From Teacher Training to Trained Teacher
Whilst being trained at the National Institute of Education, I had interviews at two schools. One was an elite school. The other was more of a neighbourhood-type school. Although I passed both interviews, I eventually chose to teach at the latter as I thought the students there needed more guidance. The tougher environment also seemed to be the better training ground for a teacher, both in terms of my teaching skill, and also my patience and resilience in helping “weaker” students.
It has been challenging since I started teaching. My occupation requires me to be in constant interaction with young lives; some Christian, many not. Being a Christian in such an environment is challenging because my life is constantly on show. Doubts abound: Am I fair, am I loving, do I have the student’s best interest at heart, do I inspire wonder for the world and the past, am I empathetic, do I exhibit a balanced sense of justice when evaluating human history? The many facets of my faith and being that are on display demand me to always be on my toes, especially when kids with special needs require attention.
Having decided to come to this school to help “weaker” students, perhaps the mental hurdle that needed to be overcome first is not seeing students as weaker or stronger, but helping them become better versions of themselves.
A second challenge, and one I was unprepared for, is learning how organisations function. Organisations have rules and structures that put groups with certain constraints at a disadvantage. Work schedules, regardless how well-intentioned it was, force people to compromise their family time. Certain communication modes make some colleagues less willing to speak up and making decisions over WhatsApp would be unfair to those who want to put aside their phones to focus on their children. Learning how to operate in an organisation, trying to identify and change the rules that prevent others from loving God and their families – these are important parts of learning to be a Christian in the workplace. It is something I’m still learning about, and is really, really tough!
Written by Kwan Qi Xiang
Qi Xiang graduated from NUS in 2015 and currently works as a teacher.