For you, my friend

I would pay $4000 for you, my friend,

My friend whom I love and cherish so much,

So much so that I would be willing to die for you,

You, you, you, that’s all I ever think about,

About your salvation, about your flaws and insecurities,

Insecurities are so normal but people who show it off more than others are made to feel bad,

bad about themselves, bad that they’re not perfect,

Perfect? What is Perfect? And no, Jesus wasn’t Perfect. He wasn’t even Good.

Good news! I would pay $4000 for you, my friend,

My friend whom I love and cherish so much,

So much so that even though I’m made to feel bad for what I believe, I feel bold and courageous to share this identity with you because you are my cherished, my loved, my beautiful inside and out friend.

I love you, my friend.

 

Why primary teachers needs to know year 10 maths

This post isn’t primarily about the question in the title but it does relate a little bit to it. Although there’s a low entry level for people to study Bachelor of education, to become primary teachers, it’s actually really important that they are at least achieving at Year 10 maths.

Why do primary teachers need year 10 maths level skill? They’re teaching way below that level. But primary teachers’ maths skills can’t be at the same level or lower than the students that they’re teaching. Studies suggest that low belief in maths skills and also low maths skills, affects the students’ and their beliefs and who’s good at maths and who’s not.

The article, “Female Maths anxiety affects girls’ Maths achievement”, describes how the female teachers’ thinking and level of skill in Maths, affects and greatly influence how their female students think and perceive Maths. This resonates deeply with me because I was never strong at Maths, thinking of this subject like leftover rice; you can eat it but eventually, it would become inedible and thrown out.

My abilities and how I approach Maths affects and influences my student’s own attitudes and beliefs on Maths. The article uses statistics of an entry class in the united states, of which about 90% of teachers were female. At the end of the year, the girls who believed in the stereotype that boys are better at Maths than girls, scored less than everyone else. This result showed that female teachers’ own anxiety in Maths influenced girls more than boys. However, I believe that my Maths anxiety can also lead into Teaching Anxiety which in turn, affects the attitudes and learning of both boys and girls.  

Anyone can learn Maths at any age and to the level that they want. The Youtube video, “IM2 MATH Boosting Math BOALER (“Boosting Maths”) talks about a growth mindset and how anyone can learn Maths to the level that they want. This requires a lot of scaffolding and intrinsic motivation. I believe this lack of intrinsic motivation is due in part to the influencing factors of the students such as the attitudes and mindset of the teacher. This is something I need to be conscientious of when I am on practicum and when I enter the workforce, so that I can be a positive Maths role model.  

A year ago, when I was in the process of enrolling in Laidlaw College. I had to go to my aunty because she was also my accountant.  

When I told her I wanted to be a primary teacher, she replied with this;

“You’ll never be a teacher because you’re not good at maths.” (more about this in the link).

Her response made me realise something critical. There are many students in school who are struggling with Maths. However, this does not mean that they cannot later on study to become engineers or physicians. Perhaps I could help these students reach their full math potential, through learning from mistakes, so that their Maths level would not limit their university and career options. My beliefs are confirmed by the Boosting Maths Video that talks about the brain’s plasticity and how we grow through making and recognising our mistakes.

I did not have a great mathematical start in life, but I can still learn the skills I need to become a proficient teacher. The article, “Stewards of the Created Order”, states that, “…faith helps us makes connections between truth and applicability.” I connect this with the verse, “”My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV). God gives me the strength where I lack, so that I can continue to grow my knowledge and teach others in a way that honors and glorifies God. Through God’s will and love for me, I can connect the truth the Gospel in practcal ways when learning and teaching Mathematics.

You may have guessed by now that I’m a bit hypocritical to say that teachers needs atleast year 10 maths skills, when I myself do not have this. However, that’s the beauty of being life long leaners and having a growth mindset. These two things means that what I didn’t learn before, I can learn now. As long as I have the purpose and the determination, I can achieve in maths at the level that I need to be at in order to show my students that maths can be fun, maths can be understood and most of all, anyone can do maths. I will shamelessly tell them, “If I can do it, so can you.”

It is like walking on water. You need to forget about the wind, the waves, the rational part of your mind saying, “This is impossible”, and never lose sight of Jesus, the one who can take you to the impossible and turn it into, “I’m possible”.

 

Laidlaw journey

I thought I’d tell you the story of my journey to Laidlaw College. Get the tissue box ready, it’s pretty sad.

In 2014, I became sick. I was mentally unwell. It’s hard to believe now that I used to be suicidal. I used to want to die. I used to believe that I would by the end of 2014. I know that I believed that because I remembered what it was like, but I can’t connect with the person I was in 2014. I don’t know what she was thinking or how she felt during that time. I only know that it was a dark time.

