Monday, 30 September 2019

Expectation - Reality = Disappointment

Remember some time ago, KFC introduced ricebowl sets as their new line of products?
Looks tempting, innit? I was drawn towards their seemingly tantalizing advertisment. Bear in mind that Jia Qi doesn't eat fast food! But Jia Qi was hooked by the advertisement, so good job marketing team. And hey, it was only RM3.80! So on one fine day, Jia Qi decided to try out one of the rice bowl.
Well...when I got the rice bowl, a wave of emotions came crashing in - confusion, disappointment, then wrath, because I felt cheated. I was expecting more. I don't think I am able to convey the degree of disappointment I felt.

Yes, I know the photos are for illustration purposes only, but still! The actual product was a far cry from what was advertised. I begrudgingly finished the rice bowl in three mouthful, vowing to never have KFC anymore...

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Often times, we feel disappointed because of the expectations we have -  We are disappointed in a particular food because we expected it to look as majestic as it is in the advertisement, but the food turned out to be a measly piece of...whatever. We are disappointed at our friend because we expected them to show up on time but he/she showed up late. Or perhaps we got disappointed while visiting somewhere that we got excited over because of some photos we've seen online, but it turns out to be...meh.

It's the same case at my job. I caught myself being disappointed more than ever this year, because of the expectations I placed on my students and myself.

At the start of 2019

As we moved on to become second-year teachers earlier this year, I vowed to be a much better teacher, and set a few goals which I thought was reasonable. I wanted to eradicate the silly mistakes (12 October 2018 entry) I've made in my first year. I wanted to be a teacher that is consistent with her routines, rules and classroom culture.

I vowed that this year, I will make sure:
1. all students will bring their English books when there is English class
2. all students will write the day and date in their exercise book
3. all students will log in their index
4. all students will submit their homework on time
5. I do not shout in class.

Ambitious much, but I believe it is achievable. After all, I often see teachers who are strict and consistent achieving it! I started off the year being the 'strict' teacher. I was stingy with my smile. I took my time to build my classroom culture. I spent the first 10 minutes of each lesson checking if the students have their books. I took my time tracking if my students passed up my homework. If they did not complete my homework, I will make them do their homework twice, and I'd catch them during recess to complete it.


The Last Straw? 

Soon enough, all these rituals were taking a toll on me, as I taught six different classes at that time (four Form 2 classes and two Peralihan classes). My schedule was already packed to the brim - I could not sit down for more than an hour every single day, and all those tracking were driving me nuts. Of course, there was the struggle of me trying to understand and get used to being in the afternoon session too (you can read my sappy story here).
My schedule at the very start of the year. On top of teaching all these class, I had to be on duty for at least 30 minutes every day.
Rehat 1 is non-existent by the way.

It reached a point where I was simply angry and bitter every day - I shouted and screamed at students for matters that were trivial. Every little silly things students do detonates an anger bomb in me (I briefly wrote about it here). Goal no 5 of not shouting clearly went down the drain. I was severely displeased at myself for not being able to control my emotions.
I shouted so much, I kept a "Shouting/KPI Tracker" on Twitter lol.

I was tired of holding on to the strict teacher persona - it simply just wasn't me. I was upset and disappointed of how unpleasant I've became. Students that I taught last year (who are currently in Form 5, morning session) would tell me they could hear me screaming one or two floors below when they were leaving school (they finish school at 2.15pm and classes starts at 1.20pm for afternoon session). I guess I am naturally just a very smiley and jovial person, and it takes effort to hamper myself from smiling. So I slowly let my hair down and began to store that frown aside, and smiled a little more. My peralihans were the first to notice - "TEACHER WHY YOU SMILE SO MUCH????!", they asked. I dropped goal no 5, and it made my days a little more bearable.

I felt that some students noticed that I was letting my hair down, and they started to take advantage of it. Slowly, more and more students started to "forget" to bring their books. It is human nature to make mistakes, so I adjusted my expectations more - rather than expecting 100% of the students to bring my book, perhaps 80-90% will do.

Even so with my expectation of least 90% of the students to bring their book, what happened in reality in one of my class, lets call them Class Alpha, is that only a mere 40% brought their books.

The thing about disappointment is, it is not quantifiable. I wouldn't say my disappointment level is 50% because only 40% brought their books when I expect 90% to bring their books (90-40=50%!). No, it doesn't work that way.

