but there is some data and information to use

8) You have wanted the professional learning project to be of more rigor. You have bought books for teachers to engage in literature review, and the use of lesson study lesson plan template for discussion and planning. You wanted more informed and well-planned initiatives. How has those plans work out for you?


9) You wanted to continue with the NIE library membership and spend at least 2 days in a year visiting the NIE to borrow some books to read.

Intend to

10) Finally, something less tangible. You said "Human First, then teacher, then a HOD to bring everyone along" How does this sound to you now?
Think I still believe it. 


Seem like I didn't do too badly, but what have I done for my department...

LOL... I live by the day, perhaps its beyond my capacity. 

I do enjoy my lessons and teaching better, like my pupils, even if the feelings are not mutual. 

2018, lets hope the letter do not get lost or worse, forgotten

Monday, November 13, 2017


This is a comment I wanted to leave for CW.

Not sure why I cannot post it after multiple attempts. It’s about folding the cards. Sometime I wonder aloud with my circumstances, why don’t I just fold the cards too. 


Uncle CW,

Thumbs up. I also wondered how many fold the cards. I call that 瀟灑。

Have a great golden period:



Sillyinvestor 谨启

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Random thoughts: 5 more Marks or joy of learning?

This is a question I asked myself, and some of my pupils and their parents.

What comes to your mind? If u think for a while, your answer will most probably be depends. Let me give my take.

My definition of joy, is not just fun having activities. It might be a tough slog, but a process of some guided self-discovery, and maybe some self-reflections. 

Hence, because it is contextualize according every pupils, their quality of answers will definitely differ and I cannot enforced the “right answer” even if I have a better answer (in terms of marks) in my mind. Otherwise, the mindset of pupils will be, “just show me the method” 

There are other more authentic ways of learning too, usually about creating a interesting scenario for pupils to work on something, but those activities are time

There are some fun ways of drilling, and I have already embrace that. So, let’s say if your child, is an obedient child, does all the teacher ask him to do, he could have get 80 marks if he do more drill and practices, will u let him get 75 if he have more opportunity at “fun learning” 

I knew my own answer. It is 75 and have more opportunity at fun. Some parents I ask are like me. But their children want the last 5 marks. These are the high achieving pupils. I know the answer for the weaker pupils. If u could have more fun and lose 5 marks they would.

But the context change when it is not a drop of 5 marks from 80 to 75. What happens if it is 50 to 45? A difference of pass and fail, a difference of A and B?

But, is there really a difference? 

After this informal fact finding exercise with my own brain ( I mind f**) and also with a few trusted parents and colleagues, I am more at peace with my approach and I think has become relative more 平常心with marks. I do not seek to influence my teachers though. 

When I drill, those that I drilled has a very high success rate. But I also realise the reverse is true, those that I not drilled have very high failure rate. 

In the end it’s a balance and I think I have found my own balance, a new balance. 

What about u? Under what circumstances would
U as a parent or a student, go for that 5 marks or joy? 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Random thoughts: A old fashioned lesson that brought some satisfaction

Exam has ended.

To be very honest, I could get a bit loss with what to teach. It’s the time of the year that I tried out all sorts of funny ideas. 

Most in our fatenality will know the “egg” lesson. Ask the kids to bring an egg to school and carry it with them. Ask them how they feel about carrying it around the whole day. Link it to parental care etc.

I did it today. Ask them how they feel. Then either write a thank you Card or use software to design one. Many ask if they can thanks their friends. I said after your parents, u can design or write as many as you like. 

The cheap drill is a few pupils write to me. Ya, I know. I shameless.

Towards the end, I told them how I really felt it is important to be thankful of what we have. 

I told them about my brief brush with depression. I told them I got myself out because I think I am still thankful of whatever that have not gone wrong. 

I told them how I see someone I know slipping further and further into self-pity and misery. I told my kids they were once millionaire, intelligent and capable. But because they dun have a thankful heart, they blame the whole world for their predicament. Spend almost crazy amount of money on lottery and praying to god for them to strike. As if ... 

I told them I saw a bottomless pit of suffering which I dun think they can get out. I no bleeding heart. Though I did try to help, i did not really try hard. 

I told them a thankful heart is a self-defense mechanism. Not for others but themselves. It cannot be switch on when u need it. U need to keep practicing it. 

I think most pupils got my message. It made me satisfied.