Saturday, April 24, 2010

The stress faced by a teacher

These few weeks I'm ultra busy. Normally, I'm just busy. The mid year examinations are coming, so that's bringing a lot of extra work to me. When you read this post, I'm probably out working already - I just scheduled this article to be posted at this time and date. Ah, the magic of technology.

In the past, during this period, I'll be quite stressful. This is because I've to push students to cramp a lot of things in their mind to prepare them for this major examination. I certainly don't like doing this because it's a mad rush of time. But can you imagine the students? It'll be worse because they are the ones taking the examinations and facing the consequences in the end.

Over the years of tutoring, I realised these truths:

1. Some students just do not want to get A. You might want them to get it, but if they do not desire it, they will just put in enough effort to get whatever grades they think is fair for them. I realised it's more of a motivational issue than a knowledge issue. I blogged about motivational methods in the past, and I employed every single trick that I talked about, to various outcomes. I can't do it consistently so I usually try to do everything and see if it hits something. If I managed to motivate them, they will do all that is necessary to get it done.

2. I fully understand the stress of teaching students. It should be (if it isn't already) the first thing they warn you about when getting your teaching degree. You say something important, students do not get it. You say it again, they got it, then after a while, they forgot about it. So you repeat and if they still do not get it, you get frustrated. This is because there's no reward in your actions. Action without reaction leads to frustration. But what happens if you give up? Then there's no hope anymore.

This is of course easier said than done. I had given up hope on students too (maybe less than 5 out of so many over 7 years) because I'm only human and can only take a certain amount of punishment before I give in. But remember, if you give up, there's no more hope.

3. It's possible to win a battle but lose the war in teaching. While stressing the importance of major examinations, you can actually create such bad vibes in learning that it might lead to bigger problems downstream when it comes to anything school related.

I remember teaching a JC student about maths. Though he didn't do very well in statistics when I taught him (he always get mediocre grades for his tests), he found the topic fascinating. I jumped on that curiosity and introduced him a few things that are not required in the examinations but can expand his views on the topic itself. So years had passed and sometimes when I met him on the street, he'll shout out to me and said that he remembered me teaching him statistics and had a fun time together. He even wanted to do a statistics course in university.

I pointed out the story to highlight the fact that it's sometimes easy to forget the perspective in things. Being zen-like and having the belief that things will work out well in the end will remove some of the stress in teaching students. I always say this: Things could get worse ...but it didn't.

So, for all the parents and tutors out there teaching their kids, I hope this article gives you something to think about over the weekend. Have a great weekend :)


CreateWealth8888 said...

If the cow doesn't want to drink water, you can never press its head down.

Dou said...

To creatwealth

But maybe we can lure the cow with a carrot haha

AK71 said...

When I was teaching, I had students who would not do what they were supposed to do. There was a boy who would not bother to do his homework. So, one day, I just told the whole class that I would no longer chase them to hand in their homework. If they don't hand in their work, they get zero. Load off my shoulders.

There is only so much I could and can do as a person. I don't believe in coddling our young.

la papillion said...

Hi bro8888 and dou,

Haha, I agree - sometimes you can't force someone to do things. Maybe you can force someone to do things, but it won't sink in. Maybe it'll sink in, but they won't remember it. Maybe they will remember it, but maybe not for long. Maybe they will remember it for long, but they will hate you for long too :)

la papillion said...

Hi AK,

Haha, being a teacher (school kind) is quite different from tutors. Basically, as a school teaching, there are syllabus to clear and things had to be done efficient and timely, otherwise there won't be enough time to do any teaching.

I'm lucky - I don't have to deal with admin and disciplinary issues :)

As for coddling our youth, well, I don't do that too. Ai lai, mai sua :)

Anonymous said...

- sometimes you need to tell someone certain things because you care. Maybe you can't force someone to do things & what you say does not seem to sink in.

Maybe, after many years, they remember it. but they surely will not hate you because you've done what you did with their best interest at heart.

Thanks & cheers to teachers in our lives who painstakingly guide us even though we seem like a stubborn mule,

加油! u're surely one of the best tutors I have seen!

AC88 said...

Ya sometimes stress builds up before exams . some may not get thru or some may not score expected marks .
Good luck to all teachers

AC88 said...

remembered you were looking for insurance

la papillion said...

Hi HH,

Thanks for believing in me :)

la papillion said...

Hi ac88,

That's not what I'm talking about when I mean stress. That's the stress faced by the students. The stress faced by teachers/tutors are those built up during the teaching process.

I commented on your blog regarding the insurance.