Happy Teacher’s Day!

Today is a good day to blog because it’s Teacher’s Day! WOOT! This marks my second teacher’s day and I couldn’t have been happier doing what I’m doing now 🙂

Thing are going fine in school, not absolutely great but I’m doing slightly better than just surviving. I was marking my students papers and very very sadly, most of my classes did pretty poorly. Obviously, it’s not any of my students’ fault and I’m glad we still have a few months to work on our weaknesses before I leave.

Yeap, this is my last year teaching. The program is ending this year and unfortunately, I will not be continuing my career here in this school. I like it here, I like the students, the school, the community, but I just can’t continue travelling so far and being away from home anymore. I know it’s a weak and lame excuse, and I feel terrible for leaving.

I told my students to write a letter to their future teacher, the teacher who will be replacing me (hopefully there’ll be one..). I told them to write anything they want and be sure to write a good one so I can use these letters to encourage people to come and teach them.

The results were something I didn’t quite expect. Their letters were AMAZING, so filled with emotions and were very inspiring! I really hope that these kids will get an even better teacher next year because they totally deserve the best education despite being so far away from civilization.


Any beautiful woman wants to be this teacher’s pet’s teacher? Haha! He’s actually one of the cheekiest boys in class, always interjecting my lessons with irrelevant (but funny) comments.



Can you expand her horizons for her? I can’t believe the depth of these letters. All they really really need and want is someone who can show them what’s out there, what lies ahead beyond their small village.






HE knows you can do it, come and guide them so you guys can create history together! These kids are 15 by the way.


They need someone patient and caring, someone who can show them English is important and can be exciting too.

Seriously, rereading these letters make me feel so bad for leaving and so terribly guilty because these kids are incredible. Of course, this job is challenging as hell but accepting the challenge has made me such a changed person.

Most of my students are at least FIVE years behind their grade level. These letters here are from my best class, and my four other classes can barely string a sentence together.


This is the results from my weakest class. I was devastated when I finished marking, and was really depressed for the entire day. But then I realized something. They ALL tried their best! Nobody left their papers empty, nobody scribbled nonsense or gave up upon seeing all these words they don’t recognize.

Success doesn’t come easily and seriously, when you’re in this profession, you’ll realize that what doesn’t kill you REALLY does make you stronger.

Happy Teacher’s Day to myself and to all you amazing teachers out there. I bow my head in respect for all the hard work you’ve put into making your students better people everyday without fail. I have the highest respect and admiration for teachers who remain positive and passionate even after being in this profession for many many years.

“Jika hari ini seorang Perdana Menteri berkuasa
Jika hari ini seorang Raja menaiki takhta
Jika hari ini seorang Presiden sebuah negara
Jika hari ini seorang ulama yang mulia
Jika hari ini seorang peguam menang bicara
Jika hari ini seorang penulis terkemuka
Jika hari ini siapa sahaja menjadi dewasa;
Sejarahnya dimulakan oleh seorang guru biasa
Dengan lembut sabarnya mengajar tulis-baca.”

– an excerpt from Usman Awang’s Guru Oh Guru


You can go to London, Paris or Rome

You know I have this really weak and challenging class and I dread it so much whenever I have them the next day. What I did not realize is that this class, this awful gut-wrenching bloody-tears-inducing class is the main reason why I work so much harder each day.

For my other classes, I can do a mediocre job planning and it’ll still be fine but with THIS class, they’ll slaughter me alive in five seconds flat if I come in unprepared. Sometimes I tell myself that I hate them so so much, and yet I know they are the ones I would go the greatest lengths for.

This class has a huge problem with motivation so today I thought I’ll bring the world to them. We wrote an essay on our dream holidays last week and almost all of them wrote their dream holiday is to go Seremban or Malacca. They basically don’t know where else they could go otherwise!

So today we looked at pictures of Paris, London, Egypt, the seven wonders of the world, Disneyland! the Aurora!, Hawaii! and while I got more and more excited when I talked about those places, the kids got less and less interested and more belligerent.

“Ala who cares about those places!”

“What is that mouse in front of Disneyland?? Why would I want to see a mouse??”

“Big Ben? Big Bodoh la!”

