I apologize for not blogged in a LONG while. It’s been quite a journey! I just came back from Thailand two days ago working at a school and am starting the Tutoría network in a school in the town of Phitsanulok. Been challenged and amazed at the opportunities and the support that you all have been – thank you. With help from all of you (and thank you Eu-Wen for website help!) the FiftyFold website‘s up. (and check out the Redes de Tutoría one too) :) From having Dr Gabriel here at the Eagles Leadership Conference or and running two sessions for teachers in Singapore and the Curriculum Planning and Development Division here to having the Art students at Shuqun tutor the Deputy Director General of Education, it’s been a lot of fun being in Tutoría with a whole bunch of people.
In Singapore we celebrate Teachers’ Day this month and it’s been a pretty special. Other than beginning work in Thailand with a group of teachers in a little town called Phitsanulok, celebrating with the teachers at Shuqun Secondary on our last round of Tutoría in Singapore, two funny things happened.
First, on Aug 23 Shuqun played host to the Cluster board meeting and guess what? ACJC is in the same cluster. AC. So Mrs Chan, my principal at ACJC came along and was tutored by one of my students at Shuqun. It seemed like my education world had gone full cycle.
Aug 23 brought to life the cycle of learning and teaching and teaching and learning for me. That unbroken chain of life-long learning that we all talk about, not just as a skill, but as a way to live, became a reality. If we could get that in our classrooms, in our schools, across continents, that teachers learn from students, policy-makers learn from teachers and I mean really learn – we’d have a global learning community that keeps getting stronger.
On September 20, the students at Shuqun (the school I’m working with in Singapore) are going to tutor their parents at our Normal Technical (NT) Showcase night, and on Oct 3, they are going to tutor and share the art of tutoring and their content skills to other teachers at Shuqun. I can feel this cycle continuing and slowly growing and taking shape, spilling out from classroom to community.
The second thing that made this month special was a note from Wen Fong, a Secondary 1 student in my classroom. He was initially rebellious in class but when he was given the opportunity to tutor in class, he began to show more interest for Math. I chose him to be one of the students to tutor the principals at the Cluster meeting.
The day before we tutored on Aug 23, he painstakingly hand-wrote out his entire teaching guide, filled with his own questions and anticipated responses in a thick 5 page document. He prepared his Tema on understanding the circumference of circles. He kept it in his file like a precious document and proudly brought it out when he began tutoring. “I bring it everywhere”, he tells me, “everyday to school, just in case.” Tutoring and sharing knowledge has become a lifestyle, a way of living and it’s that in Wen Fong that I can’t wait to see more in more students in Singapore.
On Teachers’ Day, he wrote to me
“Happy teacher day Miss Meixi, for teaching me a lot of skills for math and teach me how to example to others when I was teaching and let me join a lot of activity for teaching Student, Teachers and Principle.
THANKS YOU Miss Meixi for all the help to let me love math sooooo much and I got the dare to teach friends, teacher and other peoples.
Miss Meixi have a nice day for today and have fun during holiday…😄.
From your student, Wen Fong”
That note will stay with me for a long while, especially when it’s a lot easier to give up and stop trying to make change. Sometimes it feels like there are so many obstacles against us: I still don’t know how to fund my work or how to strategize in the most wise or productive way.
Then notes like these from Wen Fong remind me of a saying from South Africa: There is only one way of eating an elephant: One piece at a time.
Building the network of learners in Southeast Asia, changing the way we conceive of the classroom, train teachers and interact between schools a lot. Changing the role of schools in the community is also going to take time. But when I see students like Wen Fong rise up to the call, grow in passion, service and self-confidence as a person and be a leader in his school and community because of the academic work at school, my passion is renewed and my calling refreshed. We’re eating the elephant one piece at a time.
Thank you for joining me in this journey. I wouldn’t have had the courage to carry on without a lot of you. Please let me know what’s going on with you too!! So,
To all of you who have been my teachers in school and life in many more ways than one, Happy Teachers Day.