[PV Series] The First Assignment

To recap from my previous parent volunteer (PV) series post, I received an e-mail from a parent support group (PSG) committee member asking if I could fill in for a PV to attend a Primary 1 afternoon school outing. The excursion would be, er, excursed, the following Monday – just 2 days from the date the email was sent. Turns out another PV pulled out at the last minutes and they had trouble finding a replacement at such short notice.

I responded to say I was available, and was told to report at the school to a certain class at 1pm.

When I arrived, I was expecting some sort of briefing to clarify the scope of work and responsibilities the PVs had to undertake during the course of the day. Oddly, when I went to the school’s general office to report for duty, the rather flustered receptionist had no other information for me other than “Wait for the class to come down, then report to the class teacher.”

2 minutes later, 2 classes arrived at the school foyer and sat down, each class of 30 children forming lines of 2 and sat down, chattering away.

After another 3 minutes of wondering which of the class teachers I should introduce myself to, I picked the angrier looking one (because that’s how I roll), and asked if this was class 2J.

“Class 2J? Her,” she replied, pointing to the more docile looking teacher over at the head of the next class.

I let out a small sigh of relief.

“Oh, hi,” said the other teacher when I turned to her. “Parent volunteer? Hang on ah.” She proceeded to dig into a box, pulled out a plastic bag, and handed it to me. “This is for you.”

In the bag were a small mineral water bottle and a tuna sandwich. “Oh. Uh, thanks,” I managed to blurt out.

There still wasn’t much in terms of a briefing, but from the emails I had received about the outing and my own memory of what a primary school excursion was like, I managed to more or less figure out what I had to do.

The course of my work for the day went as such:

  1. Make sure everyone boards the bus.
  2. Distribute iPods and earphones (supplied by the school, and loaded with relevant videos pertaining to the excursion).
  3. Disentangle one student’s earphones.
  4. Make sure everyone gets off the bus.
  5. Disentangle another student’s earphones.
  6. Walk to exhibition entrance.
  7. Disentangle another student’s earphones.
  8. Divide the class into 5 groups and direct them to their respective activity stations.
  9. Disentangle another student’s earphones.
  10. Bring 3 boys to the toilet.
  11. Bring the 3 boys back from the toilet.
  12. Break for tea.
  13. Offer my sandwich to a student after finding out she didn’t bring her lunch. Then find out she actually didn’t want to eat in the first place and was very disappointed to have to eat my sandwich. (She didn’t finish the sandwich.)
  14. Bring 6 boys to the toilet
  15. Bring the 6 boys back from the toilet.
  16. Find out the whole class had to go wash their hands after their meal, and bring 14 boys to the toilet.
  17. Keep boys from other schools out of the toilet until the 14 boys were done
  18. Sit in during a workshop where the kids learned about the food pyramid and made their own fruit salads
  19. Scramble into crowd control when the teacher let the kids loose to play in the exhibition play facility.

One of the things that impressed me was the school’s use of handheld devices as teaching aids. The teacher later told me the devices are refurbished models supplied by sponsors, and change as and when the sponsors change.

The kids got quite dependent on the info supplied in their iPods. But the otherwise progressive and well-planned provision of tools hit a snag. The info provided by the exhibition organizers turned out to be a year old, and some of the exhibits had either been moved or removed since.

The other thing that impressed me was the class discipline. Perhaps the gods were kind to me; I was assigned a class of attentive, obedient students. I realised this whilst sitting in on the little workshop they attended, and I imagined if I were in Primary 2, I’d have given the workshop instructor a hard time (maybe gone into a snoreful slumber, thrown a chair or something; I was that kind of student back in the day).

But the kids were great. They listened quietly (which, from 30 8-year-olds, was quite a sight to behold), and dove right into their activities with the enthusiasm and gusto of… well, attentive, obedient 8-year-olds.

I was later told by the form teacher that this class isn’t even a top-performing class. There were a handful of high flyers, but the class had good EQ in general.

The teacher herself was well-prepared, given her 8 years in service. She packed light, but packed enough, like a seasoned traveller, equipping herself with a box of tissue, a first-aid box (which came in handy when one of the girls complained of an upset stomach), and a set of commands that would put a military sergeant to shame.

For example:

For silence

Teacher: “Class, Finger One.”

(Whole class falls silent, and everyone has an arm raised with one finger pointing up.)

For sitting still

Teacher: “Class, Finger Two.”

(Whole class falls silent, arms crossed with two fingers extended.)

For standing still

Teacher: “Class, Finger Three.”

(Whole class falls silent, arms placed behind, with one hand holding three fingers on the other hand.)

For attention

Teacher: “Class, all eyes on me.”

Class: (in chorus, and index fingers pointing at teacher) “Yes. All eyes on you.”

Newbie Parent Volunteer: “Phwah.”

4 Replies to “[PV Series] The First Assignment”

  1. I would have freaked out. Oh my… that looked like a scene from a movie or some novel by Stephen King!

    One Step Towards World Domination!!

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