Meet the Form Class!

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All the talk about our deployment in 2016 is speculative and at best tentative, although it would not be far from the truth to say it is likely I will not be teaching them next year.

It is no secret that teachers have our ‘favourite’ ‘best fit’ classes; I am truly blessed that other than my very first form class in 2012, I had the chance to enjoy that kind of camaraderie and rapport with this class of munchkins who have won me so many times over this year with their awesomeness.

  1. When I shared with them the importance of sincerely showing appreciation to others and made them write ‘thank you’ notes to all their subject teachers, they happily obliged – some of those personal thank you messages so honest and thoughtful.

    (So many teachers were immensely touched when they received the handwritten thank-you notes. Hope they keep encouraging others to become better versions of ourselves!) 

  2. All 43 of them showed up – properly attired and on time – on the last day of school.
  3. All 43 of them showed up on time for the entire duration of their examinations. (I was hugely impressed also because of the haze.)
  4. Three-quarters of the class brought along gifts (wrapped!) under $5 so we could have our year-end gift exchange! :) I exchanged a deco-tape roller with a fragrance incense, a choc bar and some pens.
  5. They unanimously agreed to stay behind for pizza when the pizza could only be delivered an hour later! (Impressed by their class spirit, not their desire for free food.)
  6. The student representatives of the class helmed and prepared their service learning presentation entirely on their own – videos, PPT slides, reflections, Q&A. We teachers only gave them the guiding questions and criteria, and some teenyweeny advice. This really won me over – took a huge load off my chest, especially when some other classes had roles reversed when teachers prepared everything (right down to the script) for the students.
  7. The student groups really took to the children at PCF – and learned from working with the teachers there – perhaps through some challenging tough ways. They may not have impressed PCF completely, but I could see them grow as individuals as they challenged themselves to break out of their comfort zone.
  8. They were mighty disappointed because they did not have time for the boomnet activity at the level camp because we had to take the first ferry back. But after the initial disappointment (“Really? Couldn’t we just try? Maybe we could go now? What if…?”) they accepted it graciously and made the most out of the flying fox pool, just hanging out as a class and playing in the water.
  9. For their VIA project, the kids went to a little village in Bintan and helped to tile the floors with bricks for the village school. Seeing the way they all (yes, even the princesses) got down to work and interacted and played with the children made me proud.
  10. The class committee spearheaded the class tee-shirt orders – sourced and liased with the vendor, gathered the names of the students, feedback and a host of possible tee-shirt designs (although they all looked questionable at best with florals, weeds and skulls and I ended up helping with the design.).
  11. They are receptive to feedback. If you reason with them and set clear but realistic goals, there will almost always be visible improvement – be it about using their handphones, being on time for school, greeting a teacher properly, arranging the furniture neatly etc.
  12. They are hungry to learn. Some boys automatically started on their corrections on their end-of-year exam paper, and this was the dialogue it triggered:

    Me: Wow, are you doing corrections? I need to run through the rest of the questions to check for marking errors – there may not be time for that.

    Boys: You don’t want us to do corrections? Don’t you want us to improve??

    Me: Well… [to the whole class] If I print the marker’s report – it shows you the answers, and reasons why the marker accepted or did not accept some answers. You can attach that to your exam paper then and go through it later on your own. Would that be helpful? Who would be interested?

    80% of the hands shot up in the air.

  13. We won Second Place in the SG50 National Day Inter-class Competition! Some of the kids really impressed us with their sporting spirit – to dress up as  SG50 national day icons!
  14. The boys came in second place in the inter-class frisbee competition for Secondary 3s. (You should have seen them – they light up and transform on the field.) Then they offered up their extra medals to us teachers on Teachers’ Day. The girls came in a close third too!
  15. We won the Best Class Award for the Normal Academic stream in our school! :D This takes into consideration their attendance, results, achievements, attitude etc.

Thank you, 3T1, for giving much and striving hard this year. :)

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The Twenty-Ninth of May

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In my thoughtless candidness I announced to a fair number of close buddies that my birthday was coming, and received perhaps more than I bargained for. Many people were in the mood for celebration and three groups of colleagues burst into song in the middle of the office and left me very abashed.

Not many people knew about it, but those who did were very thoughtful. It was a day when I realised how blessed I am by a loving Heavenly Father. It felt as if He was reminding me how He loved us through all the sweet gestures by my colleagues and some students. I truly felt that the most precious gifts and birthday wishes were not the slices of cake or gifts received, but the simplest and most thoughtful gestures from the relationships I most cherish. Let me recount a few of these.

There was a sweet girl I have been trying to build rapport with for the longest time. She shares with me whatever is within her zone of comfort until I probe further. After asking me for my birthday for the longest time, she texted me to say that she had left me something in my pigeon hole (cupboard). It was a sweet little plushie key chain with a handwritten note, in her usual scrawl: “Thank you for being a great teacher/friend.” That little gesture and note just warmed my heart. No theatrics or surprises, just a simple gift from the heart.

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The Secondary 4 students were also celebrating the end of their Elective modules with a miniature fair. At each booth teachers could order a clay art figurine, a balloon art, go for a manicure or simply watch a hip hop dance performance. I took the time to mingle – I would not admit it in front of them but this batch of students I feel something different for, probably because they are the first cohort of students I taught. The ones I made all the silly mistakes with, and the ones we grew up together with. A boy offered to make me a balloon and I asked for something “special” – other than the usual flowers and penguins going around the table. I searched for a Frog and he twisted one (two, the first actually exploded when I tried to dab its eyes on it). The sweetest thing.

After learning it was my birthday, another boy asked me for my favourite animal. Without much thought I said, “kangaroo”. He began searching for a tutorial online and twisting the balloons into shape – and failed. When called to go back to class, he burst the one he was struggling to make, and promised to give me one before the end of the day. A half hour later he texted me to say my kangaroo was done and he was waiting outside with a pink kangaroo and the words, “Happy Birthday, Miss Ho” written on it. So so sweet.

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The next day I received a surprise treat from a colleague who dropped by with a cup of Starbucks Caramel Nut Crunch. (And just at the time when I was craving for some coffee too!) I felt truly moved – to be remembered not just on the actual birthday itself but the day(s) after as well.

And today, the most careless brazen fellow in class actually came for his Parent-Teacher Conference with a box of KFC egg tarts. His mum said he remembered it was my birthday a few days ago and thought it would be nice to get it for me. Sometimes the most unexpected people can do the sweetest things.

I also realised that I am probably in a very blessed environment. A place where there are people who appreciate you and care about working with you.

Makes me think twice about alternatives.