Like many professionals I feel a sense of responsibility to train the next generation. This hasn’t always worked out well for me. I have had some excellent student teachers over the years, and I have had my share of losers as well. A bad student teacher can not only make your life miserable for two to four weeks; they can also force you to reteach for the next month what has been poorly covered while they had the class.

They can also be incredibly destructive. One nasty young lady went balistic on my kids at every opportunity: she not only had control issues, but she badly misunderstood her perogative to correct behaviour. Then when I confronted her she would dissolve in hysterical tears. She clearly needed more help than I could give her, but rescuing my class from her abuses took most of the next six months.

Then there was the guy that went down every rabbit trail that crossed his neural pathway: his mind was mental jumbalaya (kway teow, for my Asian readers). One fine day he was conducting an experiment – that as usual had practically nothing whatever to do with what was on the curriculum – and he set his tie on fire! There it was smouldering away under his very nose, in plain view of my fascinated students who were holding their collective breath (and snickering under it) to see how long it was going to take for this guy to realize he was on fire. Ah, me; teaching can be such a cruel gig.

Fortunately teaching in Asia builds in its own safety net. There aren’t a lot of teachers who have the moxey to do their practicums on another continent, and those that do don’t need a lot of coaching from me. Jamie has been with me for week now and she has already taken over some burdensome responsibilities in dramatic arts that were beginning to weigh pretty heavily on me. We have a musical theatre coming up at the end of the month, and this has meant that I have been wearing four or five different hats in addition to my regular teaching load. I have been happy to let Jamie take a couple of these.

She and her two colleagues have been in Singapore for the weekend, but Monday she begins in earnest on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I am looking forward to seeing what she has in store for my students, and getting caught up on my marking while she is teaching. There are just two months to go in this term, and the remainder of this year looks like it is going to be very enjoyable indeed.

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