Day 144: 05.25.17

Processed with VSCO with e3 preset

LAST SNACK TIME WITH THIS BUNCH!

I was expecting this day to be as emotionally charged as yesterday since I was so down about the need to say goodbye to these kids, but I guess that was that. Fortunately?

The day was kind of hectic, chaotic, and confusing. Nonetheless, that is our normal day in the classroom. So instead of a teary, sentimental last day of class, I was given a last taste of classroom life with these bunch of kids.

To Ian, Aditi, Jelaena, Harper, Divit, William, Jose, Yooni, Szofia, Hanna, Valery, Kandhan, Daichi, Pau, and Seung Kyu (who did not come to school anymore huhu), and of course to my partner-in-crime and pride, Geli, THANK YOU FOR MAKING MY FIRST YEAR AS A PRESCHOOL TEACHER WORTH WHILE.

It was a year full of challenges and stress, but I know that each time I’m able to survive and triumph over them, I grow a bit more as a teacher and as a person.

I love each and everyone of you. Even if you don’t remember us in the future, I know I always would. ❤

Day 143: 05.24.17

Detach, detach, detach.

That’s what I’m trying to command myself now, but I guess it’s too late to demand it just now.

The school year started with me just hoping to be a good teacher: one who is able to manage class fine, make instructional materials fine, and instruct fine. I didn’t pursue to be a great teacher, I was fine just learning the ropes and getting by.

We started with eight children, but now we are 15. Our class grew along with my attachment to these children.

I didn’t expect to care for the welfare of these children so much. I didn’t expect to be so analytical of their behavior just so we can help them feel comfortable and happy in class, and of course to aid what they need in every domain we can tap on as teachers. I didn’t expect to love the hugs, kisses, and even the oddity of my kids. I didn’t expect that I would miss them when they’re absent in class, even if in the previous days I was chasing them to clean up their mess, nagging on following the rules, and scolding them for being too noisy. I didn’t expect that I would be this attached to these group of little dinosaurs that made up our miniature Jurassic Park.

I didn’t expect that I would care so much, and would cry so much now that it’s really sinking in, that tomorrow is the last day of class.

Technically, it’s on Friday, but that’s already an event, and tomorrow is the last official day that we’ll have our usual schedule in the classroom; always a rollercoaster of emotions, but ultimately of love in our everyday classroom.

Today, I was sitting on the bench during outdoor play and witnessed how one of our students who would usually hit a peer when aggravated guided up his peer when the other fell on the pavement, and then even asked him if he was fine. These boys do not play often, but to see a picture of emphathy, I thought, ah, I’m seeing a new side of him. It’s probably a side of him I won’t see very often anymore and that was sad too.

Another student I talked to cried. When I asked him why, he said it’s because we only have 2 more days of school. He said he would miss playing with his friends, and he’ll miss the school. I comforted him by saying that he can always invite his friends to his house and a lot of them would be going to the big school he would soon. He said he didn’t like that school and would like to stay in our school for 500 more days. I reminded him of the time that he also didn’t like our school and refused to come inside, so it’s possible that it would be the same for him in his next school. But he just kept on crying, insisting that we have more days in school. I almost cried with him.

Another student gave me a thank you card, and I almost choked because of tears that wanted to come that time. But I was scolding another student too. The stark contrast in situation, believe it or not, I adore as well.

I received many hugs today, but I think I didn’t give as much. So tomorrow I will take my chance and really make them feel my love. Though gosh, I really hope to keep in the waterworks!

Day 142: 5.23.17

It’s not a very good day today.

First news, as expected, the Monday blues that kept everyone in place yesterday, was no where to be found today. The kids, on a Monday, are just really warming up. The real deal with their behavior and energy is on a Tuesday. Nonetheless, I didn’t get angry at anyone and that’s still progress in keeping a consistent zen being.

On the other hand, the end of the day was less pleasing than my optimism.

