I am The Shai.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Old Students Die Hard?

With the exception of the teachers who I hang out with for breakfast and sometimes lunch, I still address the majority of the teachers in the office, old or new, formally and not by simply saying their first name.

Sure, a colleague, a teacher who I was close to back in my secondary school, remarked during my first week that I would probably be the only one in the office who would call the other teachers "Sir" or "Ma'am".

That was until this past week when my neighbour, a certain Mr. O exclaimed, loud enough for a few others to hear, that I should stop addressing him as Mr. O as I was now working there. The lot of us who were there that evening had a good laugh about it and I still call him by that name by the way.

But the point here is...

as I said to another teacher, "Once a student, always a student"

I had students who had asked why I would return to Hell's Den after escaping it.
Truth be told, the most obvious reason would be that it is a comfort zone, hell or not. And personally, I felt that I would learn a whole lot more being around people who I was already comfortable with and true enough, that is the case.

It might have been because I was from the pioneer batch (circa. 1999) or otherwise, fact is, I feel attached to the school more so than anyone else.

And the very thought of "Once a student, always a student," naturally made me reminisce the days I spent in the school and what better than to show a picture that was taken recently. In it, what you see is a friendship that has spanned 8 years regardless of the classes we were in.

This couldn't have come at a better time.

A Reunion Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Different Arts

The 19th Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF) has entered its 2nd week. There have been some great films and the very bad ones. This is not particularly a write-up about the SIFF per se, rather, about one film in particular.

The film in question here is The Art of Flirting, director Kan Lume's maiden foray into feature filmmaking.

Click on the poster below to read Stefan's review of the film over on movieXclusive.com

The Art of Flirting

It was screened at the newly renovated National History Museum yesterday evening and the man himself was in attendance. The screening was sold out and it was no surprise why as word of mouth has been pretty promising.

The film.
In a nutshell, the film was captivating. In the mould of Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, its 80 minute runtime traipsed slowly but surely. In its four chapters, I laughed at Leonard's character for his pseudo-barbaric grunts and snorts, the oh-so-cheesy lines he spouted when wooing Lynn, felt the lingering pain Lynn felt in the third chapter and ultimately, purely baffled but could somehow relate to Leonard's "I hope you understand" remark at the end. The film felt so real because it was just that. It infiltrated the tiny spaces of natural human courting and almost everyone should/would have seen various parts that have happened the same way in their lives before.

The Q&A.
Since Kan himself was in attendance and the short runtime, there was a generous amount of time for a Q&A before the next film. Sad to say, I wish it never happened. The questions about how Kan managed to make the film on a $300 budget, whether the script was ad-libbed were genuine questions but the Q&A also examplified how ridiculous some of our general film-goers can be.

Some questions that I could remember include:
"How long did it take Marilynn to practice her pseudo-American accent?"
and others that wandered along the likes of,
"Why did this character do this, why did this character do that?"
"What is your message one ar? Your film got message one right?"

Of course they weren't phrased that way but you get the picture.

Butthe one that really took the cake was,
"How would you interpret the (your own) film?"

Like what the hell? This question should have never been asked. It's fine if you're having a talk about the film over a cuppa with friends and all but to ask the director like that? Baffling.

Thankfully, Kan answered the question well and avoided explaining things directly. Thankfully, someone from the audience shouted at him to not answer the question too. Whew~

And me? Did I ask anything? Nah. I didn't. Most of what I wanted to know was already shared by Kan himself when Stefan and I interviewed him for movieXclusive not too long ago.
To read the article written by both Stefan and myself, click on the banner below.

The Art of Kan Lume Posted by Picasa

Eh, if you can get your hands on a copy of the film, go watch it okay?!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Yes, you can call me, Sir.

Yayness! I am blogging again!

Finally nearing the end of my 5th week at work, which only spells that the dreaded NS day looms nearer.

And as I write this, another after effect of the job is setting in, a sore throat. It doesn't help when you have to constantly raise your voice to the class. Not in the angry way lah. Just wanted to make myself heard over their incessant chattering. And it got a little frustrating today as the day neared its end when I had to repeat myself time and again.

As I told my students, it is not helping that the English Mid-Year Exam is less than 2 weeks away and that there's this stressful air around the office mainly due to tomorrow's Speech Day.

While we're on the topic of the Speech Day, I was telling my Sec 3 class that tomorrow will be the first time I'll be attending it in 4 years. By golly gees. And for once, I'll actually be a member of the audience and staff too. Hahakz.

Wells, on the the entry proper.

On 20th March 2006, I embarked on my first real job, a teaching stint at my alma mater. The scene in the office over the first week was that of genuine surprise. Teachers who once taught me were now my colleagues and apparently, I need not refer to them as Sir or Madam anymore. As one of them said, "You're gonna be the only teacher in here who calls the rest Sir/Madam". Not that I can help. Five weeks on, I'm still doing that.

The first week wasn't entirely bad. I learnt that my status was that of a full-time relief teacher. It meant that I had to report to work every morning regardless of my timetable. Oh, I have actually been given a class to teach! The wonder of wonders. I was going to have an English class of my own! Wells, on top of the class I was given, I had to relief other teachers for the whole week and I went into many classes that had familiar faces.

The weirdest thing? Getting used to being called Mr. Shaiful instead of MSB. A week before the March holiday, I was a senior. A week after, I was a teacher. In any case, as I explained, it'd probably take a little while for everyone to get used to addressing me formally.

In any case, talking about surprises, before the week was over, I was given a new timetable. Despite my status still being the same, I now had to teach two other English classes and one Lifeskills (formerly known as CME) class the next week onwards. The good thing about it was that I need not relief teachers who were absent anymore. And despite having a co-teacher for the new classes, she was to be away for the next few weeks, as I would learn later. The biggest problem for me then was that I actually had to teach properly lah!

Over the course of the next few weeks, I terrorised most of the English teachers I knew, gathering relevant materials, etc etc. And everyone's been really helpful too, so that's good. I've made new friends with the new, trainee and contract teachers. And of course some of the other relief teachers too! In any case, I now know what exactly transpires in the office, something I never really saw my four years there.

With regards to how the students are, a friend aptly quipped, "This is retribution for the torture we gave our teachers when we were students." True enough. The attitudes and characters of the classes I teach are so varied that I have to use different approaches with all of them. Generally, I do like my classes. Of course there are the occassional incidents which frustrates any teacher. I won't go into detail with regards to each class and what I like/don't like about each. Confidentiality purposes. If you want to know, I'll gladly talk to you about it though. Haha.

Ultimately, the biggest problem I had with teaching was not what happens in school per se. It's what happens after. I get so exhausted that I fall flat on my bed most days and having to cancel various prior engagements. Good news is that the body clock has almost fully settled and I should feel fully energized by next despite the sore throat and the promise of week's worth of remedial classes.

On the other hand, without singling out a particular group (you know who you are if you read this), I have been inspired to write. I've written a poem (haven't done that for the longest time) after a music appreciation activity that I conducted and a story after a composition activity. So, despite the impending mid-years exams, things seem fine and dandy.

I have more stories and instances to share. Will blog about them when I remember them.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


A quick message for my dearest readers.

My apologies for the lack of updates.

I've started work. Am into the 4th week.

Not particularly complaining but it sure is draining me!

Stifling my creativity too!

Where am I working you ask?

My alma mater.

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