I once heard or read somewhere that having depression was like having a dark blanket over you. I think it was like that for me. I lived in the dark. No one understood me and my thinking-though logical to me-was deeply irrational.

It’s funny because all throughout my teenage years, I never had a problem with depression or suicide or having too much pressure on myself to do well. I had no school groups, no extra curricular activities and no homework (almost never). But in the last year of high school, when I was “almost an adult”, that was when my brain flipped out.

I guess it was the pressure of suddenly having my whole life in my control. I had to take care of myself. I had to depend on myself more than on my mum. I had a lot of options and didn’t know how to decide. If I made one wrong choice, that was the end of my life.

I won’t give you all the details because it’ll be too much in one post, but I failed Level 3 NCEA. In 2015, I was both lucky and unlucky to be given a second chance at Level 3. This meant going back to year 13 for one whole year. The good news was that I passed Level 3 NCEA. The bad news was that I still think back to that year, and think, “was going back worth it?”

I still don’t know the answer to it. I’m glad I passed, but couldn’t that have been done in less than a year? I don’t know. By the end of 2015, I still wasn’t confident to go to uni. I wasn’t in a good headspace. It was better than 2014, but not good enough for the pressures of uni. I had a gap year and during this time in 2016, went to Australia and Singapore. It wasn’t completely a holiday-I went there with mum to see family.

One thing about where I was at in life, where I was expected to be at that age, and family members with good intentions, is that it doesn’t equal a relaxing holiday. It’s hard to live in a world with people who see the immediate. They see what’s in front of them with no imagination of what’s ahead. I knew great things here ahead of me but at that time, I needed to rest and wait.

But, after the holidays, the Netflix and the nothing, I was bored. So, I decided to enrol myself in NZMA, in a retail Level 3 course. Everyone thought it was a waste of time but I had a vision for myself. It was a vision I couldn’t share with anyone because they’d think I was a day dreamer. As Asians do, they would look at the probability, the cost, my skill set (or lack of) and crush my dreams. I couldn’t let anyone do that.

I didn’t need anyone to tell me I was no good or that I couldn’t do something. I already had enough doubts of my own to deal with. So, like a secret, I held onto my vision, hoping against all rationality, that this was something that could actually work. The course was for 20 weeks, so you could say it kept me busy.

In 2017, I enrolled in Retail Level 4. This was a much challenging course because I had a different tutor. The layout of the course was totally different. I still passed but didn’t learn much. Hopefully that’s not true. I hope I learned something from that. Who knows, maybe one day I can be a tutor there (and re-learn some things).

I was supposed to then enrol in level 5 Business Diploma, which sounds a lot smarter than a certificate, but I decided against it. A new season had arrived and a new passion grew inside me. I wanted to be a primary teacher. I wanted to go to a christian place so I put the two keywords together in the Google search engine and clicked on the first link: Laidlaw.

So thus, began my journey to being a student at Laidlaw College. That’s the very short version of my story. One thing I learned from all these years was that everything that happened, even the bad, all led up to the person I am and where I am now.

What my family members didn’t understand was that, there is a time to work and a time to rest. After graduating school in 2015, it was a time for me to rest. This is something my family probably still don’t understand. I still can hear what they said, echoing in my head, “What are you resting from? You haven’t even started work.”

But for some reason, somehow, I did need a rest and I’m glad I listened to my body and not to “reason. It’s like that saying by Jim Rohn; “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. Guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”

Despite all the nagging, the scolding, the lecturing, I needed to keep to the direction that I knew was right for me. I needed to listen to myself and not be swayed by popular opinion. And as much as I love my family, I’m glad I listened to myself and not to them.

Word of advice: Sometimes we need to rest. We don’t have to be working 24/7 to need a break. It is the rhythm of society’s heartbeat.

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll never be a primary teacher

The new semester began last week on Wednesday. I attended my first Maths 1 class on Thursday. Today was my second lesson. Due Sunday, is a reading response on an article titled, “Maths anxiety in female teachers” (shortened title). Man, can I relate to that! Aside from this article, there are so many other articles provided by my tutor (let’s call her Gabrielle), and it’s all very interesting.

It has made me call to question what my beliefs are over my Maths skills, over what I can and can’t do and how this affects the students that are under my care and influence.

The Youtube video, “Boosting Maths” talks about a growth mindset and how anyone can learn Maths. Speed does not matter but thinking does.

This offers hope for me as it means I don’t have to graduate uni and enter the classroom with all my Maths anxiety baggage that I’ve carried since primary, ever since I started learning fractions.