Parents of one of our students came over to talk about their children, which was actually helpful because we really needed to talk, and better in person.

I guess what really upset me is that the conference was a revelation of what is actually the hold in our plan to help adjust the child in the classroom. It’s just that when the parents are the ones that need consultation, the situation can get very tricky and sensitive.

Well, what kept me upset after the talk is the fact that there was no real resolution to the problem. I’m glad we finally get to hear their opinions about the situation that we have of their child, but in general, I felt that they were implying our lack of action to make their child feel comfortable in the classroom so as not to make him feel bored and unwanted, especially by me.

Even after all these attempts and intention to make the situation better, it’s the parents who are holding back with the development of their children. It’s more upsetting because we’ve been working on him for six months now, but everytime they go on a trip, we go back to zero. We’ve explained this in PTCs, but I personally think it’s the parents that need to understand and accept that their child needs help.

“He’s just five.”

He’s already five.

“He likes to touch. He’s affectionate.”

Yes, but touches can have limitations.

“He sees his classmate standing up.”

Why does he need to copy when he knows that’s wrong?

Urgh.

Second news, I learned something about someone. I don’t distrust this person, nor to I trust entirely. Civil.

But whether civil or close, I hate liars. Lie as much as you want, or you need to, but make sure I won’t catch you, or someone doesn’t unfold you because I don’t forget, even if I forgive.

I wanna learn this person’s intention and motivations to do that act, most of all.

I hope this person gets tired eventually.

Third news, what’s wrong with the world mama?

Just learned that certain areas were invaded/attacked by terrorists groups which may or may not be connected to the ISIS. It’s those bunch of peope who give their soldiers drugs that get them high on decapitating people.

IT’S SCARY AS FUCK.

I’ve accepted that no place is safe anymore, but when that fact is already knocking on your door, you wished you never realized it in the first place.

So wishing fo the safety of everyone in Marawa, Bankok, and Manchester.

Day 141: 05.22.17

Dragging one’s face off a bed pillow is certainly more difficult when one receives a horrifying message that one’s partner will be absent for the day and one’s self will be left alone in a Jurassic Park.

*le sigh*

Alright. I think I get what my friends in college were doing as strategy against disappointments: anticipate the worst and be met with less disappointments.

Monday is Monday. Tuesday sometimes turn into Monday, but Monday remains the glorious blue day that it is, most of the time. So with the year end for our kids just around the corner, we’re packed with lots of things to do. There’s less play and exploration because we’re aiming for progress and results to present parents by Friday. Work Time turned into Small Group with the demand of planning, preparation, materials, and facilitating.

Nonetheless, my kids were less rowdy today, so that helped in classroom management. Of course, it can’t be helped to have a bit of conflict with a few of them, and one even vomited, but overall, good job Michelle!

Day 124: 05.05.17

Last PTC of the school year DONE!!!

That’s three PTCs in a row from 1:45~4:00 PM, but everything went fine.

There were good news and bad news for every student, but I’m so glad that our parents are very understanding. The Parent-Teacher conferences are also very helpful on adding context to our observations with the student. After all, our reports are only from our perspectives in the classroom, but the situation in the house also contributes greatly to how children behave in the classroom. So in every issue, school-home partnership and cooperation surely brings good results.

Haaaay. It’s still hectic with so many things to do. Personally, I want to provide time for personal tasks like updating my blog and writing stories, but these work-related stuff are also piling up. Fortunately, I’m still coping. I just reaaaaaally need to shorten the break time I give myself. It’s too long. LOL

Day 114: 04.25.17

I’m usually not excited with meeting parents for reports on progress with their children (because it’s always so tricky with them), but for this particular PTC, I was!

I guess it goes with the fact that I reported very positive progress with one of our children in class. Admittedly, this kid if my favorite despite him being one of the challenges during the beginning of school. He doesn’t have any diagnosis yet, but it’s apparent that he is somewhere in the autism spectrum due to delayed social and language development. He needs to have structure and repetition to absorb routines and follow rules.