Honestly, I was super heartbroken la. First of all, I spent hours preparing for this lesson and felt like a fool standing in front getting all excited for nothing. But then it sank in. Of course they don’t care, they don’t even know what Mickey Mouse is!!!! They don’t grow up watching western shows and reading about these places, so of course it meant nothing to them.

After like 30 mins of me basically trying to get them to be excited by masking my disappointment and maintaining my enthusiasm, they reluctantly started writing their letters on their dream holidays to Sawittri.

But what I did not see coming was while they worked on their letters, they started getting interested in those places. They started asking questions about Eiffel Tower, and how much would it cost to fly to London, and if Taj Mahal is really that beautiful, and teacher, best tak pergi Disneyland?


They came to my computer and started drawing the places in their letters and putting so much effort into making the Eiffel Tower more beautiful than it already is.


I was so close to giving up on them, and what they really needed was for me to be really REALLY patient and to show them what they’ve been missing out on. One day.. my kids will conquer the world and will then realize what their teacher was so excited about.

(I know sometimes I sound so positive in my long posts but in actuality my kids are still as challenging as always, stealing my cellotape when I was collecting their letters, throwing papers everywhere for this maid to collect and shouting like hooligans when I let them out of class..but I guess a little positivity won’t hurt)


p.s: Loga’s letter was the most impressive one. after getting the instructions, he took his chair and went to the furthest corner of the room to finish his letter. he pasted bits of TFM’s logo (don’t know where he got them from?!) and added so much stuff into his letter. SO PROUD CAN CRY.



The other day for April Fools’ Day, I thought I’d trick my kids a little but this trick became quite a lesson-worthy moment!

I told my kids two lies today. Firstly, I have THREE massive pimples on my face (like seriously will eat your face up that kind) and to save myself the embarrassment, I told my kids that I went to see the doctor and he told me that if I get stressed more, more pimples will pop and I will eventually die. “Anyway, the doctor said I have a disease called pimplocitis and if I get angry or raise my voice, I’ll get another pimple and if they finally cover my entire face, I’ll…..die.”
My kids got SO upset omg I feel so bad now. They were seriously well-behaved and kept trying to make me laugh hahahah

But I said all these with a straight face and immediately moved on with the other part. They finished their unit test last week and today I gave them their papers back. I only marked half, and gave them each a friend’s paper and got them to finish marking.

After they’ve totaled the marks, I told them this: guess what? You’ll be getting the marks of the paper you’re holding now! So if the paper you marked got 50%, that’s your mark which I will write in your report card.

I asked them if this arrangement sounds fair, and they immediately shouted no. Asked why, they said because “this is not our paper!!”. I said: “Well because as a class, we must work together as a team. If your friend didn’t do that well, shouldn’t it be your fault for not helping him/her to begin with? Sounds fair to me..”

Their mouths dropped and they couldn’t believe it. Then, out of the kindness of my evil heart, I said, “ok fine. if you’re not happy with it, you can choose to get your own marks, but 5 marks will be deducted from it. You have to make this choice WITHOUT looking at your own marks first and once you made the choice, you can’t go back and take this friend’s marks”

For eg: Syafiq, who is holding Elly’s paper (52%) can choose to take her marks or take the risk (depending on how confident he is of his own paper) and take his own paper back -5 marks.

With this arrangement, half of the kids chose to stick with their friends’ marks while the other half still wanted their papers back. I finally realized the joke is getting too far (though it’s quite a good lesson), and told them if they could give me a good reason for their decision (whatever it is), I’ll grant them their wish.

A girl, full of confidence, said “teacher, I want my own paper because I worked hard for it and I’m confident I did well”. Fair enough, so I gave her her paper back and she got her 80%.

A boy surprised me by saying “teacher I know I did well but I want whoever who has my paper to keep it, we’ll just work harder together next time”. He actually got 85% on his own paper, and the paper he was holding was 52%. T____T

After a while, I decided to just tell them that this is a joke. and that I’m not dying. They laughed and told me their hearts actually stopped beating for a while hahah.

But I’m actually quite serious about the working as a team part and I need my kids to be more confident of themselves!

“So….teacher…can I ask you a question? Are you still…dying?”

#dramaqueen #aprilfools

Rural living

I think when I decided to join Teach For Malaysia, it wasn’t really my biggest decision ever. My biggest decision was choosing to opt for a school that is located in the most rural area on the list. It was because I felt like if I’m already gonna do something so crazy, might as well go all out while I’m at it!

