There are many tough jobs in the world and some professions are also misunderstood, which only adds to its challenges. Although a teacher is surprisingly nowhere near the top of the list, an article by Harvard professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, about happiness at work reveals that the most content among us are those solving the toughest problems and ‘making a difference’ in people’s lives. It is no wonder that teachers show a deep sense of fulfillment day in and day out – and why we should always express our gratitude to their dedication.
While many of us have soaked the illusion that teaching looks easy, the truth is that the profession is a lot harder than most of us understand. Teaching is a highly skilled occupation, where they are required to do so many things that fall outside the realm of teaching. It is also a profession in which its academic content and classroom management cannot just be learned in a vacuum – they need to observe these things in real-world settings.
This was the case for final year student Amanda Lee Shi Ying, pursuing her Bachelor of Education (Honours) (Primary Education) at the School of Education, Taylor’s University; when she decided to complete her 6-month internship module at K. International School Tokyo (KIST), Japan as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) for Grade 3 and subsequently, Kindergarten 2 students. Majority of her time was spent assisting the homeroom teacher, guiding students on writing and helping out with group work.
A schoolkid at K. International School Tokyo (KIST) holding up the Malaysian flag during World Cultures Day celebrated every year on 21 May
“English is not a widely spoken language in Japan and most students take a long time to open up due to their lack of confidence in proficiency of the language,” she said. “However, as the children became accustomed to my presence in the classroom, they became more encouraged to speak, which helped built our relationship, where I got to really know their characteristics.”
During this time, Amanda was juggling between preparing and conducting classes, as well as drafting her research paper to complete her studies. She managed to implement a point system in the classroom based on a popular game called Pokémon Go. “Introducing this method to the students helped me identify their strengths and areas we needed to concentrate on for their academic progress. Once their challenges were overcome, they were not shy to demonstrate their appreciation and affection, which was truly rewarding,” recalled Amanda.
Amanda Lee explains the mechanics for a game with Kindergarten 2 students at K. International School Tokyo (KIST) during her teaching internship in Japan
The opportunity for Amanda came through the International Society of Educational and Cultural Exchange, however through the positive partnership; Taylor’s University and KIST are taking a step further via a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). “We have something good going on between the two institutions and would like to do what we can to sustain it,” said Jeffrey Jones, Head of School, KIST, Japan.
The school opened an internship position for the first time in 2016 as part of a service to the community, giving a chance to Malaysian students to do their internship overseas. “We had a student here prior to Amanda, and we thought we got lucky. When Amanda came on board, we could not help but notice how prepared she also was to handle primary school students. There is a level of confidence every teacher needs to enter a classroom and begin working well with the teacher and 25 kids. We can definitely see that the Education programme at Taylor’s University prepares them for this,” he said.
Amanda Lee (third from left) explores Yokohama Chinatown with fellow interns during her 6-month stay in Japan
“We are delighted and pleased to be able to offer this unique opportunity for our students, at the same time taking our relationship further with KIST,” said Dr. Logendra Ponniah, Head of School for the School of Education, Taylor’s University. “It is humbling to see their transformation from their experiences overseas and in local schools, as they immerse themselves in real classroom settings before they graduate. It gives us every confidence that our future teachers will make positive changes in the lives of children.”
Currently the only private university in Malaysia offering an undergraduate degree in Primary Education, graduates from the course at Taylor’s University will be eligible to become teachers at private primary schools within the nation.
A class photo with Amanda Lee and her Grade 3 students as she wraps up her internship at K. International School Tokyo (KIST), Japan