I started my first gardening session with the school kids yesterday. I must say they're quite a handful but still, we all had a great time.
My last teaching stint was a long time ago when I worked as a relief teacher while waiting for my GCE 'A' level results. It was a daunting experience for an 18-year old. I was the form teacher of a primary 4 class in a neighbourhood school. The kids were not the most well-disciplined and I struggled to keep them under control.
It was the first time I came face to face with kids from diverse backgrounds. Many from troubled homes had difficulty paying school fees (already heavily subsidised by the government). Discipline was clearly lacking. Kids played and wandered out of the classroom while I was conducting lessons, it was exasperating.
Physical education (PE) lessons were the worst. My students ran all over the school field like wild horses, I had difficulty reining them in. Other teachers looked on with amusement while they organised their charges into rows without having to raise their voice. I was too busy yelling and pulling my hair out to care.
Nobody gave me any guidelines or showed me the ropes. I was given some text books and thrown in at the deep end. I stayed up at night to prepare lesson plans and test papers. I was particularly clueless when it came to music lessons. I think I taught the class 'Yankee Doodle.' It was lame but what do I know about music? I was desperate.
Once I had to bring a primary 8 class for PE lessons. It was a special class for retainees (and many troublemakers). The kids were mostly 14-year olds. And I was only 18! As you can imagine, my instructions mostly flew over their heads.
Everyday posed a new challenge. I was stressed out and I watched the older teachers breeze through their day with envy. They wore a smug look, as if they were happy to see me suffer.
I was quite relieved when my stint was over but my students were sad to see me leave. Many wrote me cards and letters. Some even said I was the best teacher they've ever had. It was very touching, I still keep those cards.
Now that I have kids of my own and more life experience behind me, I should make a better teacher this time round. I hope my time (only 2 hours a week) with these kids will be put to good use and I can instill some good values in them through gardening. It is a good start.