It was also because I don’t think I’d feel right serving underprivileged kids, only to drive the few minutes back to my comfortable suburbia house, back to the warmth of my welcoming comfort zone.

But…..barely a week into moving here, I’ve already started regretting it.

This place is perpetually filled with bugs, the water makes me sick and gives me rashes, I can’t sleep at night for fear of being eaten alive by spiders, there is practically NOTHING here but two rows of shops, the nearest civilization (KFC) is 45 minutes away, and the list goes on and on.

My stomach is filled with dread so heavy it sinks the entire universe every time I have to drive back here, so much so that I’ve chosen to just drive back every Monday morning instead (waking up at 4.30a.m has taken its toll on me).

I remember how I kept finding excuses to go back too, despite the crazy tiring drive. Whoops I left my charger at home teehee I guess I have no choice but to go back midweek and leave this horrible place for the night!
Whoops I brought one less baju kurung, time to go home now!! Whoops “accidentally” left my students’ books, must go get them!

And it went on like that for the rest of the year..

Along the way, I’ve completely forgotten why I chose to serve here. I’ve completely forgotten what I came here to see, to experience. And if I keep finding excuses to slide back into my bubble, I would have wasted my two years here.

I was reflecting on this as I was cycling around the paddy field the past few days, and truly for once, loving every moment of it. I came here to see and live the challenges the rest of Malaysia faces and I feel like I’ve failed myself by not gaining enough perspective before the year ends.

I realized that I can’t hate this place because then, it defeats the purpose of me trying to change the lives of the people here. If I can’t understand how they live, if I can’t empathize with them since I don’t try to live like them, then I’m in no position to decide what’s better for these kids.

Never thought the paddy field, the goats, the smiles of the farmers and the laughter of kids running barefoot would give me such a humbling experience.

I came here to teach, and I’m taught so much more in return 🙂


I bought a new phone cause my blackberry died on me in India, and I’ve been going on an Instagram frenzy! I’ve been posting on Facebook a lot more and Audrey thinks I should post those pictures up here too, since I’ve obviously been neglecting my blog lately.

So in an effort to win back my readers, I’m going to blog as often as I put pictures on instagram!! *cheers

Well I’m going to TRY my best since it’s actually quite a lot of hassle to post at so many different places, but I will cos I’m still a blogger at heart 🙂

For this post, I’ll post up a few of those I’ve already posted on fb with the same captions too.

March 5

“I try and try to no avail everyday, but I’ll get up, dust the hurt and frustrations off my knees and try again.”

Wrote this after a TERRIBLE class and I needed to motivate myself to get back up again.

March 6


“You can destroy the posters all you want, but I’m just gonna make some more #nevergivingup”

After the terrible class, I made a new poster of the rules/policies of our class since they tore down the previous one.

March 7


“I don’t know what it was that made this super challenging class so amazing today – maybe cos I called the naughty ones out in assembly yesterday and they’re all scared now, or the change in seat arrangement to sitting in groups and giving group points (they could never do this before), or the fairly interesting activities, or maybe just their current mood, OR even a combination of all the above – but I’ll take whatever little or small successes I can get right now 🙂 #smallsteps”

Tried out a few new things and surprisingly, that same crazy class went REALLY well that day!

March 8


“So glad that all the preparation for these centers paid off 🙂 but still need to find ways to push my kids further and not rely on me too much!

Today I took the role of a cameraman in class, and told them that I’m not a teacher so they can’t ask me questions and they will have to figure out the answers among themselves.
Still need lotsa work to get them to be more independent, but they really did try hard today *proud”

This was another class. Remember I spoke about incorporating values in class? This was me trying to instill the values of independence and teamwork in the lesson.

Okay these are just the teasers, I’ll post more in a few days! (che wah got teasers some more hahah)


Reflections on India

Hello! I think this is my current trend now, blogging once a month. I always feel the urge to blog more when that specific time rolls around so here’s a good long post about what I’ve been up to! (+tons of pictures)

So last month, I had the amazing opportunity to attend a really awesome conference in India! It was a conference under Teach For All, so we got to meet all the other teachers under the Teach For programs from close to 26 different countries!!!

