My PTA Experience

What is the PTA? Parent Teacher Association. What does it do? An organization of parents and teachers for promoting closer relations and improving educational facilities at the school. Bearing in mind that the PTA does not interfere in the day-to-day administration of the schools. Instead, it serves as support group and a significant partner of the school in providing a forum for discussion of issues and solutions related to the entire school programme. It also undertakes fund-raising activities to support the school’s academic and co-curricular activities.

Why be part of the PTA? Here are some of PTA’s benefits I can personally testify:

  • Leverage Volunteer Power. PTA organises hard-working, dedicated volunteers; Parents who are ready to help implement school improvement programmes. Parents who are willing to spare their time for such activities, when required.
  • See Measurable Results. More than 85 research studies conducted over the past 30 years prove that children do better in school when their parents are involved. Exam scores improve. Attendance increases. Better self-discipline.
  • Discover More Dollars. PTAs are self-funding. PTA fundraisers support school programmes, building improvements and educational events.
  • Enjoy Informed Parents. Involved parents understand the challenges school faces and become part of the solution. By developing a closer relationship with parents, student achievement improves, and the school develops a positive reputation in the community.

Now, I would like to share my personal journey towards the PTA. When my children were in primary school, as much as I wanted to, I did not take part in the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) because of language barrier. I sent them to a vernacular school so that they could master another language (i.e. Mandarin) besides English and Malay.

When my elder child entered secondary school in January 2010, I was excited and keen to contribute towards the PTA. However, as a new parent in the school, not knowing how things work, I felt that I should observe and learn first. That was when I decided to be a “shadow” PTA member. I contributed behind an active PTA committee member, working in anonymity. I allowed myself to be  a sub-committee member in a fund-raising event organised by the PTA. That was my initial involvement and small contribution towards the school PTA from the start….

I worked in anonymity for 4 years before I finally accepted the nomination to be a member of the PTA, fulfilling a promise I made to the then principal. At that time, I had completed all 10 courses of my Masters degree, dissertation pending. To this year, it has been my 3rd year as an official PTA committee member, 7th year actively participating in my children’s school. Not as much as I wanted to but I can confidently say that I have done my best for the school and students. Challenges will always be part of our lives. It is what we choose to do at time of adversity that makes the difference. I am a firm believer of teamwork. As a team, we can achieve much more when we pool our resources together.

Being a member of the PTA has its pre-requisites. Some people thought that you have to be wealthy to qualify; some felt that you must have this much of free time to dedicate yourself; etc. etc. If you think along this line of thought, I’m sorry to say that you are not entirely correct. It is a big bonus to have the money but how much can one person continue to contribute for the entire school? Most importantly is to capitalise on our  network of people and to dedicate the time to do so passionately. The more people involved, the bigger the network is going to be. I am not ashamed to ask for help in any way possible. After all, what we do is for a good cause – for our future leaders, the students.

Volunteering ourselves to serve in the PTA require us to be committed, honest, sincere and responsible. Whatever that we do, we must carry out the tasks with clear conscience. Just as mindful as we are in taking great care of our home and family, we would extend the same, if not more to our bigger “home and family” i.e. the school and students. We shall protect students’ and teachers’ welfare as well as we would do the same for our own family.

I personally believe and live by this : I shall not settle for anything lesser than my best. Be passionate in whatever that I do. Despite my heavy work and social schedule, I shall make time for it as best as I can. If I can’t give my best, I shall without second thought, step down and let another take over the seat. I will not selfishly hold on to my position for the sake of holding on. I am sure there are always others out there who can do a better job than me. This is not a glamorous job, but I shall call it “labour of love”.

Dear parents, if you are concerned about the well-being of your children in school and in their education (academic as well as co-curriculum), be active in the PTA. If you have ideas to improve the condition of the school for your beloved children, don’t be satisfied with mere exchange of criticism outside the fences of the school. Step forward to volunteer your services.

Not to worry about being a newbie. Everyone is still learning. So am I. I was “born and bred” in the corporate world throughout my working life. My way of doing things is, cut the red tapes and tackle the issue at source in the shortest time possible. Look for solutions when faced with problems. Regardless of where you come from, we will always find ways to work together harmoniously. It is made possible because we share common objectives and focus on working towards achieving that common goals.

I shall hope to see more volunteers stepping forward to serve in the PTA. The success of the school is very much depended on the PTA. When school administrators work well with the parents, together we can achieve much more and reach greater heights. After all, the ultimate purpose is to provide a more conducive learning environment for our children.

I am most grateful to be given the chance to work with so many wonderful people, teachers and parents alike, who work so hard to ensure the interests of our stakeholders are protected. It has become a lovely big family to me, so much I had seen and experienced, the ups and downs we went through together. Hats off to those who have served the school in the PTA and the ones continue to do so. Great job, everyone! Keep it up!

