Recalibrating, reevaluating

Teaching is so unpredictable. The success of your lessons are hinged upon soooo many different factors. The mastery of the objective of the day is dependent on the curent dynamic of the teacher and students, which is actually dependent on how the teacher feels that particular day (whether she had enough sleep, whether she ate breakfast, whether she has prepared extensively for class etc), on outside factors (is this the last few periods and the kids are restless? are other kids running around outside your class? are they tired from other things like Merentas Desa, Takraw competition, Olahraga, yadda yadda) and especially on how the students feel that day (whether they ate, whether they were bullied by other kids, whether THEY are bullying other kids, whether they were scolded by parents/other teachers, whether they feel like studying that day, and a million other factors).

Sometimes I beat myself up so much when my day goes wrong (allllllll the freaking time) but I try to remain positive about it. There are a lot of things that are beyond my locus of control and despite me wanting so much for my kids, sometimes I have to resign to the fate that today is just not the right day for them to learn. I feel conflicted though, because we only have this many schooling days in a year and if today is not the day, and tomorrow is not the day, and the rest of this week is not the day, then WHEN is it the day for them to be good and to learn successfully??

Teaching is so tough and challenging. Sometimes I feel like if I had a chance to talk to my one-year ago self, I’ll tell her to NOT choose this. If I knew how much tears and sweat would go into this, if I knew sometimes, how little can a teacher actually do to help change circumstances, if I knew how broken down I’ll be, I would tell her to run far far away from making this decision.

Yes, my spirits are very low right now. My motivation level is hovering dangerously close to zero, encroaching slightly to the negative side. I am feeling very unorganized, there are a million and one things to do outside teaching and I have not done any of them successfully. That would have been okay if my teaching is going well, but I’m beginning to feel like I’m a lousy teacher. I used to think that although I’m nowhere close to being transformational, I’m still somewhat an effective teacher. That seems like an incredibly naive thought in retrospect.

But I know I have to be strong enough to pick myself up. To some of my kids, I may be their only chance to get help from. I know I can’t beat myself up if by the end of the day, my kids did not master English enough to make me a really transformational teacher in terms of boosting their grades. I know I’ve spent a lot of time making sure my kids are not driven by exams, I’ve spent class time not drilling them to answer exam questions but to tell them how the world is like beyond their village, to tell them what Psychology and Law and Medicine and Economics all about, to encourage them to do their best even if they fail their exams, to sing English songs so they recognize the words they hear on radio, to talk about love, to be there for them as a big sister.

And that for me, is enough for now.