I have just realized that I have been away from Steemit for nearly a month. Throughout the entire month, I have been busy completing and perfecting the longest post in my life. No, it’s not this post, but my Ph.D. thesis.
This post can be a bit confusing and I apologize for this, that’s because my mind has literally turned to mush in the midst of trying to complete my Ph.D. thesis.
For the last three years, I have been on a rather lonely journey trying to complete my Ph.D. thesis. At close to 65000 words and at about 220 pages, I hope that it will hold up when I am being evaluated. As I entered into the final months of my work, it has been a rather interesting journey. It has been a journey that has been both painful and enlightening.
I Feel Physically Sick
After spending at times up to 8 hours a day looking and figuring out what to write for my thesis, I feel physically sick looking at my work. You know how they use to say that Ph.D actually stands for Permanent Head Damage. I am starting to see the reason why.
I remember trying to figure out how to word a particular issue for quite a bit. It took me close to a day just to get one paragraph done. Even that I felt so drained. Every time I am being evaluated, I feel a sickening feeling in my being. There’s this fear that gnaws at the back of my head and constantly tells me that I may screw up my work.
When I share this with some of my friends, well-meaning ones would always ask me what the big deal is. To them, even if I do fail, all I have to do is to start all over again. That may be true, but unfortunately, I am on a scholarship.
As such, I am only given 3 years to complete the entire thesis or I would have to pay back an equivalent of 4 Bitcoins (at May 2019 prices).
But I Have Learnt…
However, I have learned the value of just starting. Sometimes, it becomes rather overwhelming to plan everything perfectly. Even in the best circumstances, the best plans do tend to fall apart. As such, I have learned that the best thing that I can do is to just start doing it.
I believe that it is through starting, trying or doing that you will discover where the actual flaws are. I also believe that we sometimes get stuck in planning because just planning is a really comfortable place to be. As such, being uncomfortable and putting myself in a situation that has made me physically sick has made it possible for me to complete my work.
I hope this ends soon, as it is, my Ph.D. has drained quite a lot of me in terms of physically, mentally and emotionally. I’m even starting to get weird dreams, but that being said, I will see this through to the very end.
Over the years, there have been many who have insinuated that the teaching profession is a low to mid income profession. There is some truth in that since the pay of teachers in most countries is not considered high. Thus, there are many teachers who are looking for ways to earn some extra income. In this post, we will be exploring some of these ways of how you can make some extra income with a bachelor’s degree in education or just as a teacher.
Private tutoring is one of the more lucrative ways to earn some extra income. This method is especially effective in eastern countries such as China, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia and Singapore. These countries are rather exam oriented and thus, there is a huge market for teachers to better prepare students for exams.
If you happen to be teaching in an exam-oriented country, you can start by first advertising your services. After that, do consider who your students are. In general, students come for tuition either for remedial or enrichment purposes. Thus, if your students require remedial work, do consider helping them out in what they have been taught in school. You can help fill the gaps for difficult concepts that they may not understand in school.
If your students are already doing rather well in school, you can enrich their learning experiences by giving them content that is outside of their school syllabus. Such content, of course, must be built upon what they are learning. You can focus on helping them apply concepts that they have learned in school in real life. Thus, teaching them how to apply what they have learned not only for exams but later on in their life.
Write a Book
If you have been teaching for as long as I have, you will have a lot of stories to tell as a teacher. I have been teaching for the last ten years and I have nearly a year’s worth of stories published on my blog. Shameless promotion, I know. However, why not consider publishing your stories in a book? Your stories may be able to inspire the next generation to take up teaching as a profession.
You could also publish methods on how to control your class. This is especially valuable for new teachers who are seeking ways to control their class. As a teacher trainer, I find that more than 90% of the time, new teachers are stumped when it comes to controlling their class.
Another idea that is worth pursuing is to write a book understanding complex concepts in your area of expertise. If you are a good mathematics teacher, you probably have many ideas on how to help students navigate the complexities of algebra. Why not put that in a book? I am sure this would help many teachers and students. I even wrote one on my own.
I find that education is a field where the more qualified you are academically, the better the opportunities. One great advice I was given when I started teaching was to pursue a postgraduate degree. I did not see any value in it. This was partly due to my view of what a good teacher should be. I felt that all I had to do, was teach.
