Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Labour of Love

Teaching is like falling in love. One minute you are walking on clouds nine after the students walked past you and thanked you personally for the lesson ( I have always preferred that to the sing-song-chorus of 'Thank you Teacher' played on at the end of every lesson) while the next you will feel down to the pits from just the look of boredom in your students' eyes. At least, that was how I felt for these second and third week of teaching practice. The ups and downs are like the emotional roller-coaster ride, with me secretly wishing that there would be a Solero Shot-like theme park game to thrust me up again after the downs if you know what I mean.

The second week saw me settling down and adapting to my 7.20 - 1.10 pm routine. In between, I became the inspector for wardrobe malfunction and I even got a movie date from one of Chee Hwei's students. Hehe, those are really marvellous kids who believed that teacher is only 19 years old. Looks like I am joining the cougar circle of Demi Moore and Madonna if not of the teaching ethics because those boys assured me that " 3 years' difference only teacher!". However, the mother of all guffaw is when I truly, honestly believed that the two equally tall, crew-cut boys are twins when they kinda told me so. This is the ultimatum prank that a student could pull to make all trainee teachers look stupid. I mean how stupid can I be for believing them because now that I look at them again, they are NOT identical, with one having his face partly obscured by his thick-framed glasses and the other is a Cristiano Ronaldo lookalike.

Back to my teaching, it was alright for the second week when they had their first ever listening lesson and the kids in 4A produced top-notch mind-maps after much cajoling and coaxing. This is because the thing with those smart kids from smart class is that they are so academic. They detest some games and activities in lessons which they feel they will learn nothing from. Smart as they are, only half of the class passed up their summary. I decided to tick them off or else nobody would pass up anything at all eventually but I think I did not do a very good job. I did not want to sound mean, sarcastic or boastful. I just wanted to put them in their place when I told them " hey, teacher knows that you all are very smart students and many are straight-As scorers but to tell you the truth, teacher was a straight-As student all my life and I did all of my homework no matter how unimportant I thought it was then because I think there is a learning curve in everything you do,". Of course that was not the cold hard truth because I did not get the perfect score in STPM but my ego wants to tell them that teacher is smart too even though she checked her spellings with you all and please hand in your work because that is your responsibility as a student. Nevertheless, there were a lot of dilemmas attached to it because I really do not know how to say nasty things in a nice manner, I do not want to boast, I am not saying that my homework is unimportant, I am afraid that I will hurt the feelings of those students who are not straight-As scorers and I still want to be in their good books but I do not want them to disrespect me by ignoring my work because normally those kids from the good class would always hand in their work in time. Overall, they can be very easy to teach because they have the input and are very knowledgeable and I just have to try to not to get them so bored while imparting something that they will appreciate from me such as things that they still do not know yet and technique in scoring exams.

Meanwhile, 4C is a different kettle of fish altogether. They are still good and knowledgeable but the one or two boys there can be so cheeky. The banter can be fun and playful but I am not sure whether I should ignore them sometimes else I will be more like their friend than their teacher. Basically, I think all students are the same like you and I, they expect to learn something from their teacher whether they are forced to come to school or not. Therefore, I think what really matters in teaching is for the students to learn and not just for the teachers to finish their lesson plans per se, which is the question that I am always asking myself now : What have my students learned from me? I begin to feel that 90% of the lesson plans that we have been doing throughout our undergraduate studies are not real as it is impossible for teachers to start on a brand new fresh lesson everyday because surely they have to do some follow up discussions and checking with their students when they enter the class or else how would the students learn anything?

And then there is also this question of classroom control because I have the habit of standing in the same corner in the centre of the class and sometimes I feel like I am only speaking to this same group of students. I think I did this out of instinct because I tend to be closest to those who give me the most eye contact. I do not feel that this is right because I will ignore the weaker students and those who are not paying attention because those are the students that I should have been paying a lot of attention to in the first place. Between, I do not know if it is just me for I am inexperienced but I have to plan every single line that I am going to say in the class the night before or I will mess up my lesson.

Today, I marked my student's essay with LOL, something that I do not think any teacher in my school does. Laughing out loud, taking everything with a pinch of salt could just be the two things that every trainee teacher must remember in their book.

1 comment:

Labyrinth said...

well written! esp the last para! On teaching proficient students, check my post dated July 25th. Are the students scorers of all other subjects as well as English? How advanced are they in English? If they are bored, there must be something that you could do to spark some interests. Changes of some sort? What are you doing with them currently? Would love to have details, dear.

On students learning and completing planned lessons; you're right to think that students' learning is more important than just finishing LPs BUT they are actually strongly related. The lesson plan should guide you to the students' learning. That is why there is that comment/feedback space for you to jot down what went wrong, what you need to remember, points that need more work etc.

On creating brand new/fresh LPS all the time. Your LPs should include consolidating work, follow up discussions etc. LPs are guides for teachers to jog their memories in class while teaching as well as records of what happened in class. See here for some readings on Lesson Plans Hope Ive helped!