Saturday, September 19, 2009
Effective right after 2nd term school break, the new timetable will be used. I was very excited and really looking forward to continuing my journey in the teaching profession with something to call my own. I was given 4 classes; 1M, 2KAA, 2M and 4T. I was contemplating whether I should wear that fierce teacher persona that will usually wear off as my true self emerges. To tell you the truth I don't think I play that part really well since I'm not very good at being fierce. However, when push comes to shove I can be really serious and sometimes even nasty. I really don't want to resort to that though. Besides, how long do I have left? Approximately 3 months? Back to my preparation, I simply did the basics; asked for my own record book (which they said has finished and after I made my own they said they found one!), looked for the CS and Scheme of Work and browsed through them and fished for the textbooks. Surprisingly, literature texts next year will be different - about time they made some changes anyway. I took a closer look at the textbooks - somehow it seems a bit far fetched if I were to do all these with the students in this school. It is surprising how wide the gap is between urban and rural schools. In rural schools the textbook is too difficult for their standard while on the other hand it is far too easy for some of the urban schools. I sometimes wonder, what did these kids learn in primary school? Had they forgotten everything or they were simply not taught? It's the kind of question that goes through your mind but never get to answer, all the time! Anyways, the first class I entered was on Sept 1st and it was 2M. The size of the class was average, not that big, which is good. The moment I opened my mouth, they seemed awed by this foreign language that I uttered. Their blank stares told me they barely knew what I was saying and they were scared. I maintained my composure although I was slowly losing my train of thought. I braved myself to continue with my 'speech'. Actually they did understand, when they tried hard enough they knew what I was saying but of course I had to speak very slowly. I suppose after years of learning English in BM, they have become spoiled. I started off with a simple introduction and after that I asked them to tell me a little bit about themselves. It was obvious, they were very nervous. Invisible beads of sweat seemed to emerge as they slowly told me about themselves. Some of them seemed to be reading from a 'text', they were really afraid of uttering phrases in English and were extremely self-conscious. I really pitied them. I didn't mean to scare them only wanted them to try. But it was also a relief to see that they were willing to try despite their existing fear of the language. My greatest concern was only that many of them aren't very ambitious; i.e. ambitions like policeman, fireman, soldier aren't what you'd say ambitious. I don't mean to undermine these occupations, they are noble indeed but surely I'd like to see them at least thinking of being professionals someday. Perhaps being only 14, thinking about the future is a bit too far for them. My disappointment was soon relieved after I entered 2KAA. I was very happy to find out one of the students in the class likes vampires - which shows she reads something other than the typical Malay reading material. Apparently, she'd really like to read Twilight series but they were too expensive. I started to get to know them and I found out many of them have dreams to become professionals someday. At last, something refreshing and promising. They on the other hand showed effort and willingness to try. They instantly became my angels. In fact I promised to play Twilight in class if they behave and show effort to do the best in class. Nonetheless I must always remember that I must give extra attention to the weaker classes and try my best to help them. Hopefully even inspire them to dream bigger and try harder. To all my students, I wish all of you the best and I always pray for your success. XOXO-Ms Aida
Thursday, September 3, 2009
On the third day I was told that I’ll be given Pn Haniza’s classes as she was away for maternity leave. I accepted the responsibilities and was ready to start doing my job. I had like a million plans and ideas on my mind. The classes that I had to teach were 5C, 3M, 6B1 and 6B2. All exam classes, as Pn Haniza is the Head of English Language Panel. It was a lot of work and honestly I dislike picking up where other people left off. So first things first, I asked my students where they stopped and looked at all their books. I must say, they haven’t been doing much. Somehow, it’s difficult because I understand a teacher’s position as the challenge of teaching weak students is unbelievable. Teachers have to be super dedicated if they were to be that Good Samaritan, the teacher who doesn’t only teach, but motivate and inspire. On the other hand, the students sit in a comfort zone. Most refuse to try, don’t even want to put in extra effort. When I discovered that the students were failing their BM I realized that it was impossible to try to get them to learn English. My first experience reading their essays was a torture. I dread the idea of reading their work because it’s so depressing. Not that I’m complaining but I feel really helpless. What was I to do to improve the situation? I was beginning to feel that it was just too late and I might as well give up on them. Many will comment and say that teachers aren’t doing much. However, many fail to see that school isn’t just about being in the classroom. School activities and inevitable circumstances; i.e. the school’s 1 week quarantine and numerous tests put all my ideas and plans to a halt. I get so frustrated when we get caught up with the system. The system wants to test the students who are obviously unprepared for exams. They haven’t even mastered the basics and they aren’t the lot who would struggle for success. It’s again the complacent kampong attitude that really gets on my nerve – NO SENSE OF URGENCY! Times really have changed. No longer do I see poor students who persevere and go through hardships with high motivation to change their lives. Honestly, I sympathize with them, I truly am learning to empathize but it takes time to improve, let alone make change.
It didn’t really sink into my mind that I’m in a small kampung away from the city with pretty much, nothing. If I need to go to the bank, I will have to go to Temerloh, looks like even to get a loaf of bread I will need a mode of transportation to take me to the nearest little grocery shop. What’s here? Well, there’s a post office, a police station, a small grocery shop, a dead library, schools, ‘pekan sehari’ is here once a week and…lots and lots of green with tropical fruits everywhere! First 2 days here, I CRIED! I cried while unpacking my stuffs into that dusty and smelly cupboard, I cried when I talked to my grandma on the phone, I also cried before I went to sleep at night. In school, I was only doing relief for other teachers. I entered a few classes; form 3, 4, 5 and 6. I did the usual thing most new teachers would do: introduced myself and tried to get them to introduce themselves to me. Out of the four classes one particular class gave me a huge reality check. I was anxious to enter this class because it’s an all boys class. 4A is the last class also known as the academically challenged group of students. They are doing the domestic building stream and they can only do hands-on stuffs. I wanted to test their ability a little so I did this dictation activity. I said the words and they copied accordingly. Obviously, as expected there were a lot of noise especially when they did not get what I was saying or when they weren’t sure of spelling of some words. However that was not the worst part. I noticed a boy who was smaller than an average 16 year old boy. He isolated himself at the corner near the window. He was struggling through the process of writing those words I uttered and as I went closer to him I realized he wasn’t writing what I have been saying. Instead of writing a paragraph of ‘About Myself’, he was writing in point form. I could show you the sample. I hope I still keep it. He managed to write his name with his kindergarten-like handwriting and that was it. Could it be that this boy at the age of 16 and after 9 years of schooling, do not know how to read and write? That is definitely the case. The poor little boy just gaze at the window…he comes to school everyday but for what…There’s a story behind it I’m pretty sure…Oh, pity the boy. But what can I do? There is just too many who need help, and obviously left behind.