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Going Back To School…Again

I don’t know his name. He can’t tell me. He’s 8 years old and just moved to Hong Kong from China. His father doesn’t know any English and works as a construction worker. He takes his son to school on the back of his motorcycle every day. Sometimes he is late, but in the two weeks, he is always here in the morning and in the afternoon.

The boy doesn’t know English. He doesn’t know the alphabet sounds but knows the names of the letters from the song. It is after school, I am bored and sit with him for a few hours going through the names and sounds of the letters. We work together, with a teaching assistant who doesn’t know a lot of English but knows enough to help me get him to understand what I want him to do. It is tedious, but he is trying, timidly.

It’s not strange and happens all the time and it’s why I love what I do and where I am. Yes, there are better schools with more resources, and the students could be more fluent in English, but it wouldn’t be as rewarding. There are challenges and things I don’t understand and need to try and understand better. I need to go back to school, again but do so with some worries.

My plan is to get a Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) with a focus on helping students with Special Needs. Mostly learning about how to help students who may have different forms of Autism, Attention Deficit Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Dyslexia and whatever else there may be. It is a two-year part time course through the University of Hong Kong. Upon graduating, I will not be getting a raise or be more employable but hopefully will be able to learn more about how to help our students.

The diploma will not allow me to teach back in Canada or any other international school. There is a lot of cost at around $100,000 HKD over the two years. It is not a Master of Education, a more prestigious degree for my resume but it is not as practical.

I earned a PGDE a few years ago specializing in teaching English. I became a better teacher as it made me more conscious of how to teach and the ways to teach. The readings were a struggle since they were mostly dry, but the lectures and activities helped a lot. With the new course, there is hope for a repeat.

There is still a chance of not getting into the program and need to think about other options. My work is interesting but there is always a push to learn more and improve more. If not the PGDE then there is probably going to be another course or program to take in the hopes of understanding my students better and finding a way to help them more. It is all I can do.

Published in Hot Takes Profile & Personal