The article, “Female Maths anxiety affects girls’ Maths achievement”, describes how the female teachers’ thinking and level of skill in Maths, affects and greatly influence how their female students think and perceive Maths.

The article uses statistics of an entry class in the united states, of which about 90 % of teachers were female and all had Maths anxiety. Of the girls that believed in the stereotype that boys are better at Maths than girls, because of their teachers’ influence, scored less than the girls who didn’t believe this stereotype, and boys who believed either way.

However, you know what statistics is like.

The words, “Skewed” and “biased” come to mind as well as a big dose of, “No idea what this means.”

I can hear my year 12 statistics teacher cringing and crying out, “What have I taught you?”

The article also states that one of their hypothesis was that Female teacher anxiety would only affect the girls. However, I believe that teacher anxiety can affect how much students across the genders, learn and understand, no matter what gender the teacher is. This is because teachers have an influence on all their students and I believe it will be easy to know or find out if a teacher is good or bad at Maths.

Maths anxiety in teachers affects all students because, after all, how can a teacher who is not confident in doing fractions, be able to teach fractions? Although some students may be better at Maths than the teacher, the primary source of information and learning Maths knowledge comes from the teacher.

In my practicum at Elim School, I sat with a boy who was doing two digit multiplication. He was in year four and this kind of work was too easy for him. As a way to stimulate his thinking and encourage him to do his work, I raced with him to answer the questions first. I lost each time and he realised that I was slow at Maths. But, I told him that speed doesn’t matter in Maths. What matters is the thinking and understanding behind what you are doing. This concurs with the Youtube video, “Maths boosting”. I also said this more for the girls’ benefit who were in the room but it was also to help the boy student realise that he does not know everything in Maths and he, like everyone else, including me, were still learning Maths.

Maths is not a skill that can be conquered and done, but rather, it is a continual learning process that is forever changing and molding both ourselves and our understanding of the world.

Let’s backtrack, one year ago,  while I was still in the process of enrolling in Laidlaw College. I had to go to my Aunty because she’s also my accountant. Whenever I do anything to do with money or Study Link, I go to her.

When I told her I wanted to be a primary teacher, she replied with this;

“You’ll never be a teacher because you’re not good at maths.”

I was nervous. It’s not like I knew if I could be a teacher (even now, the verdict is still out), but I was also excited because what if I could. What if, Ching Ern Yeh, who never understood fractions, remembered her Number Knowledge, or prime numbers, could teach all these things and more? What if I could be a Maths teacher?

The thought scared me but even before I read the Teachers’ anxiety article that states, “students can successfully pursue a career as an elementary school teacher even if they have a propensity to avoid math.”, I knew there was a low entry level requirement of maths for primary teachers. I wasn’t asking to teach calculus or statistics. I was asking to teach fractions, one plus one, and number lines. I wanted to teach something that I had learned long ago. I needed something to spark inside me, to refresh and renew my mind so that I could grow, I could have a growth mindset and re-learn.

Even a year ago, I wore a secret smile, a quiet confidence in learning and teaching Maths.

But my Aunty wouldn’t let go of her rational and logical mind that told her it was impossible.

“You will never be a primary teacher,” she said, crying a little bit because she was sad to be the one to break my heart. (as if her fears weren’t obvious to me), “You were never good at Maths in primary so you can’t be a Maths primary teacher.”

Simple, right? Obvious, yes?

I thought not. And I’m glad for my 2017 self who, full of fears, anxiety and questions, also had lots of ideas, ambition and excitement. I’m excited to teach Maths because that is an indication for me that I’ve learned something, and a challenge to continue learning.

I’m not saying that, because I can empathise with students who don’t like Maths, all my students will pass fractions with flying colours. But just the fact that I can or may be able to teach Maths and do it well, is not a boast on my own strengths, but is God-given success. Through Jesus, I can do everything and nothing is impossible.

When I went for my interview, and admitted to them that I was not good at Maths, they told me what I’ve come to believe, is a message from God, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV).

Amen and praise the Lord, who not only gives me the strength where I lack, but made the universe and all the Maths in His creation.

Praise God, who, through the article, “Stewards of the Created Order”, gave me insight in the author and the words to use for when people ask me why I’m studying Education in a Theology college. The answer is this;

“…that pursuing mathematical study and pursuing a deeper relationship with Christ are not two mutually exclusive events. Through the Christian faith we can properly orient our understanding of mathematics so that we realize its inherent value and contribution to our worship of the Creator.”

In other words, teaching and theology, all the subjects I’m learning and God, are related to each other, not mutually exclusive. Thank you to my year 12 teacher who taught me what that meant. It means this: I can honour, worship and glorifiy God in the way I think about, do, learn and teach Maths.