Monday, 7 January 2019

Of "You look demoralized", weight loss and so on

Week one of year two, checked. (It was only a three days working week, by the way).

It has been an...interesting week. As mentioned in my previous post, it feels like a whole new world here in the afternoon session. I have significantly more teaching periods, so I need some time to readjust and get used to it. On top of that, I have more duties (say hello to your new discipline teacher! As well as the class teacher for a form 2 class), so there are quite a lot of things at the back of my head.

I realize I had to change my teaching style to a more stricter approach. I had to scaffold my instructions even more (MORE VISUALS!!), and also constantly remind my kids to use pens not pencil when they write, write the day and date, fill up your index, no James, use the ruler not free hand!! Also, The lower form syllabus is also a whole new world (cues Aladin soundtrack)!
This will always be on my slide from now on
Reminder to self: Your upper form students don't need reminders for all these stuff because their lower form teachers trained them already!

First week is always the most hectic, and also the most kelam-kabut, I was told, as there will be students transferring across classes/schools, there are more admin duties and so on.

I was glad that the weekends are finally here. Finally some time for me to reflect, to digest what just happened this week. To take a short breather, and prepare for week 2.

And I received a text message from a colleague, stating that "I look demoralized" during my first week. Throughout the week he did noted that "I looked more stressed".

Was that the vibe I was giving out to the students the entire week?

Did I send a message telling everyone that "I don't want to be here?"

I can't help but to feel very deflated. I don't want to give out negative vibes to the students. I don't want to give out the signal, telling them I don't care. In fact, I want to give them all the care I can. I want to give the very best to them.

Somehow, that remark made me feel...emotional. WHERE IS THE UNINSTALL EMOTIONS BUTTON.

I want my students to know I want to give them the best. At the same time, I want them to not overstep their boundaries, and know when to be serious. I am afraid, of being too casual and to let loose, because I want them to take their studies seriously.

And again, remember Jia Qi, your former form 4 students, whatever positive traits they have, was because their teachers (or family/friends) must have done something right!

Looking at my former upper form students, a lot of them possesses good ethics - they are respectful, they are helpful and help out the teachers whenever they know a teacher needs help and so on. They take down notes (at least the good classes), they automatically paste their worksheets in their books and write the day and dates.

(OK not all of my former students are like that, but at least the students that I really enjoyed working closely with are)

I hope to recreate that, and teach these values to my current students. One step at a time.

I feel the stress of teaching lower forms, especially the peralihan students. They are students who failed Malay language in UPSR, and most failed English too. Somehow, there is a stigma with the peralihan kids. "They wasted six years of their life in school!" some teachers remarked. I've seen so many students that were from peralihan, but they are really capable now, and are students that I trust the most. Some even progressed to top students in the form!

I realized, being a peralihan teacher, I play a very huge role in shaping them, and hopefully, guiding them such that they can catch up and close the gap in their language proficiency in Form One. Please, let me be able to help them. Let me help them bridge the gap, or at least let me help them realize that being in peralihan doesn't mean that you won't be able to succeed in life. And also they can still catch up in their studies. Please, don't let them "waste" six years in secondary school.

And the form 2, teachers play a huge role in shaping their characters at this point of their life. This is the crucial period where they transition from being a child, to a young adult, where they will go through various emotional changes. Where they might choose and decide what type of adult they want to be. AND GOSH WE SEE THEM SEVEN HOURS A DAY, FIVE DAYS A WEEK

This is also the crucial period where we slowly build the foundation for them to face reality, to face life. I need to make sure that I identify and bridge the gap (if any) now, before they proceed to higher forms, where they will be even lost in their studies, especially in language studies. I hope to instill and make them realize, why they are in school now, such that they won't just give up, and look forward to graduation when they proceed to upper form.

I have 193 days to do so. 193 of school. And as of now (7 January 2019), I am down to 188 days.

So much hopes, I have. Can I really do it?

I realize I have so many things I want to do and implement in class. But there are limitations to what I can do. I can't even keep track of things I say in class, and I want to be a teacher that takes whatever I say seriously.

One day at a time.

One step at a time.



On a separate note, I have been meeting my former students quite a bit. One of them has been coming into my class after his schooling hour to be my teaching assistant! :D

Quite a few of my former students made remarks on my significant weight loss (?). Some even went to the extent of texting me asking me to eat more, talking to my collab, Sophie, that I have been loosing weight, and so on.

(I can't tell for myself to be honest, if anything, my lifestyle became less healthy after I started the fellowship. I rarely exercise nowadays, usually just a 20-30 minutes jog per week, and I eat fried chicken once a week and so on. I have dessert cravings time and again. But then again, I run around the school a lot)

And today, a former student left a packet of noodles and some curry puff on my table, reminding me to eat when I can.

I received a new phone cover from my student!! Really, thank you. You have no idea how these gestures made my day. How these actions really motivates me, and gives me energy and inspiration to do more.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

2018, from now and beyond

I've been writing quite a bit to really organize myself, organize my thoughts and so on. Just wanted to aticulate my best moments of last year, and what I want next year (2019).

