Salutes to former students

This group of former students has a special place in my heart. They were the first class of fulltime PGDE Primary English-major students at CUHK. Although I had had prior experience in training primary English teachers at a former college of education, this was still a highly memorable year, as I had to experiment with course content, and teaching methodology. As the first cohort, they were of exceptional qualities ~ diligent, intelligent, motivated, mature, and self-disciplined. Because of that, I was able to sail through my first year of teaching on this programme easily.

Tonight at the 3-hour reunion dinner, I am delighted to see that over ten years of hard work on the frontline have not only strengthened their passion and devotion, but also built up their professional expertise and wisdom. It also warms the heart to see that they are still such a cohesive group after all these years.

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5 Scenes from the Past 20+ Years of my Life

Scene 1 (a day in the 80’s): Met Carmen at Northcote College of Education. Carmen was my teacher education student.
Scene 2 (a day in August 2012): Met Maria at Sacred Heart Canossian School (PM Session). Maria was co-leading an EEGS project to which I was the consultant.
Scene 3 (a day in Oct 2012): Ran into Carmen, whom I hadn’t seen for ages, at SHCS. Carmen had become the Vice Principal of the school’s AM session.
Scene 4 (a day in Nov 2012): Learnt from Maria that some years ago, she was Carmen’s student at the AM session.
Scene 5 (2 July 2013): The three of us had afternoon tea in Central. In effect, I was having tea with a former student, and this former student’s former student.

What a lucky teacher I am!

Make this year one of the most memorable years of your life

The picture below was taken from one of the albums posted on Facebook by the
graduates of my last year’s fulltime Primary group. The owner of this
particular album, Denise, added the caption: “Can’t believe we only met a year
ago.”

Of course, I fully understand what Denise meant. At the first class of last
September, they were total strangers to each other. A year later, they have
become like sisters who have grown up together in the same family for the last
twenty years. Yesterday before and after the PGDE graduation ceremony, it gave
me so much contentment seeing them stick together in running around the campus,
posing for photographs, and tossing their stuffed toys up in the air; and
hearing their laughter and shouts everywhere. It was a very happy day for them,
because they had each other. It was a happy day for me, because I felt like a
father (or grandfather) who has lots of lovely daughters (or grandchildren).

During the last year, they have gone through many things together: the citizenship
assignment, and many many more assignments; hundreds of lecture hours; the
immersion programme, the micro teaching, the Language Proficiency Assessment
for Teachers, and the Teaching Practice. But they stuck together, and supported
each other. Out of all the working together, playing together, and occasionally
lazing around together grew their strong sisterhood. I hope this last year will
remain one of the most memorable years of their lives.

Katy prefaced her FB album as follows:

在同一個地方再畢業,感覺很有趣。沒想到自己會重回學院,過去一​年是bonus。好好休息了一場,重拾了些青春,也交了些好朋友​=]

Again, I fully understand what Katy meant. Of course, it was not exactly a year of rest
for Katy. But compared with fulltime work (in particular fulltime teaching),
fulltime study is far less stressful. And it is absolutely true that studying
will rejuvenate any one of us. And not to mention the opportunity to make great
friends.

So to the 20 wonderful student teachers in my fulltime group this year, I’d say: This
could well be the last opportunity in your life that you can study on a
fulltime basis. Make the best of this year. Work hard, and play hard. Grab
every minute to learn, and every second to bond with each other. Make this year one of the most memorable years of your life.

To see my album of the 2011 PGDE Graduation ceremony, go to:

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150379575264976.408432.680179975&l=81240092ab&type=1

A perfect morning

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!

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