However, what convinced me to pursue a postgraduate degree was the fact that having a masters or a Ph.D. helps in opening more opportunities. If I wanted a promotion of any kind, a postgraduate degree was a prerequisite. Also, if I wanted better pay in another institution, a postgraduate degree does help in commanding a higher pay and thus, extra income.
As such, why not try pursuing a postgraduate degree. There are many types of postgraduate degree ranging from coursework to research. With the right fit and a bit of sacrifice, you may just change your financial future for the better. Sacrifice in this case, of course, refers to money and time.
Write a Module
A postgraduate degree may be prerequisite for better job opportunities, however, it leads to so many other great opportunities for extra income. That comes in the form of writing modules. Modules, in this case, refers to course modules for university or college.
In order to achieve this, you will have to do some self-promotion. You can do so via blogs, LinkedIn or through word of mouth. It will not be long before you get noticed. Of course, I do recommend attending conferences relating to your field. It is through that you may get connected to colleges or universities looking to hire writers for writing a curriculum for a new course. It is through writing such modules that you can get paid a bit of an extra income.
Alternatively, you can try writing and producing modules of your own. Platforms such as Teachable are excellent for promoting courses of your own. You can sell your courses for some extra income. If your modules are good, I am pretty sure that word of mouth would spread pretty quickly.
If you have written some form of a module or if you are in a position of authority, you can consider becoming a consultant. As a consultant, you may be approached by education startups or companies for advice on all things education. Your input is valuable in helping these companies design education products that will sell. In the process of doing so, you may get paid some extra income for your troubles.
Now, there is, of course, no hard and fast way to achieve this. Not only will you need some sort of qualification, but you will also need to know those who are working in these education startups. Do consider asking those who are working in these education startups for a cup of coffee, share your thoughts and ideas with them. Even if you are not hired, at least you would have gotten to know someone else in the industry.
Alternatively, do consider starting your own consultancy online. You could promote your services and even blog about certain problems and solutions in education that you are passionate about.
Now, if furthering your studies is not something that you aim to do, perhaps you could consider a side hustle as a coach or trainer. You can take a quick course in a sport and get certified. After that, you can start a class training students for some extra income. I believe that being a coach in any sport can earn you some extra income.
However, I do find that swimming is one of the few sports that pay rather well. Of course, I may a bit biased since I am a swimming coach myself, but many parents see the importance of swimming as a form of precaution. Some may send their children after hearing of a drowning incident in the local community. Morbid, I know, but these parents just want the assurance that their child could save themselves if they happen to fall into a pool.
As a swimming coach, you can start your own classes or promote your services to a school. If you get hired or manage to find students to teach, your business will grow rather quickly and thus earn you some extra income. I remember starting my coaching gig at a local community center. I was a competitive swimmer so I was hired immediately. However, they were also hiring adults with some swimming experience just to teach younger children.
Alternatively, if you are quite good at debating, singing or public speaking, there are many schools who are looking to hire you. I remember a time when money was short and I had to plan for my wedding. Planning, in this case, means my wife plans and I would pay. Thus, I promoted my services as a coach in debating and public speaking on a local community site. The response I received was pretty good. I even got a call from a local oil and gas company to train their staff.
All in all, no matter what side gig you aim to get in, you just have to put in the time and hard work. It is through persistence and building a brand for yourself that you will be able to make some nice side income.
I always see the teaching profession as a job where you have to be an expert in something but know everything as well. That is why there are many training courses and conferences for you to attend in order to learn a new skill. As such, keep learning, keep exploring and while you are at it, build a nice side income stream.
In my previous post, I spoke about how I pranked my class because they have a habit of coming to class late. It worked for a bit. However, there was one who was unrepentant. Instead of coming to class early he continued coming to class late. That was when I decided to prank him, even harder.
It was a few weeks after I har pranked my student. I assumed that most of them have learned their lesson. However, there was one guy who has decided that his sleep was more important than being punctual. So I tolerated his antics for a bit.
Until one day, after a good hour, he was still not in class. I have to admit, I was pissed when I found out from his roommate that he was still asleep. I was pissed but not angry and I thought to myself… What was the most diabolical thing that I could do to make him remember that being late is bad.
