Nabila Alkaff is currently a Year 1 FASS student at NUS. Read part two of her interview here: http://aiesec.org.sg/1266-2/
Take me through your decision-making process for the year you took off to teach in a kindergarten.
When I started poly, even way back when I was in late primary school, I already decided that I wanted to be a teacher for kids because I saw my brother’s growing up process and I wanted to do that as well. Then when I went to poly, it was like, no question. Direct admission as well, so there was no other choices. And then the three years in poly made me realise that this is what I want to do. I want to work with kids, and so why not just go ahead and do it right after poly? So I took two years off to teach.
So how was the experience?
It was good. It was great. You’re thrown into the industry, so you learn a lot of things while on the job. A lot more than when you are, you know, it’s different in practice than in theory. People skills improve, and I enjoyed it.
Would you say that that was the most challenging experience throughout the year?
I think my most challenging experience is due to my age. Because I am quite young and the parents can tell. As much as I try to look older, they can tell that I am on the younger side, so they hesitate to trust someone to watch over or educate their child. So that would be my issue because I had quite a few times when I was teaching, especially with the older kids who were going to Primary 1 the following year. I got a few complains saying that they would prefer the other teachers to teach their children. But because I am more qualified than quite a few people there, I would have like to teach the older aged groups. Under the law you need to have a diploma – you cannot be a Level 2 teacher without a diploma. A lot of the teachers couldn’t take that class, so I had to teach it. And I was also in a higher end school which catered to the upper class. They had really high standards so in the beginning, it was tough because they didn’t trust me enough yet. But gradually I earned their trust.
So how did you gain their trust?
I think it’s just acknowledging it. Yes, I am new. Yes I am young. Keep a good kinship with the parents. And I constantly update them to make sure they know what is going on in class. And maybe form a relationship with their children. Because when their children talk about you to their parents, that’s the best thing.
How was teaching the children?
Oh, it was great. I love it! And now that I am not doing it I miss it.
Do you think that the experience has helped you in University in any way?
I think the knowledge gained because I could relate what I am learning in school to my experience as a kindergarten teacher. Also, having the edge over those who go to work straight from uni because they are new to the working world; people skills, working with colleagues, understanding different viewpoints and maybe being a little more mature thanks to my interaction with the parents of my students.
How were your feelings on your first day of internship and your first class you ever took?
I think very nervous but very happy as well. Because it depends, like the children, they are very curious. They ask you questions, they make sure you are involved, and they will tell you things like this where we do that etc., so it’s quite fun. I think for internship we don’t know what to do because the teachers they don’t introduce you to the parents so they will be like who is this person following my children and stuff like that.