My Professional Journey

It’s been close to a year since I graduated, clicking my feet on stage after recieving my Degree, along with two other madcap friends who expressed their joy on stage in a different way (Shouting, “I made it!” and taking a candid shot onstage with President Jackie). The memories from studying at Wheelock are deeply etched in my heart. At the end of the entire experience , I felt like I had wings.

“I’m going to make a difference!”, I told myself. But of course, things don’t always go the way you want them to.

I’ve been working as a full-time Early Childhood Educator for close to 9 months, and this is one of the first few reflections I wrote, of what I have experienced in this short time at this wonderful job.

This reflection was written during my fourth month, when I was struggling at work. Fellow educators would relate best to this. Soon-to-be educators, you will experience this. But it should not give you a reason to quit.

http://shronsugarman.wordpress.com/2010/09/23/4-months/

As the days went by, I experienced many ups and downs along with my friends who are teaching as well. I have never been one to cry, but I cried at work. Not once, not twice. Definitely not because of my colleagues, they are great. The emotional rollercoasters became a norm. For me, and many of my peers. But we did not give up. After experiencing burn-out, things started getting better. With the support of several people, I got past the worst, and accepted I was struggling. At the end of my 8 months at work, another reflection was written:

8 months

8 months since I started work. I’ve never charted my journey with anything I’ve undertaken in life. The first and only one I’m keeping track of, is my professional journey.

8 months on, I am just a simple teacher. Not chasing big dreams, no big aspirations. Just keeping it real.
8 months on, I have learnt that there is a bigger picture to everything. If I want to do my best at work, my health has to be ready for it. It’s not ready yet, I know. So I’ve downsized my expectations, putting more energy into keeping up with meds, eating and whatnot.
8 months on, I’m teaching a group of 4 year olds, reflecting on my takeaways each day.
8 months on, I’m not an ambitious teen, I’m a realistic young adult. If I’m a novice, then I’m a novice. I don’t jump to professional overnight.
8 months on, I am facing the same challenges, all you beginning teachers are facing.      So don’t say, “Shron works at _________… Sure no problems right….?” Because I will rubbish that statement immediately.

8 months on, I’m just doing my best to finish what I have to, making sure I am in contact with close friends, reviewing my self-expectations.
8 months on, I’m learning to celebrate my successes and really just taking it one step at a time.
8 months on, I am starting to read, watch tv, and most importantly, I am sleeping. All the things I never let myself do since 4 years ago, I’m letting myself do now.
8 months on, I forgive myself for the mistakes I made, and am renewing faith in my prayer each day.
8 months on, I’m living the life of a human being. Not the robot I was in 2007.

and 8 months on, I’m learning to strike a work-life balance. 

Because really, who said teachers have to be perfect anyway? Who said teachers need to know it all anyway?
8 months on, I am still in the field. Motivated, not running away.

That’s a success, friends.That’s a success, Shron.

🙂

To all my fellow teachers
Nothing’s ever easy. But there’s a consolation: We’re going through this together

____________________________

Sure, this is a multiple-entry submission for the competition, but I see it more as a form of sharing with my friends who are teaching, and the soon-to-be educators from Cohorts 3 and 4.

This is a field with a high teacher attrition rate. It’s something very real, and something that requires lots of time to be changed. I once read somewhere that ” You don’t have to be the one to make the change, but you can still take the first step”.  I know that many of you believe you can make a change through this profession, and I do not doubt that. But do remember that sometimes, the changes do not have to be magnanimous. They don’t have to be reported in the papers. You don’t have to be interviewed on Channel News Asia.

You can still make a change when you start work. And the change can start within yourself. You will realise what I mean when you start teaching, and I sure hope your struggles don’t give you a reason to stop.

-Shron Sugumaran
Cohort 2

Reflection. A part of me.

Ever since I saw the post on the Student Organization wordpress about the competition on reflection (and the prize that came along with it), I began to think more about reflection and what it means to me.

In the 2 amazing years in Wheelock, reflection became the most commonly used word in our vocabulary. We would always be reflecting on our personal or professional experiences, reflecting on the required texts or even reflecting on the many journals we had to read for our action research. Reflection had become so common that many of us shiver at the thought of writing yet another reflection for an assignment. Just ask any Wheelock graduate or student to describe what Wheelock means to her, reflection will be the first thing she talks about.

