HOW’S YOUR KID AT SCHOOL?

In this era where one can see an influx of immigrant family coming to Canada and the rest of the world.

Have you ever wondered how the children cope up with the biggest challenge in their lives?

It is a story I stumbled upon, as a teacher assistant. This is the story of children who are in trouble despite their best intentions that had touched me so dear.

I had been working with children for six years now. However,  it was the ethnic children who caused me to reexamined my core beliefs about the problems that parents of young children had been describing for years.

I thought I knew how to manage difficult behaviour, until I found myself working with children who didn’t fit the models from which I had been operating.

These children caught me by surprise.

I wasn’t prepared for what they had to teach me.

They laid markers along the path that required me to look beyond the traditional teachings of our discipline to a broader view of the underlying causes of problematic behaviour in children.

Through my experiences with these children and many other children in school, I became convinced that the standard diagnostic labels historically attached to children who are difficult to get along with do not always capture the complexity and nuance of their perplexing behaviour.

As I witnessed, time and time again, teachers, psychologists and sometimes parents frequently blame the problem on the child, labeling them as stubborn, hyperactive, or just downright ornery.

These children do things that baffle their teachers, try the patience of their parents, and disappoint themselves.

They refuse to cooperate with the simplest request at times. They come across as different, awkward, or preoccupied. They may appear frustrated, anxious, or just out of sorts.

As a teacher assistant, one of my responsibility is to encourage the child’s success and involvement at school and supervise and guide appropriate behaviour while I am working with them.

One thing, that I felt overlooked over and over again in any give situation is that- there are no perfect children and no perfect parents.

All children misbehave sometimes.

I strongly believed that some frustrating behaviours that children exhibit may not be a matter of misbehaviour, as much as the child’s inability to respond appropriately and /or in a timely manner.

I also believed that each child development of language and the beginning ability to judge their own actions with such emotions as shame and guilt had varying levels of maturity.

As children mature, they are most likely to follow rules and be able to control themselves, but until they do, they will need understanding and allowances for their level of maturity.

Most of all, I believed that these children aside from their parents need other people to act as second parents everytime they’re in school to help them learn appropriate behaviours while feeling loved and supported even during times they lose control and behave in ways that are puzzling since they seem so extreme and out of proportion in a situation.

I want these children to be socialized to get along with and care for others and follow the rules of our society, this is one of the major task I assumed as a teacher assistant eventhough it was not in the Teacher Assistant handbook.

I love what I do and I go beyond what is required of me because working with children can be so rewarding when children reciprocated back to you in their own simple, innocent way.

I find it easy to reach out and be open with these children because at some levels, there’s a common ground.

Feeling alienated- they feel alienated

And someone,or somebody have to break it and make them feel connected but sadly  the truth is, there’s more people out there that took their job for granted, people who are after the paycheck.

I longed for more people to be out there with me sharing the same passion to  make a difference in the lives of these children.

Then maybe….just maybe…I wouldn’t feel alienated trying to make a difference in these children’s lives in my daily encounter with them.

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Systems Don’t Like to Change

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I am not going to define what ‘systems’ are, but merely acknowledge their existence.

Couples, families, communities, teams and workplaces are examples of systems.

Affect one part of a system and it shows up in another part.Sytems are interdependent.

I observed that systems develop and evolve behaviours- ways of dealing with issues that become very consistent. To change these responses is not easy, or in many cases, not considered desirable. Interestingly, even when a behaviour is not working well, or when people, events and times have  significantly changed to warrant altering, the system wants to keep on  doing things in the same old way- it resists change.

In this world, CHANGE  is what keeps us fresh and innovative.

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But more often than not most of us prefer familiarity in any aspect of our lives. We feel that familiarity helps us spontaneously with every detail of our work, love, and life.

In my own way of thinking, I see it as systems do not like to get into unfamiliar, uncharted waters.

Just look at the system -schoolwork site.

Educators apply the same methods they have always used, even though these methods don’t work with today’s kids, kids who fight back rather aggressively.

Sometimes, and unfortunately with systems- CHANGE   often occurs only when we are pushed, when are forced through traumatic events to examine ourselves and explore  new ways of dealing with old issues.

I would love to see systems embrace change- open up, see other possibilites, ideas and methods, and not wait .

And what do I or  we say about these things?

Do I or we stand on the sideline and perpetuate the situation or I or we  will rise up and get involved?

I guess I am doing the latter in my own simple, uncomplicated  way that may appear insignificant to others in the schoolwork site.

Just a piece of my thought this morning. 🙂

 

BACK TO SCHOOL WOES

Think of all the children moving away from home  to be in school all day again.

My son is one of thousands leaving home heading back to school all day this fall. ( Am I the only parent brimming with pride and having nervous breakdown simultaneously? )

PROGRESS. EXPANSION. CHANGE.