I’m not a SPED teacher, but somehow, I had to be one for him. I was his main shadow teacher for summer class, and the main reason I was assigned in our FOURS class is because he needed to have a familiar person, a transition, for him to be well in the higher level.

Since he was still adjusting to the classroom, there were many challenging days. There’s his short attention span and control, his fixation on cars and colors, and tantrums. However, he was always adorable and we knew that he needed to be accommodated a lot differently than the others, and we’re just so ever thankful that his peers are nice enough to understand and sometimes even give way for him.

I remember in the first PTC we had, he had so many expected skills for his age not yet apparent in him. I had been very stressed for the past weeks before that PTC, so when we discussed his developments despite the indicators from the checklist, I couldn’t hold back the tears.

I mean, all along I thought that nothing was happening, that our efforts were just turning into thin air, but then the seeds are actually blooming, though slow, but there’s already a bud.

Fast forward to five months, and there’s the PTC full of developments. In a blink of an eye, our baby has progressed so much with his self-control (his regulation much longer), he’s more flexible with his plays, he’s socializing (though he remains awkward and we need to guide him with it), and the tantrums has definitely been less frequent. He doesn’t even need a shadow anymore!

It was the best gift we could have given such supportive parents and for having that child, our personal happy pill, in our classroom. There remains a lot of challenges in the classroom, but just being hugged and kissed by this boy makes me feel so much better.

I’m gonna miss him a lot, but I’m sure he would be able to make more people happy. I hope he becomes a little Mozart in the future too because he is a natural with music!

I love you, Jose. Always.

Teaching is Learning

Aside from those mentioned in the article, how else can education be improved?

This is one of the questions given to my student to answer after reading an article about education.

Education is a very broad topic, so an answer to such question sometimes depends on our social status and experiences.  I can give so many suggestions on this myself, but my student’s answer was something that has never once graced me, even though I have been experiencing it for so many years now.

“I think students should be given a chance to experience to teach what they learn.”

It makes a lot of sense, right? I mean, how can a person teach something they don’t understand?

As a student, I thought that my history and math classes were only useful for me to earn enough credits to graduate, but as I grew older, I understood that they were useful at different episodes of my life, and without those, I would’ve been in trouble. Language subjects were my favorite, and I think I’ve learned a lot from my classes; however, probably, if I paid more attention, I would be a better teacher, and my work easier. Nonetheless, teaching has given me different avenues to re-learn and gain more knowledge.

For example, I was teaching plot structure to my primary students last week:

plot structure

Though I’ve written several stories myself, my writing process is different because I was never schooled properly on how to write a story. I basically picked up a pen and started writing to serve myself. On the other hand, I had to learn the proper writing process to impart to my student. I was unaware of what story elements are and why it’s called such, and I was ignorant of plotting a story. Sure, I remember having a discussion in Lit class, but analyzing the plot of others’ story and making your own are quite different things. No wonder I got stuck in so many of my stories, I just dropped them altogether.

If I were not a teacher now, I don’t think I would have bothered to study these things again because I can be as lazy as I want for myself. If I didn’t have to teach English grammar to my Korean students, I probably would have understood less of why sentences are structured like this and that. Sure I have the core skills down (not perfected), but it’s just much better to understand rather than just knowing, right? If I had an early-teaching experience, I might’ve paid more attention to what I was studying.

These personal experiences made me agree that early-teaching experience can help students grow as responsible social beings. Students would have a deeper appreciation of what they are learning because they get to experience at an early age how knowledge works in the real world, and are not just mere theories forcing their way out of the pages of textbooks. Of course, students shouldn’t be obliged to be a teacher in the long run, but an immersion to the ways of teaching, I think, would plant a seed of consciousness to them about the importance of being educated and the ways it becomes advantageous in life, especially in helping, influencing, and even inspiring others.

