Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Fruitcake Special III

This is the third installment of resource materials for the form 4 literature component. This task is suggested to be used for Set Induction and suitable for students with lower proficiency. I am happy to say that you will not be able to find the picture used in the resource material from any image in the internet because I had drawn the picture myself. It was just too difficult (and utterly impossible!) to find a picture suitable enough to be used for this particular activity. But feel free to use the material with your students. It's fun and allows students some creativity albeit difficulty for them to generate a vocabulary list. Happy teaching!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Where Are They Now?

How time flies! One moment they are just innocent, fresh faced teenagers eager to learn anything that their teachers would dispense to them. The next moment they have grown up to become adolescents ready to face the world and all its challenges. With their advancing maturity, I can't help but feel that I am growing older day by day; in fact I am growing older. But I would like to grow old, with the pleasant thought that I have somehow contributed something beneficial to these students, or rather ex-students; something instrumental for them to make it in the world. Then again these guys are the creme de la creme of our school and most of them have done well for themselves. I am happy for them! But where are the rest of them? I would really like to know what they are doing because once a teacher always a teacher, and the sense of responsibility is still there, even though they have gone their own ways. Spread your wings and fly far my students. My prayers will go with you.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Am I That Invisible?

You can tell a lot about your friends based on how they react to your not being at work or in this case not being at work for three days in a row! After twenty plus years of being in the teaching profession, none of my colleagues' reactions can actually cause me to feel surprised anymore (at least, that's what I thought!). In any case, it is actually expected of them! I have been missing from duty for three days in a row; the first day I took two bus loads of students out on an excursion and the second and third day I was out on medical leave.
It was rather heart-warming to hear a few friends asking where I was and if I was feeling better; a few said they wondered why they had not seen me for three days. But it was quite disheartening (I should be immuned to this already, based on the number of years I've been in this profession!) when a few did not even realise that I was not in school! Is this a sign that I am dispensable? Or is this a sign that my presence all these years have not left any impact at all? To friends who cared, thank you. And to those who couldn't care less, I guess the feeling is mutual.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

What Does A Teacher Do? Part II

After completing the before part of the lesson, now comes the while part of the lesson. This is where you see the teacher starting the lesson not with the set induction but with attempts to control the class situation due to the rowdiness of the 40 odd number of students, telling them to get ready for lessons and getting out their books, which more often than not, would take up about 10 to 15 minutes of the lesson. It takes the teacher another 5 minutes during the set induction to actually get the students ready and to listen to what the is saying.
The teacher then proceeds to Step 1, which could be a comprehension exercise which would take about 2o minutes; a task which would be preceded by reading aloud individually or in groups and with the teacher correcting the pronunciation or stress of particular words. Then, while the students are doing their work, the teacher would not be sitting down at his desk, but be walking around from student to student in order to, one, find out if any of the students are facing any difficulties and two, if the students are actually doing their work. The teacher would also be guiding the students to search for difficult words using the dictionary. The final part of the lesson would consist of a remedial or enrichment exercise, after discussing with the students the answers to the comprehension exercise. Bear in mind that for 40 minutes, the teacher has been on his feet without sitting down. Can you imagine if the teacher has eight periods for that day? He would then be on his feet for 320 minutes or 3 hours and 40 minutes! And still people insist that a teacher's work is relaxing!

Friday, April 2, 2010

What Does A Teacher Do?

The present teacher is burdened with a lot of other unrelated work besides teaching because the ministry thinks teaching is a simple thing to do. Maybe I can highlight to these people some of the things and the processes that a teacher goes through before, while and after teaching. Please take note and don't just walk away!
Before the actual teaching, a teacher has to prepare his lesson plans for the next day. If there are four classes, there will be four different lesson plans. Writing a lesson plan doesn't take much time but it is the thought into writing it that takes most of the time. First, the teacher needs to know the proficiency levels of his students. Then he would have to look for suitable materials to be used during the lesson which could take hours of pouring through the Internet and reference materials. Next, he would have to develop at least two different sets of exercises based on the materials he has found. Following this, he would have to copy the materials, type the exercises, print them and photocopy according to the number of students for that one particular class. He would also need to foresee the difficulties faced by the students in order for him to come up with remedial or enrichment exercises. Only after at least ten hours of planning would he be able to write down the lesson plan. All this is done before teaching; and that's only for ONE class and ONE period only! It would be double time for a double period!
NB: While and after teaching to follow.

A Happy Teacher Is A Productive Teacher

Many debates about the responsibilities of teachers have made the headlines in all the media for as long as I have been teaching. And consequently many promises by the ministry have been made to look into matter. However, sadly they have looked into the matter! Why do I say that it is sad? This is because that is what they normally do; that is they just 'look into' it!
Teachers say that their work is to teach but they are burdened with too much clerical work which can affect the teachers' focus and attention on their real responsibility. I say that clerical work is part and parcel of being a teacher, which does not necessarily mean I totally agree with it. But if a teacher needs to be given clerical work besides teaching, I would suggest that teachers be given less teaching periods. More than 20 periods a week consume a lot of the teachers' sane time and thus leave them less time for nothing else, especially clerical work. I mean, if you want teachers to excel in both areas that is teaching and clerical work.

In Sickness and In Health

It's been quite a while since I have been sick and, of course, am very grateful for the health that God Almighty has bestowed upon me. But, once in a while, you have to become sick, one as a way of purging out the negative elements inside you and the next as a test of your faith in the Almighty. Incidentally, it also helps to give your local medical practitioner a boost for his business. I don't know if you consider it a boon or a bane, but getting a two-day off for being sick can be quite relaxing; away from the hues and cries of the school, especially the undisciplined students! Well, it can be a boon if you are not really that sick, but if you are really sick then getting off work for being sick is not really enjoyable, because let's face it; what is there to enjoy when you are sick. Sick isn't it!