First week of school

So….I just finished Day 2 of Year 2..and I have to say that it didn’t go as well as I’d hoped for it to be.

Ah what the hell, it was terrible!!!! T_____T *bawls eyes out *wipes mucous all over failed lesson plans

To be honest, my heart did drop when I found out that I will be teaching the weakest and most challenging class in Form 2 (I know it’s terrible to feel this way but I taught them last year and they caused so much misery for me). I expected them to be tough on me, but they were beyond tough, they were BRUTAL.

The first day of school, I entered the class with my pretty solid classroom management plan and had my game face on since I want to be a lot more firm this year. They slaughtered me alive within the first ten minutes. They started acting out, being rude, couldn’t pay a single ounce of attention, running around, wounding my pride as a teacher who practically stood there and waited for them to settle down. I never believe in shouting, yelling or resorting to violence (which a lot of teachers do to command respect and fear) so I just spoke really firmly about working together this year.

After what seemed like an eternity (40 mins), the bell rang and they all ran home. I called out a few names to stay back but guess what? They all ran away on me *flails arms and cries harder

I was heartbroken, dejected, demotivated and honestly just wanted to call it quits. I teach a total of 5 classes and my other 4 classes are pretty awesome. I don’t have to try that hard with this class since they clearly don’t want to learn anyway.

But I remembered the few pairs of eyes who stared back at me with sadness when they saw that I couldn’t control the class. There are 31 kids in that class, and about 11 of them are really disruptive. The other innocent 20 kids couldn’t do anything and stared back at me helplessly, pleading for me to start imparting knowledge on them, which I obviously couldn’t since those crazy 11 kids were belting out songs at the top of their lungs, hitting each other and running around.

I really felt like I’ve failed my students and I felt so much anger for those kids who took learning away from the “good” students. They don’t respect me because they said I’m “not fierce at all” and they think they can bully me.

Today, before I entered their class again, I was honestly extremely nervous. Can you believe it? These are 14 year olds, and are barely taller than me, and yet they can cause such a deep gut wrenching feeling in the pits of my stomach. But I had faith in my management plan that I’d spent 3 hours the night before preparing. I had faith that if I continue persisting, they WILL yield one day. A part of me felt silly for having so much faith, because it was almost exactly the same last year and I had failed.

But I wasn’t going to let those days of humiliation and pain last year go to waste. I’ve reflected and reflected thoroughly and I know what I need to do to fix things. I need to persist, I need to be consistent, I need to show them that I mean business, and I need to be firm. Last year I was too emotional, and they knew they could get to me easily.

The class went a lot better today, but towards the end the kids got crazy again. I felt so angry because the other innocent kids were again, staring at me with those sad eyes. They need help so badly but I’m failing them yet again with my inability to control the class. I’ve tried everything I could; I was firm, I was prepared, I had consequences, I used everything I know! And yet..

There goes another day of failing.

I just called one of my disruptive kids’ parent, like I said I would in class. I was telling his mom that I will try everything I can to make her son learn and after she thanked me, she sighed a painful sigh. The same sad sigh I’ve heard from all the challenging kids’ parents. I know they need help too, and there must be some ways that we can work together.

I need to be better and I need to do more because I don’t want to end up at the end of my teaching stint, wishing that I had tried harder to help all my students. I still have hope.. and my hope is now.

  • ..*AnNiE*..

    Suet, hang in there! I know it’s really tough, but you can do it! Their only hope is you not giving up on them.

  • ccc

    takes some time

  • Jojo

    Usaha Tangga Kejayaan ;)

  • TKL

    Ask the disruptive kids to stay back for extra class
    => so you made more noise you have to stay back
    Hope this will work…

  • Jayn

    Hang in there! :) Just remember that you’re doing well in 4 classes and there are so many people supporting you and what you’re fighting for. You’ll figure out how to get through to them soon enough, I’m sure of it!

    I don’t know if this will help, but here goes: When I used to teach, there were a few disruptive kids in the class as well. I got tired of calling them out all the time, so what I did in the end was start writing their names on the board without saying anything. They quickly stopped messing about and focused their attention on me, curious about what it all meant. I wouldn’t answer and instead, would use that opportunity to redirect them towards the task at hand. If they continued to pay attention and contribute, I would eventually take their names off. I never ended a class with a name on the board.

    I don’t know if this will do more harm than good in the case of at-risk children or if they will even care about the ‘mysterious consequences’, but maybe it’ll have the same psychological effect?

    • sweatlee

      yeap i do the same as well! it works, but sometimes all of them are crazy so i cant write all their names. still it’s a pretty good way to get them to know that i’m paying attention to what they’re doing in class. i’m very clear with the consequences though. write name, first warning. first x, second warning, and you have to stay back after class etc.

  • Hannah

    Dear Suet, your students are so lucky to have you! Gone are those days where teachers were as devoted and passionate like you. Malaysia needs you and please don’t loose your enthusiasm to teach. Am confident that your concern and love for these children will transform them someday. Just go easy on yourself and have fun in the process. You can do it!

  • Nor

    Hi Suet..reading over your blog about the experience of teaching for TFM gave me an inspiration to apply for TFM 2014 cohort. I have sent the application and there will be a phone-based interview by next week. I hope you will give me some tips for the interview.Tq. Good luck in your teaching.

  • poon

    dont be so idealistic. Whack them then they will listen

  • HiLo

    Cikgu Sweatlee, I can feel your exasperation. But don’t give up. If you can make just one student see the light, you have already accomplished much.

    You can’t save the world. Just one soul is enough.

    The troublemakers in the class probably come from broken homes.

