Tuesday, 18 October 2011


Went for my first tutoring session this morning at the local elementary school.

It's a cute little school with just three floors. Each classroom is labelled with the number of the teacher-in-charge. I was brought to the classroom of Ms G who introduced me to my student, K, who is in first grade. Ms G went through some of her materials with me before K's classmate led us to a little room downstairs where we spent the next hour.

K has problems with reading and maths. I only managed to go through the reading with K today. She could read alright but she seemed to be reading without really understanding. And she couldn't write the alphabet properly. While she did some colouring, I looked at her maths file and all her mistakes were in those that had a lot of words, e.g. she couldn't draw the correct number of apples as instructed. Perhaps her reading problem is impeding her maths. I've decided to make some simple reading materials for the next class - I have some of my Montessori stuff with me! :)

This school uses the University of Chicago syllabus, and I found some really cool resources for maths at their website. I can't seem to find similar stuff on the MOE website, but the syllabus for primary one is not too different - counting, simple arithmetic etc, which means Montessori is really fast because five-year-olds will learn multiplication, which means I can use my Montessori stuff on K :) But Montessori materials for maths are difficult to make from scratch.. See how..

Thinking back, I knew I wasn't able to understand more than ABC when I first entered primary one; I had to ask my classmate what was going on when the teacher said something and everyone started opening their books! But I don't remember how much maths I knew by then, only that I had to memorise the multiplication tables when I was in primary two. Well, I turned out ok right? Hoho!

Anyway, this tutoring programme is also my exercise programme - it takes 25-30 minutes to walk there! One round trip is like watching an episode of drama on the treadmill :) And speaking of drama, I'm resisting starting another one (yes, I finished one - 流れ星 - over the weekend!) because this is one busy week and I don't want distraction! *disciplined*

But I'm going to keep writing.. Haven't finished what I set out to say yet.. Long-winded, I know :)

So, teaching. As a kid, I wanted to be a teacher. One of my favourite playacting games as a kid was to play teacher to my siblings and cousins and friends, using the glass door of a cabinet as a white board by sticking a piece of white paper behind. Needless to say, the adults were not very happy to find ink on the glass! But hey, it was water-soluble ink!

In the first few months of JC, I found a part-time job as a maths tuition teacher to a primary two girl. I quit when I got busy with school work and frequent rehearsals for our CLDDS performance.

During JC, I remember giving Na a crash course in - was it complex numbers? I think I failed that time haha!

Right after JC, I went back to NJ as a relief teacher for four months, teaching Further Maths to three first-year classes. That was my first proper job. Of course, I didn't give lectures. But I had to attend staff meetings and for team meetings, I was the one taking notes cos I was the most junior *.* Before that, I had applied for a teaching scholarship. During this teaching stint, I had the opportunity to review my application, and I decided not to teach. I really enjoyed the interaction with the students but it was just so tiring! I had to say the same thing at least three times a week, and for more difficult stuff, I had to repeat many more times in class and later during consultations. I knew I couldn't survive long. I really admire those who have taught for many years!

One of my three classes in 1999 - can you spot me?

And then in Oxford during my MSc year, I helped a friend with her BA statistics. We were in the same year but she took a gap year. I saw her work before - all A graded! Except for statistics. I think I must have been quite good back then!! Different story now ~.~

And between that and this tutoring programme, I earned my Montessori diploma. Some teaching training at last but I did not do any practicum.

Oh, and have I mentioned I married a teacher? ^_^ Sure, he's no longer teaching but sometimes you can still hear the teacher in him :)

So, there, my long relationship with teaching and a teacher. I really hope I can make a difference to K's learning in this year.

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