For the best part of my working life, I’ve loved my job. I’ve enjoy being with the children, I’ve enjoyed planning lessons and carrying out and I’ve enjoyed belonging to the school and its community. But I think I’m slowly falling out of love with my job. I suppose one could call it a mid-life crisis (or quarter-life crisis, depending I guess on how long I live) but I’ve a lot more doubts about being a teacher than I did before. Perhaps I was less experienced then, more naive and full of self-belief. Nowadays, I find myself wondering if I am a good enough as a teacher and now that I hold a leadership position, I’m also fretting about being a good leader. The thing is people say I’m a more than decent teacher and while I don’t believe I’m completely awful as a teacher, I’ve always taken other people’s comments with a handful of salt. I have a nagging suspicion that people say that because I’m a nice and responsible person and not because of my spectacular classroom skills. Also, teaching is tiring and I’m tired of my whole life revolving around my job. It’s a little bit ridiculous that I work in the evenings and I work on weekends and when I’m not working, I’m either thinking about work or feeling guilty that I’m not working. There are so many things I cannot do because I teach and recently, I wonder if it is worth it. It doesn’t help that the higher you get on the career ladder, the more you realise that your philosophy of education doesn’t mesh with what is really happening and the thinking behind it.
I still like teaching and I still very strongly believe that teaching is an incredibly meaningful job. I still love the English language. I guess I’m tired and a little bit disillusioned, both with myself and the job. So I’m counting down to the December holidays and hoping that the break will do me good.
I am always somewhat wary when people say to me: “teaching is hard isn’t it?”
Obviously I am a paranoid, suspicious person because I immediately wonder if they are trying to lead me into a discussion of how, really, teaching isn’t all that bad (which unfortunately I have learnt is fairly common). But today, I discovered the correct answer to that statement is: “What isn’t hard nowadays?”
Why do you need to write to the ST Forum just because you are unhappy with the examination dates? And really, the passive aggressiveness is annoying. Schools are only receptive to parents’ feedback when they bend over backwards to accommodate the parents’ request. If not, they’re being unreceptive. Unfortunately, your child is very unlikely to be the only student in the school and so we probably can’t ensure that school revolves around him/her. Sorry.
And maids. Stop acting like they are our property please.
As teachers, we are often reminded that we need to be above reproach and at all costs, avoid the appearance of impropriety. We are told that it doesn’t matter how innocent we are, we cannot put ourselves in situations that may lead to others questioning our integrity. For example, we are strongly dissuaded from accepting gifts on teachers’ day (a very tricky situation because students don’t always believe you when you tell them not to purchase anything and once they’ve bought the gift, it seems in bad form to decline it), especially expensive ones.
Having that drilled into me for years, I am curious as to how the town councils managed to get themselves into this position where people are questioning their integrity and wondering about conflicts of interests. Surely someone somewhere should have known that this would raise eyebrows. And in today’s climate in which the PAP is constantly scrutinised, it’s not the best position to be in.
MPs: No conflict of interest (Today Online)
The ST is becoming increasingly annoying and tiresome as the GE looms. Today’s Prime News are all about how wonderful the Budget is. And I’m betting there will be more stories about how great Singapore is in the weeks to come.
From today’s ST:
Unlike in many other countries, there are also no huge disparities in facilities and teaching standards between schools in poor and wealthy neighbourhoods.
I don’t know. My neighbourhood school does not have a indoor sports hall, has a school hall with poor ventilation and is incredibly warm (imagine when they take their exams) and too small for all the students, has a staff room not big enough for the staff (we sit at desks, not cubicles), has stairwells that are so badly designed they are flooded when it rains.
I want to thank Madam Phyllis Cheong who in today’s ST Forum wrote:
Given that these lessons are over and beyond what is expected of teachers within the normal school hours, I can only offer my respect, gratitude and appreciation to all teachers who work towards improving the standards of their schools, and giving the less affluent children a fairer fighting chance.
Whether or not you believe in extra lessons, I’m glad there are people out there who realise that teachers are as taxed as the students.
Me: Hi, I’m XXX from XXX school. Your child isn’t in school today, is he sick?
Parent: Not in school? But I woke him up! Wait, let me check. [couple of seconds later] Oh! He fell asleep in the hall. I guess he was very tired yesterday.
Me: Is he sick?
Parent: I don’t think so.
Me: Can you wake him up and get him to come to school?
Parent: Oh. Will he get into trouble?
Me: Well, he is late for school. Still, I would prefer him to come to school.
Parent: Ok. I try [laughter]. Thank you.
This annoys me to no end: stop telling me that I’m so lucky to be a teacher because of the nice year-end bonus this year. I don’t mind it if you do it once or if you are a close friend or family but to harp and harp on it is annoying. And it’s more annoying when you play the “poor me” card.
1. All civil servants get the year-end bonus. Go bug the non-teachers about their massive bonus. Amazingly, some civil servants earn more than us teachers which means their bonus is even bigger!
2. You chose not to be a teacher or work in the civil service. Suck it up.
3. You don’t say anything when you know we earn less than our peers who work in the private sector, especially those who work in finance.
4. You don’t say anything when we don’t get a bonus (see last year).
So don’t come up to me and expect me to humor you when you want to “joke” about my windfall because I worked damn hard for it and deserve every cent. It’s not luck and it sure as hell is not funny either to hear people go on and on about how I’m rolling in cash now.
Life isn’t a competition so stop comparing yourself to others. It really gets on my nerves.
The school year has ended and this year, it has been hard letting go. It’s not just letting go of my form class which has graduated. I am also having difficulties letting go of being an ordinary teacher. When I step into school next year, I will have a new form class and a new role as Subject Head.
Usually, I’m all excited at getting new classes because it’s a clean slate and I have an opportunity to do things better than I did before. Unfortunately, that isn’t really the case next year. Firstly, the class I’ve just seen graduate I’ve taught for 3 years and been form teacher to for 2 years. I’ve had 4 form classes in my 7 years of teaching and this class is the one I’ve been closest to and the one I’m most attached to. As it is, it was so strange to go down for flag raising the past few weeks and not see them there since they were taking their O-levels. I have this fear that because I am going to be missing them next year, I’m not going to be able to stop comparing my new class to them, which is not fair to my new class (let’s call them 4A) . To be honest, I know that no matter how hard we try, my class next year will never live up to this class. I have taught 4A this year English and it was difficult. Rapport building took a long, long time and I’ve had a difficult time trying to care for them unconditionally. Also, I know the class is fragmented, don’t like each other and basically hate that they are in that class which is going to make work even more difficult for me. And when I inevitably compare them to the class I have now, I am worried I am going to short-change them.
While some part of me is a little excited at my new role in school, a bigger part of me is very sad at all the things I have to let go as a result. I don’t want to move from the general staff room into the HOD room for example. One of the biggest things I love about my school is the camaraderie and the atmosphere in the staff room. I want to sit with my friends and I want to be able to laugh, vent and joke with them. There are other things I will miss but I think I shan’t go into it here. It’s depressing enough.
End of year work is keeping me busy!
I’ve been in an incredibly good mood these few weeks. It’s a mixture of happiness that the holidays are approaching, of the idea that I may be promoted, of an upcoming trip with the boyfriend and of the awesomeness that Smallville and Merlin have been in recent weeks.
Actually I wanted to write about the SGEM and the current news about various education issues but I’m tired and I don’t feel particularly inspired to write either.
So yeah, perhaps the hiatus might continue for a little while more.