Tuesday, March 17, 2009

To teacher with love

It's time for the annual Parent-Teacher meeting again and this year, the school has instituted a group briefing instead of individual sessions. However, a few parents whom the teacher feels require an individual face-to-face session were notified. As you would have guessed, we received a summons from Andre's teacher... uh oh.

These meetings are never good news. Here's some of the less than desirable feedback we received about Andre:
  • He rushes through his work because his goal is to finish it quickly
  • His English vocabulary is weak
  • In English comprehension, he makes up answers not from the passage
  • He's competitive but only in PE
  • He doesn't file his work
  • He was told to bring a set of files in Week 5, he eventually only brought them in Week 10
  • He doesn't pay attention
  • He plays in class
  • His handwriting is so bad he confuses himself
  • His pencil is always blunt
Aiyoh. I'm just about ready to faint. But there is a silver lining and that's his teacher. This was the first time I'd met her and I found her to be fresh, earnest and enthusiastic. Most importantly, she obviously connects with Andre and wants to inspire him to do better, in spite of himself. She says he's imaginative, creative and she enjoys having him in her class, something I know more jaded teachers will never say. She believes in incentivising good work and I've seen her comments on his worksheets and journal - they're always encouraging and thoughtful.

It was also heartening to learn that Andre is one of the stronger ones in maths in his class and his English is average (bearing in mind though his is not the most academically-inclined class). Basically, his biggest issue is his attitude - his lack of interest in his studies means he doesn't apply himself and he performs below his potential. But it was somewhat comforting to know that at least it's not a question of ability - it's a question of motivation.

The down side of having a teacher Andre likes is that he's not afraid of her and completely takes advantage of her sunny nature. But I discovered that he's not entirely unsympathetic to his teacher's predicament, as evidenced by this conversation we had in the car on the way to the meeting.

Andre: Miss xx works very hard.

Me: Why do you say that?

Andre: Because there are 44 pupils in the class and it's mostly boys.

Me: Why is it harder to teach boys?

Andre: You know.

Me (amused): I don't know, you tell me.

Andre: Talk lah, play lah.

Me: So you're one of them.

Andre: Yah lah!

Me: That's not nice. Since she's kind to you, you should pay attention and listen to her.

Andre: Ok. (pause) This year passed so fast, it's March already.

Me: That's right.

Andre: When the teacher is nice, time goes by very quickly!

High praise indeed. Andre has been truly blessed this year.


Anonymous said...

Hi! Stumbled upon your blog a while ago and I must say that I enjoy reading all your posts (took me the entire night!). Andre is such an endearing boy. Your posts on his English woes had me in stitches!

By the way, have you considered sending him to Kumon? If he is already good at maths, he'll benefit a lot from the program as it helps him concentrate more. I think he'll enjoy the English program too.

monlim said...

Hey there Anon: happy to know you enjoy my blog! I've not considered Kumon cos I heard the math focuses on memory and speed work which I think Andre won't enjoy. But I've not heard feedback on the English at Kumon. Do your kids go there and how were the results?

eunice said...

I can't believe a teacher will complain about A's blunt pencil and not filing work!!! Aren't there more important things to focus on?

But, way to go A...like I said before, finally a teacher that appreciates him :)

Anonymous said...


It's true to a certain extent that Kumon Maths focuses on speed and memory for the lower levels but this is to build their foundation to tackle higher level Maths. If Andre enjoys Math, he'll love the challenges and I think he'll be able to progress very fast.

My girl Iturning 5 this October) started Kumon English when she was about 3. Coupled with good reading habits fostered at home, her progress has been very fast as she's now doing Level C1 (equivalent to P3). She enjoys the stories. You can try asking at a centre near you and see if Andre likes it.

Lilian said...

Andre seems very thoughtful and sweet in his conversation with you. I honestly believe Andre will perform when the time is right. I hope he remains as carefree as he is now for as long as possible.

Btw, 44 kids in 1 class??? 40 is already too much and they cramp in 4 more kids?

monlim said...

Eunice: I guess it's hard for the teacher to keep track of the work when he doesn't file and his writing is illegible due to blunt pencils :P

Anon: Thanks for the tip! I just might go check it out although I'm sure Andre will protest mightily at another tuition class...

Lilian: Yes, must admit Andre is very thoughtful when he actually bothers to think before he acts. Yah, 44 kids. What to do, same old issue of not enough teachers. After 30 kids in p1 and p2, it's really a big change.

bACk in GERMANY said...

Andre just exudes endearing charm!
And wow for his school. Maybe that's why that school is so good and nurturing! PTC! I wonder if other primary schools have that.

monlim said...

Cindy: I think most schools have PTCs in various forms. You'll get your turn next year! I'm sure Bryan will do just great though :)

breve1970 said...

Monica : Thanks for sharing again. Andre is a cool dude. Reading about him makes me laugh but he is also a sensitive little boy.

He will peak at the right time:).

Cindy: Think all schools have PTC, PTM or Parent Conferencing Day (thats what they call it in Hannah's school and for her, its held twice a year. Once after the mid year exams and another after the final exams).

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