Surviving Normal stream

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Surviving Normal stream

Postby schweppes » Thu Dec 17, 2009 3:58 pm

//Editor's note: Topic selected and edited for Portal publication.

(Please bear with me. This is a very l-o-n-g post as there are lots to share. Still, I hope you find my sharing a worthwhile read. Cheers)

Too often on KSP forum, we read about students who do exceedingly well in school and get excellent results for all their exams, be it GEP streaming or PSLE. Most likely, we read with envy and wish our kids have the study smarts too!

So, what happens if your child (or if you are a student reading this) is not part of the nation’s top 10% and bound for the premium brand schools? Instead, your child is not going to the Express stream but going to Normal (Academic) or Normal (Technical) instead.

We hear (and read) horror stories of the quality of students and the environment in N(A) and N(T) classes and some neighbourhood schools that are less than desirable and may not be conducive for studying. We worry about our children and who they will mix around with and the bad habits that they may pick up. And, as any parent who loves our kids, it is natural to worry as we want our kids to do well in life.

As an educator teaching students in the tertiary institutions, I am inspired and motivated to start this thread as I want to share with parents of kids who are in or going to Normal stream. I have taught many students and have come across many Normal stream students who are doing very well in poly or in the university.

In interacting with my students, I know that it has been a long and arduous journey for these Normal stream students. Their self-esteem and confidence level takes a beating. They always wondered if they were good enough. And yet, they have risen above their situations to overcome their hurdles and challenges. And for that, we celebrate in their successes.

Here is my sharing of my Normal stream students who have done well in life
(I have deliberately left out the students’ names and the names of the tertiary institutions to maintain my students’ confidentiality and privacy)

Case 1: Student A, girl, 1st year student at poly
A scored only 100 points for her PSLE exam. She went to N(T) and then ITE. It was at ITE that she realised her potential. The teachers at ITE believed in her and gave her opportunities to excel. She recognized that she is not “book smart” but is a sporty and hands-on person. She decided to work hard on her strengths and was amongst the top 1% in ITE. She did well enough to earn a place in the poly. In her own words, “Although I am struggling in poly now – things are so much more difficult – I will not give up and will continue to study hard as I want a better future for myself and to make my parents proud of me.”

Case 2: Student B, boy, 2nd year IT student in poly
B’s PSLE T-score was 158 points and went to N(T) and then ITE. He acknowledged that it was a very tough environment in N(T) and ITE as he was constantly surrounded by friends who were not interested in studying. The environment was definitely not conducive for studying. Still, C was surrounded by a loving and supportive family. Even though his parents were disappointed that he did not do well in his PSLE, they did not give up on him and encouraged him to do his best. On top of his poly studies, C works part-time to support himself as his family is in the low income range. He may not be amongst the top students in poly, but he is motivated to do well as he wants to go to the university.

Case 3: Student C, boy, 3rd year Business student in poly

C’s PSLE score was 175 and was a N(A) student. He is in poly now and is on the Director’s List (top 1% in school) and maintains a 3.6 GPA, getting As and distinctions in all his first and second year subjects. C will no doubt earn a place in a university of his choice.
(GPA stands for Grade Point Average. It is a score that reflects how well a student performs in the poly. The maximum grade a student can attain is a GPA 4.0)

Case 4: Student D, girl, final year Accountancy student in a local uni
D came from a broken family, her father was a gambler and wife-beater and her mother had to work as a seamstress to support her and her brother. When A was in primary school, she did not do well in PSLE exam and went to N(T). Her mother told her that she needed to study hard so that the relatives would not “look down” on them. When A was in Sec 1, she did well enough to be “upgraded” to N(A). She continued to do well in her “N” levels to proceed to “O” levels. A went to poly, studied very hard and earned a place studying Accountancy at one of our local uni. A should be graduating next year.

Although I have only given 4 examples, I hope my sharing will reflect that we should not give up hope and that all is not lost. I am humbled by my students’ experiences and what they shared has taught me the following:

1. Believe in your child
Don’t give up on your child. Ever. Know that he or she will succeed in life with your love, support and encouragement.

2. Have a positive attitude and mindset
We must be positive for our kids (even though we are shaking with worry and frustrations inside). When our kids see us positive and believing in them, they will believe in themselves too.

