Thursday, April 28, 2011

Volunteer work

Wow, SGD100 for an hour of tuition? And I thought the Malaysian rate of an average of RM60 an hour was ridiculously high! So, parents who earn a modest income cannot afford to have too many children who are slow learners!

I've decided to take the plunge. I've always wanted to do it but I have a phobia to commitments, I didn't know where to start and was busy with my currently-postponed Masters programme.

I started with guiding my nephew who was in Year 3 last year. I went to his house every weekend to guide him in his BM and occasionally, English. His parents were very appreciative until I was too busy towards the end of the year that I could not guide him every week and he got a very bad result in BM. Then, the kind gesture that I thought I was extending backfired because my brother blamed my inconsistency for the bad result. Ouch!

I still feel that I am only partly to be blamed because I kept emphasizing that I was only guiding and not giving him tuition. Nevertheless, when my sister-in-law subtly hinted that I should continue with the guidance in Tatabahasa this year, while enrolling her son in a Penulisan tuition, I pretended that I did not know what she meant. You know, you can never teach your own child or relative's child. The familiarity will make it difficult for the child to listen to you and for you to scold the child.

So anyway, I have been feeling the pressure lately because the Express class that I am teaching this year is most probably going to get very bad results for English. Actually, I think it must be my problem. I don't know how to make them write well. I've been slogging like a cow, marking piles and piles of the written work every week without results (while the other teachers just looked on and sniggered that I brought it upon myself that my table is always full of books). By this time last year, the Express class was already showing improvement in their writing. This class, on the other hand, is still struggling to give me 6 correct sentences out of 10. I'm at my wit's end, trying to figure out how to at least push the Bs to Cs and a few of the Bs to As.

I can't do much to help the kids because many stay very far away and can't stay back. So, I managed to catch hold of two kids and give them GUIDANCE after school hours. I have to do it discreetly because I don't want other teachers to know that I am not accepting money for the time I put in. I teach them in school and during school tuition, so how am I suppose to accept more money for guiding them? It's my fault that they can't understand my teaching, don't you agree?

Cross my fingers that these two will score an A in their UPSR and enjoy English after some extra guidance. Haha...can never bring myself to call what I do with the kids "tuition". :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tuition or to shun?

How much would you pay for your children's tuition? Do you send your children for all the subjects? Do you send them for the tuition because they need help in the subject or because everybody else is sending their children for tuition?

These are the questions that have been going through my mind since last Friday. Some parents took the opportunity at the meeting to ask if I give private tuition. Truth is, I don't believe in the way tuitions are conducted in most of the tuition centres/ by teachers. The aim-for-A concept that is followed is easy money for many teachers, especially when it comes to English.

My parents told me once that I should be giving tuition rather than spending my time doing nothing and that I should pick only the better pupils. Once the children get really good results, more children will come to me for tuition. Well, let's just say that the reason I wanted to be a teacher was not because of the easy money. Nope, nor is it because I want to shape the future generation. Haha...I am not that noble. It is mainly because of the holidays and the free time that a teacher has compared to other occupations. And, ok, partly because I want to help (not shape) some kids like how my teachers inspired me to enjoy English and school.

I digress. So like I was saying, some parents asked if I gave private tuition and told me sad stories like how they cannot help their own children in their schoolwork and haven't been able to find teachers to help the children. One particular boy's mother told me almost in tears that she doesn't know BM and English and can't help much in other subjects. She has been sending her child to tuition centres diligently since Primary One and the end result is that her son's class teacher bluntly told her that unless she sends him to a one-to-one tuition, all the money is wasted. Yup, this boy cannot understand BM nor English and can hardly write in Mandarin. Well, I do want to help but I cannot be volunteering because it would, as they say in Hokkien, "pak pai hang jeng" which means that I am spoiling the market.

So for this reason I have been asking around the fees charged by some teachers for a one-to-one tuition for English and BM. And the price that some of my colleagues discreetly revealed was astronomical. Haha...Gosh...really? Parents fork out so much money for their children yet most of these children do not know how hard it is to earn that amount of money and rather spend the time at the tuition playing and not learning much. And many parents just send their children to tuition blindly without considering that their children really just can't absorb much after one whole day of non-stop tuition. And truly, if a child is able to just pay attention to the teachers in school, most wouldn't need to go for  tuition anyway.

Hmm...what is your take?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Meet the Parents

Today was Parents' Day at my school. That means parents have to come and meet the teachers to get their children's report card and find out their children's progress in school for the past 4 months. It is a much dreaded day for some children and parents, and I can assure you that teachers feel the same way.

The first year when I had to meet the parents, I listed down the names of the children who were problematic. All 40 of them were problematic students (attitude problem, don't do homework, disruptive in class, don't pay attention etc). At the end of the session, I was so depressed that I cried all the half hour it took me to drive home because some of the parents were almost as bad as the students and defended their children's bad behaviour.

