So my relief teaching stint at Saint Gabriel’s Secondary School ended last week.
I’m very glad for the opportunity to have returned for one last hurrah; to have come full circle in my teaching journey and for this very meaningful and enriching experience to mark the end of my teaching career (for now).
Something I found valuable from the experience: a lesson that resurfaced during the course of my stint.
When I was a trainee teacher at St Gab’s four years ago, I remember telling Mr William Ng, our School Coordinating Mentor then, about how one class was making it difficult for me to teach them.
The exact words I used was in the form of the idiom “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”.
Mr Ng took one look at me and replied, “Then make the horse thirsty.”
My instinctive response was to shoot him a WTF look – though I stopped when I realised he made sense.
(That was a very powerful exercise in reframing for me; I’ve since learnt the power of reframing situations like that in order to break out of what might be a seemingly hopeless circumstance.)
In any case, being a beginning teacher, I didn’t know how to make the “horses” thirsty then.
So I completely forgot about the phrase and about making “horses” thirsty until I was a week into my stint and I reconnected with Mr Ng.
Recollecting his words was both an empowering and inspiring experience; I finally understood what he meant.
I also felt a sense of relief: at some point last year, my teaching journey had finally led me to learn what it was I had to do to make the “horses” thirsty.
A couple of people have asked how to make the “horses” thirsty. An ex-colleague has even quipped that it’s “even more important than what…the fox say[s]“.
I’m not normally the type to hold my cards close to my chest, but this time round, I will, for personal reasons.
In any case, if you’re a teacher, keep teaching well and make making “horses” thirsty one of your priorities too.
P.S. not related but still amusing, nonetheless: Rockson’s Horse.