THE TEMASEK TIMES

News and views from an unique perspective

Ex-HOD defends NIE curriculum

Posted by temasektimes on July 2, 2012

I was a teacher which meant that I went throught the NIE and schools route. I left after being appointed as a HOD but that’s a different story. (I can attest to that a HOD is no where close to 10k.)

I must say that studying in NIE wasn’t a breeze, practicum was a challenge, writing lesson plans tiring. However, it is exactly because of these lesson plans that I improved as a teacher. I spent hours on them, but reaped their returns when I taught my classes and saw how much they enjoyed the lessons. Teaching is not an easy job and we teachers need to spend time on it, going into teaching with the mentality that you get paid just by talking off the cuff is wrong. It is often very clear to me who in NIE were there for the wrong reasons, exactly those who whine about long preparation hours and badly behaved students and just about everything else. For me, teaching is a passion and when it is a calling, you will spend time and effort on your work. Thinking that you’ll just breeze through is not doing yourself nor your students justice. I think the writer got into education for the wrong reasons.

2nd, a HOD is usually assigned to a trainee to help them improve. Even though the HOD might not be teaching the class, he/she is ultimately responsible for the class once the trainee leaves. What the writer fails to mention is that for every lesson plan he/she wrote, the HOD had to read it through and discuss with him/her on how to improve it. The HOD also sits in on the class to assess the trainee. It is really not fair to tarnish the supervisors like that. You may have gotten an irresponsible supervisor but there are many around who take their work very seriously. Sometimes, it is also up to the trainee to put in the extra effort.

I enjoyed my practicum, had very little sleep, learnt a lot from my mentor as well as the NIE assessor. What was more important was that the feedback for my classes is immediate. A teacher walks out of the classroom knowing that he has done well simply from the reactions of the students. Nothing else matters more. But before anyone jump and suggest that I had an easy time, I did my practicum in a neighbourhood school, a rather notorius one. I did rather well for practicum too, I was lucky as the effort put in could be seen by all but most of all it was the bonds that I formed with my students that I hold true till today. Even till today, my practicum students remember me and greet me when they see me in the streets. That always bring a smile to my face.

I’ll just end by saying that teaching is not for everyone and that one must enter because you want to teach and want to make a difference in shaping the lives of youths. (not because you can’t find another job because of the economy or that you think that the starting pay is high which is so not true.)

*The above was first posted as a comment on The Temasek Times.

19 Responses to “Ex-HOD defends NIE curriculum”

  1. One wonders if this person was assigned by MOE to do damage control ?

    • The ex-HOD said

      No I was not. Left the system, diasppointed by the lack in support. Just a reader like you.

      Though I think that it is rather unfair that Temasek times take my response to an article and pose it without any links to the original. The title ‘defends NIE curriculum’ is also inaccurate.

      Just a person who genuinely cared and still do about education.

      • Ridz said

        Thank you for sharing your experience.I believe you were sincere in what you said.This will help those who are embarking on this career.God bless

  2. Jardel said

    we all know why people become teachers. Passion? You must be kidding me. What about I pay you 1K per month and tell you that that job is only for people who are full of passion. Will you do it? After all, tell me of anyone who is not interested in the pay for what he is requested to work for?

    Even LHL will quit if his pay drops to the same level as Obama. IT’s ALL ABOUT PAY. STOP KIDDING YOURSELF.

    So, with proper pay, then you talk about passion and challenges.

    Talking about proper pay, a manager in private sector just earns around 4k to 5k nowadays. (not even 5K now) Those who manage to earn higher are just about watching over their shoulders everyday, thinking about ways to avoid getting that dreaded letter. You know what I mean. RETRENCHED.

    So, tell me the portion of teachers who are earning 4k to 5k. I would say ALOT. Those who had graduated from NIE earns from 2.5k to 3k. That’s 26 to 28 yrs of age. However, with the increments, this can go up to 4k in 4 to 5 yrs time. Those who are not, better leave. You are just crap. It better to employ FTs to replace you as teachers.

    So, can you tell me with the rosy platform that teachers enjoy and they illterally are immune to economic downturns, they are just spineless idiots who dare not accept challenges in the private sector, and will rush to become teachers and enjoy the pay and increments.

    We are simply paying our civil servants too handsomely. It’s time that we vote in an alternate voice and fuck their asses up.

    Finally, I enjoy the challenges in private sector and though the pay is not fantastic, I know that I must improve myself to match up and shape up to future challenges, whereas those FAKE gov’t courses are just there to BLUFF civil servants that they are well trained. Bunch of bullshit.

    RETRENCH ALL TEACHERS and see if they can find jobs in the private sector in within a year. LOL.

