Saturday, January 01, 2005

Hey! Lookit the date! We made it into 2005 and everything's new again. New kids, new workload, new promises, new ideas. For 03A2, it's having to cope with the fact that we're now disbanded and everyone's got new responsibilities, be they military, employment or further studies. I have a notorious memory for people and names, so I'll list you all here as according to my register to acknowledge you, to thank you for being such a major part of my life, and to remind myself that I don't wish to forget you now that you've moved on:
Rach, Mei, Yan, Pris, Farizah, Lynn, Nige, 'nette, Ron, 'rah, 'sif, Fadzli, Fifi, Iqbal, Sarab, Sidi, Farisa, Kareen, Mindy, Chun, and 'gel.

Also, to the members of NYeDC 03-04, the experience of bringing "The Odyssey" to life with you is something I don't want to forget either.
Gid, Sam, Ramzi, Sanjeeda, Anita, Heng Tin, Durga, Meixian, Joanne, Melissa, Junxian, Mei, 'sif, Adam, Ain, Gavin, Reina, Liu Yin, Pei Rong, Shariffah, and Teng How.

It'll be hard going without Cara, my good friend and the den mother holding the club together. I hope Mel can take her place 'cos between Pete and me our people skills are practically non-existent. Bit worried about that.

New challenges to cope with and overcome then for 2005. A couple of days left to hide under my rock then it'll be time to meet the new year with all cylinders firing.

May 2005 be a great year for all of us! Cheers!

Friday, December 31, 2004

Day 2 of the workplan seminar. More of the same stuff, this time more focused on incorporating the different aspects of yesterday's discussion specific to subjects taught by the individual departments. Most useful demos were strategies to get group members to work together and stay focused and on task. The idea is simple, yet effective: group work needs to be exhibited (regardless of quality) as it requires audience feedback in order to improve. Preferably an audience of peers whose feedback rates more credibly than that of the teacher's.

Discussion broke up into department level then further broken by year. Term 1 for the year 1s in 2005 could be quite fun. The focus will be on developing oral and collaborative skills in our students, so the assessment for the term will be group based and oral in nature though the presentation style may vary according to the preferences of the groups. I wanted to train my tutorial groups in the ancient art of storytelling, so I'm encouraged that both my agenda and that of the department coincide. The term will be pretty short so better watch my time carefully.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

A reunion for all staff today, well, a working reunion that is. The first day of a 2-day long meeting with each committee in charge of various aspects of the college presenting their plans for the coming year. P opened with the usual reminders of the fundamentals of education, the Ministry's ideas as to how they are going to become a reality in our students, and how hard the various committees have been working on our college's plan for 2005, particularly as the Ministry's new direction is to give every institution more autonomy to customize its programmes for its students.

She also reminded us about setting the right examples for our students in terms of maintaining decorum in behaviour and attire, and while it sounds a bit uppity and elitist I have to agree that the institution of the Junior College is meant to train the elite of our society regardless of a student's prior background/creed/ethnicity/social position, and as such there should be some standard that we need to maintain and exemplify if our students are to acquire the bearing that they need to carry off the elite status they have the potential to attain.

Very idealistic what we want to impart to our students in the 2 years they are with us. Developing the whole being, i.e., more than just the academic aspect but also the moral, physical, social, aesthetic aspects, is nothing new to our college but in 2005 the committees are looking into ways to quantify each student's level of success in developing all these areas in their lives.

Wow, all-round testing for the students, with the assessment in black and white to accompany it. Perhaps we are beginning to see that a person's academic success is, as I've said before, a side-effect of developing the total person. Most every academic success story is about people who do everything well, and we wonder how they find the time to study amongst all the other things they are actively involved in. The simplified answer is that they learn as they do. They don't compartmentalize their study within the subjects they take; rather they learn everything at the same time, everytime, regardless of their activity they are currently engaged in.

I'm not sure filling in monitoring forms will help the process in each and every student, though. I guess it helps us to feel like we are playing an active role in nurturing the positive traits we want to see our students grow in. But ultimately it's not the immaculately filled up forms that's going to do the trick (though it'll make us look good) but rather it's in showing students that we ourselves are successful people living fulfilling lives as a result of developing these traits in ourselves that will make them desirable to our students to emulate for their own success and fulfillment.

Once again, there are good, well-intentioned ideas on the table. I hope we don't get so bogged down by processes and programmes and procedures (an easy rut to fall into) that we forget to be the successful, fulfilled people that are bursting to share the secrets of our success with our junior beings.

Perhaps now I'm being too idealistic?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Vacation time is practically over. Now is the hangover from Christmas and from running around in a foreign country. The Quake is a horribly sobering reality to wake up to. The work cycle is beginning again in just a few days. I should look forward to starting work again: life gets exciting with the chaos of campus and the camaraderie of colleagues but it's overcoming the inertia that's settled in, the slow creaking of rusty joints and lazy bones that makes waking up in the morning so difficult. We sleep late to make the day last longer, and we curse the morning that's half wasted 'cos we woke up at 10 or 11. No wonder I'm feeling blaah again.

Must get active. Must move around again. Side note: all that walking around in Oz seems to have done me good; my joints don't hurt as much any more climbing stairs! Must exercise! Hey, these imperatives are staring to look like new year resolutions.

Back to work starting tomorrow with our 2-day work plan seminar where they tell us what's going on the coming year and what our responsibilities are going to be. I can't wait. Yay.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Whoa! Yahoo's been reporting the biggest quake in 40 years occurring in Indonesia, our neighbouring country. 8.9 Richter is tremendous, and the body count as of now is 7000 across Asia and SE Asia. This event is unimaginable to us, particularly since we didn't feel a thing. No shakes, no tremors, none of the 20ft high waves that crashed into coastal resorts and villages as far away as India, killing thousands and making millions homeless.

And what are we doing here in Singapore? Continuing to celebrate Christmas like nothing's happening anywhere else in the world. We had better stop taking such blessings for granted. We can't count on being so sheltered and insulated every time. We may have been protected this time around, but others have been badly hit. So let's look for opportunities to assist in the relief efforts in whatever form is needed. Keep your eyes open, 'k?

Sigh. After all that, it's hard to record down the clan gathering at my uncle's place tonight. The family of my maternal side meets every year at Christmas as a tradition that stretches back to Great-Grandma's time to the present. My maternal side is a very large extended family and unless we've kept close tabs on who's who and what developments have taken place over the past year, it's hard to believe how quickly members of the family grow up and pair off and even have little ones of their own.

This side of the family tends to have more professionals in the private sector than my dad's side who are mostly government employees. Mom's side tends to have bigger achievers, whether in terms of career, or sporting activities, or scholarship, or family growth, so for an underachiever (read 'slacker') like me it felt a bit more awkward tonight than at Christmas eve with my dad's side.

The gathering was at the Caribbean, a condo project at Harbourfront on the site of the old Empire Docks. Architecture very geometric, full of glass and steel, lots of landscaping and scattered all around with water features of odd metallic designs. I thought the location would serve well as a set for a futuristic movie. Hmm...

So, once again, lots of good food, carol singing, some scripture reading, and quite some gift exchanging. In this large family it gets a bit chaotic (even with a volunteer Santa to help with gift distribution), but it's fun as well. Same time next year?