Then it hit me, why should I wait for him to come to me when I could go to him.
I asked his roommate for his key. Sensing what was going to happen next, he handed me his key and smirked. I asked a colleague to help me out with the class while I headed off to his room.
Upon arriving at his room, I knocked on the door three times, Sheldon Cooper style =) . However, there was no answer, so I unlocked the door. He was sound asleep and so I woke him.
He thought I was his roommate and in his grogginess, shove my hands away. When he finally came to, he jumped out of the bed as if he had seen a ghost. I told him to get up and get to class. He was apologetic and scrambled to the bathroom.
He came to class early in the classes that followed the prank. I suppose it hit him hard enough to remember that lesson. We did talk after the incident and he told me why he was not able to wake up early.
I found out that he had a drinking problem. Specifically, a coffee drinking problem. Apparently, he was taking in approximately 7 cups of brewed coffee a day. Unknown to him, the coffee was the one keeping him awake.
I advised him not to go cold turkey immediately on the coffee and also suggested to him the best times in a day to take coffee in order to stay awake. What he will do next is really up to him.
Looking back, this has been one of my more diabolical schemes. I find it interesting that ultimately we are subject to the good or bad lifestyle choices that we make. Perhaps I should suggest to the administration to have a course on healthy lifestyle choices.
I had a huge problem with my college students. They loved coming to class late. So if the class starts at 9 am, they will only be there at 9.30am. It was a problem, an annoying problem. That being said, it was not something that the disciplinary board would take any action on. So, I decided to hit back by pranking my students.
Like every class, most of my students came to class late. Most of them, except for about five who were there early. I stood up and addressed all five of them. To start off, it was pointed out that it was not fair for us to all wait for them.
I told them that I appreciate them for always being early. However, it’s about time that those who are late pay for it. So I asked everyone to play along. I wrote on the whiteboard that the submission date for the most recent assignment was moved up. I told all of my students to play along and look busy.
The plan was to look as if they were all busy. As the group trickled in, they will tell the rest of the class that the assignment date was moved up. They will then urge their friends to start completing the assignment at that very moment.
The prank worked better than I could imagine. As the latecomers trickled into the class, all those who were early sent them into a panic. All the latecomers began frantically completing their work. I kept the fear up, telling them that the college demanded that they submit their work today or it is an automatic failure.
As I was inciting fear, I could see some of the early comers smirking. If I had to guess, I think they were enjoying it too. After a good hour of mental torture, I finally broke the news to the class. I told the latecomers the truth. The reaction I got was surprising, they were actually happy that the assignment was not due on that day. Some even burst out laughing.
However, I decided to turn their attention toward the lesson at hand.
I had two lessons for the students. The first being that it is not nice to make others wait for you. Pretty standard I suppose, but the next lesson was something that I wanted them to remember. That lesson is that being a teacher, you don’t get to be late. Since most of them will be setting an example for the students, their current attitude is unacceptable.
It seemed like I have gotten to them. Their attitude improved dramatically. Most were early to class the following day. Some were not, but I guess old habits die hard. There was one student who ignored the lessons taught.
He did not want to come early to class despite repeated warnings and the prank. So, I took a more ‘direct’ approach. That is a story for another post.
When I graduated from university, I graduated as a secondary school English teacher. In the eyes of the government, I was only supposed to teach English in secondary schools. However, through a bizarre twist of fate, I was made to teach primary school temporarily. Thus begin my short stint as a primary school English teacher. It was tough and rather traumatic, but here are the top three lessons that I have learned from surviving my stint as a primary school teacher.
Well, to be honest, it was bad initially. Imagine entering a class filled with 50 energetic and active children. The chaos and noise can be rather daunting initially. However, with experience, you can bring that chaos under control quickly. The trick I find is to allow them the opportunity to burn off some energy, thereby creating some chaos for a short time. In other words, the children should be allowed some fun. Thus, with some pushing and pulling, you create somewhat of a balance between chaos and order. That’s because, with some energy burnt off, they are likely to be more engaged in the classroom activity.
That being said, the chaos is something that is out of your control. At times, some students may choose to disrupt the class like bringing their pet lizard to class and tossing it into someone’s shirt (true story). With such scenarios, it has offered me opportunities to put some theories to the test.
