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.
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 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.