Wednesday, September 3, 2008

My Teacher, My Friend

That's Wei Hao, Ms Kang and Vicky at the badminton match. Quips, teacher is so short!

Here's the thing, I am approximately 7 years older than my students. Therefore, at another place and another time, we could have been siblings, friends or better still, buddies at heart. We speak the same lingo, listen to the same music, watch the same movies, get hooked on the latest craze eg. television series, networking sites and a fervent desire to finish additional mathematics homework in school (once upon a time for Ms Kang here...)

The Twilight Series, the teenage vampire fantasies that could possibly do a Harry Potter was highly recommended by the girls from 4A

Thus, the abui in me sometimes forget and start to blend in their bunch. We sing, we dance and we steal things ( hehe, not really true for the last one, it's just that I love the title of the Jason Mraz album but we did sing I'm Yours in the classroom but I didn't join in the dance). To a considerable extent, that is not really a problem because nothing can be better than teacher and students being comfortable with each other. However, I think I'm getting too friendly and too lenient with them till the boys are climbing over my head now. If I were to reflect properly, I think my teacher mode started to wear off after the first two weeks at school, which is still not a problem strictly speaking because a friendly demeanour will deem the teacher as being more approachable.

Therefore, the question begets, "What exactly is the problem then?" After I felt that the 4C boys are getting out of hand when they have a habit of breaking into nursery rhyme sessions while fooling around with their mates, I decided to give them a prep talk, which in the strictest sense, ain't no prep talk at all. I told them that I was just like them when I was in school and therefore I understand how they feel and why they behave in a certain way eg. developing a perpetual fear for their very fierce Add Maths teacher. I said we can be like friends and get all buddy-buddy but in the classroom, they have to act and behave like my students. Besides, I reasoned that I didn't expect them to sit upright and hold their breath while I am teaching as after all, boys will always be boys. Instead, I would have minded less if they talk a little, move a little than them acting like zombies in the class because at least they are still involved in the lesson. For a moment, everyone paid full attention and started to listen intently.

So, here's the problem : 1. Did I give them too much of leeway? I didn't even keep up a straight face and was in total genial mode throughout the 'lecture'. I think my main problem is I don't know how to act really stern with them, that is not in my nature at all. However, sometimes I can get strict with the relief classes but not with my own classes, which is something that always eludes my comprehension. My supervisor and the other teachers did not really provide much help when they acknowledged that they are also over friendly with the students and those kids enjoy being treated like that. Furthermore, Dr R said that I should be proud that they are treating me as their friend and I couldn't be harsh with them because I love them. Gasps, imagine my kids hearing that! But yea, Ms Kang loves you all, 4 A and 4 C.

Problem no. 2 : Will my so-called prep talk be turned against me one day because I told them that teacher used to be like that too and teacher understands them. I'm afraid that this disclosure of mutual understanding with them will backfire because they might think that it's OK to mess a little with this young, docile teacher because hey, she herself said that she is one of us. The point is that I want to be their friends and I believe that what goes around comes around. I hope that if I treat them nicely with some compassion, they won't go overboard and totally ignore my teaching, not that they have really done that. All I asked for is just a little bit of control but will I lose their respect by saying that?

Teaching is not a popularity contest but being friends with the students is certainly a bonus that comes along with the job. While not going to being closer than close with them which is something that I do not condone, just so how can you draw the teacher - student line?

my very lovable 4C kids...

p/s : I felt that the kids were nicer and sweeter after the talk for the last week but today they switch into a chanting mode this time...


Labyrinth said...
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Labyrinth said...

Your problems are similar to the ones mentioned/faced by Ange and PLing in their posts. Do check out how they resolved them.

One thing you should think of is whether learning of English is disrupted because of your 'lecture' or has it been better? You said that after a week of good learning behaviour, they have gone back to their old selves? naughty selves? Do you think this is because of the 'lecture'? Or could it be that they are just young ones with temporary 'lapse of memory'? ;-) How do you tell if your way has been too friendly or good enough for comfortable learnng to take place in your class? The answers are with you. Do tell.