  • Aimi Ho

    I know how you felt. And yelling and threatening and rotan-ing only break your heart. I tried using games, dividing the class to groups of four and played games. They had fun but other teachers took cheering and clappings as distruptive and the class size isn’t helping too.

    I watched this whole brain method on youtubes and it seems work.IMHO, students stray away from paying attention is because they are expected to be passive and receiving only. Speaking from experience, a good class is when a teacher speaks LESS and students speak MORE.

    May be you can try entering the class and the first sentence from you is “Let’s play a game!” Then try Whole Brain method. “When i say CLASS!! You say YES! when i say Classs~, you say Yesss~”

  • Morpheus

    Have you ever heard of a chinese saying … if you want to defeat the thieves first defeat the leader …..

    I had some teaching experience myself GSTT(Guru Sambilan Tidak Terlatih)…. see who is the leader …. defeat him/ bribe him … and the rest of the monkeys will follow what the leaders says….. TRY IT OUT and good luck

  • Aimi Ho

    Actually, bribing the leader or defeat him will make him and the rest go agaisnt you more. Hey, students are not stupid k!

    Give the leader an important role in your class.

    I was thinking, give the 10 naughty kids a choice. Stay in class or get out. BUT leave the leader in the class. ;) Education starts with a choice to learn. So start giving them the choice.

  • Michelle

    I think you should whack and punish them, it worked when i was in school. Fight fire with fire!
    These kids are 14 and old enough to think.

  • sandraC

    suet lee, i feel u 100%!!
    i have 3 monster classes. i call my kids little monsters cause like the one form 2 weak class u have, i have 3 of them. in all those classes, ALL of them are distruptive n noisy n extremely rude.
    my students point fingers at me, spit on their friends, destroy furniture, fight in class, eat in class and crumple my hard work of photostated material on the floor. my heart had been crushed a million times.
    like u, i have cried buckets and wanted to go back to my previous event planning job but i held on. i held on because i had faith in humanity, that people deserve 2nd chances. what u write encourages me deeply and i thank u.

  • evena

    Dear Suet,
    You are doing a good, beautiful thing.
    As human beings, it is only natural to lose sight of the end of the road when things get frustrating, when people are rude, when children do not listen.
    But nevertheless, it is a beautiful thing you are doing, and as with all truly, beautiful things- they take time, patience, and perseverance to form.
    I believe that with your intelligence, capability, spirit, and heart- you can mold these “carbon” children into diamonds.
    Or at least, at the very end of the day, you can walk away knowing you did your very best, and you have no regrets.
    I really wish I had a teacher like you when I was in high school. I would shyly look up to you, you would be my favourite. I can tell. :)

    I think you can try a method of distraction. Do something curious. The reason why they wreck havoc is because their mind is scattered. When they are compelled to focus on something, they will grant you a moment’s peace. I remember in school, when the class got noisy, my teacher would suddenly turn around and start counting to ten, or she would train us to say, “YA CIKGU!” in response to “KELAS!!”

    I like the idea of writing the names on the board, or if it is allowed- play some music ? Or maybe draw something related to the lesson on the board. Pique their curiousity.

    Of course, all these are easier said than done, in real life it is always more challenging.
    i sincerely wish you the best and I hope that you will find a method that works for you.
    Hang on :)

  • Morpheus

    Actually those who havent been or have experience as a teacher please dont shoot down my idea… HOW SURE ARE YOU THAT IT WILL NOT WORK ?!!!

    Aimi Ho.. you think after the leader is defeated he will rebel more …. you play too much games to think as such… Defeated leader will listen to the teacher … will help control his goons …. you must defeat him before he will listen to you … making him doing something important before subduing will not work ..

    Michelle …. whacking them wont work no more … it will cause them to hate the teacher more … todays students are not from the 70s/80s no more.. they do not fear the cane ..

  • Aimi Ho

    Morpheus, I have put down and shamed a disruptive class clown in front of his classmates. Problem not solved. In fact, the other students showed resentfulness towards me. Peer pressure works temporary but it won’t bring him to your side, and thus there will always be an “enemy” in the class.

    A naughty kid does what he does because he wants acceptance in the class room. If he is rewarded for good behavior by the teacher and his peers, he’ll do it more. Giving him responsibilities allows you more opportunities to highlight his good behavior.

  • YY

    Perhaps you can move the ones who genuine want to learn to a corner, and start teaching. Just ignore the few disruptive ones. Continue like normal and try to make the lessons as fun and as creative as possible. make sure that there are alot of interactions between you and the students. sooner or later, the disruptive ones would be curious and would want to participate as well. btw, when you notice them showing curiosity, pretend that you are not aware, wait for a few more days, and gently ask if that person would like to join the group. That actually worked for some kindy kids.

  • Ann

    Hello Suet, I followed your blog on and off for a long time now, but just wanted to drop you a comment for the first time here. Your entry is rather moving here because of all those challenges you described.. I guess it is universal to have to go through scary stuff of life… It is inspiring because you hung on despite of all your fears. Reminds me to hold on and don’t chicken out when dealing with mine. You ARE making a difference, not only to your students but indirectly to your faceless blog readers, even if someone stumbled upon this entry by chance. Well, I can’t help solve any of your issues cos I don’t know how, but, just want to let you know whenever you are really down remember that we are all rooting for you, k. Cheer up!!

  • Jessie

    Just keep up your good work! Gambateh!

  • PW Cheong

    Great job, Sweat Lee! Continue to persevere and your students will be very grateful to you. In addition, your return of “investment” will last for a lifetime (in the form of thank you, deep gratitude and blessings – something not even a six figure salary can provide you with). Cheers and hold your chin high :)

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