Reading minds…

9 03 2011

One of the prompts for this week’s blogging asks whether I would read minds if I could.

As an educator, one of the things I struggle with is maintaining relevance in my classes. I try to teach with humour and an understanding of the needs of my students, but I will be the first to admit that I am not always successful: my classes sometimes flop because the connections I’m making are not clear, the discussions we’re having are not challenging or engaging for my students, or, simply, that I had not planned every detail that I could have done before teaching the lesson. After one of those classes, I come away metaphorically “facepalming” myself out of frustration and ineptitude – why didn’t I do it this way? How did I not remember that that wasn’t something that helped last time? When should I have said what I said just now? What amount of time should I have allocated to that particular task? What would have been a more effective foundation task, back-up plan or extension activity?

In short, to answer the question that was the prompt, I don’t think I’d want to be able to read minds on those kinds of days. Being able to always know what my students are thinking about me, as professionally enriching as that may be, might have the ability to shatter the last vestiges of my self-esteem. For that, I use Google Docs for a survey which shows me what my students think of me so I can make changes.

I may have taught for 5 years now, going on for my 6th, but I still feel like I am doing a terrible job sometimes. Not all the time, mind. But the times when I feel like I’ve not taught anything the students can use later are the times I seriously question my choice of career.

And then a student takes a candid picture of me in class where I look like this, and I remember again what it is about this job that I love so much.

But when the rubber hits the road, I want to know how my students are relating to, and thinking about my classes; that’s why I work so hard at making my classroom open, and make myself available. I do take suggestions seriously, and like I wrote on my under-construction Wikispace, I am always looking for ways to improve the way I teach. This is an area of my life that is very clear to me.

Everything else, on the other hand…


Paradoxical Commandments

27 04 2010

Something that is keeping me alive right now, and still somewhat in love with what I do on a daily basis:

The Paradoxical Commandments
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.
© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

Something to consider, given the circumstances

28 10 2009

Erica Jong once wrote, “Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.”

As I’m sitting at my desk staring at my dissertation, which is nearly but not quite finished, I am depressed by this thought especially given everything that’s been happening recently. Why is life so contradictory?


Mere observations for now – written earlier

25 10 2009

I’m in Beijing for the weekend for a professional development workshop. Although I’m not a counsellor of any sort, I’ve learned a lot about how to counsel students in a specific, solution-as opposed to a problem-based way. Counselling is fascinating: establishing trust with students (the “clients”) and guiding them towards finding answers for themselves is enormous.

As I’m writing this, I just overheard a snippet of a conversation between the counsellor in front of me. The snippet was, “That’s what she said!”

Hahahahha! I mean, I by no means endorse jokes or funny, well-timed interjections of that phrase, but that was high-larious!


The workshop has been really interesting, is all I’m trying to say. I’m just surprised by the observation that so many teachers in international schools around Asia move around so much. Sure, there are people who stay in the same school for years and years, but they are more of an exception rather than the rule. How I envy the freedom of moving around like that. I wonder whether I would ever be at that place myself. Maybe in the future.

But the question is, do I want to continue in the field I’ve chosen?

We’re driving through the suburbs now. The houses are incredible – it’s like this is not China at all. Although it’s hardly surprising.

The workshop was good all around and I learned a lot about focusing on the solution rather than the problem. On the one hand it makes complete sense, but on the other, it’s hard to establish that mentality as so much of it is ultimately relational when it’s a student and teacher talking.

I was able to get it into practice a little last week though, and will be sharing about this with the other teachers during a faculty meeting at some point. Ahh, it could be so good to have all teachers equipped with skills for counselling.

WWW trip to Tokyo

30 04 2009

Had a good meeting with 3 of the parents tonight, which was efficient and informative, then had a long chat with the mother of one of my students. The conversation renewed my hope for this school, and showed me what I felt like and anticipated when I first decided to come to this school. Why is it always so easy to criticise and lose sight of the original intention? Oh, that the people who spend time in this school would fall in love with God again, and know that his plan for the school far surpasses any hopes, fund-raising activities, or ESLR.

And may the change, may the revival, start with me.

While we’re telling the truth

14 04 2009

I am sick and tired of this headache. It’s been 2 days shy of a month now, and no one seems to know why it’s here. In my head. Making itself known to me. Constantly. Seriously, what is the deal here?!

And I’m wishing we could fast forward to Japan during Week Without Walls, then skip ahead to Phuket this June, then fast forward to when I can concentrate on writing my thesis. Honestly…!

Another one

21 03 2009

I’ve had a constant headache since Sunday, and I’m afraid to get it checked out, in case it’s horrible, or nothing at all.

I have too much to do. But wouldn’t it be interesting if it were serious?