The second year of meeting the parents, I had learnt my lesson. I requested to meet only a few problematic children's parents and some who are angels in the class. To the parents of the angels of the class, I sang my praises and boost the children's confidence and made the parents (and myself) very happy. For the few problematic children, well, I don't remember much of what went on but I was accused of keeping a child's failed karangan paper for reasons only the child and his mother could think of. Ooh, and a parent of a child who never did her homework told me that she is very strict with her child at home (to which she asked her daughter to sit down and the daughter just ignored her)! Talk about the child being afraid of her. She must be living in a world of her own!

This year's meet the parents session went on better than I expected. I still had the mixture of angels and demons but more of the demons this time. I learnt that parents normally come with the worst expectations and were normally ready to defend their children's behaviour. So, this year, I told the parents with a smile that their child behaves really well/ participates in discussions/ has a basic mastery of the English language BUT I am worried because...

And all was well for me. No parent accused me of anything. No parent defended their children's behaviour. A parent or two told me a bit about their family problem. Sigh...I wish I could protect their children from it but I couldn't. Poor kids who are starved for attention and are creating trouble in the class in order to get the attention that they need. SIGH...

I got a headache at the end of the session. Some children did not turn up. A child cried. A few children almost cried. A few parents told me that they have family problems. A few parents told me that they do not know how to coach their children that's why their children have problems with their homework. Most parents told me that they normally check on  their children's progress but was too busy these few weeks, hence the backlog in homework.  Anyway, whatever the reason for their children's bad behaviour, I got the permission from most of the parents to punish the child in any way I think fit so that their child could be better. Muahahahaha....nah, I'm not a monster. Caning is one of the last resorts for me. I'd make them stay back in school first. Hehe...How else can I help these little monsters, I wonder?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Back in Malaysia

There is a slight disadvantage of going to Krabi: there is only one flight to and from Krabi a day. So, we left Krabi on our third day there at noon. We didn't do much, just walked around the Ao Nang beach and shopping in 7-Eleven. Yup, Mr. Jimmy fell in love with the 7E there and was visiting it every day. Haha!

Everything was back to normal, with me in cloud nine as I recounted Jimmy's proposal again and again to disbelieving audience. :) We had a plan to get married at the end of the year but Jimmy had to first ask my father for my hand in marriage ala traditional culture. Once that was done, we had to give our birth time to a Feng Shui master who would calculate the best time to get married.

A message came in on 7th April from the Feng Shui master telling us that the best date to get married is on the 11th September. *Panic* That is less than half a year away!! That night, Jimmy quickly set out a working schedule. We've got lots to do before September: decide on a venue for the reception, get the pre-wedding photos taken, get someone to renovate the house and most importantly, LOSE WEIGHT!!

How are we to do all that in a span of 5 months? Luckily, the Home Fair was on at PWTC that weekend. So we went to have a look at the furniture to just get an idea of how much it would cost us to renovate and prepare our house just enough to be able to invite guests in on the wedding day. Well, you can say that we almost had a heart attack just looking at the price of even the basic necessities.

Outside the fair, there was a wedding fair for Malays. Just for fun, we went in and we were stuck listening to a very persuading group of salesgirls. In the end, we came out RM 200 poorer because they told us to give a deposit so that we can still enjoy all the perks thrown in during the fair. Hmm...I suppose our wits do become dimmer when we have so much to think about. Hahaha...normally, Jimmy wouldn't be so easy to persuade. Me? I'm the typical water fish who would believe anything that any sales person says. LOL has been almost a month since we have known the prosperous date, and we have managed to tick off a few things to do in our list:
1. venue
2. pre-wedding package (nope, not the one that we signed up for in the fair) :)

Wish us luck! :)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Day 2 Krabi

It is best for one to know that it is always never enough to go travelling out of a country for only 3 days and 2 nights. There are a lot of extreme sports to do in Krabi and we could only choose to go one that is not easy to find in Malaysia, so snorkelling is out of the question.

First, we had breakfast that was delivered to the table outside our room. Lousy food but the thought that it was sent over was out of ordinary.

Lousy American Breakfast sent to our room
At 8:30 Malaysian time, we went on a half hour journey to reach Bor Thor for Sea Cave Kayaking. It was tiring but worth every minute of it. Jimmy was extremely tired after the trip because he was rowing like a mad man throughout while I relaxed in front and took photographs. LOL
Beautiful view as we were coming out of a cave

Jimmy was super tired

After that, we went to a rather dirty river for a dip. Didn't take any photos there because it was really just a dirty river (although the water flows from underground).

Then, we went for an elephant jungle trekking ride. It was the most AMAZING experience ever. And it will definitely be my first and last experience! The female elephant which took us around was really nice but imagine you are about 2 storey-high up with only one rope tied across the bench you are sitting on. Not too bad, heh? And then your elephant actually had to climb up steep slopes and GO DOWN! Gosh, I was chanting Namo Amitabha almost throughout the ride! And worse was that it was raining, so the muddy trail seemed even less safe! We were dangling about 60degrees facing the ground twice when the elephant came down some slopes! After that ride, Jimmy and I thanked the elephant for getting us safely back! Hahaha...well, that's what you get for choosing something that you won't get anywhere else in the world! :)

Rewarding the elephant that got us safely up and down the muddy trail
I think if we ever go to Krabi again, we will just try to be safe and go for the white-water rafting package. :)