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Saturday, December 10, 2022
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S’PORE TEACHER FIRED FOR NOT “PROACTIVELY” STOPPING STUDENTS FROM FIGHTING

A relief teacher in Singapore was purportedly dismissed after a fight happened at a class that she was teaching at a secondary school in the western side of Singapore.

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Taking to Instagram, she lamented how her contract was terminated over a phone call, with the school being unhappy that she wasn’t “proactive” in stopping the fight and called her “unprofessional”.’

Here is what she said

Some of you all may know that I have a side hustle (apart from running my own biz) which is doing relief/ teaching (math/sci) at a particular sec sch. It has been a year there and generally, things were fine and I enjoyed teaching there. However, I would like to voice out and perhaps garner some opinions on this particular incident/case that happened recently.
(Disclaimer — The things I am going to point out is not to defame anyone, neither am I trying to sensationalise anything.)

Last Wednesday (21/9) — a minor fight broke out in a sec 1 class and i happen to be taking that class at that time. To be honest I was shocked, but thereafter I followed up (by reprimanding them, telling them to stop the fight, got the class-chair to report the incident to their form teacher, and went over to check and question the two students who were involved in the fight). The whole incident lasted less than 5 minutes, and the class was back to normal after.

The next day (22/9) — I received a call after school from the discipline mistress (shall call her Ms A). She said that she wanted to talk to me about that fighting incident. I told her exactly what happened. The response I got from her was:

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  • I wasn’t doing anything (just because based on the CCTV, I happened to be seated down at the moment when they were fighting, and of course, CCTV couldn’t capture sound)
  • Because I wasn’t being “proactive” and “unprofessional”, they (the school leaders) decided to terminate my contract (she claimed that she had a discussion with the principal prior to this (which I later found out that the discussion wasn’t really in depth, as the HOD who hired me wasn’t fully aware of the situation at that point in time. Also, there is still no conclusion (or not that I am aware of) up till today).
  • Quoted from Ms A “It is also hard for them to explain to the parents”.

First of all, I did sincerely apologise on my end for not handling the situation the best possible way. However, is the school handling this situation in a fair and just matter right now? By dismissing their non full-time staff through a phone call, and also not nearing them out properly face to face.
Ever since last Thursday, I wasn’t even given a chance to meet the person in charge to talk or to explain myself. I requested for a meeting to iron things out since the day of the phone call. It has been a week and my simple request wasn’t granted. Yet it takes less than a day when it comes to following up and placating the parents.
This shows that the school is clearly capable of handling external matters efficiently, but choose to shun away the request of a temp staff. So to say, do temp staff do not have their rights? Do they not have their dignity?

As mentioned in point 2, the reason for dismissal was due to my response towards the situation (not proactive/unprofessional). To be fair, relief teachers (RTs) are not trained enough to handle such situations. There wasn’t any SOP given to us to start with.
Speaking of unprofessionalism, is dismissing someone with no solid reason (not forgetting via a phone call + not hearing the other party out in person) considered professional then? I may be wrong, but look at the big picture. Let’s just say the same incident happened and the class’ form teacher was at the scene instead, and if he/she handled the situation the same way as I did. Would they have gotten rid of their form teacher? I really doubt so.

From a third party’s point of view, the school is basically trying to find the easy way out. In other words, using me as the scapegoat so that it makes it less “hard for them to explain to the parents” (Quoted).
I assume that the school should already know what exactly caused that fight to break out, and did I cause that fight? No. Did I want the fight to happen? No. Such incident is beyond our control and therefore it is unfair to push the blame to one party.
If I wanted to be selfish, I could have told the chairperson not to report that incident. Why will I want to put my job in jeopardy? However, it seems like being honest isn’t enough to deserve a second chance.

At this point, it is not about the job/money that bugs me, but rather how things were mishandled. This can happen to not just me but anyone, which can be humiliating.
It is such an irony that the school/education system advocate so much on core values such as respect and empathy, and yet as school leaders/educators, they failed to walk the talk.

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