Wednesday, June 8, 2016

My teaching anecdotes

I enjoy teaching
I thought my passion was teaching English (background: I am a trained language teacher) 
But over the years, I realized it doesn't matter what I teach.. I love seeing a person's eyes brightens when they get it, or when they are able to apply the knowledge, or when they share a story with me about something that they learnt from me. 
So, I decided to pursue that passion, which comes effortlessly and brings me so much joy. 

This post is about few anecdotes I shared on IG and my facebook page of my experience teaching sewing at a center that hires and trains people with special needs. 

I teach there on a voluntary basis once a week-in-Japanese (I had very basic formal training in the language, only introduction to the Japanese letters and basic grammar, I picked up the language mostly from my years of teaching English at schools and kindergarten and my time conversing with the older ladies at my gym; at one point my Japanese vocabulary was like that of a child or of a grandma's..LOL). It is a new center but it has grown from about 5 staffs when I first started (about 10 months ago) to triple the number. The turnover rate is very high (due to illness requiring medical care to other problems), I feel like I am constantly training new recruits, only to find them gone in few weeks time..

 OCT 29th 2015
 First day, it is just me and the supervisor today, one to one coaching. We are making masks for children. As I have not made one in a long time (the last time I made a mask was for Sofea when she was 7, I think), I made one to refresh my memory before guiding her through the process. By the end of the day, she completed about 8 masks. 
I recommended the center invest in a rotary cutter, self healing mat and a good pair of scissors. 
The supervisor is my age and has one young boy, we talked about work and life while we were working. 

NOV 17th 2015
Sewing class today...
These past 2 sessions, I have been assigned to teach the basics of sewing to the male staffs - 4 of them (background story: I have started teaching on a part time volunteer basis at an organization that train and employ special needs people)

3 of them have never touched a sewing machine before this but they have such positive attitudes and interest to learn that I find very inspiring..

At the end of today's session, they were able to sew straight and curves stitches on the high speed machine (which I secretly wished could be mine)... 
(Note: I have come up with my own curriculum for beginners, sewing 101; 1. introduction to sewing machines and parts 2. how to operate and industrial high speed machine 3. straight stitch 4. curves 5. fold and stitch 6. attaching elastic bands)

There is also a lady staff there and we sew baby booties together..

 Jan 25th 2016
 Today's class was mainly one to one coaching. The staff (in the green jumper) was taught how to fold the seam on the sides of a new born lace baby dress (about 1cm), stitch and add label.
The interesting part is she has hearing impairment in both ears and communicate via sign language, lip reading, body gestures and writing on a tablet (pen and paper? What's that..hihihi)

Well.. so there I was, trying my best to gesture and enunciate the words with hope she understood me.. and struggling with few sign language (in Japanese) phrases I picked up and I'm pretty sure I might have signed some bad

At the end of the session, despite some hiccups and raised eyebrows moments... she graciously bowed and thanked me profusely for the lesson... (^v^)v 

(Note: she has improved a lot and is now one of permanent staff on the sewing machine. The center gets quite a lot of simple sewing projects outsourced by factories) 

FEB 22nd 2016
Monday is work at the center day (I teach sewing at a center that hires and trains special need people). Today, I was requested to guide a staff to sew girls' underpants suitable for kids with skin problem/sensitive skin/eczema/irritation/etc.
I was given a store bought sample and pattern pieces (the moment I arrived), and I have to figure out the stitching steps and sewing techniques and impart the information to the student, guide her and complete at least 1 piece all within a couple of hours... yikes!!! ^^ The interesting part about sewing this underpants is the inside seams will all be on the outside - so as to have minimum frictions with the skin, and they'll be using organic cotton.

All was well in the end.. mission accomplished! We completed 2 underpants (show off..hehehe)

I guess since I work for myself at my own pace, some pressure is good to keep me motivated and alert... and I love that about this job..

May 23rd 2016
Work today, like any other day was amusing and fun (for me) and surely stressful and awful (for my poor students, I assume). 
From the station I walk about 10-15 minutes, depending on how many flowers or insects (and shop windows) I stop to observe (and photograph) along the way. The moment I walk in, the supervisor would pounce and start discussing that day's plan. Today they wanted me to suggest ways the staff could increase production..
OK so apparently I do not only teach, but I consult on matters under the sun (I was just asked if I could get my hands on some sea cucumber cream (jelly gamat) and if it was indeed good for the skin, I told them I'd look into the matter) *grin
Back to the story, increase production - I set the time to 30 minutes and I stood there observing the 2 staffs (imagine being them...*cringe). The lady staff excelled in the first 30 minutes, she was on a roll.. it was not good for the male staff, anything that could go wrong went wrong, he ran out of bobbin thread, needle wouldn't thread, needle need changing, unpicking.. when the alarm went off, I told them to continue sewing but secretly I was still observing them ;P
after the hour was up, I prepared an oral report and presented them to the supervisor and bosses (husband and wife who runs the center); the problem and ways to overcome the problem and suggestions on steps they can take to increase production.

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