3. Build on confidence and self-esteem
When our kids start to feel good about themselves, their self-confidence and self-esteem will increase too. And when they know they can do it, they will!

4. Encourage your child to be focused and motivated
Talk to your children and keep them motivated. Students who survive and succeed Normal stream and ITE to enter poly were very focused and single-minded in wanting to succeed. Although there were many distractions, these Normal stream students were motivated to want a better future for themselves and their families. They are aware that education is the road to a better quality of life.

5. Be like the lotus
Someone commented that we need to “be like a lotus”. A lotus is a beautiful flower that is able to survive in muddy and murky waters. Its beauty remains untouched by the ugly environment that it is surrounded in.

6. Find your child’s strengths and interests
Perhaps your child may not be academically inclined. But that does not mean that your child is not talented. Nurture your child’s strengths and interests. This will give him a purpose in life. It may also increase his confidence and self-esteem as he is doing something he enjoys, and excelling in it.

7. Celebrate the little victories
Take small steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day. There is a time and place for everything. Know that one day, your child’s time for success will come. So, in the meantime, celebrate his little victories and you will celebrate his life’s journey.

To end this thread, I would like to share a quote that I came across, and it is something that I constantly remind myself when I worry about my children’s well being.

“Too often, we worry about what our children will become tomorrow. Yet, we forget that they are someone special today.” :lol:

schweppes
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Postby daisyt » Thu Dec 17, 2009 4:50 pm

schweppes, thanks for sharing. Very touching ! :celebrate:

I used to have a friend, from N level to Poly and he was the only person in the class to be able to admit in local Uni.

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Re: Surviving Normal stream

Postby ChiefKiasu » Thu Dec 17, 2009 4:50 pm

schweppes wrote:... Too often on KSP forum, we read about students who do exceedingly well in school and get excellent results for all their exams, be it GEP streaming or PSLE. Most likely, we read with envy and wish our kids have the study smarts too! ...


schweppes... an excellent and inspirational article. Yes, too often we celebrate the successes of the top 10% or 1%, forgetting that the majority of kids out there have suffered a massive blow to their self-worth and confidence. Thank you for the most timely reminder that it is these kids that will require the most parenting support to guide them towards goals that are most suitable to their talents.

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Re: Surviving Normal stream

Postby autumnbronze » Thu Dec 17, 2009 5:01 pm

schweppes wrote:(Please bear with me. This is a very l-o-n-g post as there are lots to share. Still, I hope you find my sharing a worthwhile read. Cheers)

Too often on KSP forum, we read about students who do exceedingly well in school and get excellent results for all their exams, be it GEP streaming or PSLE. Most likely, we read with envy and wish our kids have the study smarts too!

So, what happens if your child (or if you are a student reading this) is not part of the nation’s top 10% and bound for the premium brand schools? Instead, your child is not going to the Express stream but going to Normal (Academic) or Normal (Technical) instead.

We hear (and read) horror stories of the quality of students and the environment in N(A) and N(T) classes and some neighbourhood schools that are less than desirable and may not be conducive for studying. We worry about our children and who they will mix around with and the bad habits that they may pick up. And, as any parent who loves our kids, it is natural to worry as we want our kids to do well in life.

As an educator teaching students in the tertiary institutions, I am inspired and motivated to start this thread as I want to share with parents of kids who are in or going to Normal stream. I have taught many students and have come across many Normal stream students who are doing very well in poly or in the university.

In interacting with my students, I know that it has been a long and arduous journey for these Normal stream students. Their self-esteem and confidence level takes a beating. They always wondered if they were good enough. And yet, they have risen above their situations to overcome their hurdles and challenges. And for that, we celebrate in their successes.

Here is my sharing of my Normal stream students who have done well in life
(I have deliberately left out the students’ names and the names of the tertiary institutions to maintain my students’ confidentiality and privacy)

Case 1: Student A, girl, 1st year student at poly
A scored only 100 points for her PSLE exam. She went to N(T) and then ITE. It was at ITE that she realised her potential. The teachers at ITE believed in her and gave her opportunities to excel. She recognized that she is not “book smart” but is a sporty and hands-on person. She decided to work hard on her strengths and was amongst the top 1% in ITE. She did well enough to earn a place in the poly. In her own words, “Although I am struggling in poly now – things are so much more difficult – I will not give up and will continue to study hard as I want a better future for myself and to make my parents proud of me.”

