Sunday, July 19, 2015

still a teacher-wannabe

Jo’s favourite past-time these days is to play School with Lu.

Two years on, her passion for teaching hasn’t abated. It has grown.

I’ve been interviewing several incredible teachers, and what struck me about some of them was that they knew from the time they were pre-schoolers, that they wanted to teach.

I don’t know if Jo will really become a teacher. But it is clearly a childhood passion.

Now, she prepares printed worksheets for Lu, who is still known as Lily but now she has a surname - Ng. Jo (Miss Tan) spends time sitting at the computer making up her own syllabus – Maths, English (never Chinese) and fun stuff like writing about family members - and carefully types them out. One imperfection (like crooked lines) and she starts from scratch.

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She marks carefully (and lovingly), pastes encouraging stickers, writes encouraging notes and always makes Lily’s mum sign her worksheets. 

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All of the work is kept in a recycled school file. The school’s name is Sunflower School.

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They have a school anthem too, which Jo wanted to compose, but Lu (always good at taking the easy way out) blithely found a rather nice folksy guitar-strummed one on the Internet, which they cheerfully sing by heart now.


I leverage, of course. I tell Jo what Lu needs work in. Like working on her mental math or getting her capital letters right. Jo will fix it.

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* Conducting a lesson on capital letters. Jo is typically precise, she orders Lulu to make sure the horizontal top and bottom ends of the capital I touch the lines she has printed out in the worksheet

Lu, on the other hand, is most difficult. Sometimes she is very good, doing Miss Tan’s homework to the best of her ability, at other times she is recalcitrant. She refuses to attend school despite Miss Tan’s exhortations and misbehaves in class, turning up her chin at Miss Tan’s lessons, ignoring her worksheets and not filing her work properly.

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(These are the times Lu just doesn’t want to play school anymore. I do understand because it really is work for her)

Jo is grief-stricken. She can’t take it. Tears flow.

I tell Jo: You know, if you are a teacher, you will sometimes get students who are naughty, right?

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