Writing to Vent

I found this while cleaning up the crap known to accumulate in my phone.

I wrote this last year at the peak of my school year stress curve – my first time preparing a class for the National Exams.

The class did very well but, boy, the expectations, pressure and worry prior were quite incredible.

Monday. Dreading

Wednesday. Grinding

Friday. Barely breathing.

Are we coping?

Exams. Coming.

Homework. Overloading.

Marking. Terrifying.

When is it ending?

Pain. Throbbing

Heat. Scorching

Fatigue. Unrelenting

Is it not improving?

Head. Splitting

Skin. Burning

Body. Weakening

Final reckoning.


PSLE 2018 Que Sera Sera

The Primary School Leaving Examination results will be released next Wednesday.

The high-stakes national Exams are what 12 year-old kids in Singapore sit for in late-Sep to early Oct every year to help them gain entry into a Secondary School of their choice. The kids go through rather excessive exam preparations that stress them as well as create holes in the pockets of parents who are willing to dole out good cash to ensure their children are over-prepared.

The dialogues generated over the Exams reflect a multitude of viewpoints, most of which have to do with “Why!?”

Some would argue for the system but most against. The heart of the argument lies in this – getting top scores vs. joy of learning. Most would focus on the former. Unless very capable, it is rather idealistic, naive even, to think that doing well in both are possible since societal pressures and expectations would skew the balance very heavily to one side. Afterall, their progression will be judged by their scores. What precious joy dissipates when all you have are piles of assessment books to complete while thinking about the grades needed to get into some prestigious school. For your future they say. But what about now??

Anyway, the kids are pushed to do both well. I watched the kids I teach go through exam prep for PSLE this year. They were numbly revising and robotically practicing sums. I had a hand in what they went through; it isn’t easy to find the sweet spot between ensuring they are well-prepared and having fun when doing so. I try.

With Judgement Day approaching, I am a little anxious.

Que Sera Sera.

Update 22 Nov 2018:

My kids did well! And I hit my targets! Yay!!

They were all so anxious when they arrived at the school hall this morning. Almost everyone went home smiling; those who didn’t, shed happy tears. It was all rather emotional.

I had kids and parents coming up to me to thank me and ask for pictures. Hands were shaken, shoulders were patted and hugs were given. The sense of accomplishment I felt was tremendous. I think the kids felt the same way too.

My first P6 class.

Memories are made of these.

To Play or not to Play?

How important is two hours in a day?

What loss is sustained if you spend it at play?

To call for lessons without a break,

What more during their holidays!

A well-rounded person to develop you say,

But the mountain of work will not be kept at bay,

Instead added on to the interminable fray.

In exchange for what, tell pray

A bunch of kids all tired and gray?

This is definitely the kiasu way

So Singapore, so Singaporean, I say.

School’s OUT!

Darn, I am tired. 

The last two weeks of school flew by in a mad rush of marking and rechecking exam scripts, chasing down the kids for their files for end-of-term book checks and preparing for the dreaded parent-teacher meeting. 
PTM. Painful Time Mostly. Blood-sucking day.

I literally spent 9 hours straight talking to parents with one loo break and no meal break. My throat is sore from all that and I am Strepsil-ing myself, silently praying that it will recover. 

Poor throat – third time this year now. 

It’s probably my fault since I didn’t tell the parents that I wanted to eat. But they kept streaming in and I just couldn’t catch a break. I wish the school would use its PA system to announce a break for the teachers so everyone would know to turn up their patience just a bit. Empathy would be appreciated. As much as I like my students, I am SO glad it’s over. Pfff.


I mostly need sleep though. Two days after and I still look tired. Recovery isn’t as quick when you are older…

To assist in my recovery, I had soul food today that is this glorious bowl of sliced fish soup. Heaven sent. 

There are a few more things left to do before I can truly say that I am on break. The hardest parts are done -woohoo!- and I simply need to chug through till the end of the month. 
After that, travel begins! Yay!!!

Summer in Greece. No kidding.

Bloody Nose reminds

It’s been a trying first term with full responsibilities heaped on. It isn’t even that big of a deal compared to the load of my previous job but it sure is hectic. I should thank my lucky stars if I even have a half hour to sit and eat a meal without marking or fiddling with some administrative matters at the same time. But it is what I chose to do, so I chug on.

Till this morning. I was clearing my nasal passage this morning when blood continually oozed out of my left nostril and stained the basin red. Yikes.

I have been feeling under the weather since late last week and have been been trying to herbal-drink my way out of my predicament. The sore throat is gone but Mr Cold and Ms Cough came to visit. Nose bleeds are rare for me – they appear only when I have gone too far to the dark side. The blood told me it is time to rest. I called in sick and thought I could spend time sleeping in. I could not. I did get some shuteye but woke up in between to grade papers.

It’s funny how I feel better looking at my now empty desk, free of ungraded worksheets. Maybe it’s the meds.

Did I leap from the frying pan into the fire? Not possible.

But health isn’t something to be reckoned with. I better get my priorities straight.

Deja Vu

I had the same thought about a year and a half back when I sat in the same cafe with a book and a coffee.

If this is retirement, I am going to be bored out of my mind

Fast forward 18 months – I am finally getting my license to teach after a year of postgrad study. 

It is a profession I find deeply meaningful and one that I can see myself undertaking right into the retirement phase of life. 

It also finances the wanderlust and gives time to satisfy globetrotting cravings. 

First of which is a celebratory trip to Yangon, Myanmar for surviving the crazy hours at teaching college and the 10-weeks of non-stop lesson observations.

Punctuation and Palindromes

I am in the midst of developing lesson extensions – in the occasion that I need to give my students something further to think about. 

While lounging on a sofa on a lazy Saturday morning, I came across a Facebook post from Grammarly.com, and I immediately thought about how I could use that to make learning punctuation fun. Job hazard.

But I wanted to write it down somewhere in case I forget again. The WordPress app is next to my Facebook one. How convenient.

My type-scribbles:

Some self-discipline is required to apply punctuation. No critical thinking needed since it really isn’t rocket science. 

 It can be ignored when you want a laugh or if you would like to turn into a cannibal : Let us eat Grandma.

But when do you get to ignore punctuation?

Palindromes. They are words, phrases or number sequences that read the same backwards and forwards – spaces and punctuation within are not too important. 

1. Hannah

2. Race car

3. Sit on a potato pan, Otis.

4. Was it a car or a cat I saw?

5. Dennis, Nell, Edna, Leon, Nedra, Anita, Rolf, Nora, Alice, Carol, Leo, Jane, Reed, Dena, Dale, Basil, Rae, Penny, Lana, Dave, Denny, Lena, Ida, Bernadette, Ben, Ray, Lila, Nina, Jo, Ira, Mara, Sara, Mario, Jan, Ina, Lily, Arne, Bette, Dan, Reba, Diane, Lynn, Ed, Eva, Dana, Lynne, Pearl, Isabel, Ada, Ned, Dee, Rena, Joel, Lora, Cecil, Aaron, Flora, Tina, Arden, Noel, and Ellen sinned.