3 steps for better memory Pt 1

Ever had a word or name that was on the tip of your tongue, but you couldn’t recall what it was? Ever walked into a room and then wondered why you came here?

Chances are, everybody reading this post has ever had their memory fail them or not working so well. There are seven steps that, when taken, can help us to remember anything better.

1. Reach and teach

Be in the present. IF you are learning something that does not mean anything to you, chances are, you will not only forget, but you will zone out in class as well. If you want to remember a name, find out more about that person and associate this person with their interests, hobbies, work and other interesting bits of information. Try to find something in common because if you are interested int he same subject or hobby, then chances are more likely that you will remember this common interest with this person. This is also important when you are studying, self learning or teaching yourself.

Even if you are your own student, don’t assume that you’ll be a good student who always listens and can take in all the information. You need to teach yourself in a way that allows you freedom to enjoy what you’re learning and relate to the material as well.

2. Reflect

This is not only step 2, but reflection is within every step of memory. Reflection is an important step towards memory because you are doing several of the memory steps at once. First, you are reflecting. Then, you are recoding-writing about what you have learned in your own words, and rehearsing. Rehearsal is a much later step but certainly does happen when reflecting. You are practicing what you’ve learned.

Reflection is a chance to digest the information, all that you’ve learned and everything you have done. It is a way o find out what you have learned, any questions and any concepts or information that you are unsure of.

It is crucial to a good memory, that you are able to recognise and then iron out any confusions that you have with what you are learning. Whether that is remembering that the person’s name is Jill, not Jane, or Sally and not Sammy. With names, it might be helpful to write acrostic poems or Mnemonics. Of course, we would only really make this kind of effort if we had to study people who we cannot meet. But it might be fun to try this out with your colleagues, friends, family members and generally, people whose name you easily forget.

As a writer, I love the idea to write a silly flash fiction of a random character but using that person’s name.

Einstein was a poor boy who lived in New York. When he was walking out in the streets on the way to school, and an adult pushed him aside and said, “Get out of the way”, he thought to himself, “Right! I’m getting out of here as soon as possible!” 

Of course, if you are learning about Einstein, it’s probably best to connect the silly story to something real about him. Like his hair.

I think of my blog posts that I write about what I’m learning in school, as both a rehearsal but also reflection as well. Sometimes it would be more obvious which one I am emphasising on. If I’m still in the process of learning or digesting, then that would be a reflection, which would come through quite clearly.

On the other hand, if this is a rehearsal, then probably it would feel a bit more structured, informative, and “I understand what I’m talking about, instead of spitting out words.” I hope this post conveys the latter.

3. Recoding

Just like Rehearsal, recoding interconnects with reflection as well. Recoding is about taking the material, concept or information, and turning organising the information into a visual organiser.

A visual or graphic organiser can be:

  • mindmap
  • brainstorm
  • PMI charts (Positive, minus, interesting/implications)
  • Venn diagrams

I confess that I stick with what I am familiar with and I don’t tend to try other forms of graphic organisers. However, I am slowly beginning to do this and one particular new chart that I like, has:

  • Simple examples
  • Examples
  • Interesting examples
  • Non examples

In there middle is the title or topic, much like a brainstorm or mind map. The other four categories are in boxes around the main topic. Another interesting note is “non examples”. I particularly like this because it allows room to make mistakes and not feel like a failure. Because giving a wrong example or answer, is countered as a “right example” of a non-example.

I can see the implications of using this table in schools. It would allow students to gain confidence and to have a go and guessing. After all, it is pretty easy to guess the wrong thing rather than be lucky to just know the right answer.

Teacher: What is 5 plus 4?

Student: 10?

Teacher: Thank you. You have given a good example of a non example. 

*writes answer on the board in correct box*

Teacher: Does anyone else have a non example to share? 

I think this also helps adults and anyone self teaching as well, but in general, humans are afraid to make mistakes. Even when we are alone making a mistake, we feel the fool. But having a “non example” category encourages us to make a mistake and be imperfect, and also helps us to see what we are learning, and what we are not. It can be good to see the opposite of what we are focused on.

This is the first part of this series, “7 steps for better memory”. I will either have one or two more posts to list the rest of the steps. Then, I will write more posts to expand on each of the steps. There is a ton of information I have not yet shared. I guess you could say I’m learning a lot. Next post will also have the reference to the book that I take all of this information from.

I will also have better examples-photos!

See you then.


Mahi Tahi: Relational approaches to learning

This is an introduction to Mahi Tahi, one of the course papers that I’m studying. I wanted to write this post and subsequent posts on this subject because Mahi Tahi is one of the few subjects that I have to take and that interests me. The other two is Maths and English, so you know how that is.

Mahi Tahi is all about helping students learn and disciplining them in a relational and positive way, rather than using anger or sarcasm. I’ve seen really poor classroom management in the class, mostly by teachers who said that they don’t have a classroom management plan. Shocker! I know. And completely not practical for me.

