Category : Life As An Ex-Teacher

A trip back to Miri

Mr Khemistry
Me and Felix
Me and Mini-me

This picture was taken on Christmas day when Felix was down with fever. Incredibly proud of him for staying bubbly and cheerful despite the temperature. He is now at the age when he can interact meaningfully with us. Some of the things he says are really hilarious!

On a more serious note, taking care of a little human being who is totally dependent on you is a humbling experience. His needs and wants are many, more than our patience can accommodate. Thankful for family and friends who take turns to play with him.

Went back to the same restaurant we got married in Miri…

Wife and me

Wife and me

It’s not very clear in the picture, but behind us is the big screen on the little stage. Didn’t have time to retake as Felix was running wild in the restaurant. Time flies. It’s has been almost 3 years since we got married.

At the start of the year, let us reflect on the year that has passed and use our experiences to fashion a better 2019 ahead.

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Chemistry in Daily life

Mr Khemistry

Chemistry in Daily life

chemistry in daily life

infographic from compoundchem.com

Plastics is one of the most important inventions Chemistry has made in 19th century. It is so pervasive in our lives that we seldom stop to think just how much we depend on it. Have a look around your house, how many things are made of plastics? Try going to the grocery stores or buying any food without getting a bunch of plastic bags. It is nearly impossible. This morning, my wife and i went grocery shopping, we brought along two recycle bags and one plastic bag to carry our groceries. Initially everything went well and we were able to fit it all into the three bags. As usual, we got complacent and bought some snacks after our shopping to munch on later….then guess what? 

We got a bunch of plastic bags which the food vendor used to pack our food in! The realisation that all our efforts were for naught in the end was especially jarring. To be really environmentally friendly and abstain from the use of plastic bags in our modern lives is next to impossible! Every thing comes in plastic bags, food, groceries, etc. 

Recycle bags

plastic bags  

 

 

 

 


Reflection

In the face of global warming and catastrophic climate disasters, we need to persevere in  our efforts to go green. This “Chemistry in Daily life” post hopes to stir up a desire in all of us to do what we can toward a better tomorrow for our children.

We must leave earth a better place for them, as it is, we are destroying this green planet with our thoughtless actions. Let’s all spur each other on to do good, recycle what we can, use what we need and eat just enough.

How have you been conscientious regarding your carbon foodprint? Can we all consume less and recycle more? Let’s do this together! 🙂

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Teacher’s Day

Mr Khemistry

Last week was teacher’s day and i’m thankful for all my students who wrote me a card and gave food.

This past month has been really busy and i anticipate it to continue on for probably another 6 weeks.

By the time November rolls around, i would probably be very free. Which is great, because seasons like

these force me to shift gears. In life, there are times when we need to go go go and there are times we

need to rest up. Looking forward to year end reflection on my first full year of being a tuition teacher.

In case i don’t have time to post again this month, have a happy Mid-Autumn Festival! 🙂

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Meta Learning

Mr Khemistry

Meta Learning

I’ve recently completed my reading challenge for 2018, twelve book, in four months and a week.
Realised that i’ve set too low a bar for myself. Walked right over it. Will be doubling the number of books to read for the rest of the year.

Reading and learning are intricately linked, but reading doesn’t automatically mean that you are learning. This shocked a new student when i meet him earlier this month.

I asked him, “How do you learn?” He replied, “I look through my notes, but after that i cannot remember the reactions”

*Sigh*

“You read and you forget. You write and you remember. You teach and you understand.”

Shared with him the analogy of learning how to ride a bicycle. “When you want to learn how to ride a bicycle, how do you do it?”

“I get on the bicycle and try to ride it…”

*Raised eyebrows*

“Oh….so i do, then i will remember”

“Yes, practise makes progress. Then when you have practised, try teaching it to someone who might be struggling with it. Then you hear it for the second time and learn better.”

“Oh….”

This brings me to a point about what i’ve learned from a webinar conducted  by Jim Kwik on meta learning, science of learning HOW to learn.

Schools mostly teach us what to learn, some may teach why we learn and the history of the theory. But not many actually teaches us HOW to learn, which arguably is THE skill to have in this day and age. Most of the information we are learning can simply be obtained from google online, so it makes little sense to memorise such big chunks of information…in so short a time…which stresses out many students, parents and teachers!

