How I Became A Kindergarten Teacher

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NOTE: The following was posted ages ago... when I was still hoping to get the job. I must say I'm glad I got the job! Also, I'm getting my PS3 tomorrow. YAY!

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WARNING: Long post. Read at own time own target.

If you still haven't figured out what has been keeping me awake at night since last Monday (5 March), I suggest you take a closer look at the previous post. What I'm up to is dictated right in those screencaps -- that I'm going to be a kindergarten teacher.

*Cues laughter*

Don't worry. I know the laughter is out of shock, surprise, bewilderment, and the likes. Miss Huda the kindergarten teacher? Really?

Why not, eh? I love me some good challenge. It beats staying at a desk, surviving office politics.

Anyway, back to the story. How did I end up getting a 2-day trial as a kindergarten teacher?

I went to a career fair in Suntec last last Friday (2 March). In all fairness, it wasn't much of a career fair. The people there kept diverting you to their websites and kept getting you to e-mail them in order to apply. I didn't like that. I mean, I came all the way to Suntec, thinking there was going to be active recruitment exercises, only to find out that I need to use a computer to apply? Puas hati I duduk kat rumah surf the web cari lobang aje kan? (I might as well just sit at home and the surf the web for job postings, right?) When I thought all hope was lost, I decided to go for another round and try to find booths that allow me to apply on the spot. Somehow I ended up at a pre-school's booth. I thought, why not try since I was looking for jobs in various sectors, including education. They gave me a form to fill up and said they'd call me after reviewing my application. So after completing the form, I looked for my dad and even called him as I couldn't find him anywhere. Luckily, I was still standing near the booth when they decided to hold an interview for me on the spot. I was psyched, man. That was my objective of the day. I had a suspicion that my cover letters were ineffective because I hate selling myself. It is not my personality to brag or even describe myself for that matter in a non-poetic fashion. I wanted my prospective employers to get to know me in person rather than through a letter and a photo. The interview with the HR executive went smoothly. We were both honest with each other. I didn't have to pretend I knew everything about pre-school education. When she asked me what was the first thing that crossed my mind when I think of the role of a teacher, I said, "Nurturer." When I went back home to do some research on the pre-school and their expectations of teachers, I found out that their focus was on nurturing minds. That means I provided a good answer. That also means I have a good grasp on what is expected of a kindergarten teacher. I guess, I had it in me all along but never really knew? Anyway, at the end of the interview, I felt that the HR executive was relieved to have me as a potential candidate. Heck, I was more relieved that I didn't screw up the interview.

On Monday, she called me and arranged a 2-day trial for me on Thursday and Friday (8-9 March) at a centre in Bedok. She wanted me to shatter my fairytale of what kindergarten is like and see if I am 100% into it. I gladly accepted it and that caused me to blog about my sleeplessness in a previous post. I mean, if you know me personally, you'll find that it is a totally unexpected career choice. At the same time though, you expect me to do the unexpected as that's how I am, right? #HLL

Thursday (8 March) @ TRIAL DAY 1: I was extremely nervous about the trial. Would the staff find me an inconvenience? Would I have to suddenly take over the classes the entire day without the know-hows? Would the kids be afraid of me? Would I have to console crying kids? What would I do if someone wet their pants? So many questions and the anxiety just kept building up inside me.

When I arrived at the centre, the principal assigned me a mentor who teaches K1 students. My mentor is really friendly and treats me like her daughter as apparently, her daughter and I are of the same age. My hands were shaking like leaves while we waited for class to begin. I think she noticed and calmed me down a bit by telling me to relax.

They rang the bell at 8am on the dot. I was able to observe the daily rituals from then on. Teachers have to take the temperatures of their students and check their hands. No such thing as being too careful, what with HFMD on the spread again. The students then have to wash their hands. They were a friendly lot. I thought they wouldn't like me at first sight. Most smiled at me eagerly and the rest just looked at me curiously. I feel like I have a mean face, like I have a scowl plastered onto my face. Until now, I have no idea how children trusts me so easily. In fact, not only children but adults as well. People tend to ask me for help with directions, etc. Hmmm... #HLL

Another ritual is the usual morning assembly. Just have to stand straight and face the front to sing the national anthem and take the pledge. Then the teacher took their attendance, asked them the day and date, and talked to them about the upcoming holidays (which is this week). I can't remember exactly when she introduced me to the class. I was just too nervous and excited. I'm trying really hard to recall what happened after that but all I could remember was them going for their mother tongue classes and me helping my mentor with pasting photos for display on their bulletin board. I also helped out with the cutting out of a kid-sized drawing of Molly the ballerina, a character out of the book called "Tall Tilly" and of course, the main character itself, Tall Tilly. I even had the opportunity to colour Tall Tilly beforehand. Tall Tilly is slightly shorter than me. Lol.

The purpose of having those cut-outs is to allow the students to understand what is tall and what is short as well as actively make comparisons based on those two adjectives. I think it was a marvellous idea by my mentor.

