Category Archives: i-Teach

back to teaching

its been more than 1.5 years since i last stepped into a classroom to teach. this cheesy advertisement wasnt produced when i first started teacher training in 2004/5. it came out the year i decided to take a break from teaching. i remember telling my colleagues, “im very disillusioned. let the newbies take over, those who have been conned by all the fables that MOE spins on the prospects that teaching brings”.

truth is, there are very few jobs that give you this possibility and opportunity. it wasnt the students who made me feel disillusioned and tired. it was the bosses chasing awards and getting us to fulfil their KPIs that made us work extra hours to fulfil our own KPIs that made me superbly pissed off at all the image that is portrayed of teachers not doing enough to help students become better. but the fact is, educating children is a passion because i believe in the value of being a teacher.

a promise im making to myself today before i start work tmr. im not going to work for my bosses and i will say no if i dont think it’s going to benefit my students or if i know that its going to take time away from my students.. i’m only going to focus on being a teacher to my students. staying on the ground and being with the students means more to me than climbing the ladder to make ridiculously stupid policies just because a new education minister or a new superintendent or a new Director of Schools wants to leave a footprint in his/her career

off to make a difference to a new batch of kids!

on an unrelated note:

no one needs a holiday as much as one who has just had one. i miss aussie already –  now that im back to all the hustle and bustle of busy old SG.

“The world is hard because you may wake up today but not tomorrow. And yet no one will accept “fear of death and a futile existence” as a reasonable excuse to miss work.” – I Wrote This For You

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Posted by on September 1, 2013 in i-Teach


new school, new directions, new bosses, new possibilities

Thank you Kranjians for making my 6 yrs in kss a memorable one. Teachers and students alike. Wishing everyone ive come across all the best in your future, and do keep in touch!


now its time to mess up the brains of a new bunch of kids from jurong west……. lets see how much damage i can inflict!!! *evil grin*

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Posted by on August 29, 2013 in i-Teach


pride and achievements

there’s something very heartwarning abt watching kids train and practice hard for something and then perform it on the day. when i was netball tr in charge, watching the girls train, struggle through matches, have hopes dashed and still do their best in the next match, their sportsmanship won me over. when i was tr in charge of sjab, seeing them train for first aid competitions, their effort in doing their best, their disappointments when they dont achieve what they wanted, their excitement when they do better than expected… 

National Day parade is the highlight of all UGs. for weeks they train their footdrills and with the whole sch watching, they lead the day. i dont recognise half the kids in the video below… and then there are the occasional vague faces to which i cant assign names anymore. but still seeing this video, i remember how it felt to be a teacher to kids and how satisfied i felt knowing the kids were proud of representing their unit.

so while im determined to play hard-to-get in my new posting, the voice in me has been screaming out to email the principal and to work out stuff. i fear falling into the trap where i spend hours and hours and hours doing meaningless work to satisfy bosses’ KPIs. all i really want is to be with the kids and see them grow. there’s someting really heartwarming abt being a part of their discovery years and knowing you can make an impact in the way they think, grow, learn and develop. maybe i am a teacher at heart afterall. 🙂 and just learn to be honest abt what i think is worthwhile and to be pragmatic abt it rather than emotional.

time to email my new principal.


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Posted by on August 8, 2013 in i-Teach


results day


so i went back to kss today to see my 2nd last batch of students collect their results. i still have one batch doing their O levels this year, but, i wont be going back to kss once i start work in july.

i stood at the back of the hall, those who hadnt seen me in sch yet were surprised to see me, its been a while since.

i stood there reminiscing abt how much ive grown actually. i feel like ive become less affected by matters affecting students. SL and YW said maybe thats cos i havent been teaching those kids for a yr. maybe. but maybe also because ive realised that getting too affected by factors you cant control isnt going to enrich your life. by all means, try different ways to improve your pedagogy so that we can educate more kids, but……. at the end of the day, it really is a case of “it take 2 hands to clap”.