The way we teach the next generation is the same way that we learn from the previous, unless WE change as educators and parents. We need to teach them HOW to learn. Because formal education can make them a living but continuing self education will fulfill their highest potential. 

It is easy to do well in school because everything is tried and tested. You just have to observe the past papers and do them well, chances are you will do pretty well too. However, in the real world, things are changing rapidly. How do we best prepare our students to thrive in this rapidly evolving world?

The solution lies in teaching them how to learn and then letting them do the learning. But the bottleneck is time. Either we teach them how to learn, then they go home to do their learning/studying OR we do the learning/studying on their behalf and THEN tell them what to learn. No prizes for guessing which route we are taking.

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A visit to National Junior College

Mr Khemistry

Went for the choir performance at National JC last month. I must say i felt very proud of my student as she’s one of the four lead singers during the combined choir. Here’s a picture of her in action:

 

Choir performance

Choir performances always gives me the goosebumps…not in the bad sense. There’s something deeply moving about listening to a well-choreographed piece in a quiet hall…i can’t quite figure out why. Maybe it’s because deep down inside i’m a very atas person….(you can stop laughing now >_<) Decided that i’m going to bring my wife to a choir/musical performance at least once this year, hope she will like them too.

Had to leave at the interval as wife and son are waiting for me to fetch them home…but not before taking a picture with my other NJ student haha…

Picture before i go!

Hope i’m able to attend more of such performances in different schools 🙂 Realised i actually came to NJC for learningfest last year or the year before. That’s why it felt very familiar haha.

Kudos to all the students who put in so much effort rehearsing, job well-done!

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Thanksgiving

Mr Khemistry

Start-up phase

It has been about one year since we started Mr Khemistry. Looking back in this 12 months, there’s plenty to give thanks for.

  1. Friends who have been there, done that. Thanks Irwin, for your encouragement, advice and all those chairs. Irwin runs a renowned GP tuition centre, Irwin’s Study at Bukit Timah Shopping Centre.
  2. My ex-cellgroup leader, David and current assistant cgl Huirong, for their invaluable help with setting up this website. From designing the logo, to copywriting, SEO building blog, embedding video etc. I still owe them a proper meal to thank them for all their help. Thank you David, your friendship is a great blessing to me.
  3. Speaking of video, i want to thank my ex-colleague Gary Xie from Hancus Media, for producing an excellent promotional video clip on my shoestring budget 🙂
  4. Friends, relatives, ex-colleagues, students, other centre owners who have referred tuition assignments to me. I’m always amazed by the tremendous amount of faith they have in Mr Khemistry. It’s quite impossible to list out every single referrer here, but i hope to pay it forward by referring students to other trusted educators.
  5. My wife, who has been very supportive of my decision to start my own business. Suffice to say, without my family as my unwavering support base, i probably would not have started Mr Khemistry.

Thankful for the many life experiences that i’ve had, even for those which felt like a dark valley. It teaches me that nothing of significance comes easily and anything that’s valuable is worth fighting for. I count my blessings daily (i try to write them down) and i’m amazed at how blessed i am.

Growth phase

I am excited to plan for the next phase of Mr Khemistry, as our basic day to day administrative procedures are settled.

We’ll be looking to scale up the size of our classes and our marketing reach towards our target audience. Also aiming to cultivate deeper collaborations with our partner tuition centres and conduct more public talks.

Publishing a guide book on Practical Paper 4, look out for it at major bookstores! 🙂

Personal development

Reading at least one book per month and to take up a teaching course online to fine-tune our pedagogy at Mr Khemistry.

Looking forward to your continual support and encouragement! 🙂

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Happy Belated Lunar New Year!

Mr Khemistry

Over the CNY, my family took our maiden flight together back to Sarawak, Miri, to visit my in-laws.

2018 CNY

CNY visitation @ MiriThank God for good advice on how to distract little Felix with munchies as the plane ascends. I had been dreading the flight with this feisty little ball of energy after hearing all the horror stories on little ones screaming their lungs out due to the change in air pressure. I’m happy to say that the return flight was even better as he promptly fell asleep after take off and slept all the way til we reached Changi Airport.