Three words. It’s fascinating and exciting.

Sometimes, I wonder, that maybe it does not matter what I do right now.

I can put him in piano lessons and soccer, I can bring him to a fellowship every Sunday.

I can shower him with lots of love.

But once he becomes a teenager…well sometimes with or without me- in the end my son will grow up to become the person he was meant to be.

All I can do right now is to do my best to lead him in the right direction.

Kids are people too, once they start getting older they make decisions.

My son is facing a tremendous milestone in his life right now. Big changes, that sometimes made me think, he is growing fast like a whirlwind and it made me feel : I wanna be part of anything he’s going through right now, get as much bonding as I could and cherished every moment of reading books, telling silly jokes and all.

pretending to be a Prince

pretending to be a Prince

He enjoys this  FLEXOAM -foam building and sculpting system for kids  and turn it into a crown

He enjoys this FLEXOAM -foam building and sculpting system for kids and turn it into a crown

Last month, he learned to ride his bike without training wheels, I was one of the many mothers wondering why my son had been so reluctant with his grip, balance and flexibility with riding , he can ride the horse with Dad’s help without any problem, it took him sometime with the bike.

Few weeks ago, he went on for the boy’s choir audition for one of the internationally recognized chorale group here.

When I looked at my son, I saw myself in him, hard to comprehend but that tiny sparkle in his eyes while singing songs he was asked to sing demonstrates a star in the making….he may never get to shine like the brightest star but I can envision that Music is likely another area he will excel in the future.

I was nervously waiting for the outcome, and how is he going to react to rejection if it happens, but my son at an early age shows sophisticated optimism, before the audition he told me he will be alright, after all it is just an audition he can try again next time.

When he was done, we waited eagerly for the announcement, and when we both heard the “welcome aboard buddy”.

He took it simply with a nod and a smile while I found myself leaping in between giggles.

It created quite a stir with other mother’s nearby but were simply just nice enough to accomodate my sudden outburst of emotion.

But come to think of it.

The best performers in the world be it music, sports, dance , whatever field of endeavor it may be; most does not excel with talent alone- most of them triumph with effort.

When talent and effort combined together , there is a synergy often powerful enough to produce perfection.

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY FIRST YEAR AS A TEACHER ASSISTANT

It was Monday morning, and when I walked into the central building , I felt my stomach clench.

For the next few days I will assume that I am somewhat less intelligent than anyone around me.

At most moments, I will be certain that no matter what I do, I will not do it well enough, and when I fail, I know that I will burn with shame.

My nerves will be so brittle from sleeplessness and pressure and intellectual fatigue that I will not be certain I can make it through the day.

After some years off, I have begun to worry a lot again; lately, I seem to be sleepless a little every night.

I do not have time to read a novel or a magazine, and I am so far removed from news of world events that I often feel as if I’ve off to the dark side of the planet.

I am distracted at most times and have difficulty keeping up a conversation.

I am likely to be stricken with acute feelings of panic, indefinite need, and the pep talks and irony I pracrice on myself only seem to make it worse.

I am a teacher assistant  on my first year and there are many moments when I am simply a mess.

For someone who wants to be able to practice the teaching profession, that proving time is the first year of working.

There had been so many obstacles for me to becoming a teacher here.

Getting into university is far from easy and then after graduation, you find a job, set out on your own, build and maintain a profession.

Yet none of those steps is thought to possess the kind of wholesale drama of the first year of teaching.

Not only is it a demanding year-the work hugely difficult and seemingly endless, the competition between teachers  is often fierce- it is also a time when I typically feel a stunning array of changes taking place within myself.

It is during the first year that I learned lots. It is the first year that I learned to think like a professor, to develop the habits of mind and world prespective that will stay with me throughout my career.

For all of you who had made the first year I am sure that it was a similar undertaking, overwhelming, sometimes frightening, always dizzyingly intense.

I kept a journal throughout the year and often wrote passages directly on it when my thoughts and feelings seemed especially clear and important.

I also came to realized how much I would regret allowing my interests in teaching to go unfulfilled just because of the obstacles Canada  presented me.

I forced myself to think of the lifelong commitments I wanted to make.

I wanted to be a teacher in a multi-cultural setting where I could easily relate to students who came to Canada with limited  English fluency.

I wanted to make a difference in the lives of these children, who will have a hard time coping up in school because of language barriers.

After years in University back home, I was accustomed to being surrounded by bright people. Yet, I had never been in a group where everybody was affable, outgoing, articulate, as magically able to make their energy felt by others. I failed to matched it on the first week.

It undermined my self-confidence.

Over the months, I tried to studied and learned hard.

I did not want to feel again the helpless ignorance of the previous weeks  around the circle of school’s staff.

