I haven’t written much this past week because I have been busy running workshops at schools for students. And I am convinced teaching is not my calling — my strength does not lie in teaching children. Not in a class anyway. Perhaps in smaller groups or private tuition, I may do better.
On Monday, I ran a 2-hour leadership workshop for Secondary 2 student leaders. Seriously? What leadership skills can you teach in 2 hours?! I went into the workshop expecting these student leaders to be much better behaved and more motivated to want to learn. I was so wrong. We the trainers thought they were the chosen ones to be student leaders and had demonstrated potentials to lead. But when asked, these students view their selection as being a sabotage by their friends who didn’t want the additional responsibilities and so push them into it! So what can you teach such negative students?
On Wednesday and Friday, I ran a Study Skills workshop for Secondary 2 students. It started at 7.45AM, so I had to be in school by 7.15AM and being in Bukit Batok, I had to leave my house by 6.45AM!!!! For S$50 an hour, this is hard-earned money. I had to teach the students how to create a study schedule, the Cornell note taking method (I never even knew there was such a thing!), and the SQ3R method of reading (another new concept to me!). In my days, you just make time to study because mom said no TV and no play until homework was done, and there wasn’t all that much on TV anyway. And you took notes the way you thought made sense — after all, you are the one reading the notes, so however you want to take down notes, you just do it! We didn’t have the luxury of having experts teaching us study skills.
It was extremely difficult to control a class of 40 students in the normal stream, even with a facilitator on hand to help. I gave up after 1 hour trying to teach students who would not listen. To think that I stayed up into the night searching for interesting videos and slides to deliver the Cornell method and SQ3R. Even trying to play games met with limited success. Teaching I was not, talking to myself was more like it. At one point, I could feel my anger rising. There was this student who was making all sorts of snide remarks at his seat, yet when I asked him to stand up and say it out loud, he said entirely different, nicer sounding things. I walked towards him, getting very angry, and almost said “you chicken shit”, but caught myself at the last minute and muttered “you are so chicken” instead. Not a kind comment but still better than the original!
On Wednesday afternoon, I had to run an After School Engagement workshop for Secondary 3 students who have been identified as being “at risk” — at risk of negative influence, especially due to a lack of supervision after school due to working parents. I had 2 other trainers to help run the workshop and despite me briefing them earlier not to lecture to the students, they end up doing it. Of course the students got bored. I could see the teachers getting unhappy. So when the class ended, the feedback from the teachers was “more engagement, less lecture”. Wasn’t that what I was saying all along??
Exasperation with the students, with the trainers, and with the school teachers finally took its toll and I came down with a bad cold on Friday. Real bad timing especially since I will be leaving for my vacation in less than a week. I know I cannot continue with this teaching position. I have a few more workshops to run in April but I don’t think I can finish those scheduled for July. Why continue doing something that I am not good at and don’t enjoy? So after my vacation, I will tender my resignation and look for training opportunities for adults. Not sure I will be any good but if I don’t try, I will never know.