There are some really great books out there with great theories on teaching. However, not every theory is applicable in the situations stated in the books. Thus, teaching in a primary school helped me put several theories to the test. This was especially the case for theories that I have learned for teaching in a secondary setting.
I remember treating some discipline issues using theories for a secondary setting. Things did not go down well and I had to think on my feet. Apparently, being the cool, sage-like adult figure to children did not yield the same effect as teens. As such, it was interesting finding out and learning on the job.
Thankfully, learning on the job did bring some great lessons. One of them is the importance of patience.
To be honest, I did not like younger children before I had my own children or before I taught in a primary school. I was just more comfortable with teens. Thus, there are times when I feel like telling a child to buck up or wise up. It can be tough being patient with younger children for making some mistakes that I may deem trivial.
I remember trying my best not scolding a student about a really dumb mistake he made. However, just before I did, he somehow opened up to me about the problems he was facing at home. The anger dissipated and I listened. From then on, I became that someone he could talk to whenever he needed. That taught me a valuable lesson to be patient throughout my career and it has served me well in the years that follow.
Looking back, I dreaded the day that I was made to teach in primary school. I am happy that it has taught me some great lessons, who knows, I may even get the opportunity to teach in such a setting again.
I have a theory. It is getting harder to teach hard work because of how easy life has gotten. I remember a time when I asked a child what they aspired to be. Her answer shocked me. She said, if I could, I would love to be a couch potato.
Her answer was not unique, in fact, I have seen many children who would rather, metaphorically, bury their heads in the sand. They prefer to just sail through school, thinking that life and college would be much easier. Now, I am all for everyone pursuing their own dream jobs. However, if many students prefer the easy way out. If many shun working hard towards a noble goal, then I think our world is in trouble.
I think there are many reasons on how students are the way they are. I could blame it on technology, the media or even parents. However, doing that does not solve the problem. The only way to solve it is to point to a problem that we can really solve. I mean, we can’t regress in technology. We certainly can’t censor the media. As for parents, no one should ever judge a parent on how they bring up their own children. That being said, the one thing that we have control over is how we present education to the children.
So really, I think the main reason why children are the way they are today is how we package the entire learning process for them.
Utilizing Marketing Strategies
I have always been a strong supporter of training teachers in different industries. I think broadening our worldview does help in planning different strategies to teach better. One of these industries is marketing.
I have always been fascinated by how a company could entice and encourage someone to spend countless hours on an app. Take Facebook or Instagram for example. These apps have a way of hooking you and subconsciously compelling you to spend countless hours on it.
The strategies used I feel can be applied in education. For one, I think the hard work of updating your Instagram every day is similar to putting the work in to prepare for an exam. It is relatively repetitive and will get you the results you want if you do spend a lot of time on it.
Perhaps if we were to design a curriculum that is similar to a social network, we should start by making education more social. We should be promoting collaboration and creativity. Most importantly, we should be promoting the notion that everyone is a specialist in something.
It is sad that the education system does try to fit students in a box. A ‘smart’ student would perform well in all the same subjects as the next ‘smart’ student. There is a lack of diversity and this is not healthy.
I think in the future, automation will take over. Over time, we may not need that many people doing the same job. Rather, we would need experts in various fields managing things. It wouldn’t be long before to be hired, you first need to be an expert. I think being an expert in something will be worth more than a university degree.
Thus, in order for a student to strive towards being an expert, they should be first taught how to work hard. If we can somehow teach the students to see that being the best at something takes hard work, perhaps that would encourage them to work harder.
Then again, this can be difficult since most of them are not taught to see beyond tomorrow. Perhaps, in the end, working hard may not be that essential a skill, but having foresight is.
The difference between ‘I can’t’ and ‘I don’t want to’ is something that I see my students wrestle with in class and different areas of life. I feel that a lot of younger students these days are too quick to jump to the wrong conclusion. I find that it is an issue with the mindset. This is because they do not necessarily reflect on their situation before blaming their school work or their circumstances.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it is not that I am not understanding. However, I do think that more of them would take a step back, and ask themselves if they really could not or they are just not willing to. Here are a few examples:
I remember giving a teacher trainee an earful once. He was not able to complete his research paper. The reason, he claimed was he had no time due to his internship. After working through his daily schedule, he realized that it was actually how he managed his time.
