Sunday, October 23, 2005

Agricultural Game

I had to admit, I had a lot of fun. :) And I spied our tutor bent over with laughter-- i don't know who is having more fun-- us, or him. Our reactions during the game were priceless-- the only thing is that I don't ever want my students to find out about my wrong doings! Least the farmers think that everything is just hunky dory with the urban dwellers, they are wrong. We did a lot of despicable things, like "stun"ning cash from the President's teasury, evading taxes, and denying alliances. I found it difficult to lie without a pressing need to . As such, I found it hard to play this game with a straight face. I didn't know who to trust-- at first, I thought that the president and the Government Offical were so kind, taxing the peasants' harvest so that all urban dwellers need not worry about their food. Well, guess what? They decided to charge us an extorbitant price for rice as well as tax us. No point working for such people, I must say. :P

Also, I was supposed to work with spacematters to secure our survival. But I don't know which of his statements to trust. (So sorry!) I tried to barter with bananasaviour for rice and cash in exchange for water pump, but i was found out by Geognut. I think I died for 4 rounds. But i managed to secure cash and a warehouse during the last round, as a result of my fellow urban dwellers' carelessness ( I found them lying on the table or on the floor :P) . Hahahahaha! SO sorry. Perhaps scavenging is a better option than selling my soul in exchange for rice and cash.

I think I'll make a lousy businesswoman. I'll earn enough for my keep, but will never live to see my business expand and prosper. I'm better off as a farmer! if group dynaimcs meant anything, than I'm pretty sure this group of Geography teachers will stand firm on their ground-- everyone of us is so stubborn!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Magnum Opus

Jenny ended our microteaching sessions with a painsakingly planned fieldtrip around NIE campus. Despite the uncooperative weather, we managed to get our butts off our comfortable seats and journey down to Nanyang Playhouse for an observation on weathering in Singapore. I feel that Jenny provided a creative way for us to work in groups (each one of us is to get part of a photograph backed with a certain colour, and we are to work together with classmates with the same colour). We were also required to suss out for ourselves the site depicted in the photograph that we've pieced together, and to organise our presentations of weathering at the site to our classmates.

However, this is where we fell short. Because we were unaware of how to use our imagination to answer the hints on weathering given at the back of our photographs with reference to the site, my group members spent a lot of time wondering what we were supposed to do. We were looking for rocks so that we could observe weathered materials, but all we could find were snails and pebbles. Also, we were trying to relate the hints given at the back of the photograph to the worksheet, so we spent a lot of the time being unproductive. I think it was also difficult for Jenny to issue instructions to all of us at the same time, because we were dispersed over a wide area. Perhaps she could have nominated a group leader so that he or she can relate instructions to members in their group.

We are getting very good at "misbehaving"-- and I think for the "fieldtrip", although the misbehaviour was not extraordinarly "good", it was compounded by the fact that we were out of class.Students are bolder as a result. Maybe Jenny can let a trusted student know where she wants to go, and let him or her guide the class to the spotwhile she stations herself at the end of the queue so that we would have less chance of absconding. I'll be the first to admit-- I absconded from Geography fieldtrip with the pathetic excuse of food pooisoning. :p Sorry!

But I think Jenny has done well despite the problems. I hope she is not too traumatised.

Now it's time for me to plod on with my work. :(

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

PTM and BananaSaviour and Georocks

I have been reading this book, Teacher Well- Being by Elizabeth Holmes, and she mentions the following questions we can ask ourselves as teachers:

How active is listening in the school?
Who feels heard and unheard in the school?
What opportunities are there for discussion and debate?
Is emotional literacy given a high priority in planning?
What are the predominant teaching and learning styles?
What is actively done to empower the formation of good relationships?

I think the above questions are relevant for the PTM-- becuase in the examples that Voyager has mentioned as well as in the rounds at my table, I feel that listening did not play a very important part. Basically, what I felt was that most of us (myself included) were on the defensive because we were not sure of what the other party would react, and because our conversations not only had to embody the prescribed character traits, we were also required to take and maintain a particular stand because of those traits. It is strange that in such an emotionally demanding job such as teaching,we are not formally taught on how to be emotionally literate. Basically, for the PTM, we were screaming to be heard, lah.

About bananasaviour and the slashing incident-- our PTM did influence my decision somewhat. I felt that bananasaviour handled it well-- if she was amused, she did not show it. :P She was firm-- she confiscated the instrument instead of telling the child to stop. She also allowed another student to accompany the child to the toilet so that she will not be up to more mischief, i hope. I think that she is a very sensitive teacher. Despite the small pockets of rebellion in the class, she was firm and understanding. She did not humiliate anyone because he or she misbehaved or could not understand the lesson.

If a sudent has been cutting himself or herself over a period of time, would a teacher wait until it was the PTM to inform the parent? A colleague told me that when there is a possibility of a child's safety to be compromised because of our inaction, then we must surely inform their parents. If it were my form class, I will pray hard that I will not wait until it is too late. But for newcomers like us, it is difficult for us to identify the action as well as acknowledge that it is taking place. We must also be aware of the class dynamics and the sutdents' relationship with his or her parents.

I was the observer for Georock's microteaching session. Again, like bananasaviour, I feel that he is sensitive to the needs of his students. I felt that he has done well-- if he was nervous, it did not show. Just look out for your students' mischief, and don't leave them unattended and unoccupied when you need to attend to something else. :)

Poor Chris!

I'm sorry to say this, but I feel so sympathetic for male teachers now. :P When I was doing my school experience, one of the (needless to say, male) teachers attached to the school I was with for practicum also experienced the same kind of unwanted attention. But the magnitude was greater-- other teachers who were there on school experice or practicum teased him alot-- we told him that he needs to wear ten rings-- one on each finger to ward off ALL unwanted attention and to signal that he is no longer available (all ten fingers taken mah). Female students tried to take his picture while he was marking books during his relief lessons, and some even told him to his face that he was cute. But I thought that he was above board in the way he behaved-- he met his students in very visible areas of the school, and he did not pay undue attention to female students.

I think Chris shouldn't have told off Vintagegem's open declaration of affection in front ofthe whole class-- both he and the student will be teased endlessly, not just in this class, but maybe in all other classes too-- rumours travel fast. Perhapd it might be better to see her in the staff room or lounge, where you know other teachers might be present. Serously, if this kind of melodrama (fainting and whatnot) happened in my class, I also wouldn't know what to do.

Besides the melodrama, Chris' lesson also brought to the fore the difficulties of 1) defining hunger and malnourishment and 2) addressing the other issues related to them. I feel that the reading materials which he gave our group addresses malnourishment as a secondary issue, and may not relate that relevantly to the topic which he fleshed out for us. but for his defence, he didn't have to opportunity to flesh out much because -- well we were an Express class with Normal Technical behaviour.

But good job, Chris-- it was very brave of you to define a new topic and to try it out. :)