Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Two Months into Teaching!

A little update & insights into my teaching life before I go into busy mode again. While all these memories and feelings are stored in an orderly manner in my brain, let me organized and lay it down nicely.
Current situation in le brain: still hanging on there
So I've been teaching two different classes English (A and B, two lovely classes, sometimes they might be a little restless but inadvertently they are a cooperative and respectful bunch!) for close to two months now. And I am teaching two other classes, X and Y Science.

The Science classes are challenging a little challenging at times - Y class need more guidance in studies, and can be really noisy at times (well, actually, most of the time). X class are stronger academically, but there are a few students in that class who can be disruptive.

I resorted to using a "stricter" teacher persona in both of these classes.

4K2 - I think they don't really like me. The first thing I do when I enter their class is make sure they all sit at their place and I'll order the students who are not from their class to get out. I keep track of who did not bring their Science Process Skill book in a name list, and I threatened to report them to the discipline teacher if they did not bring their books more than three times (to cancel off the "consequence", they have to bring their book more than three classes in a row). Thankfully, I have not sent anyone to the discipline teacher....yet. I make sure they are quiet before I teach, I change their seating if they are being disruptive and so on. I shout out names of students who are talking in class (rather than doing positive narration, "I see xxx is sitting down being quiet" etc.).

Basically, I am a tyranny teacher in that class. That class clearly don't like me - I don't bother making them stand up and greet me when I enter nor exit the class because I feel like it is a waste of time (getting them to settle down takes a while already), and there is no point forcing a bunch of 16/17 years old to "respect" someone who they don't respect. I know that a few Chinese students in that class can't understand Malay nor English at all. Hence, they talk among themselves in class sometimes as they don't understand what is going on. Initially I tried using a little bit of mandarin in that class but I reflected on that and decided it wasn't fair for the other students so I resorted to just sticking to one language in class. I try to translate what I taught to the class to the bunch of Chinese during independent practice or when they are copying notes but let's be frank this isn't a sustainable way of teaching them - the exams won't be in Mandarin and this will only develop a further dependency on me to translate - they might not even put in effort to listen or try to understand what I am teaching in class because they know that I will translate it for them.

At the end of the lesson, I will try to talk to them one-on-one, explaining to them why I changed their seats, why I was being fierce and strict and so on. Some of them look "insaf" after I talk to them but not much have changed in class. I can tell that they are now "getting used to" my style (some students will ask their classmates to keep quiet when I am about to teach).

A few of the students wouldn't even bother trying to understand what is being taught, and just sleep through the lesson. I usually won't let that happen.

Most of the time, I walk out of Y class feeling that I have only taught a few students. (And those are the students that would personally thank me for teaching them at the end of the lesson, which is really enough for me).

The first thing my principal told us when we entered school was to have good classroom control - I understood the importance of good classroom control after I started teaching the K classes. Without good classroom control, it is hard for learning to take place. Students who want to learn in the class will find it hard to focus when their classmates are being disruptive and noisy.

X class on the other hand, they are a unique bunch. I am not as "tyranny" as I am with Y class with them, but rest assured, there are lots of shouting and table banging with them too. And it is always because of the same few students.... I made them sit back at their assigned seating rather than sitting anywhere at their own will. But thankfully for this class, they are a few responsible students that always help me keep the class under control.

I know a few students in that class probably hates me with a passion too but the class must go on - and the classroom has to be under control. And I don't know how to do it other than threats and scoldings.

Initially, I tried doing a "classroom reward system", where if the students are well-behaved in class and improve their Science grade, I will treat them to pizza but clearly that is not working out because the disruptive students don't really care (and some of them even said "Cikgu tipu lah cakap saja" translation: teacher you're lying you're just making empty promises!). Yes I will prove you all wrong. Bye bye money again but let me prove you wrong.

On one of our school replacement class on Saturday where the attendance of X and Y was only 4/5 out of 30, I managed to talk to the students and understand what they are thinking much better.

A few X told me they understand what I was teaching (thank the lord!!), but they admitted that initially it was hard for them as it was an abrupt change to the teaching style from their previous teacher's. They told me that a lot of teacher don't like their class because they are a noisy bunch. Some teacher would just scold them when they enter their class, without any particular reason at all, probably just to instill fear, and now the whole class hates those teacher. They would be quiet and follow their instruction, but just for the sake of following her instruction. I wouldn't want to follow their footsteps...

They are many students, who I can tell, genuinely want to learn in those classes, and I don't want to let them down. I don't want the whole lesson being disrupted just because I can't control the class well.

At the same time, I don't want to always be the "fierce" and "tyranny" teacher that scold students for no reason at all. When I was a student, I hated it when teachers scolded us for no reason at all.

I wonder, maybe I am misunderstanding them? Or maybe I started off with the wrong foot? So many questions circulating in my mind.

"Teacher, I saw you in the Science classes....I saw your face, I heard your voice....Cikgu boleh sangat garang ah," <- what my English class students told me, because I never ever scolded my English classes lol.

Also, I do acknowledge that Science can be a rather dry and chalk-and-talk subject. I try bringing my students to the lab at least once a week for experiment, or bringing props to class so that they understand better (I brought a frying pan to school once, and aluminium foil, to explain about the properties of metal - good conductor of heat and malleable) but other than that my lessons are a lot of chalk-and-talk, which requires them to be silent and listen. And this is probably the reason why they are so restless.

And it is not like I have a lot of time to think and come out with activities for them all the time....Sometimes I try starting the lesson with a video, or some quiz just to get them warmed up. But yeah halfway through the lesson they would be restless again.

Yeah being a teacher is tough. I stayed back at school one day and was talking to a bunch of students who were practicing diabolo and they told me the same thing too - being a teacher is really tough. Some girls in X and Y class told me the same too - leave after my contract ends, teaching is a tough job.

Knowing that some students are rooting on my side now gives me the strength to teach, the energy to try my best despite being hated with a passion by others.

I do feel bad at time, for not being able to offer what other teacher can offer, good classroom control, super organized lesson content and useful SPM tips, just because I am a new teacher who can be a blur sotong at times (yes, students can tell when you're blur or nervous). I wish if I can offer more to my students. I often ask for advice from my students about the characteristic of a good teacher and so on, and I realize I am really far from it.


Done with the negative, off to the positive! So my birthday was two weeks ago and I received a care package from my students of A!

And also birthday song from B too! Really touched at all these gestures T_T And they purposely bought sandwich for me as I told them it was my favourite food before.

Was tasked to lead a drama crew for English week launch and these jokers did a really good job ! + Emcee who wasn't in the picture!

 Trip to Desaru beach during Labour's Day!
 Beer Pong again lol
 Ika was in Johor!!
Had the opportunity to go home for a weekend and met up with Hong Jin and Kula, both Sejarah fellows at Central!

Last but not least, look what my housemates got me for my birthday lol.

That's all for now. Now I got to figure out what to teach my Science classes tomorrow, and reflect on my teaching style, how can I improve and fine-tune it.

Planning a lesson for the Science classes is an arduous task, knowing that probably a few students will achieve the lesson objectives, knowing that I have to be strict and firm (and an angry teacher), is really tiring.

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