If you're disappointed, you are disappointed. What made me even more upset were their "reasoning" of why they did not bring their books:

"Only one period mah....don't want to bring lah...waste my effort!" 
"Teacher didn't tell us we need to bring the book!!" 
"Nothing will happen ma if I don't bring my book!" 

(Anyway, when about 10 students from Class Alpha, congregated against me and started chanting statement number 2, I blew up. Like...over the top blew up. And the class was quiet for the whole hour).

The thing about being the angry/crazy teacher who is screaming at the top of his/her lungs is it only works temporarily. And it drains my soul. Every time I shout or scream I feel my lifespan decreasing slightly (exaggerating a little here, but you get the picture). I believe no one likes to be at the receiving end of being shouted/screamed at, and trust me it is utterly unpleasant to be on the giving end too. How vile, I was.
The irony of the advice given my former students (who are in Form 5 this year) - to lower my expectations

Words Are Like Daggers

The younger students, what I've noticed is some of them have not grasp the ability to articulate themselves well.

Kids being kids, can be brutally honest. Or sometimes, they would say mean things because they think it is funny. Some of them hurl insults like Oprah giving out cars

"Never take what they say personally!"

"Leave what happens in school, in school!"

Time and again, a senior teacher would remind me to not take things too personally. Easier said than done. I expected them to treat and respect me as a teacher. But I don't feel respected as teacher.

I had a close-knit relationship with my form 4 students last year - without realizing it, I somehow imposed the same expectations on my students this year. Somehow, perhaps because the students are younger, I failed to develop a bond as strong as last year with my current students. I kept comparing my experiences this year with last year.

I feel like disappointment has been compounding in me..

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I place utmost importance in my classroom teaching.

How much more can I adjust my expectations? If I kept lowering my expectations, I am essentially lowering my standards towards my students, and I refuse to do so, because I know they can do better than that.

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I haven't been writing a lot about my teaching life this year - mainly because I was just rather upset this year and most of the things that would just come out as rants, more rants, and more rants.

When people asked me how was I doing, I'd just answer "BAD" and "HORRIBLE" (notice my very limited vocab) and usually people would just stop there, after all, rants are unpleasant :P Some might probe further and I'd be ranting my heart out - my sincere apologies to my victims hahahahha.
Exhibit A of Jia Qi's rant. 

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Coping With Everything

I started reclaiming my life and doing things I enjoy - I started to pick up reading again, though at a much slower pace as before. I tried to pick up writing about things other than my teaching life (hence, the blog post about Gunung Arong I tried to go on more hikes. I went home whenever I can. And very recently I started to enjoy watching movies and series on Netflix lol.

I'd also set a cap on how much time I'd spend lesson planning, or doing work related stuff. Having said that, I'd like to reassure you that I still ensure my lessons are still properly planned, though perhaps not as detailed and well-thought out as before. I am a firm believer of "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail". I believe that kids can misbehave or get disengage simply because a lesson wasn't well-planned. So I'd still make sure the lesson is well-planned, just that I've cut down the time I used to plan it. I reached out more for materials rather than creating everything from scratch. Having more personal/me time really helped me cope.

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Sekarang....

By taking care of my well-being a little better, days became slightly more bearable. I am still adamant on lowering some of my expectations on my students, especially on homework submissions and bringing their books. I still track their homework submission diligently, although I have to admit, I refrain assigning homework to some class which I know the turn-in rate would be low.

I am fully aware that my time in school now is very limited though. I often feel guilty for taking a step back this year, because you know, time is so limited, shouldn't I be pushing myself and the students, with the remaining time I have?

There is a proverb in mandarin that goes 'When a clay Buddha crosses a river, he can't save himself, let alone help others.'(泥菩萨过江,自身难保).

Disclaimer: Not calling myself a Buddha, but what I am trying to imply is that when you yourself are in the shambles, you can't expect to give it all to someone else. You need to fix yourself first.

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I certainly did not expect that I'll feel like this. I certainly still feel pathetic at times. I always thought that second year of teaching will be much better, that I'll triumph in school, write inspirational blog post yeahhhh.

Oh, I was so wrong. Jokes on me. Ha ha.

Everyone goes through different experiences. There is no guideline or specific path one's experience will follow.

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Often times, reality is out of our locus of control. You can try to adjust your expectations.

And if you can't fix your expectations...you've got to find an outlet for those disappointments.

(I mentioned in one of my post in April that I cancelled my Netflix subscription...I resubscribed to it a while later HAHAHA. And I am, still trying my best to indulge in every moment. Trying.)


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