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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Giving Relief

Via Tomorrow.sg, go get Mis-educated by Khelath with her Tips for First Time Relief Teachers.

About a year ago I stopped being a student and became this automation on two legs that slept, ate, farted and performed all usual bodily functions under constant stress, anxiety and Bad Thoughts.

My higher brain functions were thinking metaphysical, waxing philosophical and seeing the bigger picture - being after all, higher brain functions. They decided that there was indeed much more to Life than mugging. The rest of me, in a remarkable display of bodily coordination and microscopic democracy, voted to mass panic.

Back to the point. About 6 months ago I started relief teaching. So it was quite the sudden role-reversal. And you just know it's karma payback time.

Two cents worth.

Teaching as Performance Art

There is a stage in every classroom, even if it's only a strip of empty space between the whiteboard and forty desks. It is there because students see and teachers feel it. They make it up, in their heads. This is hallowed ground. Trespassers should be prosecuted.

Just ask a student to come out and stand out there, in front of the class and talk. And talk. And talk. Public speaking isn't easy. Let alone in front of a firing squad.

Teachers are actors, playing both a function and character. For first-time relief-teachers, it then begs the question: as a role-player, what role do you want to be?

Know your Roles

It's like say... Dungeons and Dragons. (Ok, I admit I've never actually played D&D or any RPG game thoroughly but based on what I read and see, I know somethings.)

There are naturally sterotypical roles you could already slip into without much creativity. The barbarian warrior, the magical elf, the hyper-sensitive screaming banshee in the disciplinary department, the motherly naggy persistent auntie teacher.

Each has their own attributes. Their own costs and benefits. You only get a limited number of attribute points after all. When selecting your character (which you'd better stick with for the duration of your term), realise that you can't have your cake and eat it. Every student out there might wish for a young, sugarly-sweet, soft-spoken, fun, empathic and entertaining teacher out there in the firing range stage of the class. The price of this being overdue or unfinished assignments, truancy, yelling and fights, constant noise, bad grades and that dreaded chit-chat with the HOD who just got hold of the report cards.

It's either that or a totalitarian regime.

There are compromises, of course. But as creating a custom character, it's more tedious and difficult.

There may be such a thing as an enlightened despot, after all.

en at 2:34 am