27 July 2011

Newsflash! I've always been this random...

I was in a French Immersion programme in elementary school, which means that in Kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2 all subjects were taught in French only. In Grade 3, we started taking English. Although French was the first language I learnt at home, I mostly read books and watched television and movies in English. However, at the age of 8, I hadn't had much experience writing in English yet, which will soon become abundantly evident. I found some of my notebooks from those very first English lessons and I just had to share some of this stuff because it's pretty funny.

My first book report...

The Ugly Duckling

This story is about a swan's egg that got mixed up with a duck's egg. Swan eggs take longer to hach. This one did and the ducks thought it was strange. One day at last it hacht. They were happy. Then when they saw the little swan they freaked and the other ducks laught. So the little swan ran away. He found a family of swans. He joined them. Then he grew up to be a beautiful swan. It think it's a beautiful story.

Pretending to be an inanimate object...

The Book

Hi! I am a book. Those things there always open me. I don't know what they are but you're one of them. Bye thing! Ha-ha-ha!

A letter to an older and wiser (Grade 6) pen pal from an English school...

Dear Andrew,

I forgot to tell you about my figure-skating and gymnastics. Well, in gym I had a great fall, like humty-dumty but I wasn't on a wall. Talking about humty-dumty, I have a book about nursery rhymes. My mom makes good chicken with honey sauce. Do you have a sister or a brother? Well I do as you know! It was my brother's birthday about a month ago. He is fifteen years old. Howard is the one that I am talking about. On the midterm holiday I cleanded my room. I worked like anything! I wachted "The Sound of Music." What a movie! I saw it twice.

Well, bye.


Alright, so there's the proof. I was just as random in 1978 as I am now. If only I could find all the naughty stories I wrote about Duran Duran in high school! Now that...would be really funny!

24 July 2011

My Teaching Philosophy

I'm heading back to South Korea on a one-year teaching contract at a private school in Seoul's city-centre, Jongno-gu. I applied for this job back in March and have been going through a red tape nightmare since then. Well, my work visa is finally ready and I'll be leaving on 29th July! I'm trying to keep calm as I prepare for yet another overseas adventure. I came across this short essay as I was going through my teaching resources. I wrote it before I'd had any real teaching experience (besides internships) for a course called Art in Early Childhood. Now, after over ten years of teaching, I find that I still agree with what I wrote then...

My Teaching Philosophy

Some time in the summer of 1993, I was sitting on the curb outside my brother's house with my then six-year-old nephew Michael, when he turned to me and posed the following question: "Auntie Deena, are you a kid or a grown-up?" I was twenty-three at the time. It was by far, one of the best compliments I have ever received in my life.

This little anecdote serves as the basis for the foundation of my teaching philosophy. I strongly believe that in order to be both successful and fulfilled in the teaching profession, one must have the aptitude to empathise with their students, especially young children. A special bond exists between teacher and pupil, when said pupil truly feels that the teacher understands his/her perspective.

Equally important, in my opinion, is the capacity to give praise and support and to recognise the individual needs of each student. Creating a classroom environment where each pupil feels accepted for who they are is vital.

I feel that art is a fundamental element of early childhood education. The types of activities presented to the child in art education can improve fine motor, sensory and concentration skills that can facilitate learning in all areas of schooling. There lies in art education many distinguishing factors: the open atmosphere of the classroom gives the child the opportunity to find that learning can be fun, allows for freedom of expression and stimulates a deeper exploration of the self. These valuable lessons can help build a sense of self-confidence which is essential in securing further healthy development in the classroom and ultimately, in life.

The seed of desire to learn exists within us all. Working with young children, one has the opportunity to nurture that seedling and watch it grow. I do not view the teacher as strict authoritarian. My goal as a teacher is to play the role of faithful escort, who not only guides but also walks with the student on the path of knowledge, personal growth and self-expression.

Incidentally, I'm proud to say that at the age of forty-one, I still get asked by children whether I'm a kid or a grown-up. The truth is, I'm not quite sure of the answer myself.