Wisdom for New Teachers

A man who has been teaching music freelance and as an outsourced external vendor to public schools has accepted an offer to teach in the public sector, as a music teacher.

Soon, he would be termed as a civil servant of a sovereign republic of a country. He would be carrying an identity card (ID) of a General Education Officer (GEO).

Through the blessings of having acquainted with various public teachers in the service, he asked them just one question, in the hope of picking their insights. He asked:

“What is one thing you hope you knew before you started teaching?”

Following is a compilation list of their replies, without revealing their identities, and in no sequence of importance. For the sake of readability, there is slight tidying of grammatical structures. As such, as with any other material, if you do use them, take them at your own discretion. Here goes:

1. How much my pay would be. I didn’t know my pay when I first signed up. It’s okay but quite stagnant over the years. Haha.

2. I hope I knew more about classroom management, such as how to effectively manage a class and to be able to handle situations that may happen in lessons.

3. Keep your focus. Remember why you started teaching, amidst the many non-teaching related works that will fight to demand your attention.

4. I guess I didn’t know it was going to be so mentally and emotionally tough, on top of the physical workload. You really encounter a myriad of emotions from the kids and a changing landscape from moment to moment with the kids.

Then again, it teaches us patience, submission, honor, long-suffering, the choice to focus on worthy causes and the good, the power of believing in a child, and so on. I also didn’t know that teaching would only be about 1/5 or 2/5 of the plate… as there’s a lot of other work involved in the committee you’re in, e.g. admin, logistics, etc.

There are very humbling days on top of rewarding moments. ◡̈

Then again, it teaches us patience, submission, honor, long-suffering, the choice to focus on worthy causes and the good, the power of believing in a child, and so on.

5. Some children’s parents do not actually discipline them at home. And some of them are raised by maids, not their parents.

6. After some thinking, I would say that as teachers, we need to constantly reflect and take ownership of our own growth and professionalism. Never stop learning and never assume that you can be an island. Being a good colleague can make a great difference to your well being.

7. The culture shock that I got… because I came from a Methodist Girls’ school and was sent to a primary school for teaching practice, but got posted to a neighborhood secondary school. There, I taught for 18 years.

8. Music is just as important as any other subject. Always have passion and love for it and your students will follow suit.

Students need constant engagement, so spend time understanding their needs, interests, and abilities before a new skill. What is the starting point for each child for music? Spend time understanding them. Remember that not all students have had the privilege of money to pay for enrichment and music lessons.

Connect music to their real-life experiences, such as K-pop, etc.

Lastly, always respect the dignity of the child. Be firm but always fair. If they are engaged in your lessons, they won’t have time to cause trouble.

There you have it.  Younger-self, I hope this helps you. Older-self, I hope this reminds you how much more favored and blessed you are. 

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