Playing at Playeum

For the last 2 Friday, I was out to “play” at Playem .

‘Play” actually means:

P : :Personal Journey

L : Learn

A: Authentic

Y : Young

My reflection ?

I guess this experience just reinforce what I am actually doing all along. It makes me more motivated and energized to do things in a “PLAY” manner.  The purpose of this LJ is meant to make us to see the bigger purpose as to what we are doing. It is not just getting ready for book check, school exams and doing the sometime meaningless admin work. It is more than that. We are there for our students and doing what we can for them within our means. This can be challenging at times due to the absurdity and ridiculous demands dictated by others or the inconsiderate act of others (e.g., last minute demand)

But no matter what, I will shoulder on and do what I can within the boundary creatively for my students.  I am a teacher and will always be one. Such ‘motherhood’ statements come from my heart and I make the stand with conviction. After all, I say/write what I mean, and I mean what I say/write.  Well, guess that is me being authentic and am not just into saying falsehood. Sometimes, I marvel at others who can utter things they do not mean convincingly. This is something I simply can’t and will not do.

So, with the play experience, I will continue to be ‘playful’ in my personal journey in teaching. The use of the word ‘continue’ is deliberate as I have been very ‘playful’. I am playful and yes, can get on people’s nerves at times .

This is my personal journey and there is only 1 rule to guide my learning journey, ‘Students First’. This rule appeals to the authentic me and that is what makes me energized in my work. I can proudly say that I love my students whoever they are and will continue to help/nag at them despite making me angry. By being authentic does not mean being self-centred. I have to be authentic to myself and know my own “windows of references”. I need to know myself well and be aware of my both implicit and explicit assumptions. This will help me being open and authentic to others. This is definitely something that I will need to work on.  I do not claim to be very open, but I am working towards it.

Of course, I must continue to be learning and re-learning. I am a learner and must always stay as one. I am never an expert on anything and will continue to learn things. That is why I will be reading at least 1 book (fiction or non-fiction) monthly and will blog reflections (2 posting per week). I am very proud of myself that I am now crazy over reading these days. I am also ‘forcing’ myself to read a range of books from children’s story books to management books to philosophy.

I must forever stay young so that I dare and have the courage to explore without the fear of failure and express myself freely.  I should not be afraid to express myself even at the expense of antagonizing others. This is something I will  and must do if I need to. I have to make sure that I can defend what I say or express with argument based on my No 1 rule (‘Students first’).  I should not shy away from disagreement as I must (I repeat, I must) and have the moral courage to state categorically what is just not right. See something, say something. When it is time to speak, I will, and I shall speak even if it means that I might be ‘killed’ somewhat. Well, for me, it is students, students and students. If I can’t have the courage to speak up, the I will fail my students and that is a big “No No” for me.

the “白痴” me in action!

It would be a very hectic Term 3 for me. Why ? It is the PSLE season and the “白痴” me (that is how one particular friend’s apt description of me)  decide to render whatever help I can for my students.  Here is my schedule for the week:

(1) Tue (Weekly) – 5 pm (45-min Science support for my sub-30 studnets after the supp ends at 4.15 pm)

(2) Wed (Alternate week)- 2.15 – 4.15 (Maths Clinic for my sub-20 students)

(3) Thur (Alternate week) 2.45 – 4.45 (Science support for between 30 to 50 kids)

(4) Friday (Weekly) – 1.15 to 3.15 (Maths support for my above-20 kids)

With the exception of (3), I simply “ask for it” for the remaining three. For example, I volunteer for the Maths Clinic even though I am not from Mathematics Department. Why? Almost all my students are there. So, I must be there to support them. It does not matter which department I am in, I just want to help my students. Period.

As for (1) and (4) , I initiate the sessions for them so as to better support them. For last year, I held such sessions for the whole class. I do not think it is every effective as I do not seem to give targeted instructions to them. This year, I decide to have a smaller group of students with similar ability. It has been two weeks so far and it is too early to tell.


The Dark Side Beckons!

It has been a term. So, have my design of the lessons changed  like what I envision it to be ? Yes and No. I know that I am trying but at times, I still need to go to the Dark Side due to the legacy issues.  Issues that nobody question as well “it has been there since Day 1”. These issues included:

(1) Book Checking : I need to get my students to do corrections nicely so that their books are ready for inspection. Let me get it clear. I do follow up on my students’ alternative concepts by designing other activities (like some ICT-enabled lessons or some in-class discussion about the misconception). Doing correction “swee swee” does not mean that the students have learned . Most likely, they have mastered the art of copying from the white board accurately.

So, I need to waste some of the precious classroom time doing all this. Book checking is definitely not to check on students’ evidence of learning (which I find it rather hilarious claim) . It is more of teachers’ accountability.

(2) Practice paper : Oh, that very important paper that thou must do before any major exam. Spend time doing it , going through it so that your students are “perceived to be ready” for the exam/.