If you think that my mentor is only making me do arts and crafts, you are so wrong. She let me read to the class and engage them by asking which characters in the story are short and which are tall. She was impressed that I could actually understand the students. Lol. I have to admit though that I sometimes couldn't catch what a few of the students were saying but the other students were kind enough to translate or enunciate their sayings better for me. Adorable! I also had the chance to read another book to them called "Hare and Tortoise Go to School". Somehow, they seem to want to hear me read more than they want to hear themselves read. Zzzz. She also let me take over a bit more during the afternoon session, seeing that I have become more relaxed and confident. I get to sing head, shoulders, knees, and toes with them in a corner at the back of the class where a basic diagram of the human anatomy is placed. They love the sped-up version. I asked a girl to demonstrate in front of the class but she was too shy to do it. Since we were getting boisterous, we moved back to the front of the class. I was thinking, "Eh, I'm losing them. Just how long can we keep singing the song?" Then, of course, inspired, I decided to play Simon Says with them but I changed it to Miss Huda Says. HAHAHAHAHAHA! Since they were participating so well as a group, I decided to ask for volunteers to hao lian to the class that they can do it on their own. The children love volunteering. I think it must've been really fun that the girl who was initially shy, decided to be brave and came out to participate in front of the whole class! Proud moment! *SNIFFS* #HLL

I'm trying hard to recall again. Lol. Let's see...

I really can't recall anything else except that I get to play with them. Boy, it was a challenge trying to be fair. Some kids wouldn't share. Other kids are insistent on keeping their share. Oy, it's like a warfare. Only the fittest survives.

I'm just exaggerating of course.

During the entire day, I felt 99 worries overwhelm me. I felt like I wouldn't be able to keep up with the pace, I felt inferior due to my lack of knowledge in pre-school education, and worse, I kept worrying about my lack of sternness. It's really hard to be a disciplinarian.

At the end of the day though, I felt happy. It's just pure bliss and those 99 worries disappeared like they were never existent before. It's amazing. As a result, I became more relaxed and ready for day 2.

Friday (9 March) @ TRIAL DAY 2: It's the last day of school and it's time to party!!! Since there are two sessions of school, there were two parties. Had truckloads of fun! I even get to lead the national anthem and pledge-taking! My left leg was shaking like jelly! Gosh! I guess I still had the nerves. The children, oh were they B-E-A-UTIFUL! The morning session girls were dressed like princesses! Literally! Like they were out of Disney! But my mentor and I forgot to take their photos. D'oh!

There isn't really much to recount as I was more comfortable that time round than I was the previous day. I became a tad more firm, interacted with the children a lot more, and well, I even remembered like 60% of their names! Boy, was I getting good! We watched Rio, danced, and ate. The children brought so much food! My mentor taught me that it was best to save some of the treats for the next term and give them the rest. She even taught them not to eat everything on that day but to eat the treats throughout the entire 9-day holiday so they wouldn't fall sick. I'm glad I had her as a mentor. I really a learnt a lot. From being clueless about children, I now know at least 10%.

So there you go. The story of my career kickstart I suppose. Just praying really hard that my application will be successful and that my mentor and principal think that I fit the bill.

However, my day did not end there. I had purchased tickets to Architecture in Helsinki's gig. They had two slots that night and I got the later slot at 10pm. It was a wise decision because I could rest at home for a bit before heading to the Esplanade. It was a bad decision because I was too exhausted to enjoy it to the maxidamus but I had a lot of fun! They were awesome entertainers! The other uncomfortable aspect was that I was in a place where booze is served so there were Australians who looked curiously at me. Architecture in Helsinki is a Melbourne band so that's how I deduced that those fans were Australians. The next time a gig is being held in Esplanade, I'll be sure not to attend it if it's held at the Esplanade Studio Theatre @ the Mosaic Club Studio. Also, I'm getting old for free-standing gigs. My knees were hurting at one point. HAHAHAHA!

Of course, with all the ups, there are the downs and boy, do the downs come by really fast. Just last Tuesday (13 March), we received the bad news about my the backbone condition of my sister, Hidayah. Her scoliosis is at its all-time worst. I saw the x-rays for myself. Having it curled at direction is one thing. Having it curled at two directions is another. What I meant is, it's already bad if your backbone is curled like a question mark '?', with one bend. It's worse when your backbone is curled like the letter 'S', with two bends. Le terrible, I tell you! Given the different 7 personalities at home, we all dealt with it differently. There were the blaming, the lashing out, the sulking, the ignoring, the supporting, the questioning, and the giving up. Le sigh. It really is challenging when your teenage angst-ridden sister refuses to undergo therapy and thinks surgery is the best option when doctors do not recommend it at all. Ah, teenagers. I think I can deal with pre-school children better than teenagers so there you go!

They say God works in mysterious ways and I think he's not just mysterious but random. Just when I needed some sort of support, I found the following verses floating on FaceBook:

And whoever fears Allah - He will make for him a way out. And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah - then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent (At-Talaq: 3-4)

Although the above verses from the Quran is actually in a chapter on divorce (with At-Talaq literally meaning The Divorce), it gives me the strength I need. It's a nice reminder. There is always a way out of any problems but you can't expect to sit around all day and hope miracles happen. You have to try your very best and let God do the rest.

So here's to the hoping part: Insya-Allah, I'll get the job.

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