February 23rd, 2012
This week has been a mix of happy and sad for me. I’m putting in more time and effort in my lesson planning because I realized how important it is for me to be absolutely prepared for my classes. I had 3 classes on Tuesday, and every single class was just amazing!
My stronger class was top notch that day. I prepared an activity for them where they had to move around different stations to solve different clues before they could tackle the final mystery. The topic that day was understanding graphic materials (advertisements, notices, maps etc), but if I just got them to sit down and do the questions, they’ll really hate English. They loved it and moved around seamlessly whenever the timer (Mr Chicken) rang.
My second class was a weaker class and we did pronouns. I realized, while explaining the different rules of when to use what, that ENGLISH IS FREAKING CONFUSING AND DIFFICULT TO LEARN. So I decided to scrap the whole explanation and just played a pronoun game with them. We sang Bruno Mars’ Just The Way You Are together and circled all the pronouns. I personally don’t remember learning pronouns (or grammar for that matter) by memorizing the rules but just by gut feeling after seeing how it’s used many times. Then, I put them into groups and gave them a homemade whiteboard each. I put up questions on the blackboard and they have to compete by answering the questions on their own board and raise them up. I use this all the time and the kids love it!
My most challenging class was also super well-behaved that day! I’d given two kids special pens I bought from Singapore because they were amazing in the class before, and they’d gone back to brag to their other friends. So everyone was really good that day because they all wanted special pens too!
It’s hard to explain the special moments I had in that class that day, but I can never forget this kid, Rizal’s face when he became a superstar that day. He completed his worksheet in half the time other kids took, and spent the rest of the time standing next to me to help me mark other kids’ papers! T______T Rizal is the naughtiest but cutest kid in that class, and I was so proud of him. I saw him and his dad that night at the mamak, so I told his dad that he’s very lucky to have such a bright kid. Rizal was just smiling like crazy behind his dad and when I told his dad that Rizal is doing very well and is really intelligent (it’s true, he’s in the “last” class but this kid is brilliant), his dad couldn’t even believe it. I think I made his night
So overall, Tuesday was just a really good day for me. I felt like finally, the kids are learning and showing progress (albeit veryyyy slowly but I’ll take it).
Then Wednesday came and it was just a HORRIBLE day I wanted to cry. I found out that some teachers might not like me very much because I don’t help out enough with other work like decorating the halls, preparing for meetings, admin work etc. I’m already super worn out from preparing like crazy for my classes, so I don’t know how to find time to do those things! Apparently I should have brought my kids to the hall DURING my lesson so I could decorate the hall. This made me very angry but I can’t say much because it’s the reality that teachers have to do so much and it’s not the other teachers’ fault *bites lips
And my classes went really bad that day too. The kids were very agitated and tired because half of them went for some olahraga thing and had spent all their energy running and sprinting. I went to this somewhat ok class but that day they were just driving me up the wall. I slept really late the night before to prepare for this class, and seeing how they don’t give two hoots about my effort just made me really sad. I told them twice that if they continue talking while I’m talking, I don’t think today is a good day to learn. I gave them consequences, gave them yellow cards for first warning, put them in the focus chair etc but nothing worked.
So midway through my lesson where only about half the class was listening, I packed my things and told them that’s it, I can’t teach anymore. I told them to just copy the notes and study on their own for their exam next week. And for the first time ever since I’ve started teaching, I walked out of a class. I’ve wanted to do this many times with my challenging classes, but I’ve never actually done it.
Some of the kids came running after me and begged me to come back. They were at the corridor, some crying, some pulling me, some apologizing. I told them to go back in because they were causing a commotion, but they wouldn’t let me go. I was really mad at that class, but I realized I was being unfair to half the class who wanted to learn. So I walked back in, told them to sit down and just do their own work while I sit there to make sure they don’t loiter around.
One boy stood up, said “Stand up class” and tried to get everyone to apologize as a class but they were too afraid to stand/speak. One girl, who is sick that day and whom I spent two hours with at the clinic the day before, came to me with tears and asked me to forgive the class. I was this close to just bawling my eyes out to be honest wtf
Anyway, I took a few minutes to calm down while I prepared the materials for the activity, stood up and pasted papers around the class for the activity. I gathered everyone (who was all shocked and confused – “cikgu bukan tengah marah ke?”) and told them that we’re gonna play a game and the class went alright after that. Midway through, one boy came to me and asked me to forgive him, and I said I already did, that’s why we’re playing a game. (also wanted to cry at this point *crybaby)
Before I walked out of the class, I apologized to everyone for walking out and for being angry at them. I don’t want to be a teacher who likes scolding her students, and I told them to not make me be that kind of teacher. I just want to play games and have fun with them because learning IS supposed to be fun. The kids then came to “salam” me and told me they’ll not do it again.
So I guess…everything went ok…but I was really upset at myself for being so emotional that day. I can’t believe I let my emotions get the better of me and was so unfair to the kids who wanted to learn. I was tired and frustrated, but they are still kids after all.
I’m sorry this post is so long, but I want to record down everything that happened this week!
Today was thankfully a good day. There is this one very quiet kid in my really weak class who can’t read at all. This class is full of very noisy hyperactive kids, and I almost always miss this boy from my radar. Today I saw his work and realized that he hasn’t done anything all day. I got frustrated because he just sat there staring at me blankly despite not understanding anything! I told him (quite harshly) that I will see him in his dorm tonight to teach him what we’ve done today.
I didn’t think too much about it, but I heard from another teacher that he went to her with a huge smile and told her that he’s very happy because I’m going to teach him tonight. He said he wants to be good in English so he can go overseas. When I heard that, my heart melted into a big gooey mess. I can’t believe that despite my frustrated tone, despite my harshness, this silly boy was still so happy that I’ll teach him!
So I sat down with him during my dinner at the local mamak and we went through all the flashcards together. He cannot even read RUN and TRASH and ROAD and we just spent the 2 hours reading them again and again. Even the waitress kakak joined us and did it together with him! I could tell that he was getting frustrated for not knowing how to read but he went on and on. I told him to take a break, but he continued flipping the cards and trying to read them, his milo ais untouched.
Today, Loga has taught me so many lessons to be a better teacher. His patience and determination inspire me to try harder despite my bad days in school. His happiness to learn, despite me being frustrated at him, showed me that deep down inside, every kid wants to learn and wants to experience success. This is why I teach for Malaysia.
Here are two videos I’d like to share!
This is a combination of three of my classes singing songs and working in groups. (these are my stronger classes)
If you remember, I’m actually tone deaf and I can’t sing to save my life. But I’ve been using a lot of songs and have to always sing the loudest so the kids would sing along. I realize that if you want to have fun with your classes, you’ll have to make a fool of yourself first so the kids would feel more comfortable in class. Everytime I hear my voice I feel like cringing but they have never made fun of me *touched
TV3 came to one of my classes for an interview that day! Thank you Nazrul for this, my kids really enjoyed being filmed And the camera really added 10lbs to my face FML T___T