Best moments of 2018s:
1. Joining Accenture Student Leadership Camp (ASLC) 2018, with two groups of students

2. Co-Organizing Running Man event with one of the ASLC team

3. Being the sort of, basketball teacher, of my students

4. Seeing how the 2016 fellow, Tan Jiunn Wenn's kids putting in so much effort to join i'M-Set and Young Innovate Challenge

5. Revamping the English board.

6. Going for Asia Got Talent with the kids

7. Hosting TFM Week!!!

8. Hosting DHL Help a School!!!

9. Being able to still travel during the school holidays. Hahaha

What I want for this year:
1. Be firm but kind.
Not being the crazy strict teacher that shouts at students all the time. But at the same time, not being too soft. Care about them. But not be too soft on them.

2. Establish classroom routine
And be very consistent with it. Making sure that students are ready (books out, rubbish cleared) before class starts.

3. Create more opportunities for students
I'd really join ASLC again. And also create more opportunities through activities or events for the students. Hopefully, just to quantify it, two major opportunities this year.

4. Reconnecting with people
Because I tend to get carried away in my work and forget that people exists.

5. Be more organized
Find a method to track where I left my lessons (and what I promised my students) because I suddenly have more classes and I am lost...

First Day

Today is the first schooling day of 2019. My first day of being in the afternoon session. My second year of teaching.

For some reason, I felt a strong urge to cry throughout my day. And I cried straight after school, in the car, after I know I am at a safe distance away from school. Away from all the curious eyes from the kids.

And I can’t pinpoint the exact reason why. It wasn’t even a bad day. There were hiccups here and there, but nothing major happened. In fact, it was so much smoother than my first day last year.


Was it because my peralihan kids don’t even know 1-10 in English?

Or was it because one of my Form 2 class that don’t even know “long” and “short”?

Or the unfamiliarity of being in the afternoon session, where I don’t even know most of the teachers yet?

Or because suddenly I don't have my few close teacher friends to berborak with?

Or the sudden surge of teaching periods, where I don't have much time to recollect my thoughts.

Or this new timing, I’m always a morning session, so I very much preferred the morning session working hours.

Or maybe because I really miss my former Form 4 students?

Or maybe because whenever I stay back at school up to this timing, it is always because I have meetings with my ASLC kids, or doing some projects with my kids which was definitely the highlights of last year. The nostalgia of being in school in the evening.

Or it might be a combination of everything.

After bawling my heart heart in the car to my collab, I realized that I really miss my students. My previous batch of students. The students that made me smiled, laughed, and also made me angry countless time. The students that made me question my decision to join the fellowship. 

This is so silly. Man I wouldn’t want my former students to know I cried because I missed them. Oh gosh.

When everything becomes so unfamiliar all of a sudden, I really yearn for something familiar. A few of my former students came by the staff room and said hi, and it gave me such a strong sense of relief. Bumping into a few of my former students in school after their school hours, honestly was so comforting.

I really miss seeing those familiar faces, that gives me silly stares whenever we have our morning assembly at the podium. Or hearing those familiar voices, shouting out loud a silly as-a-matter-a-fact answers that makes me roll my eyes.

Students come and go. They progress and grow up. Like everyone else in this world. I have no idea why the sentiment is so strong. Teachers face this every year. I'm sure they have students and classes they love and cherish a lot, and have to let go and move on at a point of time. And they must be really numb to this now.

Being a teacher, is like dating, according to my collab, Sophie.

"Being thrown to a completely different session, is like going through an abrupt breakup and moving to a completely new country!" - Sophie, 2019

And oh gosh I resonate so well with that.

You breakup with the date (students) and rarely see them anymore (you're in a different session, duh), and then you go to this whole new world (different session).

I realized that changes in life isn't always easy at first, but once you settle in and get used to it, it'll feel "normal" again. I remember when we first moved to Johor, I felt uneasy, because we were eating at the same place, traveling to the same place we used to go, when we had our PSP with the whole cohort and only 14 of us are here now. I remember missing Malaysia a bit because I hated the bananas in the UK because I never fancy Cavendish bananas and that's the only type of bananas they sell there. I remember feeling really down when I moved back from the UK to Malaysia. I remember crying after graduating from high school (away from my friends, of course. Ego too big HAHAH). 

Like all other changes I have underwent, and also breakups I recovered from (seriously, the analogy is good), I know I will get over it.

I just hope this wouldn't affect me in class.

I want to offer the best to my this bunch of students. I really do. It might be my one and only year with them, just like my previous batch of students.

I got a feeling this sadness will still sink in tomorrow. I'm grateful to have a collab, Sophie, who is going through the same phase as me, and can offer me some familiarity when everything is so unfamiliar.

Like all breakups, you will get over it. Unless you keep yourself from moving on.

Focus on what is in front of you. Focus on what you can change and impact.

Who knows one year from now I might be crying over my current batch of students LOL!

Ya know, it'll be great if I can uninstall emotions sometimes.
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