Sunday, August 17, 2014

Types of Teachers in Singapore Schools

Teachers formed the largest group of civil servants in Singapore. In the 60s to 70s, teachers were trained in TTC (Teachers' Training Centre) or IE (Institute of Education). Some of us were part-time trainees We taught in school in the morning, then proceed to TTC for training in the afternoon. The prospect of a teacher at that time was rather hazy as there didn't seem to be a progression of career except that we had our yearly increment and regular 'crossing of the bar'. Thus many of us were contented in where we were, JUST TEACH. Those who aspired knew that they could only be Senior assistant in the school if they could not make it to be the Principal or VP. The SEO salary scale was a very high point to reach, only selected few managed to reach it.
Nowadays, many teachers are highly motivated for promotion and they wanted it as fast as possible. The school leaders used the 'Appraisal System' to chart their subordinates' progress. More often than not, the 'system' is used to highlight the areas of weakness. My personal experiences of it was that the SL usually discussed 80% on one's weaknesses and glossed over one's strengths if he/she wanted to grade you down!! You would leave the SL office with a bitter taste.
Though the Appraisal System is always evolving, the types of teachers in our midst remained largely similar.

The Newbies :  Enthusiastic, wanting to try the learning theories/philosophies they learned from NIE. adding a whiff of fresh air into the Staff Room... They are the ones with loads of ideas and initiatives. Alas, so many of them fade even before the year is over, overwhelmed by the demands.

The newly promoted:  Like new drivers they threw in ideas like no tomorrow, buoyed/fueled by the promotion. More pay, more responsibilities. The subordinates got trampled but these people march on to new heights

The Bored : Usually after about 3 to 5 years when the teacher is steeped in the groove of the school culture, no one listens to him/her anymore and the routines drags on days after days. Could even sleep with eyes open.

The Disciplinarian : No matter what the new philosophies in education are like, they maintained their strict discipline over the pupils, no compromise. My values, only my values....

The Tired Ones : Unlike the bored ones they seemed to be doing a lot more than others, and then was given more and more by the school leaders in the name of 'testing' the teacher. Ages very quickly and soon would want to find a place to lean their tired body and mind,

The Principal 'pet' : Usually follows the Principal if he is transferred. The blue-eyed one is trusted, protected and could do no wrong in the eyes of the Principal. Some even buy the same car model as the Principal. All oppositions are shut down by the almighty. Even protests by other colleagues are not welcomed. Self-assured and has a deadly smile when he/she approaches a potential threat. The 'pet' is usually promoted to a higher level or scale before the Principal leaves the school
Follow the book type :  They follow the syllabus and the book to the very last letter. Students are asked to underline/highlight the content in the book for revision and examination regurgitation. Lessons seldom deviate from the book content and parameters. These teachers still exist and are result oriented, though the numbers are declining.
The Screamers : Old school types whose voice could be heard from very corner of the school. Military style of discipline. Initially feared by students but the similar effects fade with time. Could suffer heart attack anytime.
The forever hassled : He/she looked overwhelmed most of the time. very common species. Could not finish marking, could not meet deadline, with little social life as time after school is also occupied with school work. Usually psychologically affected, could be suicidal as they isolate themselves from the others.

The gung-ho : Young and ready for any challenges. The first one to volunteer for any project/initiative.

The super hero: Deemed himself/herself to be able to do anything and everything. Young and cool under pressure. Would want promotion fast and early. Step on more toes and tails on his/her way up, more enemies and friends in the working place.

 The blackboard one :  These teachers faced the board most of the time rather than being pupil-centric as notes are painstakingly written on it. Old school type that is rare in numbers nowadays as technologies like projectors, laptops, tablets etc are taking effect to make life easier. Their notes are from the 'Bible' and not to be questioned. Students spent most of the time copying the notes.

Demands from and of the teacher in different era

Boy! Tell me why Why WHY !!!

YOU! Tell me WHY WHY WHY !!!!
Engaging disinterested pupils


The innocent attentive pupil of the past       The classroom in the future?? Who need teachers?

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