Apparently, he was spending a good 8 hours on naps and sports. Now, I get it, we all need time to relax. However, I think he should have been wise in not spending a good 33% of his day relaxing while neglecting his work. After digging a bit deeper, I found out that all the relaxing was just a way to not deal with his research paper.
There are many students I know who love teaching but absolutely hate conducting research as part of their academic work. It’s common, but I don’t think running away was the solution. After some guidance on how to write his paper and better manage his time, I gave him an extra week to complete his work. Surprisingly (or not) he was able to get it all done.
I find that the fear of water is something that no swimming coach can help cure. The truth is, we can only guide and comfort a student to take the leap of faith, but it is up to the student to do so.
I remember many 5-year-olds, including my own daughter who tells me that they can’t put their head in the water or swim a meter to me. After some coercing and assurance, they eventually make the first leap. It is through this first experience they learn that they are able. Once that confidence is built up, they start learning the techniques really quickly.
However, it boils down to the initial fear of the unknown and it is up to them to convince themselves. They have to convince themselves that it is not that they are not able to, but that they don’t want to.
I believe the issue of whether we want to do something or whether we can is a mindset issue that many of us deal with. It could be a book that we wanted to write or a musical instrument that we want to pick up. It could be a weight loss programme that we wanted to complete or just getting into the habit of waking up early.
Regardless of what the goal or dream that you are trying to achieve, you will be tempted to feel that you can’t do it. However, as a former state athlete, trust me, there are days where you just don’t want to train. There are also days that you feel like you just can’t do it.
If you keep telling yourself that you can’t, you will never get it done. But once you acknowledge that you are trying to tell yourself that and force yourself to start, you will be amazed by the results. So whatever you are procrastinating on today, ask yourself this, are you not able to do it? or do you just not want to do it?
I was working for an education startup looking to change how we teach our students. We have become such an exam-oriented society that we seem to have forgotten why we learn. The owner of the startup claimed that one of the biggest challenges towards educating the students was to educate the parents.
Giving The Children A Grade
The term giving children a grade is something used when we are giving children a grade for their results. However, the founder has a different idea for this term.
He started noticing that parents and teachers alike have started branding the children with certain terms that resemble a grade. You may have heard of such terms before. Some parents and teachers would label the children as, ‘slow’, ‘clever’, ‘stupid’ or even ‘naughty’. Some may even compare between the children in a particular class.
Over time, these children get relegated into groups where we label them by a particular ‘grade’. A-grade students are generally students who are well behaved and academically inclined. C-grade students are students who are disruptive and are not able to keep up with the lesson in school.
The problem with such grading is that the child knows about it as well. The founder lamented that learning has degraded to a state where everyone is graded according to an archaic system that is not relevant to the world today. As he saw in an article, we are using 21st century tools in 20th century learning environments with 19th century learning styles.
In such a system, the benchmark to grade the students is the use of exams. Sadly, exams do not take into account many things that would determine the success of the children in the future.
One of the things that I am working with this founder is to change the parents’ mindset on exams. He wanted parents to focus more on how the children have been learning instead of what they have been getting for their exams.
Although exams may sound like an excellent way to grade students, it actually is not. This is because exams are generally pen and paper-based tests. As such, this assesses the writing and reading skills of the child. However, what about problem-solving and practical skills? These items are at times not graded.
Furthermore, exams require the children to get it right the first time. As such, even if you are not at 100% on the day of the exam, your grade is supposed to represent how good you are.
Finally, the many 21st century skills are often not evaluated in exams. Thus, we may be doing a disservice when using exams as a benchmark. As such, we should be focusing on this through practical hands-on activities. Of course, we must also acknowledge that all children are unique. Some may be bad at exams but perhaps they will find success in areas that better suit their strengths.
I have always been passionate about this subject because I grew up in an academic-worshipping-environment. Academic excellence was the focus and the ultimate goal that many strive to achieve. However, with our ever-changing world, perhaps we have to rethink how we approach learning. Or else, we may risk preparing our children for a future with skills that are better suited for the past.