India was an eye-opening, heartwarming, breathtaking experience for me. Before I went, my boyfriend warned me that I will see and learn so much from India, and I’ll experience the best and the worst of humanity there, so I was definitely quite prepared for it. I was very cautious with my food and drinks, and survived on trying to refrain from street food as much as possible (which was super hard for me).


we were very very fortunate to be able to stay in a REALLY awesome hotel. This hotel (Kempinski) just opened, and gave us a really good rate so it was truly a blessing 🙂


This is an autorickshaw, and was my absolute favourite thing ever! They don’t really have taxis there, and the streets are packed with these. You can fit up to 4 people in here (sometimes even more, people will sit on laps etc) and it moves really dangerously on the streets, but definitely an incredible experience.

I was in the auto late one night, zipping around the streets of India with the wind blowing in my hair and the cacophony of chaos around me, and I looked up and saw the full moon shining brightly on to the messy landscape down below. That was when I realized that I’ve truly fallen in love with this country.


and all its amazing children!

I met some of the most wonderful children on this trip; all of them so bright-eyed and eager, so enthusiastic and full of live despite all the challenges they face.

This kid was explaining to me a project they did in the classroom, and he was so SO full of energy! I was just walking around when he came to shake my hand and to introduce himself *impressed

Teach For India has done such amazing things with their classes and is definitely an inspiration for all of us here too 🙂


and this is the ugly part of the country, which I was not quite prepared to see. Children begging everywhere on the streets, slums and slums painting the sidewalks, poverty staring blatantly at everyone.

It was hard to train myself to ignore the beggars but it was so hard when they are very young children with huge sorrowful eyes.


This is one of the classrooms we visited and it was amazing to see how possible it is to really change lives with a really good strong teacher.

And on our final day, we visited…..


The Taj Mahal!

What an incredible sight!

I mean, I’ve seen so many pictures of it before, but to see it with my eyes is a whole different experience. It was majestic and soooo beautiful too!


And the whole Malaysian delegate wore sarees that night! 😀 (i’m the one in light blue in case you’ve forgotten how I look like T__T)

I was really inspired by my India trip, and I came back feeling like I’ve definitely NOT worked hard enough to ensure success for my kids. There are just so much we can do and I really want to go all out before my year ends!

(this bit might bore readers who are not teachers)

I realized one of the most important things we have to instill in our daily lesson plans is the concept of values. Not just using the term “values” as a catchphrase, but truly internalizing it and getting the students to embody it with their actions.

I’ve been trying to do that more now because I believe that teachers, especially those of us who teach kids from underprivileged and more chaotic and challenging backgrounds, have the biggest responsibility to ensure that our kids turn out to be good people.

Sure, grades are important but I need to make sure that when I leave after 2 years, my kids are on the path to be successful people with strong values, not just A-churning robots.

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Trying to internalize the concept of values in my classes is really not an easy task, but completely do-able. For example, we were learning about road safety and I got the students to stand on both sides of the “road”.

They closed their eyes while I played them a video of a horrific car crash (with super dramatic sound effect – idea taken from my other awesome Teach For Malaysia fellows). Then I read them an excerpt of a news report on an accident, and we stood in silence for a while mourning the death of the people in the accident.

We spoke about the fragility of life, about the real importance of taking good care of ourselves and people around us. I don’t want my kids to just learn about road safety because it’s a topic in the textbook, but because they truly think it’s an important issue to discuss.


(this was another class but we were learning the same objective)

After all that seriousness, we took a 5-minute break at the end of class to play “On the line”, a game inspired by the movie “Dangerous Minds”

So basically students will be on both sides and there’ll be a line in the middle (the road drawn in the beginning of class). I will read out statements and if anyone agrees, they’ll come forward and stand on the line for a few seconds, then move back for the next statement.

The statements got deeper each time and I encouraged the students to be honest but it’s really up to them if they want to walk forward.

“I have many friends in school”

All of them came forward.

“I like coming to school”

All of them came forward too. This is a pretty good class so it’s not surprising.

I love learning English”

Threw this in just for fun and immediately they all RAN to the line (*heart leaps in joy!)

“I have a boyfriend/girlfriend”

Hehe I’m so sneaky. A very small handful came forward.

“I’ve lost one parent”

About ten kids came forward.

“I’ve seen my mother/father cry”

Half the class came forward.

“Sometimes I cry myself to sleep”

This was a tough one but I was surprised to see about fifteen kids come forward. The other kids (boys especially) started laughing at the fifteen kids. Good, because this is exactly what our lesson is about.