It’s been 6 months and counting into the job and here I am in the midst of IEP meetings (In ECH, we call them parent-teacher meetings). And I find myself reflecting – reflecting on my experiences, reflecting on my interactions with colleagues, parents and children, reflecting on my teaching methods, reflecting on my knowledge of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and reflecting on new knowledge and suggestions given by therapists and fellow teachers. I choose to believe that it is Wheelock that built into my system a culture of reflection, a culture to reflect so that I can learn and become better at what I do. Reflection has become a norm, an innate thing to do everyday. It’s no longer an assignment that my professor wants me to do. Reflection has become a part of me, a part of who I am. I now know that in order to make a difference – a good difference – in the lives of children and families, I need to constantly reflect and improve.

If thinking about thinking is metacognition, I wonder what is reflecting about reflection?

 

Tan Yi En (Cohort 2)

If I had my child to raise all over again

For all the educators and parents out there… something to pnder about when the going gets tough.

If I had my child to raise all over again,
I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I’d finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I’d do more hugging and less tugging.

– Diane Loomans

Michelle Ang

Only the brave should teach

Stumbled across a quote today which I found rather meaningful!

“Only the brave should teach. Only those who love the young should teach. Teaching is a vocation. It is as sacred as priesthood; as innate as desire, as inescapable as the genius which compels a great artist. If he has not the concern for humanity, the love of living creatures, the vision of the priest and the artist: he must not teach.”

-Pearl S. Buck

Grace Lee

Little Heroes

A year ago, when I was supposed to be finding online articles for my assignment, I was doing my thing, surfing my favorite website http://www.oddee.com. I came across this article “10 Amazing Little Heroes”. This article has stories of young kids who risked their lives or go the extra mile to help the people in need. All of them are heroes in their own unique ways. See the miracles these children can create!

All the stories are awesome and unique, but the one that struck me most is this: (click on the pic! 😀 – feel free to read the other stories too:D)

The seven-year-old girl who used her body as a shield to save her mother's life

And then ask yourself, will you really take a bullet for your loved ones?

We Pray for the Children…

We pray for the children who sneak snacks before meals,
who erase holes in their papers (especially precious drawing paper),
who can never seem to find their things for shower.

And we pray for those who watch photographers from behind barbed wires,
who can’t skip down the street in a new pair of child-sized shoes,
who count trash bits but never a toy,
who are born in places where we wouldn’t be caught dead,
who never go places or have time to be coy,
who live in an X-rated world.

We pray for children who give us sticky kisses and fistfuls of pet rocks,
who hug us in a hurry and forget their socks.
And we pray for those who never get food,
who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
who watch as their parents watch them die,
who can’t even find crumbs to loot,
who don’t even have rooms to clean up,
whose pictures won’t even make it on the obituaries,
whose monsters aren’t in cupboards yet are very real.

We pray for children who are daddy’s girls and mummy’s boys,
who throw tantrums in malls and fuss over their food,
who don’t like ghost stories before bedtime,
who shove dirty laundry under the bed,
who trail muddy footprints from outdoors to bathtub,
who get visits from Santa and the tooth fairy,
who don’t like to be mollycoddled in front of others,
who fidget in class and scream in the phone,
whose tears we sometimes smile at and
whose smiles can make us cry.

And we pray for those whose nightmares come in the daytime,
who will eat anything (and I mean, anything),
who have never seen a dentist,
who aren’t spoiled by anybody,
who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
who don’t have fluffy beds to lie on,
who wake up and move around, but don’t really live.

We pray for children who want to be carried,
and for those who never even felt a caregiver’s loving touch,
who we never give up on,
and for those who never even get a second chance.
For those we smother
in hugs and kisses…
and for those who will grab the hand
of anyone kind enough to offer it.

 

Watched a documentary on street children, hence the inspiration to write this. May we never forget how blessed we truly are, to not have grown up knowing the horrors that some children live with every day. And may we always remember to never leave behind any child who comes under our care to face their ‘monsters’ alone.

Amanda Seah (Cohort Four)