I had a most enjoyable time this morning conducting a workshop for teachers of the English Department at Sacred Heart Canossian Primary School. The workshop was about using digital storytelling in English language teaching. It was conducted in a computer lab. The teachers turned up on time, although they were working in the P.M. Section and this morning had to go in a couple of hours earlier than usual. The workshop went smoothly; there were no technical glitches, not even minor hiccups, although as you can imagine, the computers were a bit worn out already, and you wouldn’t find state-of-the-art equipment in the computer lab of a primary school. The teachers turned out to be quite proficient in I.T. skills. My timing happened to be almost perfect. But what made the event thoroughly enjoyable to me was the teachers’ motivation and active participation.
Because of my work, once in a while I will go to a school to conduct a teacher development event. And I have to concede that not all the teachers I had met engaged enthusiastically. It was not that they disliked me, but I could often sense a variety of reasons why some of them looked aloof: they had had a long day; they had been up to their eyes in preparation for a big upcoming event; they had a tight exam paper marking deadline to meet; they had a grudge against the principal or the panel chair; or they were simply burnt out. I wouldn’t take offence when that happened. In fact, I often sympathized with them, putting myself in their shoes, and thinking that perhaps they would be better off spending the time clearing up their backlogs or perhaps simply chilling out for an hour or two. It isn’t that professional development is not important; but I think generally teachers in Hong Kong are exceedingly overworked already.
Hence, this morning, the English teachers at Sacred Heart Canossian School made my day with their active participation. They listened attentively throughout, couldn’t wait to try out the tasks, and responded with pleasant smiles and encouragement. This was the greatest reward for me, not to mention three bonuses: (a) the opportunity to catch up with five former and current student-teachers and teacher-students at the school, namely Vivian, Zenia, Maria, Janet, and Elaine; and (b) a most heartwarming thank-you card with all the English teachers’ signatures and a cute cartoon picture of me drawn by Janet Law, and (c) a reunion chat after the workshop over coffee in the nearby Starbucks with Vivian, and Cici and Mandy both of whom are former students and are now working as educational psychologists and who happened to be in their office in the adjacent Caritas Centre because today was their office day and learning that they were enjoying their work and that it would be Ceci’s birthday tomorrow and Vivian was thinking of picking up rugby again ….and oh, what a perfect morning!