The 4-week reaffirmation of where I’m going

So my last post was a while ago, before I got back from Chapel Hill and San Francisco. Then I blinked and three weeks of my MOE Teaching Attachment flashed by.

It’s been a blast, of course. The first couple of days were incredibly jetlagged, no doubt due to my usual “hit the ground running and die later” approach to being home. But I got a great mentor, and I’ve been fortunate to get a pretty thorough exposure to Beatty Secondary School in the past three weeks. I’ve sat through staff meetings, professional development exercises, school assemblies and various lessons. I’ve hovered at the back of the various classes that my mentor takes: 1E2, 1T1, 4T1. I’ve been exposed to others as well: PE  lessons with the Secondary 2 and 3 students (where I learnt that I suck at wushu), Thinking Skills and English lessons with 2E4. I got to celebrate National Day, teach a lesson package I developed by myself from scratch on answering skills for Biology essays. I got to work with a range of standards in classes: from the top class that takes the heaviest combination possible to those who are struggling to pass their N-levels in two weeks.

Conclusion? I love this my job.

I love the days when I drag myself into school all sleepy but cheer up when my students wave to me. I love the moments when I swoop down on an unsuspecting student who has been guilty of multitasking and then sheepishly stuffs his storybook into his bag sufficiently chastened to focus on the lesson at hand. I love giving my individual attention to the Secondary 4 Technical students and bantering with them in whatever Mandarin and Hokkien I can muster to reduce the distance, and then cajoling them to follow my instructions. I love squatting down at the side of a struggling student who is all quiet in class and lost trying to catch up with what’s going on in the main lesson, then slowly going through the material until he gets up to speed. I love watching them develop their own confidence to attempt questions they left blank in their preliminary exams: “you see, you did it all by yourself and that wasn’t hard right?” Especially when they break into a smile after hitting the final calculation and getting the same answer that’s on the board. I love challenging the Secondary 3 triple science students to think a little beyond the textbook: “so based on what you know, what do you think might be the reason?” Befuddled looks, then that “ah-hah” moment as everything pieces together in their minds.

I love sitting in the library getting some work done and then having students come up to ask me questions. I love it even more when it devolves into stuff out of curriculum, and then even further when a bunch of them come and we talk about their dreams and aspirations, the choices that they soon have to make: JC/poly, what to study, where to study and what they want for their life. I love walking by students at the canteen and then getting to chat with them and hear stuff they won’t ever say in a classroom, knowing that they’re comfortable with me. I love sitting in the main staffroom and hearing my colleagues talk about their students, each worrying about the weaker ones and yet taking pride in their achievements. I love being around students, if only because their struggles remind me of my struggles when I was a student, and their worries my worries.

This attachment has been the most tiring time I’ve had in a long while, but also the most satisfying. I have a week left. I will miss these students when I leave, and I will miss the experiences I’ve had in this attachment. But it’s not forever, and I can now look forward to the years I have after I graduate from university, knowing full well that for me, things can only get better (even though uni already is pretty awesome).

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