Case 2: Student B, boy, 2nd year IT student in poly
B’s PSLE T-score was 158 points and went to N(T) and then ITE. He acknowledged that it was a very tough environment in N(T) and ITE as he was constantly surrounded by friends who were not interested in studying. The environment was definitely not conducive for studying. Still, C was surrounded by a loving and supportive family. Even though his parents were disappointed that he did not do well in his PSLE, they did not give up on him and encouraged him to do his best. On top of his poly studies, C works part-time to support himself as his family is in the low income range. He may not be amongst the top students in poly, but he is motivated to do well as he wants to go to the university.

Case 3: Student C, boy, 3rd year Business student in poly

C’s PSLE score was 175 and was a N(A) student. He is in poly now and is on the Director’s List (top 1% in school) and maintains a 3.6 GPA, getting As and distinctions in all his first and second year subjects. C will no doubt earn a place in a university of his choice.
(GPA stands for Grade Point Average. It is a score that reflects how well a student performs in the poly. The maximum grade a student can attain is a GPA 4.0)

Case 4: Student D, girl, final year Accountancy student in a local uni
D came from a broken family, her father was a gambler and wife-beater and her mother had to work as a seamstress to support her and her brother. When A was in primary school, she did not do well in PSLE exam and went to N(T). Her mother told her that she needed to study hard so that the relatives would not “look down” on them. When A was in Sec 1, she did well enough to be “upgraded” to N(A). She continued to do well in her “N” levels to proceed to “O” levels. A went to poly, studied very hard and earned a place studying Accountancy at one of our local uni. A should be graduating next year.

Although I have only given 4 examples, I hope my sharing will reflect that we should not give up hope and that all is not lost. I am humbled by my students’ experiences and what they shared has taught me the following:

1. Believe in your child
Don’t give up on your child. Ever. Know that he or she will succeed in life with your love, support and encouragement.

2. Have a positive attitude and mindset
We must be positive for our kids (even though we are shaking with worry and frustrations inside). When our kids see us positive and believing in them, they will believe in themselves too.

3. Build on confidence and self-esteem
When our kids start to feel good about themselves, their self-confidence and self-esteem will increase too. And when they know they can do it, they will!

4. Encourage your child to be focused and motivated
Talk to your children and keep them motivated. Students who survive and succeed Normal stream and ITE to enter poly were very focused and single-minded in wanting to succeed. Although there were many distractions, these Normal stream students were motivated to want a better future for themselves and their families. They are aware that education is the road to a better quality of life.

5. Be like the lotus
Someone commented that we need to “be like a lotus”. A lotus is a beautiful flower that is able to survive in muddy and murky waters. Its beauty remains untouched by the ugly environment that it is surrounded in.

6. Find your child’s strengths and interests
Perhaps your child may not be academically inclined. But that does not mean that your child is not talented. Nurture your child’s strengths and interests. This will give him a purpose in life. It may also increase his confidence and self-esteem as he is doing something he enjoys, and excelling in it.

7. Celebrate the little victories
Take small steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day. There is a time and place for everything. Know that one day, your child’s time for success will come. So, in the meantime, celebrate his little victories and you will celebrate his life’s journey.

To end this thread, I would like to share a quote that I came across, and it is something that I constantly remind myself when I worry about my children’s well being.

“Too often, we worry about what our children will become tomorrow. Yet, we forget that they are someone special today.” :lol:




Apologies in advance to fellow educators out there. No offence, but I am speaking from an ex-educator's perspective. This is my personal experience and I would like to share them - autumnbronze

Schweppes,

I have a VERY SOFT SPOT for NA and NT kids.

I remember when I requested for a transfer from an all girls school which only has special/express classes to an autonomous mixed neighbourhood school, my colleagues looked at me in askance, like "are you mad? You are going to die out there with the NA and NT kids."

The truth is, yes, they may (note I say 'may') be the ones causing the problems in school/class BUT they carry A LOT of excess baggage with them hidden deep inside. They cover up by being tough, mean etc.. but I tell you, generally, they are all softies at heart (well, the ones I have encountered so far).