For me, (and I’m sure I got this off a book somewhere), classroom management and learning are interconnected. You can’t teach without addressing behaviour issues. This supports research that says the first step towards learning anything, is “reach and teach”. The “reach” part is about relationships between student and student, student and teacher , and relationship with ourselves. In order to teach students and gain their attention for learning to happen, we must first meet their needs one of them being the need to belong in a group. This can happen through good relationships. It makes sense that if students like the people they have to be with everyday, and can work well with people who may not be in their ‘group’, then students are more likely to give teachers their attention and in turn, learn a thing or two.

This is just an introduction so I hope it wasn’t too much information crammed into a post. I told you, it’s interesting, and I hope it is the same for you as well.

I will be writing more Mahi Tahi posts so be on the lookout for that.

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.

















What shows your true character?

A boy tells the bus driver he’s going to kill himself today before leaving the bus. A four-year-old go unsupervised to the swimming pool and drowns. A seven-year-old boy is on a sled, on top of a grassy hill, directly aimed at the fence instead of the tires (the safe spot).

What do you do? If we were to do nothing to intervene and something bad happened, would it be your fault?

What does your inactivity show about your true character?

This is one dilemma I’ve been facing for a few weeks. Because I’ve ever experienced times when I was unaware that my character and my morals were being tested. I was unaware that I play any significant part in the lives of other people.

Sometimes, I still experience times when I’m unaware and oftentimes, it’s too late to catch myself before something bad happens.

The truth is, I feel bad, even guilty that these things happened on my watch. Let’s be a bit specific and zone into one example: The seven-year-old boy in a sled on top of a grassy hill. He clearly was not aiming for the tires where he’d be safe. As a result of his stupidity and also mine, he hit the fence, resulting in a deep gash on his eyebrow.

I know what any good-hearted adult might be thinking; You should feel guilty. You shouldn’t be anywhere near kids if you’re not going to supervise them.

But does this incident truly show my true character? I’d like to think that I’m kind, caring and actually good with kids. This incident doesn’t exactly show my ideal values and character traits.

Am I, therefore, someone who shouldn’t be anywhere near kids? Am I heartless to have not stopped the kid before he had gained momentum on the sled?

Is it my imagination, or did I really just watch what happened while rubbing my hands together in evil glee? Like I wanted to see what would happen. Like I wanted him hurt so that he’d learn the lesson. I mean, that’s worse than tough love. That’s just cruel. Right?

I don’t know. Maybe I’m moping. Maybe if I were a more experienced leader I’d had known without a doubt what to do regardless of my own life. I say that because frankly running down the steep hill means facing a whole heap of fears, heights being one of them.

Or maybe I should’ve known. Deep down, I knew and I could’ve prevented the disaster that followed.

This then makes me think of spectator bullies and why they exist.

Spectator bullies are people who know that a person is a victim of bullying but they don’t do anything about it. This is usually out of fear of becoming a victim themselves but it can also be to do with, stubbornness, laziness, and not caring about someone who’s not in their inner circle of friends.

Maybe the reason why I didn’t help the boy wasn’t that I wanted to see him hurt and get stitches. But maybe it was because of my own fears and insecurities. Even though I value kindness and helping others, when it came down to these values being tested, my doubts and fears inhibited me and stopped me from what I believed would be a futile cause. After all, it’s not like the boy would’ve listened to me, right? I guess I’ll never know.

I think for this one, even though it was a horrific experience, I need to forgive myself. But for next time, I need to be more secure in myself and my abilities to lead so that I can better supervise and in turn, keep the children that are in my care, safe and happy.

You turn:

I think I might start doing more “your turn” things. I’d like you to reflect on this post and on your own life. Have there ever been times when you were a spectator bully or even just a spectator when you should’ve taken the main role? A time when what you did or didn’t do, did not align with who you really are or at least, who you want to be?








5 things to do on Mother’s Day

What are you going to do this Mother’s day?

I know what I’m going to do. Here are five things that you can do too to make Mother’s day that much more special to the women in your life.

  1. Tell her, “I love you”. Say to all the women in your life that you love them. They don’t hear it that often and will appreciate you having the courage and sincerity to say so. Actions speak louder than words but sometimes, it’s nice to just say how you feel in a straightforward manner.
  2. The Classic breakfast in bed-Don’t do this if you can’t cook. It’s not cute. If you know your mother’s go to breakfast, that’s even better!
  3. Reminisce on the good times-share just with your mum or your family the times when your mum helped you out, took care of your when you were sick or did or said something that even now, you are grateful.
  4. Make a card-and sent it to everyone in the family so that everyone can write their own special message. One of the few people who keeps cards are mothers.
  5. Create a gift-be creative and artistic. Or be a handyman for the day. Do a craft activity to create your own present to give. Your mum will appreciate that it is your handiwork and not store bought. My mum likes purple and black and her favourite animal is the cat. I’m going to use this info to draw and then paint artwork for her to keep and cherish forever.