I may have been an Ateneo graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Literature degree back in my country and  may have an impressive experiences on my resume but deep down inside me I realized for them; it was all futile… I am in Canada now…things would not be easy.

All my life I had been good at what I do-teaching, all my life it’s been something I could count on.

Yes, there are achievements in the past, they’re nice to bandage up my wounded self-esteem.

But I realized, my impressive academic performance in the past is not the solution when faced with this real-life challenging situation.

I knew, I needed to transform overnight, have a Canadian work experience is the first step.

I had always been an optimist, when things gets rough, it motivates me to show the best in me, but I was finding it rather difficult to do here.

On many occassions I discovered I didn’t understand what I didn’t know until I was halfway working.

Nor could I see how anyone else seemed to know everything…..maybe they’re all geniuses…maybe I was the dumbest girl around.

But I knew I needed help. Somebody or maybe something to show the way through.

me and a teacher

me and a teacher

I did not have a moment to spare. I grabbed at anything which could make me feel at ease- volunteering.

I became a volunteer in schools, on days that I am not teaching, I spend time in the library, having some background with library duties seemed to worked well.

Some days, I am a classroom volunteer assisting teachers, the sight of students getting accustomed to me made me feel more at ease.

I was suddenly not concerned about being different. I wanted to interact, I wanted to blend in with all of them.

children's art activity

children's art activity

I was the only Asian and for sure the only Filipino staff, perhaps that came as curiousity to teachers and students alike, perhaps they didn’t know how to react or conduct themselves…or maybe my physical looks had been made plain obvious by the fact, that I happened to be in a school where the population where mostly white.

I remembered by the second week I started it with positivity on my head, charming schools with my wide smile and boundless energy.Competitiveness is simply part of my nature, it has led to recognition and pleasures in the past;it was an old rewarding habit. And I carried those with me at all times.

In many ostensibly informal conversations with fellow teacher assistants, teachers in the hallways, gym or at lunch- I had a feeling that I was being sized up, that people were looking for an angle, an edge on me. I caught myself learning to do the same thing.

I tried to break in that barrier as fast as I could by being extremely friendly and approachable and humble  giving them a chance to fully understand…I was no different that the rest of them.

By the end of the year, I was getting successful, the sight of students rushing up to me to asked simple direction or just to plainly say hi…were becoming more and more spontaneous, gone are the days when I felt so much avoided.

The rapport with teachers and students was a perfect chance for me to learn the ropes of normal and acceptable Canadian customs and way of living, on the other hand, I was instrumental on letting them become aware of third world countries…some teachers even started to teach students about my country in their social studies subject.

But for all of that, I loved it, that has to be said, learning to love what I do.

And yet still I was not sure I could get through it all. I kept waiting for things to relent somehow. I’m blown out.

Maybe it’ll get easier soon. I thought those first few weeks working were the longest days of my life.

The teacher assistants life is still a treadmill, class and books and students all day.

I enjoyed it but it’s still an emotional merry-go-round.

I just hope on the following years I will came out alright.

A Teacher’s Dilemma

kindergarten graduation day

kindergarten graduation day

AIM NOT TO FAIL

The common idea that success spoils people by making them vain,egotistic and self-complacent is erroneous. On the contrary, it makes them, for the most part, humble, tolerant, and kind. It is failure that makes people bitter and cruel. —-W.S.MAUGHAM

Consider me, I am an English Teacher in the country of my origin. At first, I wanted to used my foreign teaching profession in Manitoba to prove that I could do it. When people started making a big deal about my age, I put my own spin on it. Granted, I couldn’t train as intensely as a 20 year old teacher, but in other ways my age worked to my advantage. I had experience. I knew how to deal with pressure; I knew what to expect. Plus, I didn’t even know what  34 years old is supposed to feel like.

 

The biggest setback was when my application for Teaching Certification had been denied. I was told , If I want to practice my teaching profession in Manitoba, I needed to have a first degree, then study Bachelor of Education A.D. ( After Degree).

 

I never gave up, I soon realized that my goal was to inspire others to return to dreams they put off.

 

Other peoples doubt gave me an inner resolve; I was not ready to give up. I turned to Credentials Assessment Office and have my foreign credentials assessed based on Manitoba equivalent.

 

As it turned out my 4 year degree were reduced to a 2 year post secondary university education and the other two years were added to my highschool education of grade 10 to suffice the grade 12 highschool requirement,since formal schooling in the Philippines starts from grade one-six for elementary and then first-fourth year highschool only which gave me only a grade 10 according to how they assessed it.

 

I always tried to stay positive. The obstacles thrown at me right now will be more rewarding in the end when I reached my goals.

 

I tried to forget about my pride, afterall, what is wrong with being an assistant to teachers here, that is when I became a teacher assistant .

 

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