Reset, Go!

Another aspect of being a teacher that has become more essential these days is my ability to adapt and to be flexible when the time comes. Unfortunately for me, I was given practically overnight to suddenly acquire this skill of adapting to changes so adapt I will!

Last week, we were told of a new system to be carried out in 1000 schools almost immediately. All Form 1 students will take an English diagnostic test and will be placed in different classes based on their level of English. They will no longer be in the same conventional setting in existing classrooms but will move to different classes based on their English proficiency. I loved the system when I first heard it cause I have classrooms of kids from varying levels so it’s hard to teach sometimes.

But as usual, all the great changes with our education system come with their million challenges in tow. First of all, there was only ONE English teacher in the entire Form 1, and that teacher was me. We are incredibly short of English teachers and this system will not work because we need 4-5 teachers to teach all the classes concurrently. But since this is an order from the ministry, we have to roll out the system by nook or by crook. In the end, they took away all but 2 of my Form 1 classes and I was given a Form 4 class and two Art classes to teach.

So, almost overnight, I went from a Form 1 and 2 English teacher to a Form 1, 2 and 4 English teacher and a Form 2 Art teacher. Talk about flexibility!

Worst of all, I was given one weekend to prepare for my new classes and I’ve not seen the syllabus before so it was quite tough for me at first. Anyway, I’m not here to complain since I’ve resolved to work with whatever I can within my capacity so here are some pictures! It’s been a while since I last posted pictures and my past two months have been quite eventful so lots to talk about :)

This is a picture of the river near my school, and I go here sometimes after a really tough day teaching. It’s nice to just stand there, think and reflect a little and calm down before I go back to lesson planning :)

This if my favourite quote from Dr Seuss so I made a poster to put in the reading corner of my class!

Kids reading at the reading corner. Thanks to all the books donation (from UBS and you guys who donated through my FB page!), we’ve gotten enough books to fill a whole cupboard! Would definitely love to have more, ESPECIALLY low level kids’ books with interesting pictures. Do let me know if you have some stowed away at home and you don’t need them anymore!

My goal is not to have kids who can suddenly speak, read and write English, but all I really want to start from is to instill the habit of reading English books first. The more you read, the more things you’ll know!

This is one of the fellows, Aishah’s idea! Spent the whole day making the poster but didn’t laminate so now it’s a bit worn out :( It’s been working well in my classes though. I use it so my students know exactly what is the accepted voice level for each activity in class.

I’ve been using this to cold-call students too and it’s been quite useful. Their names are on the ends of the sticks and I’ll randomly pick them to answer questions in class/read out loud. I also call them out very dramatically like I’m calling the winner of the grand prize of a lucky draw (drama queen teacher haha) and they love it!

Our place is not called Simpang Durian for nothing hahah. Durian season is here so here we are, enjoying some of them in between classes. There’s a sack of at least 20-30 durians for all teachers to eat for free. AWESOME!

Sports Day! I loved Sports Day when I was young cause it’s so exciting! I was probably the most gungho teacher that day, screaming and cheering till my throat was sore but it was all so worth it cause Blue House won!!! wooooot. And the best part is, the girl I coached got Sportswoman Of The Year!

Everything about being a teacher is so incredibly rewarding you have no idea.

Except this…………..

I forgot my sunblock (what travesty!) so here is my two-toned arm. My face is also as black as coal now -___-

Went to class the day after Sports Day and everybody was too tired to learn, so I took these kids out and read to them for two hours. They have never ever been read to before so they really enjoyed the simple books on classic fairy tales. Thanks for the book donation again guys!

Students from the weakest class getting really excited about finding meanings of words from the dictionary! I was so happy when they were genuinely interested in finding the words and some of them are actually opening the dictionary for the first time. The kid on the far left is Rakis, I’ve blogged about him before :) Really happy to see him so invested in the activity!

By the way, see the kid on the far right being disturbed by another kid? Here’s a story I’d like to share about him.

Let’s call him B. He’s one kid I’ve been having a hard time with lately and there’s no happy ending to the story, unfortunately. He’s one of the weakest kids in the class because he cannot read at all and I’ve been giving him extra classes at night for the past 4 months or so. At first, he was doing ok but after a while, he began to lose interest and started disturbing other kids. I told him off and said that I’m not going to allow him to come anymore if he’s not going to take this seriously. Bad move, because he started hating me since.

He stopped coming to extra class and started losing focus in class. It doesn’t help that he’s been bullied so much in class too because he’s the really quiet kind. I’ve sat him down about 3 times after that, asking him what’s wrong and telling him how I want to help him.

This week, they took away this weakest class from me so I don’t have to teach them anymore. The kids in this class were very very upset (some begged me to teach them back, some so upset that they started cussing at me and telling me that I was a bad teacher anyway. Some were also very rude to me and said they want to beat me up. These are kids I’ve invested in the most and I know they’re angry because it seems like I’ve abandoned them despite me explaining the reason of the change)

Anyway I went to the class and said that I’d still continue giving them extra class at night cause these are my kids and they will always be, although I won’t be their English teacher anymore. (The rude ones immediately said “who cares, go away!” It broke my heart but I don’t blame them for their hostility.)

This boy, B, came that night. There were 8 other kids who came and we all had dinner together. One of them cooked for us as gratitude for giving her extra class. Anyway, B came into my house smelling like smoke and we knew he was smoking before so I talked to him about it (very nicely). We let him in after that, of course, but he got really upset since. When I sent him back, he refused to speak to me the entire car ride and he hasn’t spoken to me since then. I saw him again yesterday and brought him out to lunch before sending him back. Again, he refused to speak to me.

That’s him, walking back to his house.

I really don’t know how to get to him, especially now that I don’t teach him anymore. He’s so weak that he has shut off in class for every subject and I’m so so so afraid for him. I’ll keep trying because I know if I give up now, then nobody is going to care for him that much anymore and I’ll live in regret forever for not “saving” him. He’s so quiet and invisible in class that a lot of teachers don’t know much about him, especially when they have to pay attention to the really naughty ones in class.

This is his friend, C, who is also very weak but he’s been showing progress in extra class. I gave him some Peter and Jane books to read at home and he actually copies the entire book in his exercise book so he could read it later!

Over lunch one day, C asked me a lot of questions about KL. He then told me that he’s never been to KL and the furthest place he’s been to is Seremban. I made him a deal after that – if he does better in his English class and if his English teacher says he’s improving, I’ll bring him to KL with me. He was overjoyed at that proposal and nodded vigorously, saying that his parents would be fine with it for sure!

I’ve already decided where I’m going to bring him to, and I know it’ll be a trip he’ll never forget :) I just wish I can bring alllll of them with me!

The kids came for extra class that day and I surprised them with a movie night!!! We used the projector to project onto mahjong paper and had a really good time :)

I thought of adding some teaching-unrelated pictures, but this post is already heavy enough as it is so that’s all for today. Thanks for reading and thanks for all the donations!

p.s: watched batman yesterday and it was SO GOOD. watch it!