I told the fifteen kids that I cannot believe how brave they are to admit something supposedly so shameful as this, and only the strongest people admit their weaknesses. The other kids stopped laughing.

Now this is where it gets tougher.

“I get abused at home”

Half the class came forward.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m a useless person”

Almost ALL the kids came forward.

“Sometimes I feel like I have no hope for a better future”

A handful came forward, some on the verge of tears.

“Sometimes I feel like killing myself”

This was the most surprising one for me. More than half came forward and my heart stopped. These are 13 year olds! It breaks my heart knowing this but I took mental note of this, definitely something that needs to be addressed.

When the game ended, the kids told me how much they loved it because they got to know more about their friends and about themselves too. Though it wasn’t super explicit, the objective of it was to get the kids to realize that despite all their physical differences, beneath everything, they’re all made up of the same thing: flesh and blood. They all experience happiness, heartaches, sadness and pain, and should learn to be there for each other.
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The value that I love the MOST is definitely perseverance. Last week, I went on a Bollywood binge a little and sang “We Shall Overcome” (the song in My Name Is Khan) with the kids.

This week, I gave them the reading diagnostics and it has five levels and it gets harder with each level. I was expecting this class to only reach level 3 or 4 before they give up, so I didn’t print level 5 for them. But they surpassed my expectations and almost all of them asked for level 5!

Although maybe 1 or 2 of them managed to actually do it, the rest worked relentlessly to finish the questions. One boy had his head bowed, brows furrowed, and started singing “we shall overcome..we shall overcome..” while doing the paper.

Amazing. My kids give me so much hope to push on everyday!

Wow ok this has been a crazy long post, but I hope you enjoy a short glimpse of my classes!

Will blog again in a month hahaha (ok joking ha ha ha)


I have a dream

I’m such a lousy blogger!!!!

I posted this on my Facebook eons ago but here it is! I really like this post because it gives me so much hope, and it makes me love my kids more each day.


My journey as a teacher is a massive roller-coaster experience. Some days I feel like I’m wasting my time with these kids, but some days I truly feel so contented that I feel like I can do this forever. Thankfully, today is one of those days that trumps a million of the other bad days 🙂

I taught my Form 3 class about Martin Luther King a few days ago and told them about his “I have a dream” speech. I was supposed to move along the syllabus since I have to finish it by July but decided to screw it and took both periods today to get them to learn more about MLK instead. I watched his speech again the night before and got goosebumps all over, and thought I could inspire my kids with it as well.

In class, I wrote out quotes from his speech and pasted them all over the room. I briefly spoke about what some of those quotes meant and the kids got more and more excited about MLK. I think listening to stories beat doing more grammar exercises and writing boring essays anytime!

“I have a dream that one day, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as brothers and sisters”

I spoke about how bad the slavery condition was in America and how blacks couldn’t even board the same bus, use the same toilet or the same water fountains as whites. The kids were appalled and got riled up about it. They couldn’t believe how bad racism can get and we discussed the importance of civil rights and equality.

We then read out my favourite MLK quote: “I have a dream that one day, we will live in a nation where we will not be judged by the colour of our skin but by the content of our character”.

Before we watched the speech, I got the kids to write out their own dreams. They could write about anything they want, as long as those dreams are big enough that they seem impossible.

Then they pasted their dreams next to their tracker and we watched the speech together. They watched a few minutes of it, noisily commented on everything, before telling me that they couldn’t understand much of what MLK said.

I was a little sad that they couldn’t experience the same goosebumps I had but after the video ended, I asked if they would like to hear my dream now.

“I have a dream that one day, all 31 of you will be sitting in your university dorm room one day and will remember this moment. Then, you will go on youtube to rewatch this speech but this time, this time you’ll be able to understand every word in MLK’s speech and will be inspired by those words as well. I have a dream that one day, you too will fight for something you believe in, just like how MLK fought for his own rights”

Wah suddenly I’m like MLK hahaha.

I choked midway while saying that because I was so emotional about it, so emotional about the thought of my kids achieving that dream. The class was silent for a while, and one boy quietly said “Teacher, I want that dream to come true too..”

While they worked on their work after that, I read all their post-its in awe.

