The Teacher

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I’m Faizah and I go by the name of Teacher Izah in my class. I have been teaching preschoolers for 15 years. Basically, I teach and nurture the kids. I have interchangeable roles; I am also the cleaner, nanny, the whisperer, psychologist, scientist, biologist, choreographer, singer, dancer, IT technician, traffic police (standing in the middle of the road, stopping cars so the kids can cross safely) and a friend to my children.

MY TEACHING HISTORY

In my teaching journey, I have gathered plenty of both good and bad experiences, happy and sad memories.

I first began as an assistant teacher in 1998 but it wasn’t a real job. This is hilarious because I was only 17 and in my final year of secondary school, doing my GCE ‘O’ Levels. How I got the post? My mom happened to be a teacher in that school and it was January, the nursery (4 year old) classes needed assistant teachers. One of the classes had a heavily pregnant teacher without an assistant and they couldn’t find one. So my mom approached me and asked if I could render my help, with pay. Of course, I grabbed the opportunity. I loved kids, anyway, they were all so cute and it should be easy (or so I thought)! I was only needed for the last period, for 2 hours. Off I went to “work” after school, in my school attire. LOL.

After my ‘O’ Levels results, in 1999, I did not get to continue in a college or polytechnic. My results were TOO GOOD for the tertiary level.  I did not further my studies nor did I get a job. I was practically lazying around at home aka Couch Potato. Then came a phone call from the Supervisor (now Principal) of the kindergarten that I worked at as assistant teacher. She needed me to relief a class for a few days because the teacher was on medical leave. Then I relieved a class again, and again, and again.

The Supervisor told me that a new centre would be opening in the following year and asked me if I wanted to apply for a permanent post. So I went to the Main Office to apply and be interviewed. Since the Principal (now Branch Administrator) knew me, I got the job straight away. Yes, with only ‘O’ Levels as my qualifications. She told me that I would be sent for professional development courses and workshops to upgrade my papers.

So it was December 1999, where I had my very own classroom and classes under my charge. I learned that I had to decorate the classroom walls and notice boards, set up the tables and chairs, prepare the writing books and stationery. At that time, the teacher-child ratio was 1:35, the most. It seemed crazy but I did not feel the pressure. Now, our class size has changed to 1:20. This number is subjected to change in the near future.

Singapore’s early childhood education only began to adopt and bring in the learning centres into the classroom in 2002. That was when I took my Certificate of Preschool Teaching (CPT). Well, that was what I could remember during my early years of teaching because, correct me if I am wrong, prior to this, preschool education was very much teacher-directed and very academic. We had play time, of course, but the learning process was different.

After a good 4 year service to that kindergarten, I decided to say goodbye and moved on to a greener pasture of a private kindergarten. It was a hell in disguise. Let’s call the school HJ. The centre that I was appointed to was far from the neighbourhood. Only one bus service catered to the people, living in that woodland area. Yes, the place was pretty much forested, with a couple of landed properties around. HJ was located deeper inside that avenue and I had to walk in for about 10-15 minutes before I could reach the gate.

The school had a horrible education system, very academic and no play. Well, they had a swimming pool there, where the children had water play about once a month. Other than that kind of play, that was pretty much it. Poor kids! Don’t worry, that school is no longer functioning because their license were ceased, in 2007 due to heavy debts, violating the Ministry’s regulations by holding the teachers’ pay and no CPF contributions. I was one of them but I made the right choice by tendering my resignation with a 24 hour notice. That was after 6 months of working in a hell. In the midst of the ruckus, I did my Diploma in Preschool Teaching (DPT), now Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education – Teaching (DECCE-T).

2 weeks after my “released”, I was back into serving the children in the organization that I first began with. But this time, it was in a different branch. To date, I have been teaching and nurturing batch after batch of children in the same centre, with great management, teaching and non-teaching staff.

I am constantly upgrading my skills and currently doing my Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education – Leadership (DECCE-L). I hope to manage a centre one day, after I obtain a Degree (that’s the minimum requirement by 2014). That is, if I still have the drive to carry on studying :p I prefer teaching to managing. I enjoy managing the children but the whole school, it is pretty tough. Well, I give myself another 10 years.

MY TEACHING AWARDS AND NOMINATIONS

1) Outstanding Kindergarten Teacher Award Nominee 2011
2) Long Service Award 2011
3) Good Practice Aware for Kindergarten – Individual 2011
4) Good Practice Award For Kindergarten – Team 2012

I am proud to be where I am; where children matter.

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