Ok honestly, I’ve been meaning to write this post for months. At the end of the first week I was thinking to myself “I think I should blog about my first impressions of being a teacher”. But I just kept procrastinating to no end.
Considering how today was my last day teaching lower-sec math at SOTA, coupled with the fact that I love typing on my brand new MBA (it literally just arrived this evening), I think it’d be appropriate that I dump all my thoughts about being a teacher into one giant blog post.
First off, teaching’s not for me. It’s not the actual teaching that’s difficult. The actual teaching is pretty fun actually, and really quite satisfying when you see the kids get what you’re trying to say. But of course, that satisfaction relies on the fact that they’re actually listening to you in the first place. Only now do I understand the frustration of talking to a huge group of people and have next to none of them be interested in what you’re saying.
And yet that’s not even the biggest issue I have with being a teacher. All you have to do to deal with noisy kids is to just scream and shout at them a couple of times, give them the silent treatment a couple of times, and that’s that. Unfortunately I started off being quite lenient with them, taking the whole “I can’t be bothered with you if you don’t want to listen, your choice” approach. So I really could’t summon the strength to change into super-strict-annoying-shouty teacher near the end when they started climbing over my head.
Anyway, as I was saying (told you this was going to be a long post), the biggest issue isn’t controlling kids. It’s all the stuff you have to do OUTSIDE of the lessons themselves. There are a million little small things teachers have to remember. I need to print 2 extra worksheets for this class and 3 extra for this other class. This class is sitting for this test on Monday but the other one’s only taking it on Thursday. I stopped at this point in the notes for this class, but this one outside of the other class. Oh yeah and I got to attend meetings, reply emails, create notes, set a paper. The list goes on and on and on. And I was just a relief teacher. I have no idea what it’s like for normal teachers.
For two years in NS, I had to remember a few major issues, not a million tiny ones.
Of course, for most teachers, I guess the satisfaction of actually teaching students makes up for all the other random stuff they need to settle. As I mentioned earlier, it definitely is immensely satisfying when you see the light bulb flick on in kid’s head. I guess it’s just that such flicking of light bulbs didn’t happen that often enough to warrant all the other stuff in my case.
It could have been worse…
But of course there are plenty of jobs out there worse than being a teacher. The great thing about teaching is the ever-changing schedule. Every single day is different from the last, which is a breath of fresh air from sitting in front of a computer from 8 to 5.30 and then going home. You’re moving about constantly, doing different things everyday (some days it’s marking, some days it’s mostly lesson preps, etc.). All of this just serves to ensure each day is anything but monotonous.
It’s not easy!
I never realised how much time and effort went into planning lessons for kids. I mean the depth to which teachers go to figure out the most appropriate questions that should be set. It’s not as simple as figuring out what skills are tested for each question, but also trying to figure out how in the world the kids will attempt to tackle the question. Teachers spend a considerable amount of time simply trying to piece together a student’s (ridiculous) train of thought when confronted with any particular question.
Even after so much effort is put in to ensure that students will be able to understand and learn from certain questions, that ultimately doesn’t always end up happening. It must get really annoying after awhile…
About SOTA itself
I have to say, teaching at SOTA is most certainly an experience that I wouldn’t have gotten if I taught at a mainstream school. I got my own cubicle (for once), my own laptop (an old white Macbook), and as long as I didn’t have lessons (and other work of course) I was pretty much left to my own devices. It definitely is convenient and awesome to work right next to shopping centres and an MRT station.
The school is really nice… I mean REALLY nice. Lots of open spaces for these artsy kids to do their artsy stuff, clean classrooms (mostly), and the view from the rooftop is absolutely stunning. Art pieces made by students litter the hallways. It’s kind of insane to think that this 10 story building right smack in the middle of Dhoby Ghaut is actually a school. No wonder it costs $350 a month just to study there.
All in all…
Teaching quadratic equations and linear graphs all over again was pretty fun. I was surprised by how much I still remembered despite not touching any math in years. On the whole it was quite an enjoyable experience, and I’m glad I did a short stint of teaching before university begins. Unfortunately instead of lording over kids while they rack their brains over exam papers I now consider to be simple, I’ll be the one taking exams in just a few months…
NUS, here I come.
P.S. this has got to be the most stereotypical blog post I’ve done in a long long time.