having said that, it the first week of lessons. and on tuesday, Fenny said, she’s tired and needs to go to sleep. and i told her how my first day of sch in 2011 felt like i had completed a month’s worth of work. seriously, by the end of each day in kss, your body feels like it has not rested in a while, yet the trs still push themselves to work, every single day. starting the day optimistic, but ending it with nothing much a sigh of relief that the day is over. yet, all these effort by trs isnt recognised by ppl who say, “need to improve their grades, we need to hit autonomous”

seriously? education isnt abt grades. its abt teaching the kid to do his best in whatever he’s faced with. and if his best ends up with a B3, so be it. i dont like this elitist standards where ppl say A1 is the only acceptable grade.

sure, i set targets for my kids too. and sure, my targets for most of the kids are nothing below an A2. cos i believe in them and i know they are capable of hitting it. doesnt mean that if they dont, means i didnt do my job.. (or does it?) haha…

anyway, it was good catching up with more trs. its the first time ive been back in kss when the entire staffroom was filled and i was a little overwhelmed. so many colleagues to say hi to… but it was nice to see all the energy in the staffroom. i miss teaching and i miss what i used to do for the kids. it was a little mundane at times, but i enjoyed what i enjoyed when i didnt have to settle bosses’ work. lol…

good luck to the kids in their future endeavours…!

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Posted by on January 10, 2013 in i-Teach


the end of the sch year

photo credits to SLWM

the end of year in a sch brings so much relief. this is a photo of the graduating batch of students taking one of their last mock exams.

this photo was also taken on the last day of the end of year exams for the sec 1-3 kids. its marking time in kss. which means it is also the time trs start to curse and swear and realise that for some students, all the year’s effort has come to naught. haha!

i swear my blood pressure rose when i taught! i started teaching with low bp. and when i had my health checkup, i was at normal bp!

the things you repeat SOOO many times and yet they dont get.

and then you have the students who were your star students, who also end up being the ones who made the silliest of mistakes, causing them to fall to the next grade. but then again, there are those that improve too.

honestly, i dont miss marking at all. but to be fair, i do miss all the hype. it does feel like im so much freer here. although, not necessarily stress-free. its just different kind of expectations. over here, the expectation is on myself to be the best i can be. but in teaching, the stress stems from wanting to teach well enough for the students to learn. and when you are responsible for someone else, that stress is alot higher. at least, i think so.

(im so not looking forward to going back to work from this ‘holiday’ im having now!!)

anyway, its the time of the year and i wish all the graduating students all the very best. study hard. this is the last few weeks before your Os! Good luck and be confident! dont panic!

Especially to my dearest Sec 5s and SJAB kiddos! All the Best!!!

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Posted by on October 12, 2012 in i-Remember, i-Teach


the question of the exclamation mark

so i receive this piece of assignment that i submitted 2 weeks ago. was really excited to get it back because it was a critical review of a paper that was published by “the most awarded man in biogeography” as quoted by my lecturer. i thought, “how wrong can a published paper be?” turns out, i picked out several errors – wondering if i was shooting myself in the arse.

so receiving a high distinction for this assignment was supposed to be like such an affirmation. and i was supposed to be happy. except that seeing this comment on my paper just threw me off.

haha! imagine me walking along the pavement back to the library and i speak to the world, “Bloody hell! you comment on MY paper with an EXCLAMATION MARK!!?!??!?!”

and i was at it for a while.

until it struck me. i write comments with a larger font that what was used on mine. i use a pen that is redder than what was used on mine. and for what its worth, i dont just use one exclamation mark. it usually comes in threes, and sometimes mixed with question marks. and sometimes a sad face.

seriously, i want to know how students take it. cos i was never a fantastic student in sch myself and receiving ‘complaints to parents’ was like a usual thing. so i probably never took note of how my teachers’ marking affected me cos i knew i was a terrible student.

but this one was different. i had put in much thought and effort into it. and i feel intelligent enough to say, if you didnt understand what i meant to say, dont say “redundant” and add an exclamation mark! (of course, if the marker didnt understand it, i probably didnt write it well enough)

anyway, i spent a few hours reflecting and laughed with my landlord about it.

funny, the things people remember of their teacher.

one of my students remembers me telling her (and her friend) to leave the classroom cos her friend was talking to her. she’s a good kid. and up till sec 4, she tells me i was terrible to send her out. we laugh at it now, but still, that is still a memory. (at least we worked it out)

i dont know when i got used to exclamation marks. maybe from JC. when seeing exclamation marks were a common thing. it could mean one of 2 things. the answer was terrible, during when we feel like “how the hell do we get it right?!??!!!” or, the answer was fantastic, during when we feel like “i knew i was a genius”

i guess we learnt to not take the exclamation marks personally.

