Reflection on Blackboard Scribbles

As I reflect on the last 31 days of writing Blackboard Scribbles, I realise that I did not write all that I thought I would. This year I found some of the prompts strange and had to think hard to write relevant material (I am thinking of prompts such as purple and bacon). As a result, I wrote a few posts late and ended my series of 31 days in the month of November.

Despite the difficulty I had with some of the prompts, I did find that voicing some of the thoughts I have about teaching to be a useful exercise. Thinking back on my teaching experience reminded me as well of the good that I have done in the past. Reflecting on the past gives me the encouragement to work towards the future of those I spend my days with in the present.

What are your thoughts on my latest series? Did you enjoy reading it? Would you enjoy reading more about my teaching experience?

photo (52)© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

Missed a post? Click here to read all my memoirs for the series titled Blackboard Scribbles.

Day 31: Almost

I almost did not choose teaching as my career. I filled out forms to do medicine – and even went for the application interview. My desire to be a pediatrician was not realised as I was not accepted into medical school. Among the choices that lay before me were accounting, law, and teaching. I chose teaching.

Do I regret choosing education? No. This profession has given me the chance to work with children and help them. It is possible for each school year to be different so the chances of boredom settling in is rare. I do not sit at a desk the entire day in front of the computer but instead have the chance to go outside for a part of the day. The day can sometimes be challenging and there are always children who keep me on my toes.

I almost did not become a teacher and yet I cannot imagine doing anything else. Except writing. 🙂

photo (52)© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt: almost)

Missed a post? Click here to read all my memoirs for the series titled Blackboard Scribbles.

Day 30: Meals

Many of us take breakfast for granted – even the treat of bacon and eggs. I certainly did when I was growing up. Each morning before going to school, I would fill my tummy with food: hot porridge, a bowl of cereal with cold milk, or slices of toast slathered with magarine and anchovy paste. My classmates arrived at school with their bellies full. And all of us had lunch.

When I worked at Qhakaza, I saw for myself that not all children have the luxury of a meal in the morning. Some do not even have the money to buy something to eat at lunch. What moved me was when I saw that a child without food would not stay hungry for long. The children I taught did not come from money: instead heir parent/grandmother/sister worked at a low paying job. And yet they still shared what they had – even if it were only a half a loaf of white bread and a bottle of coke.

Now I work in a school where parents earn good incomes and send too much food with their children for lunch. I shudder when I see apples and half eaten sandwiches thrown into the garbage. I then think of those children in South Africa who would welcome the food that is thrown away here with no thought.

photo (52)© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt: bacon)

Missed a post? Click here to read all my memoirs for the series titled Blackboard Scribbles.

Day 29: All at Sea

There are moments when my students are “all at sea”: they look at me with faces filled with confusion and puzzlement. At moments like these, I need to think on my feet. When planning, you can never be sure whether a child will understand the way the information is presented or not. Nor can you be sure that they will understand the instructions that are set before them. With more teaching experience, it is definitely easier for me to come up with another way of explaining a concept.

There are times as well when I find myself “at sea”. When I look at the curriculum, there are moments when my understanding of what needs to be taught is vague. At times like these, I speak with my colleagues in order to get a better understanding of how to present the expectations that have been laid out by the Ministry. It is in teaching, however, that my understanding of the curriculum is cemented.

Thankfully it has never happened where both my students and I are in a state of confusion. Though if it were to happen, I believe the children would be forgiving.

photo (52)© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt: sea)

Missed a post? Click here to read all my memoirs for the series titled Blackboard Scribbles.

Day 28: Hope

Each day as I enter the classroom that has been assigned to me, I hope that it will be a day in which the children will learn something. It may be academic or social. If a child speaks up, it is a sucess. If a child counts by twos, it is a sucess. If a child writes a full sentence, it is a success. If a child waits patiently in line, it is a success. My hope is that each day a child will discover something new or master something old.

Sometimes it is this hope that encourages me to repeat the same thing over, and over … and over again. Eventually my message is understood. “Little steps,” I keep thinking. And eventually the little steps lead to the end goal.

photo (52)© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt: hope)

Missed a post? Click here to read all my memoirs for the series titled Blackboard Scribbles.

Day 27: Perhaps

Perhaps we shall finish what I planned for today –

Or perhaps we shall not.

Perhaps the activity will be a success –

Or perhaps it will not.

Perhaps the children will understand the task today –

or perhaps they shall not.

Perhaps something different will happen in the class today –

Or perhaps it will not.

No Matter.

We will continue to learn,

To experience the joy of discovery,

To know the thrill of success.

Such is the art of teaching and learning.

photo (52)© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt: perhaps)

Missed a post? Click here to read all my memoirs for the series titled Blackboard Scribbles.

Day 26: Reminder to Whisper

“Chuchoter!”

One of the skills I need to teach the young ones in my care is whispering. In the excitement of play or work, voices are raised unintentionally. The din in the classroom at times becomes unbearable as many voices fight to be heard over one another.

I clap my hands. The children respond with clapping hands.

“Chuchoter les amis.”

The noise level quietens for a while and I am able to continue working with children in small groups. I know that in a while, though, another reminder will be needed.

photo (52)© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt: whisper)

Missed a post? Click here to read all my memoirs for the series titled Blackboard Scribbles.

Day 25: Crash and Bump

While working with Kindergarten children, I noticed that they crash and bump into one another often. I would see them running at full speed, intent on their goal and not paying attention to the friends around them. Heads bang and, after a few seconds of stunned silence, the cries  begin. Bumps require a trip to the office for the small baggie filled with ice. Soothing words and the comfort of ice pressed against the bump are enough to stop the sobs. Five minutes later the injured parties are up and running again. And still not paying attention to their surroundings.

photo (52)© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt: crash)

Missed a post? Click here to read all my memoirs for the series titled Blackboard Scribbles.

Day 24: Silence

When I get home from a day’s work what I crave the most is silence. During the entire school day I am exposed to noise of some kind: the television running photos and video clips that is outside my classroom door; the chattering of the children as they work on their tasks at the centres or their tables; the sounds of classes in the hall as they move to music / gym / library / drama. I am able to take the noise and do not expect the children I teach to be silent the entire day.

I do, however, need some time out from the noise.

When I get home I organise myself a small snack, a drink, take out my laptop and put my feet up. I ask my girls to turn off any music playing; or for them to wear their headphones. For an hour I dink in the peace as I sit in silence (or as silent as it can be in the city). Thereafter I am able to take a little noise again: music and the sound of the television.

photo (52)© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt: silence)

Missed a post? Click here to read all my memoirs for the series titled Blackboard Scribbles.

Day 23: Joy

I love seeing joy on the faces of the children I teach. When I think back on today, I remember many such moments: when they were told that they were going to learn a new vocabulary game; when they saw the mini Halloween booklet I had prepared for them; when we were given a game (princess monopoly) that had been donated by a parent; when the time finally arrived for hungry tummies to eat lunch.

The joy I see in the children’s faces reflects the joy that I feel in my heart. My joy leads to a feeling of contentment and the knowledge that I am in the right place doing the right work.

photo (52)© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt: joy)

Missed a post? Click here to read all my memoirs for the series titled Blackboard Scribbles.