    • asd said

      You are practical person. who believe money is everything. please don’t condemn everyone in the world to be like you. Some like challenger some don’t. every occupation has its difficulty. please learn to respect other profession.

    • Teachers supporter said

      Please write with some sense!
      Retrench all the teachers? What would happen to the children?
      Your choice of words is simply to harsh to claim that ALL teachers teach for the sake of money! If that is so, why don’t you be a teacher and see how many years you can teach!
      Do you really think teaching is so easy? Do u think that money is the main reason why many teachers remain in the service despite the increasing challenges and expectation from the society, parents and people like you?
      Come on! There are so many professions that command a much higher pay than teachers in the long term. How much do u know? I doubt u know and that’s why u dare to make such bold assumption.

      No one is born with knowledge of the working world. We are taught by teachers and it’s because of their contribution, we are able to become who we are. The issue is no longer whether the teachers are passionate or having higher pay. The fact is, you are just unhappy with the fadt that u r not earning the pay u think u deserve! Once u earn much higher than the teachers, u might have a differing view!
      In case u didn’t know, tuition teachers (private sector) are earning higher than school teachers (In terms of workload and responsibilities)

      Lastly, people with fuxked up life always want to Fuxk others’ life.

      • Hanibal Singh said

        Its not about making monies per se. It about groups of old cabal, who are not able to make it elsewhere, terrorizing the enthusiastic young guns. These people are earning lots of $$$$ because PAP believe the more monies = more talent. (remember SCDF boss and CNB boss?)

        If you fired those fat cat old teacher, they are going to foreclose their condo next days and ended up in streets with their whole families. So what happen if they see young boys and girls out of college so eager to help students– and well loved by students?

        This is why MOE is a cesspool of politics.

      • Ridz said

        WELL SAID.

    • Thinker said

      Unless you home school throughout your education years, Mr. Jardel, you’re nothing but a product of teachers too and without them, do you think you could even work in the private sector to say all these crap now?

      Also, you need to get your facts right.

      “Those who had graduated from NIE earns from 2.5k to 3k. That’s 26 to 28 yrs of age. However, with the increments, this can go up to 4k in 4 to 5 yrs time.”

      Those who graduated from NIE ain’t 26 years old. They’re 23 or 24 for those who are fresh graduates from NIE. Whether increments reach a salary of 4k in 4 or 5 years’ time depends on each officer’s performance. Those who do not perform do NOT even get an increment in case you aren’t aware. For the good performers, getting a 4k salary after 4 to 5 years in service is expected. Guess you have low expectations of yourself. It’s true that you don’t get that much increment in ‘most private sectors’ but there are people in some private sectors who earn far far more. You sound disgruntled with your pay and thus lash out at teachers, thinking they join the profession without passion. Why don’t you work harder and smarter and be the minority in the private sectors who earn far more or join teaching? You must understand not everyone can teach. Some people barely could last even a week. Other than passion, it’s about suitability.

      Did you choose your private sector job because of passion then? If that’s the case, be happy with your salary even if it’s lower than the teachers. There is no need to generalise the whole nation of teachers to be ‘passionless’ in their jobs to make yourself feel better about your current situation.

    • The ex-HOD said

      Dear Jardel

      I’m sorry that you feel this way.
      I did choose to teach because I can and cared enough for my subject and my students. I did not enter the service to be rich, nor that it was an iron rice bowl. For those who did, I agree with you, it would be a mistake to take them. Pay may get you in but it is still the passion that keeps you going. My article was a comment to another person’s berating that he is too stressed in NIE and thinks that trainee teachers are overworked and under-recognised so please read it in context to that.

      But to answer your question, I did leave the service and found another job in the private sector which paid better, and yes, in less than a year.

      • Julie Ong said

        Dear Ex-Hod,
        I hope that you are content now. Really we are free to choose and to each his/her own preference. Fundamentally what makes you happy and enjoying what you do should be the yardstick. I wish you well.

        I hope that money alone will not be the motivation for everything we do. It is very satisfying when you see the sparkle in a child’s eye when you talk and
        spend time with him/her at the hospital. Apart from that it also brings out the better part of our human nature.

        On a jovial note: just like some of my Cantonese friends said ‘yau cheng yum sway pow’. Good luck and take care.

  3. Current Teacher said

    Totally agreed with what you said. Being a teacher is about having a passion to teach. Nurturing the young. Failing to have that, you ended up feeling miserable. Whats with the long hours, tons of markings and lots of planning. I’ve seen those who joined teaching just because they thought it was the safer and easier route. You can hear them grumbling about everything. The school system. The markings. The other teachers. And so on. This is no longer about defending the MOE curriculum or even do damage control. Its really stating our thoughts since we have went through NIE, practicum and are currently teaching.