Cheers,

Alice N.

Happy Teacher’s Day!

To all teachers in the world, who are reading this post, Happy Teacher’s Day! To my teachers at SRK Father Barres Convent, SMK Convent, teachers at BUBS Dhamma School and all teachers/tutors/coaches to my children Cheers to you, for your dedication, patience, love and guidance.

This is my second post dedicated to Teachers (the first being “Dear Teacher“). We all know that being a teacher is more of labour of love than the money. People who choose to teach are usually the ones who are generous in sharing their knowledge, patient enough to deal with all sorts of behaviour/actions and want to make a difference in the lives of young growing children. They deserve to be acknowledged and recognised for their commitment in carrying out such challenging duties.

Teachers, besides being the educator, you are also the ones whom children look up to. You are their role models. Reason being, you are so smart and able to communicate with them more effectively. You also show your love, care and understanding towards them. Of course, there are times when you need to be firm. You stand firm because you want to teach the children that there are limits to freedom. They cannot do as they like (especially when it is wrong) and discipline is to be observed – just like every house has house rules. You also help to prepare them to face the real world. For that, I am grateful that you care.

I know of teachers, who feel so helpless beyond words, when they poured their hearts out, helping their students cope with their studies and discipline, but were condemned by parents instead. I also know of some parents who actually expect teachers to discipline their children as they cannot do so at home! Unbelievable, isn’t it?! (sigh)

I’d like to see teachers and parents as partners in this company called “My Child Pte Ltd“. Each partner has to carry out his/her responsibilities and does it well. It’s like a company with departments like Finance, Human Resource, Marketing and Technical. Parents are heads of Finance and HR whilst teachers are heads of Marketing and Technical. Human capital is the child, of course. Core values should come from parents and, teachers take it from there to brush up the skills involving technicalities (subjects taught in school) and self-presentation (ideas, public speaking, problem solving, etc). 

Well, I’m not surprised if some of you disagree with me. This is my personal view and it does not represent the general public’s. Everybody has different perception on everything and has the right to his/her views.This is how I see it….the positive side of things, focusing only on the good rather than ugly.

Teachers, my toast to you for all you have done for the children today, in shaping them to be leaders of tomorrow. Thank you, Teachers.

~ Alice

Centre of Excellence

Let’s talk about Education and School. In our country, Education is part of basic needs. We need to be educated to gain access to a more quality life. Education is easily obtained here, which many take for granted. For some countries, education is a luxury item, which is beyond most people’s reach. They already have hard time putting food on the table and roof over their heads, that education is seen to be accessible only to wealthy people.

In the world today, being literate and knowledgeable is like having the golden key to many doors of opportunities. The more you learn, the more open your mind is to the world around you. It allows you to see opportunities more clearly to seize them. 

I believe that everyone was born smart and never easily give up at all. When we were babies, since when we gave up after each fall? Never. We would be quick to pull ourselves up to try to walk again and again, right? We would find ways to grab our parents’ attention and to get what we ask for (very persuasive; world-class sales person indeed!). 

Growing up, parents sent us to school (I call it the Centre of Excellence), so that we could obtain formal education. It is where we seek more knowledge, learn new languages and advanced counting methods, understanding how things work around us, discover new skills and making new friends at the same time. If we are focused and study well, we’ll graduate from school to the next level of education. This will eventually present more opportunities for us to a brighter future.

You are putting your fate in your hand if you understand clearly how important education is to deciding the landscape of your future. If you let education slip through your fingers, you are heading for a tough life before you. You see, there is not two-way about this – if you work hard today, you’ll enjoy the fruit of your labour tomorrow. Meaning, if you have good education, coupled with your smart brain, you’ll find doors opening for you, regardless it is a career or business opportunity. Conversely, if you choose to enjoy now (not willing to study), you’ll end up suffering in the future.

So, you make your choice and make it today. Either you choose to work with your brain (work in a nice, decent office) or your muscles (hard labour). You see, the seed you sow today will give you the corresponding fruit tomorrow. If you sow an apple seed, you would not get an orange fruit, right? In other words, if you reject education now, you’ll have lesser options in life than those who embrace education.

Education is like “teaching you to fish“. When you master the art of fishing, you’ll never be starved wherever you go. However, if you are so used to being fed with fish and, when one day, the supply comes to an end, you’ll feel so helpless. Simply because you don’t know what to do. You have never fished all your life! Are you going to beg for fish forever?

So, my dearest children, please make the right choice. Time waits for no one. Every second passed is either a gain or loss to you. Grab the golden opportunity to learn as much as possible. Feed your brain with right stuffs and mix with positive friends who are interested in studying. Do not waste time on worthless thoughts or actions.

