I am 20 this year and have just completed my A’level exams in 2013. The next general step most people would want and naturally take would be to study in a university. When it was December, I had made up my mind to find a job before January 2014 so that I could work for a whole 7 months before entering university. Honestly speaking, I was very confused at that point in time as I was unsure what grades I could get for my A’levels. When I was in Junior College, I didn’t score exceptionally well and in fact, it was not close to being satisfactory. I even had to repeat JC1 in 2011 and it really was a huge blow to me. This was because I really studied very, very hard. I had stayed back almost everyday to revise and consult my teachers, did all my homework and attended all classes (except for the times where I was genuinely unwell). Yet, after all my hard work, I still had to repeat a year. Nonetheless, I have to say, maybe it was because I had worked hard for the first year that I had no hesitation on whether I should repeat another year and risk my youth from being wasted or go on and join a course in a polytechnic.
Coming back to a nearer present, in March 2014, I received my A ‘level results. On that day, although I was really nervous, I was much more mentally prepared than when I received the news of retention in 2011 as I took the few months of break after my A’ level to carefully and seriously ponder over the different choices I had with a not-so-good A’level results. I came in a newly bought shirt, good-quality jeans and put on a nice black jacket to make myself feel better emotionally. After a long introduction by the dean and principals, it was followed by a list of people who did exceptionally well aka people who qualify for some scholarship programme. Truthfully, I knew I could never be in that list but somewhere deep there, I really wanted to walk up to the stage and shake the hands of the very important people in my school. Anyway, I did not qualify as expected and I was getting more and more nervous of what result that I would get. My name was one of the first few on the name list so I got my results back rather fast. I walked to the back and leaned my back on the wall. I saw my results (only the grade of each subject was written) and mistakenly thought that it could not qualify me into any course in local university so I became extremely disappointed but I did not cry (I secretly cried when I knew of my retention). When two juniors asked me how it (my results) were, I told them that I didn’t so well. Just before I went home that afternoon, I took out my smart phone to calculate my total rank points and got a shock as I realised that it was above 70 which means there was a hope there. Not that it was a definite but just that hope was more than enough to calm and cheer me up very much.
At that moment, I was already working in an enrichment centre as an assistant teacher. It was a post that required only good O’level results and that you have to graduate from a Junior College. When I was in January, I was ready to accept any job that accepted me especially if it was a job that allowed me to teach mathematics so of course, when I had that offer, I readily took it.
The job was good in the sense that it paid me well at $7 per hour and only required me to work for 3 to 4 days per week. The colleagues were nice too and so was the main teacher. I presumed that maybe it was because it was a learning environment and that we were dealing with young children that they seem a lot more polite than the usual classmates or colleagues I had previously. They were all young people with the ‘oldest’ being only 26. However, I didn’t know then that I would find myself unsuitable for that job in May. I was finding myself comfortable in the learning environment. Of course, the children were not all pleasant and obedient at all times but nonetheless, they were not children with special needs so they could definitely control their behaviour if they wanted to. I was new at first so I felt that the difficulties that I have faced were only present in a temporary situation (like say maybe by March, I should get the hang of it…).
The first difficulty I had faced was difficulty in having patience with the children or I should say, difficulty in getting them to do their work. Personally, I feel that it is not mine teaching method nor patience but it is because it is work. How many adults if they can choose would willingly find a job and work there? Similarly, why would children want to study when they don’t see the need to? If I were them, I would probably choose play over study too. As a teacher, I could remind them and when they need help, I am most willing to help them. But the problem is their unwillingness to complete their tasks even with reminders, rewards and praises. Of course, in the perspective of a parent, a teacher should have the skill to ensure that their child complete their work. I find this perspective understandable and I would also probably think the same if I were to be a parent. Sadly, I think I have failed to live to this expectation and when the children themselves are unwilling, I am at a loss at how to change their mind.
The second difficulty that I have faced was how to effectively communicate with parents about the child’s progress. After I have painstakingly reminded and taught the child for an hour, I am so drained that I am not prepared to answer what the parents have in store for me. I know that the parents are concerned but I am always at a loss for words when I am in front of them. Then, when I am back home, filled and washed up, I would suddenly have lots of inspiration as to how to respond to them. All phrased up nicely but for no one to hear but myself.
The third difficulty was that the monthly pay was too low. This was because the hours I needed to work were too short.
Those are the three main difficulties that I have faced while working there. I really did try but somehow or another, I don’t seem to make it so therefore the conclusion that I am not suited for this role. I look upon the table in front of me where the other assistant teacher sits and reflected at how strange sometimes where I have done better but still get rushed at. For example, the child managed to finish his work at a slightly faster timing but I was rushed at and somewhat told off for not pacing the child (not in a harsh manner) while the other teacher did not receive the same treatment. I also don’t know why the parents often asked me how the child is performing but they did not ask the other teacher.
Anyway, as my mum liked to say, when you work, you must work joyfully and with a heart. I think I need to find another job that could probably better suit me. This time with a clearer scope and a better understanding of my needs, maybe I could find a job that better suits me. All the best and till my next reflection!