Yes, the ‘lessons’ pun was fully intended.
I’ve just completed my first full week as an English teacher in Singapore and it’s been an absolute blast. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a role that provides as much job satisfaction (although pushing trolleys at Morrisons was a hoot…) and to my surprise, I’ve managed to not get too frustrated with my 23-strong class.
As it’s my first teaching job, this week has been a real learning curve for me. Here are some serious (and not so serious) lessons I’ve learned from it.
Waiting for a work permit is stressful
I was actually due to start teaching on Monday 9th June but sadly my work permit wasn’t approved in time. No worries – these things happen. What followed were three days of sitting around waiting for the phone to ring and be told I’d been granted my pass.
During this time, all sorts of thoughts went through my head. What if it wasn’t approved?! Where the hell do I go next?! I even started planning the next stage of my trip. Needless to say that this was all in vain as I was approved and ready to start work on the Thursday.
A quick note to all the guys reading: it’s almost as stressful as waiting for a work permit for your new Brazilian wonder kid on Football Manager. Almost…
Mobile phones are the work of the devil
My students are aged 11-16, so are of course obsessed with their mobile phones. On my first day, the naive “Mr Jack” (as they call me) genuinely bought their excuses that they were using a dictionary app. Some were, to their credit, but the large majority were playing 2048 and Angry Birds.
Their faces were an absolute picture when all their phones were put in a box at the beginning of the next lesson!
Mongolian lads really like basketball
Pretty self explanatory that one.
People who use the lift to go one floor should be punished
The teachers’ room in my school is on level five – my classroom is on level one. As a result, I find myself using the lift countless times every day when I inevitably forget something.
The amount of people I have seen get the lift from level two down to level one is absolutely criminal! Unless you have a genuine reason, such as carrying a huge load of stuff or have a disability, there’s just absolutely no excuse to avoid one small set of stairs.
I’ve been tempted to do the very English thing and ‘tut’ as people get out after a one floor journey, but I’m too worried about ‘doing a Mark Corrigan’.
Singaporean school dinners are better than English ones
At my school we have specific stalls for chicken rice, laksa, curry and more. Much better than the slop we used to get back home. Although I did like school dinners in a strange way. Does that make me weird?
Kids learn English swear words before anything else
Some of my students can’t say “Hello, my name is…”, yet can say “WHAT THE F*CK?!” when they don’t get an answer correct. Figure that one out.
I really like teaching
I know it’s only been a week, but I really enjoy my job. The fact that this is a short term contract was ideal. I saw it as something of a test; if I enjoyed this I could look for something more permanent when the time comes. It’s early days, but first impressions are very positive indeed.
Here’s hoping it stays that way!