In the years I’ve handled students, I wonder if I have ever really made an impact in their life? I’ve always been uncertain at my place in this field and I couldn’t imagine myself doing the same thing as a career, though recently, I think the fog is clearing. Most people would consider five years an achievement to be in a certain field of work, however, the learning is just never enough no matter the length one has dedicated to something. In those five years, despite my awe at the passing of time, I realized that I’ve just began this immeasurable journey. It’s only now that I have taken a serious look at my destination. The image of the destination is not clear yet, but it’s much better than just aimlessly dragging my foot on an unknown road.

I’m not even sure how I got myself on track, but I guess it’s the rewards of this job that has kept my preschool and primary teachers in their job, in the same schools for a long time. Would I be the same like them? Only time can tell. If you ask me, of course, I’d love to stay.

Simply, teaching others is teaching ourselves. The teaching process is a learning process, thus, a process of self-discovery.

A Not-so- Creative Rant

Forgive me, but let me drawl out a drama building inside me for a veeeeery long time. Mind you, this is not even the first time, so that means this topic is getting me very depressed probably.

Alright. Breathe…

So it’s been five months since I started with my new work as a teacher. My classes in reading are better, but my work as a writing (creative writing) teacher is not actually going anywhere. To be fair, there was a time when I thought I was going somewhere, but then these days I feel like I’ve hit the insecurity wall again and I’m stuck trying to get out. Suddenly, I can’t find my way to organize my class, and I’m frustrated as ever with the word “creative” in my writing class. I am pressured that my students have to write awesome stories at the end of day. In addition, what a hard act to follow the previous teacher of this subject was!

Despite nobody outright comparing me to his skills, I can’t help but put a pressure on myself. I majored in literature and I like writing, so I should know how to teach writing. That’s not true of course, but as I said, I can’t help but make this as a standard for myself. Especially since I’m teaching the subject, I have to believe that I can do it or else I should just quit this altogether.

To be fair to mysef, I do believe I can do it. The problem is I get so disheartened, distracted, and lazy so easily that I can’t improve well. The progress is stagard, and like my other students, I tend to regress.

Sad stories of adults, I tell you.

Moreover, creativity, I feel, is something I’ve always lacked. I’d only feel creative after being able to write something without being inspired by other writers; when the flow of words came from a bathroom break, a one-liner that popped in my head, an image, or something given by nature and I’m able to pen it down, that is when I feel creative.

In the most unfortunate circumstances, I am experiencing a block, no, I’m stuck behind a wall and whining in front of that wall about why I can’t get myself to write again while I have a job of teaching writing.

(Something tells me I’m part of a tragedy and the chorus is singing these very words I’m forging. Oh the irony of this piece!)

I used to love writing. It was my salvation when I couldn’t get myself to express my anger in words to the world. Writing was my self-imposed therapy which fortunately evolved into loving the craft itself, so I was able to produce proper written works like my own scripts, short-stories, poem, essays, etc. Heck, I even joined the newspaper clubs of my primary and secondary schools. Although I’ve always felt that I lacked something in terms of talent, but I’ve been a devoted writer.

Well, I have been a devoted writer. How tragic the feeling of writing that in the past tense.

With this predicament, how do I survive my classes so far? I prepare activities and that’s it. The goal is to get a class over and done with without shaming myself of my doubts and confusion. In retrospect, I have a feeling that the reason some of my classes are unsuccessful is because the students can also sense my unsureness. I mean, I have very good classes, the ones which are well-prepared. On the other hand, I have classes which I’d want the ground to open up and swallow me whole because of the stress of my students trying to bully me and outright testing my mastery of the subject. I sort of remember kids being able to sense fear from adults well.

In conclusion, I think I have to go back to writing if I want to succeed in teaching writing. Of course this isn’t only for my classes’ sake, but I personally want to go back to writing again. I miss the feeling of the words and inspiration polluting my brain.

When do I want this to happen? Write now! (cue in drums!)