Thank God also for kind parent who gave me an angbao for CNY, i must say, i think it’s the first time i’ve ever received an angbao from a parent…amazing thing is, i’ve only taught her daughter for a month! I must say gratitude runs in the family, my student also gave me a packet of various Japanese finger food:

gift from tuition student

Japanese finger food

Feel super appreciated. I must learn from them to be more thoughtful and show God’s love through my actions. #bekindtoeachanother

Hope you have had a blast during CNY too 🙂

Job Hazard of a Tuition Teacher

Mr Khemistry

Tuition Teacher Job Hazards

I never expected to find that the transition from a teacher in school to a private tuition teacher would be a significant one but i was wrong.

If you are a teacher thinking about making the switch to a full-time tutor, do consider these issues before you take the plunge.

First up is the financial aspect.

An average teacher earns around $70-$100k annually, depending on their grade and education level. This works out to be $5800 – $8300 per month, which is way above the median salary for Singapore. That’s if the teacher didn’t take up a couple of private tuitions. If they do take up perhaps one private tuition, their monthly salary would likely to be at least around $7k. This is a pretty stable income and may i add, quite a decent one.  On the other hand, income for tuition teachers are quite seasonal and obviously not guaranteed. For private tutors (not tuition centres owner), the rough estimate is around 60+k a year. 

Second is the social aspect.

I had a lot of fri-leagues (friends cum colleagues) in my previous workplace which makes the workload much more bearable. Of course being in the JC level, most of our work is communal and we could easily discuss it as a group/level. Thanks to my friends who had been working as private tutors, i already knew this would be an issue. Fortunately for me, i have a group of friends who are also operating tuition centres so we were able to discuss common topics like marketing etc.

Third and surprisingly was the health aspect

…which is the impetus for this post. I have just came back from a visit to the ENT specialist. Recently i had trouble projecting my voice in class and was worried that it would be something bad. Realised that it is a case of acid reflux.

Why did it not happen for the 10+ years when i was teaching in school?

Simple answer is that i had quite regular mealtimes and did not take supper during school term as i slept early. So when i transited to tuition full-time, my mealtimes became irregular and i started eating heavy suppers after the evening lessons. This caused the acid reflux which affected my vocal cords. If you have this problem too, take note of the dietary requirements.

So do think through and consider how you can circumvent these problems before taking the plunge! 🙂

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Qualities of a good tuition teacher

Mr Khemistry

Qualities of a good tuition teacher:

  • Talks in a way you understand and at a pace you can keep up with
  • Points out common mistakes during lessons
  • Knows the current syllabus well
  • Charges reasonable rates
  • Patient

How you can look out for qualities of a Good Tuition Teacher:

Look for ex-MOE teachers, they are qualified and experienced. Even better is those with many years of experience as they would know common mistakes made by students. They would also be able to better handle group/class lessons due to their experience.

Some parents would ask why not look for the cheapest rate? The answer might surprise you…

Trained teachers would not cheapen their services as they are professionals just like lawyers and doctors. On the other hand, they would also not charge exorbitant rates as that would disadvantaged students who come from not so well-to-do families. 

However, non-MOE trained tuition teachers who aren’t familiar with the syllabus and common mistakes might charge lower rates. 

Let’s use an analogy: If you are climbing a mountain, would you choose a good guide who just communicates well or would you choose an experienced guide who have guided hundreds of climbers before? The answer is pretty obvious.

Word of caution:

There are some tuition centres that charge lower rates as they simply group all the students from different levels and streams together.

We don’t think that is a good idea as students are in fact overpaying just for consultation. Here at Khemistry, we offer classes that caters for  H2/IP students specifically so that every student learns from lessons pitched to their level. Why H2 classes only? We answer that here.

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Teachers’ Day

Mr Khemistry

Teacher’s Day haul this year:

Incredibly, the student who gave me the bubble tea i’ve only ever taught her ONE lesson before.

The tuition centre staff who baked cookies for me i only got to know her last month in person.

The students who wrote the card, i only taught them 2 lessons before.

Moral of the story – Teach without expecting anything from students in return. You might just be
pleasantly surprised 🙂

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