(3) Worksheet and worksheet and more worksheet: What is the best way to show that teacher is doing the job? Do more worksheet. The more worksheet, the better!  Must do or else ….

Yes, the Dark Side is very appealing as it is the “way that things are always done”. After all, what can go wrong if that have been done for the longest time ?

But, I am determined not to sway to the Dark Side. For a very simple reason, I need to educate my students and not school them! I am in school not to get my books check, to get my students to do worksheet or practice paper. I am there to get my students ready for the future.  It is not easy but I would shoulder on.

Note to myself : Thou u should not go over to the Dark Side!


Design Thinking Sharing at OCBC

It was quite an insightful sharing , with the OCBC staff sharing about their design thinking experience. The central argument in Design Thinking is to put the users at the centre of the whole design process. During design thinking,it is not what you think. It is what your users think.

That sets me reflecting on my learning practice. Am I designing lessons based on what I think and not what the students think? There is really a need to interrogate this assumption. Perhaps, I should do this more often by asking my students:

 “How has the lessons been for you? Can you offer suggestion as to how to improve”.

Students should be the central of our design learning experience. It should not be based on “this-has-always-been-the-way” or “textbook-SOW-say-so”. It should be “what-my-student-say-so”.

Updated : Happen to chance upon this article about Design thinking in education. Start with the learners. Hear their voices and design learning experience accordingly.

Be a Naysayer, do something worthwhile in your life

A short reflection on the posting : “Why Singapore needs more naysayers?” [Link]

This  ST Article makes me feel better about being a naysayer. I do s feel apologetic about being the “opposition” voice but I still continue doing that because it is simply not me if I do not do that. Even in HQ or at school,  I guess I am definitely not known to be a “civil-servant”.  I can be very critical and tend to ask questions. I guess I am not so “compliant-ready” and always a “why” person. And I simply hated this phrase, “that is what we have be doing.”.

Well, I will continue doing that. Why? Because if I do not stop doing that. I am doing the system a injustice. If I do not say what is wrong, I am part of the problem too


See something, say something

See something, say something.  How many of us do have the moral courage to do that especially in the face of higher authority?

So, what about me ?

I guess if it is worthwhile for me to say it, I will say it . There is no stopping of me as things meant to be said has the  be said.  Of course, there are risks. But, if I choose to say something, I do it  with my eyes wide opened , knowing all the possible consequences.  In simple term, I do it with eyes open and willing to take any consequences (may it be good or bad) that comes with it . If I am ‘defeated’, I won’t blame others but rather than my inability to hold my ground.

Yes, currently, I am very angry over something and I am waiting for the opportunity to say something in the most appropriate time.  I don’t care if I am ‘killed’ along the way for I just need to make sure I am not part of the problem. Not willing to speak up is part of the problem and I refuse (I repeat, simply refuse) to be part of the problem.

I am just waiting for the right time and I shall move in for the ‘kill’.

It is getting absurd.

All I can say that certain thing is getting absurd  and the absurdity has taken on  a new level today.  Why? Contradictions in the loads of statements given.  For example, , documents are not meant to be read deeply. I go like “huh”. Then, why strong words like “comply” and “must” appear in the document?

If I chose to be very aggressive, I would focus on one of the smokey statement and would not let go. But , I choose not to. I do not want to stoop to that level. No point saying more as the other other party is obviously not listening. I have said my piece and I stand by what I said.

I know that I am stepping toes by making my opinion known in an open meeting like that. I need to do it because if I do not speak up, I would be part of the problem too. I am glad that I have done it and hope more will speak up and ask questions.

All these are  definitely making me very angry and make me all the more to fight back against the absurdity of things ! Idc if you are not feeling well

Why? Because I  need to stay true to my conscience.  I need to do what is necessary and right not not do things because I am told to follow to the dot. Period.

To hell with that absurdity.

PS: No one should ever say that I *short change* my students. I never did. And that absurd statement really pissed me off.

Voting for the class council

I allow my class to vote for their class council this year.I only told them on Thursday and made the “candidates” said a speech after lunch.  I told them that both we would totally respect their choices for at least a month and would see who they had chosen if they indeed were fitting for the role.

I had five students volunteering for the posts . I shall say I am petty impressed with their speech. Most of them were willing to share their weakness and wanted to change for the better. I shall say this was a “emotionally-intense” election with candidates “breaking down” due to their low votes.

The best part ?? The students “run the elections” and I just sit back and videotaped down the speech. I only needed to count the votes to ensure impartiality. I am letting go the control of the class and it was good how they self-organized (e.g., getting the candidates to speak and encouraging and supporting the  candidates). Some candidate was upset over their no-win and their peers, on their own accord, comforted them.

Some learnable moments from this election

  • Students would need to live with their choice for at least a month as they need to be responsible with the choice they made
  • Some candidate was upset due to the low vote and I encouraged the kids to take setback in stride.
  • The votes were close and I urged them to respect the class’ choice and the class shall stay united. (Think the recent #brexit and #trumpwin)

They have made their choice and I would see how that would turn out in the month to come.