When my daughter was about 6 months old, I had a brilliant idea. My plan was to utilize Pavlov’s theory on behaviorism to make parenting easy. I have always wanted to try out Pavlov’s behaviorism theory on my children. Imagine how well I could control my children from throwing a fuss.
Just a recap, Pavlov’s behaviorism theory stems from his experiment with his dog. The gist of it is that you can condition certain behavior using a certain stimulus. You can read all about it here.
In Pavlov’s experiment, he would ring a bell whenever food is served to the dog. After an extended time, even without any food being served, once the bell is rung, the dog would still salivate. This gave me an idea of ‘programming’ my child to act a certain way whenever she misbehaves.
My first idea was the snap. In theory, if I were to snap my fingers whenever she laughs, I could condition her to laugh whenever I snap a finger. Pretty cool, right? Although I am pretty sure there are certain psychological side effects from this, but anything to stop a crying baby.
So I set out doing so, rather inconsistently, and after a few months, I put my theory to the test. One day, my daughter had a meltdown and so I thought, this is it! The defining moment where my snap would calm her down.
I snapped my fingers. No change. She continued crying louder. I thought, maybe she did not hear me, so I snapped my fingers louder. No change. As the crying got louder, I thought that my experiment had failed. So I picked her up and calmed her down.
I was not willing to give up, so I moved on to the next plan.
Perhaps I needed something a bit closer to the source material. As such, I thought I should have used the bell instead of the snap. I started ringing the bell for fun whenever we have food. It was amusing at first, then it became commonplace.
After a while, I put the theory to the test. I prepared a meal with loads of vegetables, you know because it is healthy. Also, I knew my daughter would not be happy about it.
My daughter then started throwing a fuss and I thought that the bell would help. I rang the bell and nothing happened. In fact, she cried even harder. Once again, I have failed and I had no choice but to give in to her. I picked her up and held her tight.
That is when I realized that perhaps the research subject was not my daughter. Perhaps, I was the one in which Pavlov’s behaviorism is being employed on.
Wait… Who Is Being Manipulated, I Wonder
Looking back, I am the one who has been manipulated by my daughter all along. Her cries were the stimulus and the desired behavior is whatever she wants me to do.
All along, she just had to cry and I would do whatever that she does. Ah well, I suppose she is a smart one. Now, if you would excuse me, I need to tend to her as she is crying now.
So you have just started your career as a teacher, congratulations and good luck! It is truly a fun time ahead. However, teaching is a profession wrought with perils. One wrong step, and the parents/students/your boss will eat you alive. I’m joking, you’ll do great!
However, just in case, here are a list of dos and don’ts that you may want to consider.
1) Establish Clear Boundaries
Repeat after me:
“I am the students’ teachers. I am not their friend.”
On the first day of school, you will need to establish very clear boundaries with the students. Never be too nice to them that they assume that you are their friend and not their teacher.
However, you can always be nice to them individually. Listen to them and speak to them outside of the classroom. In the classroom, bear in mind that you will have to command the students.
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine the kind of behavior you want your students to show in class. Do you want your students to raise their hands before asking a question? Perhaps you want them to say please and thank you in class?
Once you have an idea of what type of behavior you desire, you will need to set clear rules and rewards to encourage or discourage those behavior. However, any reward or punishment needs to be enforced consistently.
As such, you may hate punishing your students, but remember you are doing so to make them better individuals in the future.
3) Never Get Into Any Verbal Exchange In Class
While this may not happen, you may get one or two rather interesting students who may decide to test how far they can push you. To that end, never ever get into a verbal exchange with any student who decides to challenge you in the classroom.
If you do, remember that having a long verbal exchange with that student in the classroom may slowly evolve into a long heated argument. Furthermore, you don’t want to argue with children, would you?
My suggestion would be to end the argument there with these words, “I’ll see you after class.” You can ignore everything else the student may see after that.
4) No One Gets It Right On The First Day
Finally, remember that very few of us manage to crush it on the first day of class. Most of the time, you will not manage well on the first day of teaching.
However, after you have found your groove after the the second or third week, you will find that teaching gets a bit easier. As such, stand strong and take on your class. While you are at it, remember to have lots of fun.
I hope you have found these tips useful. Many of these tips come from my experience supervising teacher trainees. Hopefully, you will not make the same mistakes that they have through these tips.