Thursday, February 14, 2013

14 February 2013

Here's the pleasant surprise that awaited me when I arrived at my work station in the morning. Coincidentally, all belong to the same "category" - Food! haha... Still have no idea whether they came from 3 different people or 2 or 1? Really appreciate the thoughtfulness... probably the secret guardian(s) had read the crystal ball that it's going to be a busy day (which came out to be true) and these would feed me well for the day :D

I could not resist, and these two pieces of cakes became my breakfast (II)! Unfortunately, by the time I notice the piece of sweet biscuit underneath, I could not figure out the words... It's a pity... Anyone can decipher? Well, the sweetness stays :) Thanks to ....

And of course, the sandwiches from mum became my lunch :)

Here's the other one that saved my day after my meeting that ended at 7 pm! Without this, I would probably have to re-sort to cup-a-soup... Nice pie with a taste of sweetness.... Thanks to ....

BTW, I'm still taking time to eat the cookies :) Thanks to ....

My collection of Doraemon has grown!!! Thanks to .... for the cute one!

Here's the first Dorae-mi! Cute cute... that makes a good combination with the Doraemon (above)! Thanks to ....

The day concluded with the nice ice cream cake at home.... er.... don't count the candles ;P

Apart from the 'concrete' items above... There are virtual ones! Thanks for all the birthday greetings from friends around, be it they are near or far :)

Of course, not forgetting the songs that are still ringing in my ears...

Thanks to everyone, for making the day a memorable one!

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Change is Constant

This is the first lesson I learnt in the recent trip to Chiang Mai.

Frankly speaking, though Thailand is one of our neighbours (geographically), it's only second visit to the country. The first visit was about 20 years ago, I think, with Chai Noi, Teck Siew and hubby. It was a short one in Bangkok. Shopping and eating were the key items in the itinerary then. We visited a couple of temples. What stayed in the memory was "traffic jam" and "steep steps" beyond imagination (when I was almost stranded in one of the temples)! Haha... There was no opportunity to really interact with the locals as much as this time, so was the culture!

If I recall correctly, "Change is Constant" was something that ex-MM LKY forewarned the nation about the need to be adaptive and sensitive to changes around us so that we can keep up to the changes and stay ahead of others - that's for survival! While many a time, back in Singapore, we jokingly talk about having to manage the change, it's more towards our reaction to changes rather than it's a culture. On the other hand, this trip, having immersed in "the way" how things work out in an international conference, I was surprised that this applied to plans even for big events like this! Interesting! Maybe, such comments only come from people who live by highly structured routines? Hm...

The programme changed... and it was certainly quite different from what was emailed over sometime ago. In particular, my slot... haha... anyway, it was a blessing in disguise :) But I guess the one who worked hardest were my Thai counterparts. The first time I met them, immediately after hopping into the car from the airport to the hotel, I was informed of the change in the itinerary. After lunch break, there were updates to what I was told. Haha... that's when I appreciate technology, where I could just ask for the latest copy of the programme to be emailed to me whenever there was any update. Along the way, there were changes to plans; ok, plans that were not critical... but I learnt to adapt, which reminded me of times in Paro :)

Of course,  another lesson learnt is to "be prepared"... especially in times of uncertainty; it's also coupled with assumptions made and being unfamiliar with the context. The assumption, based on almost all conferences that I attended to-date, that a keynote would be 'solo'; so here, with 3 names on placed under the same item, my assumption was, it's a panel discussion. Fortunately, I dd not take the risk and the last minute decision to come up with a presentation was the right move! Of course, this built on the work done over the past couple of years :) So, no effort is too little effort; anytime, the effort paid off :)

All in all, it's an opportunity to 'sharpen' my adaptability :)
I survived :)

What's the Motivation behind this?

I guess this notion of 'chasing' KPI that are not meaningful has been quite distant to me... and no wonder I responded with surprise when something along that line surfaced in a recent discussion. Actually, the discussion did not talk about the KPI, but it's about an 'initiative' that created "KPIs" for many to fulfill, and eventually evolved to become an 'exercise' that lose its meaning to many (because of the way it was driven).

We know that educators are very well supported by the Ministry of Education. Agree or not? One can easily made a comparison with countries in the region. MOE is far-sighted and recognised, way ahead of many, the importance to provide resources, in a large scale, to teachers in Singapore. While 'centrally' it started with its eduMall (long long ago, that evolved into eduMall 2.0, then ICT connection, and now integrated into OPAL), it gives schools in the zone to develop its one resource repository, in the spirit of bottom-up support to teachers as well. Of course, this good intent was supported by many... nevertheless, the coin has 2 sides, while it encourages educators to share their ideas (actually the more the merrier), it also created 'pressure' whereby some institutions set targets in terms of the number of learning materials to be put up. There it goes! We know what happened when numbers just went up and there is no quality control unit to take care of the standard or quality of materials put up too! I'm not saying that the materials put up are of low quality, but the point is, the quality of materials spans across a wide range! We have many good materials (I believe their are exemplars), but we also have materials that have much more room for improvement.

In fact, one way to find out if the material is of certain quality is through the number of downloads. I believe there were materials that sat in such repositories and no one had ever even open and view the file! So, that speaks volume.

Back to the discussion, one of the members spoke about encouraging colleagues to refer and download the resources in those repositories. I was surprised! Because as I draw a parallel to what was prepared by the MOE, why this repositories (when it was not QC-ed at all) as compared to one where the quality was assured?! Is it because of ignorance? or was it because the institution has already contributed a significant number of resources that are awaiting for 'visitors' to patronise (and download)? OK, I'm just making ungrounded second guess... I did not bother to clarify the intent, because in the first place, I did not see it being meaningful to direct others' attention to resources that are  not QC-ed, compared to one that has been 'rubber-stamped' as 'quality resources' that we are proud of...