“I have a dream that one day, people who are stupid like me can be geniuses too”

“I have a dream that one day, I will fight for poor people like me and help change their fate forever”

“I have a dream that one day, everyone in this class will own expensive cars like Ferrari, Porsche, Audi, McLaren…” (he listed down like ten different cars, obviously written by a boy hahaha)

“I have a dream that one day, I can burn Rosmah’s ugly hair” (seriously…. a kid wrote this -____-, before I told her that her dream has to be beneficial to someone, so she changed it)

“I have a dream that one day, my village will be proud of me and will not look down on me or my family for being poor anymore”

“I have a dream that one day, Malaysia will be the best country in the world”

“I have a dream that one day, everyone in this class will be astronauts and we can live on the moon together”

One after another, big dreams, wonderful dreams, inspiring dreams.

We then spent a few minutes reading about the guy who shot MLK and the kids got extremely angry at him, which made me really happy because it shows how affected they are by what happened.

I’m thinking back at this moment and I realized that I don’t know if I will ever feel such a strong rewarding and fulfilling feeling again. You know how people use the term “once in a lifetime”? Why go bungee jumping, why go climb mount everest, why do a million other things that you can do once in a lifetime when you can teach, once in your lifetime? When you can change lives, once in your lifetime? When you can get kids to dream big, to want to achieve more, to want to succeed, once in your lifetime?

I have a dream that one day, …


Just another day

Last year, I used to come back to this village the day before school since it takes 2 hours to drive here and driving 140km of rural roads can be really tiring. But I used to dread coming back so much that I started coming back in the morning instead.

WHICH MEANS! I wake up at 5 am every Monday to drive back to school T_____T It’s hell seriously, especially when I’m so not a morning person. Why can’t school start at 9am or something??

Anyway, I was REALLY dreading the drive here this morning. I’ve been listening to podcasts on my drive here (a little digression. PODCASTS ARE THE MOST AMAZING THING IN THE WORLD! I’m so mad at myself that I wasted the whole of last year driving countless hours listening to crap music on the radio. I’ve been listening to podcasts on education, philosophy, health, politics, current issues, humor, you name it! They’re so amazing and best part is it’s free! It makes me get a little more excited about driving now 🙂 My ultimate favourites are This American Life, Risk, TED, The Moth. Seriously check them out, if you find yourself bored with our national radio stations on your sucky drive to work/when you’re stuck in a horrendous traffic jam)/end of digression

Where was I?

Oh yeah so it was a sucky morning. I was beginning to feel so lazy after the long weekend that I dreaded coming to see my students, especially when I had class with the most challenging class today *grumpy

And we all know a grumpy teacher is not a great teacher, so I tried to make myself feel happier before going to class. My first class was really good. Kids were angels, they did my work so quickly, they were enthusiastic, they worked hard in class despite being weak in English, absolute joy for me!

My second class was great too! I played them soothing relaxing music while they worked on their essays. I spent the whole of Sunday marking their essays and marking every mistake, so I told them that I’ll be really sad if they don’t rewrite their essays with the corrections. Don’t know if this guilt-tripping worked, or if it was the music, or both, but they worked on their essays so diligently the whole class! T______T <– tears of joy

Then…it came to the class I dreaded going in the most. I know it’s mostly psychological as well. The more I dread the class, the worst it’ll be for me. I’ve tried being positive about it, but that class always kills me. It doesn’t help that it’s the last freaking two periods of the day. Kids were tired, hungry, angry, irritable. I can’t blame them, it was 1.20pm and they’ve had a long day.

So anyway, I went in super confident and determined. I delivered my lesson the best I could with this class, with half of them walking around restlessly, fidgeting in their seats, playing around. They do that all the time and I’ve tried EVERYTHING I could think of (giving consequences, getting help from discipline teachers, calling parents, motivation, being firm etc) but I’ve given up on trying to get them to sit still. As long as they do my work, I’ll have to live with it.

And they always do my work, although they don’t always master the lesson objective of the day.

But today, this…really challenging kid, who had been behaving SOOO well lately and whom I’ve praised to his father a few weeks ago, started getting restless. We already finished the exciting activities and now it was time to sit and write a REALLY short paragraph. He was the only one who did a sloppy job on his work, so I wasn’t satisfied with it. I told him to rewrite it but he ignored me a few times. I was pissed cause he’s been so good and I know he can do it!

