Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Short teaching stories Part 1

Story 1:

I had lent my student my copy of "Eldest", because he, in his words, "got obsessed with it". I didn't think too much of it.

He came back after holidays and said "Miss, I read it like 5 TIMES I CAN'T BELIEVE *spoiler spoiler* HAPPENED. And miss, I can't stop using 'ancient language' (like 'thee' 'thyself', etc)"

Ahaha kid, you're cute. You sound like me when I was your age (gosh I'm so old).

We discussed some parts of the book together and I had to stop myself from chatting too long to avoid showing favoritism.

I'm really grateful that I grew up in a reading environment. Having read widely, I have a small catalogue of books and authors in my head. It's easy now to figure out which book my student would like and recommend them quickly. I've been doing that for a number of my students who told me they didn't know what to read.

It's almost like prescribing medicine based on what their interests are.

Another student told me, "Miss, I don't know what to read."

"What do you like?"

"I don't know. I'm not into action or fantasy."

"How about this?" I picked up a John Green book. "I'm not sure if it's something you'd like, it's more emotional and can be sad at times..."

"That sounds like me, Miss."

LOL. "Well then. Give it a try."

The next day he told me he liked it, so far.

For now, it's probably the one good thing I can do as their teacher. At least I'm good at something.

This is also why I once seriously considered doing library science, but you can only find that course overseas sigh.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Don't Wanna Cry

Seventeen's made a comeback. I have enjoyed their mini albums so far. There's good funky music there. Also, whoever's playing the bass in their tracks should get a raise 'cause those basslines can make a pianist convert to electric bass forever.

I think what I appreciate from this group's music is their layering. There's a lot going in their tracks - chord progressions, melody lines, the vocal harmonies and ad-libs. The sound is always full.

Not in this track.

I find a lot of new music experimenting with the idea of space. Well, I call it space, but more accurately it's the use of silence. There's a lot of gaps in between the synth chords, a longer pause before the jump into the chorus, a drop with only light beats in the verse, before a stronger bass drum in the pre-chorus. Everything then hits a strong climax during the bridge, and that's when we can hear some of the quintessential SVT layering again. Melodies that have a back-and-forth pattern, the separate drums come together to form a fuller sound, but even then, it's not as drowning as their previous title tracks.

It's not entirely surprising that some might dislike this, as it's quite a leap from their previous albums. I find myself drawn to it, though. There's something about the space in the music that gives you a mixture of calm and anticipation. The choreography also has space in it too, there's a lot of footwork (their poor knees) but there's something minimalistic about it, which works.

Somehow, the whole track is very aesthetically pleasing. It's fascinating. The chords are standard, the progression isn't unpredictable (which is something they do quite often in their previous songs), but the use of space, I think, is what makes it replay-able.

I have a mid-term break. And after that I'm not too sure about my future.

I feel a sense of calm and anticipation about that, too.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


It seems like every fortnight there is a new trend sweeping the classroom. First it was the dab, then it was bottle-flipping - I'm someone who's sensitive to sound, and the consistent but sudden smack of plastic crunching the floor tiles nearly drove me insane. Then there was that "yee" video, I have yet to be enlightened on what the joke is. I do not wish to be enlightened. I would prefer styaing in the suffering of ignorance.

Somehow it moved on to rubics cubes (we're still going through that phase), and fidget spinners, fidget cubes, and now, for some ungodly reason, the librarians thought it'd be educational to sell 'slime' to the students, which of course led to the class flipping their slime, mixing it with more water to make sickly wet slime, spinning, looping it around like professional Italian pasta makers, trying to make their own prata bread and other creative functions.

The problem with all these new distractions and trends that students go crazy with is this. Yes, it's a distraction to them and to the class. Sure.

But how inconsiderate of you.

Do you not realise I, your teacher, want to join the fun?

I want to play with the slime.

The fascinating thing that you may not know about teachers is, we are, as someone had once said before in a book I've read, "students with the cap on backwards." Meaning, we are you. We're fascinated by new things. Okay maybe not "we". It's probably just me. I don't have my life put together very well and am nowhere near being a responsible teacher, determined to get the class through a lesson.

Additionally, I am a person who is, unfortunately, very attracted to these new fiddly things. I am easily distracted too.

I realised how teaching is probably an awful occupation for me, when I confiscated one of the students' slime. It was very well-done - the elasticity, the texture, the colour, the craftsmanship was perfect.

Guess what I was doing for the next five minutes while explaining something or other, I don't remember anymore, to the class.

I was poking the slime.

Yeah me, the teacher, the one in charge of the class, was minutely fiddling with the thing that was a distraction.

Of course, minute actions are always the ones caught by students. This particular student called me out.

"Miss, why are you touching MY slime?"

Good question. I could only raise my hands and make a face.

"Miss, can't we just play with our slime all day?"

Yes. No. I mean, no.

Youth are fascinated by the world, I guess. Teachers are supposed to show students the world, but in a more, organised way.

Alas, I'm not organised.

Last week I was holding everyone's fidget spinners and asking about them - what are they for, what do you do with them, how many do you have, how do they work, OH wait crap, no, wait, I'm supposed to give homework and put that away guys, put it away.


During library period, I started playing Google Feud with them for a bit before I remembered they were supposed to be reading.

Double crap.

I may be 25 and your teacher, but that doesn't make me any less curious about the new things the world offers.

Perhaps I should go be a hermit after this year ends.

Sunday, February 5, 2017


I still know the address by heart, where
The days were long and nights longer
No matter the rush, I always had time
It was almost like I could create time
Back then 2am was ‘oh, still early’
There was no sleep and little rest
It was okay to starve and keep running
The constant chaos made sense
The stress that gnawed at me
At the same time fulfilled me
When I bled I knew I was alive
The exhausted thrill fed my drive
Now I live a half-life of half-places
Half-done dreams, half-begun plans
A Half-hearted life between adult and child
But a rudder that chooses neither left nor right is a useless one
Maybe it’s because kid-me
Didn’t imagine a year beyond 24
I’ve lost my way
Because I’d never thought I’ll get this far
This uncharted terrain overwhelms me
So much so I’d rather the ship sank
And I go down with it.
Motivation - please find me again.
I say let's just move, one simple step at a time
But my head and my heart and body are split into different ideals
Making it to the end of each day
Is a blessing and a curse
I only know to keep moving
Even if I don’t know where is forward.