SCHOOL holidays are finally here and a time for a much-awaited break for teachers.
There are many outside the teaching profession who are envious of the month-long holiday that teachers get because they see it as a privilege.
But for teachers, the demands of the jobs are endless. Teachers put in long hours, contrary to what others may think. So the year-end holiday is a welcome break. Over the decades, the education policies have gone through tremendous changes. New ideas and innovative plans are constantly introduced and implemented.
E-learning has become the order of the day. We are fed with picture perfect scenarios where students equipped with laptops and high-tech gadgets are engaged in active self-learning activities.
Well, in reality the picture is not as pretty as it seems.
A teacher clocks in at 7am and spends the next 10 hours in a “battlefield-like environment”.
What a teacher endures in the next 10 hours or so, depends on pure luck which is determined by the students and the sometimes negative force of technology.
One of the numerous tasks of a teacher is to submit the students’ attendance online before 9am each day.
However the system often chooses to misbehave causing chaos. Try struggling with your gadget hoping to get the attendance keyed in, and you will be blamed by your students for abandoning them.
Teachers are even accused of exchanging WhatsApp messages (students have the wildest imagination) during class hours!
What if you put your students above all and ignore the inefficient system? Face action from your superiors for neglecting your duty.
The Frog Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), is a web-based learning system introduced in many national schools. It replicates real-world learning by integrating virtual equivalents of conventional concepts of education.
Teachers like me can assign lessons, tests, and marks virtually, while students can submit homework and view their marks through the VLE.
Parents can view school news and important documents while school administrators can organise their school calendars and disseminate school notices via the Internet.
Schools are monitored on the usage of Frog VLE. Hours spent by each school is recorded, ranked and reported monthly.
Teachers are responsible for the ranking and when you can’t ensure the position favoured by your superiors, there are bound to be attacks launched from all corners.
The problem is that the Internet is sometimes slower than a sloth, and that can set us back by 40 minutes –- the duration of an entire period.
We sometimes put up with ineffective gadgets and systems and are then expected to explain why we are not able to complete the syllabus on time.
That’s not all, we have to take responsibility for not having the desired number of written exercises given to students too. It’s quantity that counts, not the quality these days!
How about the Nilam ((Nadi Ilmu Amalan Membaca) programme which was introduced with the noble intention of cultivating and instilling the reading culture among students?
Though it was initiated with the idea of getting the students to read for “knowledge, enjoyment and leisure” it has ended up being the cause of anxiety for many teachers.
A teacher has to literally beg the students to read as once again, recording and presenting the numbers become the goal.
If students have reached the target number, give all the credit to the students.
Teachers are expected to create miracles and it doesn’t matter what a child’s intelligence level is. After all, making sure that students get a string of As is what a teacher’s job is all about!
Teachers are also expected to have a fine blend of Buddha and Gandhi, exhibiting the characteristics of Buddha and practising the teachings of Gandhi.
Smile when the students rebel, forgive when they err, persevere when they protest.
When your patience is put to test, utter no word. If you do, you might gain instant stardom in social media!
The ever increasing number of teachers opting for early retirement and teachers becoming victims of stress-related illnesses speaks volumes.
Excessive workload have forced many teachers to unfurl the white flag too soon.
It has also contributed towards cases of depression, divorce and even deaths among teachers.
Expectations from all corners are taking away so much time from teachers. Spending quality time with family and being involved in other activities are becoming things of the past.
Despite all this, teachers strive. An occasional appreciation and a “thank you” note which comes at unexpected moments are the fuel which keeps them going.
Having a dose of humour does help when they face these challenges. Teachers help nurture and guide young people to take the right path.
They also find contentment in witnessing their students’ successes, big or small.
To all teachers, have a great break!