Hi, My name is Joseph and I am an Ex-MOE teacher. I recently left the service to teach tuition privately and this is a recount of my experiences. Before I start, I would first like to stress that the contents of this article is not by any means a way to bring down MOE teachers and the Teaching Profession. The purpose of this article is to recount my personal experiences in my journey as an MOE teacher and a private tutor and to share some of my personal insights of some of the differences between them.
Working as an MOE Teacher
First and foremost, I have a deep respect for MOE teachers, particularly the ones who been in the profession for many years, continuing their mission to impact the lives of the young that pass through their care. They do so almost in a selfless way, not striving for promotions or credit, only that their students have benefitted and grown. To some of my ex-colleagues whom I’ve had to pleasure to work with, I salute you. You are the true embodiment of what education represents, a selfless pursuit to impart knowledge to the next generation. I hope that your fire and passion for the students will always burn brightly, and that your work can be an inspiration for the people around you to do the same.
When I was still in the service, I struggled. Perhaps, it was my personal skill and time management that played a part, perhaps not. However, I am one of the many teachers who constantly struggled with one of the most common complaints you will hear from teachers in the teaching fraternity, Time. Time is needed to prepare for the lessons, to think about the flow of the lesson, how the lesson should be structured to best capture the attention of the students and sustain it throughout the duration of the lesson. Time is needed to reflect after each lesson, to think about what went wrong, what went well, and how to improve on the lesson in the future so that the students in the class can learn more. Time is needed to craft materials, in-class worksheets and homework, that will effectively review with students what they have learnt, with questions that will cover every aspect of the concept, in varying difficulties. Time is needed for consultations with students, to help students clarify doubts, or merely just for the teacher to know their students better so as to better impact the student’s lives.
However, in truth, many teachers in the teaching fraternity do not spend anywhere near enough time, pondering over the things I mentioned above. Not that they do not want to, but because they simply do not have the time. Organising activities for students in the school, writing a report on the activity; engaging in professional learning circles to discuss on how to improve teaching and learning; writing a report on what was discussed, talking to parents about issues regarding their child, writing a report on the conversation; marking examinations, tests and worksheets, writing a report on the analysis of the results, and the list goes on. Each task performed by the teacher in school requires proper documentation so that the school management is kept in the loop of what is happening on the ground. Is this essential? Yes. But nonetheless, teachers are so bogged down by these tasks that they have little to no time to do what really matters, teach better.
Teachers are so bogged down by these tasks that they have little to no time to do what really matters, teach better.
One thing is for sure, MOE teachers are struggling to find the time to do all the things that are on their plate. As such, something has to be sacrificed. Sadly, I have seen many teachers choose to compromise on their students in order to deliver on the aspects that will grant them their promotions.
Becoming a Private Tutor
As a private tutor now, I have the luxury and flexibility of time. I can spend an entire afternoon crafting the lesson and the lesson materials for the class I will be having that evening. I can make sure that I have every aspect covered in the worksheet and notes, ensure varying difficulties and search for interesting videos regarding the concept to maintain the students’ attention. I can stay back with the weaker students to coach them, not afraid that i have a report I need to submit by tomorrow. I can mark my students’ work meaningfully, writing feedback in their work so that they know where they went wrong, or to simply encourage them or remind them of things they need to take note of. I have to time to relax, rest and spend time with my family, so that the next day when I go back to class, I am recharged and excited. I have Time.
Ever since I left the public service, I feel that I have been better able to provide quality teaching to my students and better ensure my students are able to perform academically.
Ever since I left the public service, I feel that I have been better able to provide quality teaching to my students and better ensure my students are able to perform academically. Perhaps, I don’t have what it takes to be a school teacher, perhaps there is a problem with the system, it is not my place to judge. But personally, I like it better here, on this side of the fence, where I am better able to impact the lives of my students and help them achieve academic excellence.