So I did what anyone would do: I held his bag hostage.

No cop out in my class. You WILL do my work to my standards, or I’ll keep your bag in the darkest of all dark dungeons and not feed it for days. I might even shred it to pieces, depending on how you behave the next few days.

So this kid, who is one freaking menace-looking kid (he seriously looks like he can harm me real bad), stared at me angrily and threw his book at my face.

The whole class stopped moving and breathing (everyone is terrified of this kid) and stared at me. I know that look, they were anticipating my next move. I know I have to play my cards well now, cause if I don’t, I’ll lose the entire class.

So I calmly looked at him and said I want him to take the book now and finish my work.

The whole class moved their heads to look at what his next move would be.

He stomped out of his chair angrily, grabbed the hostage (his bag) from my hand, and went back to his seat. He sat still for a while, then eventually took out a pen to finish his work.

I don’t know what it was that made him do his work. Maybe he felt bad for me since he clearly had been very nice to me before this, especially after knowing that I praised him to his very fierce dad, or maybe because I held my grounds and he knew he’d have to do it eventually.

The class then turned to look at me again and I tried my best to mask my anger and fear. My legs were shaking a little (dude I’m really terrified of this kid) and my face kinda hurts from being thrown with a book. The class then erupted into its usual noisy chatter again (I always ask them to stop behaving like zoo animals, cause they literally behave like that. Some kids actually crawl around just for fun, some kids climb up their friends’ legs, some walk around making animal noises)

I waited a few minutes, then walked to that kid and told him I know he can do this. I watched him a little, corrected some mistakes, then told him that I do not want him to behave like that again. It’s unacceptable and I know he can be better than that. I asked him to promise me that he WILL be better.

He looked at me for one brief milisecond, stood up, and walked away.

“I’m taking that as a yes” I said to him. If anything I was just trying to comfort myself; he was already far gone by then.

When the bell rang, they ran helter skelter out of class and I sat down to compose myself. I know many of these kids have really rough childhood. I can’t begin to imagine the lives they live. I’ve been to their houses, spoken to their parents, and I can’t imagine growing up in that condition.

But still, it’s not an excuse to behave badly in my class. I will be compassionate, I will be loving, but I can’t let you have your way because I know if you try harder, you’ll do wonders. Even if you don’t know it yet.

While I was sitting down thinking of my kids, Jaya came in and caught me sitting alone. She asked if I was ok, and I asked her to read out the work we did in class today. She still couldn’t read. She struggled at every word, she read “tell” as “past” (she was just guessing the words) but when she was done reading (painfully), I told her she did well and asked her to correct some grammar mistakes.

I have absolutely no idea if she learned anything today. I have no idea if she could read by the end of this year. We tried whole of last year but now she’s back at square one again, and I don’t know what I’ve imparted on her, or if I’ve made a difference in her life at all.

But I’d like to think that if I continue trying, it will make a difference someday. Maybe not now, but someday, one day.

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.

Year 2

OMG I cannot believe how nervous I am feeling about tomorrow! Tomorrow is the first day of school and signifies the start of my 2nd year as a teacher! Incredibly excited about meeting my students again, and getting new students too, but I can’t help dreading for the day to come.

I feel like I’m absolutely not prepared at all, no matter how much I’ve prepared for it! GAHHHHH *flails arms wildly and screams for help

I am panicking and I don’t know why?!?!?!?!?? I’ve done this before, so I can do this…right?


I’m panicking because I know how it’s going to be like. This time last year, I was crazily excited and not nervous at all because I didn’t know how bad things could be. But now that I know how challenging being in school is, how nerve-wrecking it is to stand in front of 40 kids who clearly don’t care about you, how daunting it is to know that these kids’ future lie in your own hands, it feels a lot scarier to face my first day of school.

I CAN DO THIS! I just need to walk in a lot stricter this time, maintain better structure for the class, be a lot more prepared, be consistent with my rules and consequences, and I’ll be fine. I hope..

I’m entering my year 2 of teaching but I’m still going to say this again: teaching IS rocket science.

This is possibly going to be the craziest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but I know I’ll miss it so much when everything is over. Bring it on, 2013! You are scaring me out of my wits, but I know that whatever happens, there’s no way I’m going to do worse than I did in 2012. It’s only going to get better from now on! No harm being optimistic about it 🙂