I remember once during relief teaching, I had to literally drag a boy from an NA class in the middle of my lesson, while instructing the others to stay put, by the collar, yes, true, all the way down to the nature garden. I sat down with him and really interrogated him for his continuous atrocious behaviour day after day in class. What I found out made me really feel for him. There was another case of another boy who called himself the Prince as he was the de facto gang leader of the class. On the last day of my teaching stint, he came over and said,"cher, why always the good teachers leave first and fast?" After that, he gave me a card saying, "cher, don't forget me ok, because I will never forget you. You really give us respect."

Sorry, but typing this is really bringing tears in my eyes, because these are the pupils that really provided me with some of the most indelible memories in my teaching career... and I hope they have done well in life.

So really, as teachers, we have an additional task too - besides taking care of the academic part, we need to, to a certain extent, ensure their emotional well-being. I jolly well know its tough. I have been there and done that. What with rubbish targets to achieve like x no of assignments to give in a term and if you don't meet, must justify in the work review/to the HOD etc.... But my personal belief is that if you are entering the teaching profession, you have to enter with an open mind and heart and be prepared to deal with the 'extras' that are 'thrown in'.

So, to conclude, yes Schweppes, I agree with all you have said, esp the 'tips'. But I believe that they are also applicable to fellow educators too. Tip no 5 is especially endearing.

And

THANK YOU for this post :hugs:

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Re: Surviving Normal stream

Postby loner » Thu Dec 17, 2009 5:30 pm

autumnbronze,schweppes,


Thanks for all your write up. :cry: :

I wish more parents and educators will be able to share similiar stories to encourage one another.

**Not all child are "bright" but they will forever be God's "shining star"**

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Postby Yong HL » Thu Dec 17, 2009 5:36 pm

This thread has been inspiring.
Reminds me of saying "sweetness comes after bitterness".
It would very much depends on the child how to overcome bitterness and not to nuture it.. and its usually with the support of parents..

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Postby mrswongtuition » Thu Dec 17, 2009 7:30 pm

Autumnbronze,

I agree with you. I also have soft spot for NA and NT kids.
They may not have the 'hardware' but they definitely have the 'heartware'. Though they are harder to teach in terms of disciplining them and getting their sustained attention in class, I still love them to bits!
I'm not saying I don't love the Exp kids, I love them alot too!

You are so right when you say that they bring alot of excess baggage with them. Many of them can't be bothered to study because there's more important things in their life bugging them - whether their parents will still be together, whether they'll even have a place to stay, whether they'll get beaten by one or both parents when they reach home, etc.

I'm teaching because I love the kids, not because I want an easy life teaching. If I wanted an easy life, I would have taken up RGS's offer and gone back there since it's really alot easier to teach (esp when I've taught there for a while and have all my resources ready and the girls are attentive and there's hardly any discipline cases in the school).

So far I've not had problems meeting targets (esp when my boss is the type who reads through every single file and not asks for random samples) in terms of having a certain number of assignments for them, etc. It's just a matter of ensuring your assignments are pegged to their capabilities with some questions to stretch them. It takes alot to motivate them to finish their work (yes, I ever used ICE CREAM as a 'bribe' for them to do well in their test) or do well, but at the end of the day, they appreciate your efforts & I feel good cos I know I've done my best for the kids.


Schweppes,

Kudos to you for starting this thread.
Many parents are also 'shy' or 'embarrassed' to discuss about their children who are in NA or NT. This thread will serve as a stepping stone for them to come forward :)

mrswongtuition
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Postby MasterMind » Thu Dec 17, 2009 9:33 pm

I strongly agree..
All of them are bright, all of our children to be exact
Its just the problem of how do we open that 'potential' out of them.
We should readily give out help to NA n NT too.
I am proud of Sembwang Pri though, it helps all the P6 corhort and well, the whole sch improved and leaped over National Average, especially for the Foundation pupils..
Well done!
The top was 271 too.
Sometimes we really ought to look out for neighbourhood schs

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Postby ooptimizer » Thu Dec 17, 2009 9:35 pm

Yes, the neighbourhood schools produced the top student this year.

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Postby schweppes » Thu Dec 17, 2009 10:43 pm

:thankyou: Chief for selecting my article for publication. :lol:

Just wanted to share my thoughts and experiences about students who are or were in Normal stream. And that being in ITE is really NOT "It's The End", but really, It's Time to Excel.

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