  4. Hanibal Singh said

    A classroom teacher of grade GEO 1A2 got paid above $5000 a month. We take teachers’ annual salary including their fat civil service bonus and AWS and divide them by 12. Their “normalize” monthly salary will be closer to 6k. And there are plenty of GEO 1A2 teachers kicking around in schools.

    ST reported as below in 2007.

    For an experienced principal on the Senior Education Officer (SEO) Superscale “H”, the annual pay package will increase from $168,000 to $193,000 for a good performer and from $185,000 to $218,000 for an outstanding performer

    http://www.asiaone.com/Business/News/Office/Story/A1Story20080103-43468.html

    So the maximum principal salary is $18,166 per month.

    The maximum grade of HOD is SEO 1A XXX, just below Superscale “H”. HOD salary is between classroom teacher and principals.

  5. Hanibal Singh said

    Stop whinning, dear HOD. I dont think you have the calibre given that you think reading someone else lesson plan is a tough job. When I see around, many HODs, CT are taking sadistic pleasure in screwing trainee teachers commenting on trainee teachers work like piece of shit.

    And are you sure HODs always observe trainee teacher lesson? You are wrong, HODs always take a break. Even if HOD is observing lessons, they are loath by trainee teachers. You can be sure trainee teacher will receive lots of poison feedback.

  6. Thinker said

    “What the writer fails to mention is that for every lesson plan he/she wrote, the HOD had to read it through and discuss with him/her on how to improve it. The HOD also sits in on the class to assess the trainee.”

    I agree with you Ex-HOD. In fact prior to the trainee’s writing, I would guide the trainee in writing a good lesson plan, share many samples and introduce him/her to the dynamics of the class he/she will be teaching. Then despite our hectic schedule, I’ll make it a point to read the lesson plan at least three days in advance so that I could give my feedback before he/she conducts the lesson. The problem with trainees is, some do not even submit on time, making our job difficult. I remembered receiving a last-minute submission at 12 midnight and I had to vet it in time for this trainee to deliver the lesson the following day. After each lesson observation, there would also be post-conference and discussion for improvements and at the end of the whole stint, I would have to write a report, meet the nie supervisor and give a grading. All these are normal routines for any mentors. What’s not so normal would be extraordinary cases where the trainee had a row with the class and I would have to step in to mediate. And when some of them left, despite our close guidance and supervision, to our horror, we would find that they have taught certain topics wrongly and had to undo the damages with the class. In short, it’s not easy. I’m sure in the private sector, the more experienced employees would have guided and mentored the new and untrained employees too. I’m sure the mentors are also accountable for the quality of work produced by the trainees too. Anyway, those who take their jobs seriously as mentors will be doing real work. It’s not as ‘free’ as what some have described that once the trainee takes over, the mentor has free periods. That’s the last thing on my mind.

    • Hanibal Singh said

      Yo thinker, how you expect people to submit lesson plan on time, given most in NIE are demanded to write at least 12 pages in practicum.

      You mentioned trainee teaching the wrong things. My friends in NIE told me that HODs were not able to solve mathematics problem thrown by students or had solved problems wrongly. The HODs has malu himself in from of trainee teachers. I heard even experience teacher bluffing their way through in content.

      And what is there to whine about when trainee are teaching the wrong thing? You reduce your teaching hours by 4 weekly, you pay the price. Else you throw out trainees to other teachers, I 1000% bet they are going to take in trainees with a big smile.

      Other teachers are tougher than you. Dont whine here whine there.

      • Thinker said

        Mr. Hannibal Singh, in case you’re ill-informed. The lesson plans were merely two to three pages long and only written for the lessons which I need to observe, not for every single lesson. The trainees have much lesser teaching periods than me too so they certainly have the time to do that. Most did it successfully while those who can’t will always have ‘reasons’.

        Anyway I’m not whining about taking on trainees. I’m pointing out the wrong impression people have of mentors who had it easier. Exactly like your mentality. You think to cut down 4 hours weekly is a great deal and thus mentors have ‘to pay the price’. And in case you’re not aware again, many teachers do not hope to have trainees because it disrupts their teaching somehow and also for a simple fact that some do not like being observed for the first week. Each time a teacher has a trainee, he/she will be observed for the first week at least. There are trainees who in fact observe for a few weeks or months and need not teach at all due to the different trainings they are exposed to. Are you even aware of this?