Treat everyone well because you don’t know who would cross your path in the future. Who knows, the ones you treated badly today is going to be the one who might influence your future one day. I always believe in the Law of Universe. “What goes around, comes around”. If we think we are strong, there is always a power out there which is stronger than us. Always be a God-fearing individual and you’ll grow up fine.

My prayer for all children in the world is that, they be happy, well and safe always.

~ Alice

Dear Teacher

Today I want to write about all-time favourite i.e. children-teacher issue. I’m writing based on my personal experience. I want to share my experience as it works for me over the years and I hope that it would work out for you too.

Throughout my first-born’s primary school years, I met with all his class (form) teachers. Talking about mom doing PR work in school; please don’t misunderstand my action for trying to get my son to be the star of the class. None of that at all. You see, my prince here, is a very “friendly” boy, quoting his teachers (LOL!). Simply means, he loves to talk! It is challenging for a teacher to handle a class of 50 students, and what if all talking at the same time? I can only imagine.

Each year I make it a point to introduce myself to his class/form teacher and to pre-emp her on my son’s friendly behaviour. Not to ask her to consent to such behaviour but to make her understand so that she can use the right application when she has to deal with his “friendliness”. You see, since he was able to talk, I’ve been encouraging him to speak his mind and that it’s okay to express himself. I guess that makes him a confident little boy. But, most of the time, he got carried away with his “speech” and forgot that there are times to speak up and there are also times to not-talk and just listen. I’m so grateful that all his teachers were understanding and knew how to motivate him to move in the right direction. Some of them have become my friends after my son had moved on to the next level and eventually graduated from his primary school. I’m so grateful for his teachers. Bravo!

Many parents are quick to complain about their children’s teachers. When I hear that, I would always encouraged them to go to speak with the class/form teacher personally, if they have not done so already; to try to understand the issue  and to seek understanding from the teacher. We can’t expect a teacher to understand the character of each student in his/her class. We as parents also find it hard to solve that big piece of puzzle and we are still learning to.

I’m sure all teachers want to give their best to the students. Being a teacher is a labour of love, requires a person to act selflessly and patiently, imparting knowledge to build our future leaders. I choose to trust the teachers to carry out their responsibilities. Unless there is any valid reason for me to doubt that, then I shall want to find out more, before taking necessary action.

At an early sign of any issue (problem) at school, parent(s) should immediately meet with the teacher to discuss the matter amicably. Not to act with threat or legal letters the instant our children complained. I would prefer to take a more pro-active role than being reactive. We must first investigate, listen to both sides and then, find a solution or compromise.

I have great respect for teachers. Of course, I have my share of experience with inexperienced temp teachers who did not know how to handle their students in the class. I spoke with them to find out what’s the matter and we exchanged information. At the end of all discussions, we always part on friendly basis. If my son is on the right side, I would stand by him and make the teacher understand the situation, from his point of view. On the other hand, if the teacher is right, I’ll support the teacher and make my son understand the teacher’s action. I strongly believe in teacher-parents partnership to make our children’s learning experience in school, to be as smooth as it possibly can.

By meeting with the teachers, to discuss our children’s school matters, it shows that we are open for discussion and that parents-teachers can make great teams for the benefit of our children. All teachers whom I came into contact with, over the years, told me that they greatly appreciate when parents came to talk with them personally instead of shouting at them in front of the students or slapped them with legal letters, without first understanding the situation. Teachers are human too, subject to making mistakes. When they found out any misjudgment on their part, they would be quick to apologise for it. Why can’t we do the same too?

We must not pamper and spoil our children. If they happened to forget their homework, show disrespect to teachers/rules and regulations of the school/disrupting lessons in progress, we need to sit down with them and have a nice, slow talk to find out why. We need to know the root cause to their misbehaviour. Assured them that we won’t be mad when they tell us the truth. Sometimes, the root of the problem stem from us, not them or the teachers. Surprise! Surprise! We must keep the communication line open to let them know that whatever happened to them, matters to us. We can start by asking about their day at school and if we like, share about our day too.

So, parents who have not meet their children’s teachers ever, please make it a point to get to know them before the end of this term, okay? You can find out a lot from just a short conversation with the teacher. Teachers meet with all sorts of challenges everyday. And, they need motivation too, you know? One way is from us parents, to validate their actions, when they have done something right. It is okay to pay compliments to the teacher and let him/her know that he/she had done a great job, in making your child a better student. Many teachers are great. There may be some who don’t fit the bill – but don’t let some bad apples spoil the good ones.

To me, it all balls down to communication. We need to always listen to both sides of story before we jump to conclusions. Bear in mind that our children is constantly watching our actions, including the ones on how we handle sensitive issues. If we jumped and blow our tops each time they come home crying or complaining, be careful – they might take advantage of that. Just be mindful when handling sensitive issues like this.

I shall leave you to your thoughts….you have the right to think differently. Like I said, this sharing is purely from my own experience.

~ Alice