but perhaps doing that to a sec 1 kid, with red ink and large crosses – now i think that must be quite frightening. you have got to understand, for a teacher who has marked 300 scripts with the most kids-say-the-darnest-things kinda answers, after a while, the crosses and comments just get bigger and bigger…

so then who can we do it to? those we have good rapport with, and those whom we think can handle the exclamation marks?

i asked my landlord, “how else can i say what i want to say?”

and she replies, “just write ‘see me'”

now we all know that wont work. tried and tested. i wouldnt. that was how terrible a student i was!

but to be fair to teachers, comments (not derogatory ones) on scripts do establish some sort of a connection. we cant speak to each and every student, but we can write on each and every script. when my JC chem teacher wrote on my scripts, it was as if she was speaking to me. i could hear her scream at me through her comments and exclamation marks. so did my JC math teacher. thats my earliest memory of seeing comments and exclamation marks on my papers and perhaps thats where i learnt it from.

while i think the younger kids may get startled by the big, red, exclamation marks, i think the older students dont really take it personally. or maybe we just got used to it and moved on.

fact is, there’s nothing like positive comments that makes a kid smile (for most of them at least). it always helps to know that someone else thinks that your work was good. at least for me. thats positive affirmation. and i believe that even the most confident of person can crumble if negative comments are consistently make.

so maybe if there’s nothing positive to say abt that script, perhaps its best to leave things unsaid? to be practical, that doesnt  happen. we are most often disappointed if we cant say something positive abt a person’s script. and to convey our disappointment that our individual high expectations a kid isnt met seems to be the way to go. perhaps not the best with exclamation marks, cos that conveys anger more than disappointment. so we got to rethink what we intend to say and what we are actually saying with the exclamation marks.

either way, ive come to the conclusion, after a few hrs of reflection, that i will refrain from using exclamation marks for wrong answers for sec 1 kids. they are still primary sch and i shouldnt scare them at sec 1.

i have also come to the conclusion that i will refrain from using exclamation marks for students whom i know have put in effort. for these students, negative exclamation marks must surely hurt.

and i have come to the conclusion that i shouldnt mark scripts with emotions. cos that translates into marking more aggressively. and pity the kid who gets the biggest cross for a small careless mistake. i plead guilty.

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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in i-Reflect, i-Teach


freedom of speech

excerpt from TodayOnline on the Yale-NUS resolution thingy:

“Political science and philosophy professor Seyla Benhabib told Today in an email that “the good people of Singapore and our colleagues at NUS should rest assured that we do not mean to disrespect their considerable achievements as a society”. 

She added: “But we do have different historical experiences, standards and values when it comes to matters of free speech in and out of the classroom; freedom of assembly; the rights of sexual minorities, the rights of migrants and many other matters.”

She felt that the faculty’s vocal stance on the matter exemplified the meaning of “freedom of speech”. “This is our duty as educators; and no one – not even our President – can take away our right to express ourselves and to disagree with official policy. This is what makes Yale what it is,” she said.”

wow…. seriously, some bosses really know that they are talking abt. (unlike some of the bosses i know)

im just really impressed with that this lady said. like really impressed.

but you know, while i cant reply her back in such articulate terms, i dont know why im confident that Father Lee would have been able to.

i guess in that sense, maybe, im still old-school…

you see, she’s right in saying we have had different historical experiences and it is those experiences that have shaped much of our political expectations on “freedom of speech”. it is every human being’s right, but you have to agree that the society has to (1) be mature and responsible in realising that what they say can be detrimental in as diverse a community as ours and (2) be ready to accept a less stable social environment/more political outbursts which may result in total chaos (in some instances).

im not saying our govt is fantastic cos there are so many other issues…

but frankly, at least for me, freedom of speech isnt half as much an issue as is the way we educate students in sch to be exam smart. now that, thats a bigger problem. no leeway for freedom of answers. we teach students exactly what to write, how to write, when to use which key words, heck, we even have model answers for our students just so they can score well in exams. true education? now that is lacking more than freedom of speech.

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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in i-Teach, i-Want

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