        You spoke about other teachers are tougher than me. I don’t deny that there are always better and tougher teachers out there. Are you one? Maybe you can paint me a picture on how you’ve ‘suffered’ or ‘sacrificed’ yourself in this education line.🙂

      • Hanibal Singh said

        Wow, finally I get to know someone who ask their trainee to write 3 page lesson plan on big day. The rest of the day, trainee can slack. I salute you boy. You can go around and ask in NIE classes and I bet you are the kindest 1%.

        You tell me many teachers do not like to have trainees. I believe I believe. Its like PAP saying they go for politics not because of monies, FT here to create jobs for locals, smaller HDB is better…..etc..LOL.

        Defintely 4 hours is a great deal for many teachers being squeeze dry. For HODs who idle all the way, many that does not matter to them. HODs teaching period without trainee are already 8 hours.

  7. Ex-teacher said

    I am an ex-teacher, not a HOD or any other appointments, just a normal teacher. I agree with the earlier post “Ex-MOE teacher recalls ‘dehumanizing’ experiences of trainee teachers” to a certain extent. Not that it is a “dehumanizing” experience, but I would rather rephrase it to more appropriate terms – rigorous and hectic. If there is a scale out of 10 to measure the rigour and hectic of my NIE training, I will give a 10. From the moment the term starts, assignments come in like waves of tsunami. Deadlines are aplenty and all of them are pretty close to each other – it is quite common to have several assignments due within the same week. Furthermore, there is the teaching assistantship and teaching practicum at the end of the curriculum year, where I had to observe numerous lessons, write reflections, plan lessons, prepare resources and teach. Sleep is definitely a luxury and given that I am a non-graduate, the remuneration is definitely not a motivating factor.

    Even though I had come through from all that, I am certainly of the opinion that NIE can do a better job at designing its curriculum. No doubt the rigour and hectic prepared me well for the same kind of working condition and pace in school, I question a lot of times on the quality of our teacher training and education. What is the point of rushing for deadlines when we should really be acquiring in depth knowledge of the subject we are going to teach? That being said, I am also not suggesting that trainee teachers to be given luxurious amount of time to complete each assignment, at least it shouldn’t be 2 to 3 deadlines within the same week coupled with tests and presentations. If teachers are trained in such pressure-cooker style, instead of being taught to appreciate the subject and cultivate the love of learning it, it is of little surprise that they will in turn use the same method on the students. It creates a vicious cycle as these teachers move up the ladder, and there will always be a huge barrier for education to evolve to keep up with times.

    As a non-graduate teacher, I will disagree with my 2 hands up if anyone were to tell me that teaching is a well-paying job. Maybe for the graduate teachers, but definitely not for me. I even had to take up tuition classes at self-help groups in order to have a little bit of luxury. Nevertheless, that didn’t hamper me to join teaching. I joined teaching in the first place as I wanted to change and make a difference in my subject – Physical Education. I even told my interviewers that if I am not given the subject, I would not sign the letter to enter NIE after my contract teaching stint. True enough, I was given the subject and went to NIE. Ironically, at the end of the day, it wasn’t the stress nor the workload and definitely not the remuneration that made me leave teaching. It was the negativity, lack of support from school leaders, the reluctance to open up to new ideas, the stick-in-the-mud mentality, favouritism from school leaders and many more obstacles that doused the passion. As I witness more of my NIE cohort-mates leaving the service, I began to wonder how a group of young men and women who were once so passionate about teaching gradually lose that fire in them. Salary is definitely not the issue, as some of them were emplaced into the graduate scheme after obtaining a degree from part-time studies.

    I had the experience of looking for a job after I left teaching and I can attest to how difficult it was. Barring education qualifications, very few employers see the relevance of the skills teachers possess. To many of them, all that teachers know are to teach and this is such a specialised skill that many employers don’t see the transferability and relevance of the other skills that teachers have. Most of them do not know teachers spent most of their time doing non-teaching tasks. And in these non-teaching tasks, other skills like events planning and co-ordination, project management, adult training, handling “customers”, relationship building, administration and many more are required.

    There are valid points in the author’s post and in all of the comments, and I will just want to end by saying there are people who joined teaching for the wrong reasons, I have witnessed them before, and strangely these are not the ones who leave after their bond ends. However, there are also those who joined because they truly want to make a difference, and more often that not, these are the ones who can’t sustain. It is probable that, in my opinion, the more you want to make a difference, the more dejected you will feel because the system just doesn’t allow that. MOE’s vision is to “mould the future of our nation”. And a truly passionate teacher will never do that, because they believe that children should be nurtured to his/her fullest potential. Moulding will only shape a person to what he/she is not. Perhaps it is the passion-turned-dejection part that doused the fire in most teachers. To avoid losing more good teachers, I believe radical changes to the current system should be made.

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