PS: It does not take one month . Feedback from other teachers has made up expedite our decision to change the HC and AHC. I broke the news to them and surprising, they took it quite well. Perhaps, they were self-aware and felt that they were indeed not suitable for the job. Of course, we assign them other roles for them.

A letter to myself

Hi, Me 2017!

This is Me2016!  Here is the list of things that you will and you must need to in 2017. No compromise on that and you must “die-die” do! You owe it to your students or else you would be short-charging them. Do not be tempted to fall back to the easy “schooling” way in which you “pour knowledge” to your students like what your teachers did to you. This is totally unacceptable! And please do not forget your role as HOD(ICT) even though I know that you would rather to be a HOT (Happy Ordinary Teacher). Time to be a influencer and influence more teachers to design technology-enabled experiences in the class! Use Simon Sidney Start with Why to influence more people to use technology to inspire the joy of learning!

Here are the things that you will do in 2017. Pay attention and stop looking at your handphone!

(1a) In order to get your students to be passionate learners , you will continue to design technology-enabled learning environments that allows your students to make their thinking visible and you to do formative assessment.  For next year, I would like to see you designing learning experience that activates students as instructional resources for one another with the use of technology.  For example, the student can post their work on line and their peers can critique their work with the help of the checklist. This has to be done consistently and regularly. Do be prepared for the “not-so-good” responses from the students in the first few tries. The students needs time to get used to this routine!

(1b) To develop your students to communicate science effectively, you need to design learning experience that allows them to practice their science communication skills. Model the scientific communication in class and allows them to peer check the students’ answers. Use checklist and make clear the success criteria

(1c) To develop the students as confident communicators with technology, the ICT Training would be planned such that students can express and create with themshelves with various contemporary ICT tools .This includes P2 : Telestory, P3: Scratch, P4: Blogging with Spreadsheet, P5 : Screencasting/podcasting and P6 : App Inventor. Students should be creator of content and not just passive consumers of content.

(2) You always have a soft spot for your students and tend to give them the benefit of doubt. Put it simply, you over-dote on them!  Be more firm with your students! Have routines in place so that you can instill discipline in your students.  Be a strategic warm demander . You owe it to them to let them have a conducive environment for studying.

(3a) In 2017, you will continue to be reflective practitioner through regular reflection on your lessons plan. Next year,  you are to contribute at least 2 posts weekly. Be your own worst critic!  Remember what Dewey had said : “We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”

Your daily experience in the class amounts to NOTHING. I repeat NOTHING if you do not reflect! So, like it or not, you have to/must reflect!

(3b) To develop teachers’ competency in designing technology-enabled lessons, provide space in which teachers can share and converse bout their technology-enabled lessons with others This includes encouraging the teachers to blog and tweet! Let’s have a ICT PD day in which the teachers share their technology-enabled lessons!

(4) Leveraging on external partnership, please remember to get IMDA Lab on the Wheels to visit the school. Do organize a LJ to iExperience for next year P6 as post PSLE Activity! I have missed out organizing this LJ this year so next year , you have to DO IT!!!

(5) Walk the talk and model the EXCEL values.

Engage with respect (Be respectful. Remember the famous Netwon’s Third Law! Action and reaction are equal and opposite in direction ! So be respectful , so others would also respect you!)

Exercise responsibility (Just be like Me2016 and continue be responsible. Perhaps, you can try  to downgrade your “responsibility level”. Currently, I feel that my level for responsibility is just way too high and it is causing Me2016 unnecessary stress!  Learn to let go and yes chillax!!)

Collaborate with integrity (Be a team player. Dare to be critical and interrogate assumptions by asking hard questions)

Encourage with compassion (Be a influencer and encourage your fellow colleagues to design technology-enabled learning experiences! Remember you tag line 2017 : Inspire the joy of learning with the use of technology)

Learn with resilience (Continue learning! And that includes completing that thesis!)

Do remember to constantly remind the teachers of TWPS ICT Narratives!


Staff PD Day

It was Staff PD Day at my school today! Teachers shared what they had done during PLC. It was indeed insightful as I listened to what my colleagues had done.  I always believe in sharing as we can always learn from and learn with one another.

Some takeaway:

(1) Use of checklist seemed to be a recurring theme for writing.  This is something worth considering to do during Science Lessons.  Get my next year students to “check-list” their Science Answer using the so-what frame [Link]  I have come up with my student this year. Perhaps, I should further think hard about this answer frame during hols. Time to use some Literature Review to “ATASIFY” my so-what answer frame

(2) There were lots of strategies shared (e.g., GCSE, use of checklist). Perhaps, as a school, we should do a rise-above and try to have a common thread to tie all these strategies together.  Or else both the teachers and the students would be too overwhelmed and would not be able to connect the dots together.