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Monday, April 23, 2012

One Classroom But Two Tutors

Some of my dearest Year Three and Four male pupils showing up

I was late but again?! Oh God, can’t utter a single word. Such silly wrongdoings that I just barely made. Call me ‘idiot’ or ‘fool’ as you please – all I deserved. I was supposed to show up in good time for two so-called appointments:

(1) A friend of mine named Shahrul intended to observe me teaching.
(2) The other one…I couldn’t care less.

In spite of being a late comer, I was practically ‘secured’! I’d asked Shahrul to stay waiting for me at the main gate of Kompleks Belia dan Sukan. Quite uncertain why the hell he wasn’t yet there as soon as I arrived. Time flies. I’m deeply sorry dude, I couldn’t keep on waitin’ for you any longer. Gotta get going! My pupils are waiting for me there. Adios.   

After getting through all to-be-photocopied things, without further ado, I made my way to the class briskly. Teaching should’ve got started! And time is money, indeed.

Without any piece of notes in hand, I was starting to write the topic ‘Adjectives’ down on the whiteboard. Not that I didn’t get prepared enough but I was trying to be professional. Furthermore, I knew all what I was gonna teach, as a matter of fact.

Besides adjectives, my pupils were taught on prepositions as well. I warmed ‘em up by coming out a number of prepositions they might’ve been familiar with. The point is they’d be able to make sense of the topic I was about to teach. Meantime, I got out of the class like a million times to make sure where on earth my friend had got stuck. NO sms. NO calls. Nothing at all! Deep in my heart, I found myself grumbling like someone's losing his child, "What the heck is goin' on?"

He turned up there somehow at last after half an hour. God, what a relief! That’s when I’d have told him, “You should watch me carrying the set induction out because it counts!”

With two cute Year Five and Six male pupils in the class

After a while, all copied worksheets were handed to me in person, meaning that I could simply carry my teaching on. As usual. My ‘lost’ friend was already in. Great!

As bailing my pupils out with their worksheets like a busy bee, I let my friend doing his class observation by himself. Like I used to do, nine times, throughout my 30-day School Orientation Programme (SOP) at SMA Sultan Zainal Abidin Ladang in the last three years.

No excuse to get greedy like the Devil so when having an answers-discussing session with the pupils, my friend got assigned to take over the discussion from me for the rest of the worksheet. This value is called ‘cooperation’.

My comment for his teaching would go, “Frankly, you looked less confident, I’m afraid.” His very first time, should be alright. The males strangely turned out to be much more enthusiastic to raise their hand and give an answer. Good. The class ended after a few minutes. Apparently, one mission accomplished!

I subsequently entered the next class as ever. My friend’s taking a seat on an empty dark blue chair at the back of the class and was sort of starting to do another class observation, I suppose. Distributing all three-page worksheets to every pupil and having them complete the exercise in group. Once again, the value of cooperation was being inculcated.

It was a fun riddle activity. I wanted them to be a critical thinker who’s able to think out of the box! Even so, the pupils, you know...fucking bone idles. Sorry, couldn’t help it.

Most of ‘em got (deliberately) totally perplexed, dizzy, faint or whatever with the riddle question things. They’re suffering pening lalat. Ha! Ha! I’d have said this to them, “Serve you right, people!” Even though I got bloody fed up explainin’ few examples umpteen times already. (Phew!) …since it’s, anyhow, my duty to do the explanation – even for the millionth time – I had to.

Lucky them as I never inquired this, “How come you’re so freaking dumb?” Heehee. Prior to disperse, all answers were successfully discussed. Before they got dismissed, they got compelled to first complete the vocabulary exercise. HAR HAR HAR… Vocab is undoubtedly crucial but then again, ‘Do the pupils ever care, anyway?’

Some of the Year Three & Four female pupils except the little one wearing pink tudung is in Year One

To be perfectly honest, I dunno whether they thoroughly have acquired something from my teaching. I hope so. And I wish they could bring along some knowledge home. Because should that happen, my teaching practically has reached a certain quality. And then I deserve The Most Outstanding Tutor Award. Heehee.

Oh dear, totally forgot to ask my friend’s comment upon my teaching. Who can say? He might’ve his own ideas to keep my teaching improved. Never mind. I’ll hit him up later.

Seeing is believing. Both of us had such a long ‘post-mortem’ after that. Ceh wah. About twenty-five minutes long. Somewhere around the center compound. Near his motorbike where he’d parked it. I asked him once again whether he’s still ON with his decision to become a part-time tutor. Guess what? He's still on!

In fact, he did confess he found it slightly awkward to control the second class. He has the guts! I know he could learn, anyway. Because I bet experience is the ‘original’ teacher of our lives, isn’t it? In that case, he deserves the second chance.

Sharing is caring. I didn’t hesitate to impart a little knowledge upon him so he could picture how the very world of teaching profession is like. Naturally, it’s never as easy as ABC. Seeing that he seemed that enthusiastic to give himself a shot, in order to help him out, I whereupon played my role as the middle person to discuss his part-time tutor job application with my manager, Mr Kamarul.

Alhamdullillah (Praise be to Him), can’t buy it as the application got approved this instant! I wish him the best of luck. I’ll ever be there to give him a helping hand, as best I can, insha-ALLAH (God willing).

Teaching should be fun!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Essentials of Teaching Reflection

It’s called the nature of life in which is so full of ups and downs. Joy, satisfaction, regret, and discontentment – all of ‘em, in sub-consciousness, have always kept us company. Like our best companions. Anywhere. Anytime. Every second/min. And each single day. As though this life seems utterly incomplete without any of them.

Frankly speaking, I’ve no idea to what extent our present teachers truly see this particular thing. All I ever care is its utmost significance. FYI…I’m talking about ‘teaching reflection’ – which ought to get written out by the teachers just after each lesson is finished. And it is every teacher’s to-do duty to reflect his teaching at the end of each teaching session. Because it’s so real IMPORTANT!

Should there be a number of teachers in school today taking reflection for granted, I shall be the first to condemn this unforgiveable negligence. How embarrassing ‘cause they had been trained to habitually do some teaching reflection back in college or university and I know that. And school is an institution whereby they are to utilise all the knowledge, skills and whatever they’ve acquired at. Or otherwise they’d better get fired! There’s tons of unemployed graduates dying for this job, okay!

How vital is a reflection? My answer is simple. Without doing teaching reflection, a teacher can never identify his weaknesses or strengths, ever! So, there won’t possibly be any enhancement and improvement in the end, let alone students’ themselves! Our today’s society is more like ‘the pot called the kettle black’. Oh…please! Stop it. Whereas teaching reflection assists the teacher in gradual teaching improvement, not to mention so are the students’. Wouldn’t that be good news for all teachers worldwide?

Presumably, to some people, a part-time tutor like me isn’t supposed to be obliged to do this teaching reflection thing – but, sorry, I choose to! And reflection, obviously, does make me a much better tutor, doesn’t it? Finding my weaknesses as well as strengths out all on my own. Doing reflection can be done on the weekly basis. Doesn’t have to be in black and white. Sparing your little time contemplating on your preceding lessons will do!

Just bear in mind ONCE you get appointed to be a tutor or teacher, that’s yet to axiomatically prove to the world out there, allegedly, how awesome your teaching is, or how good you are. If this is what you’re thinking at the moment, then all I can say is, “Well…in your dream!”

I would rather view this reflection thing as the beginning of a learning process. Upon teaching, I can be learning something new. In addition to learning from the mistake I might’ve screwed up during the previous class, perhaps. Mind you, only if you’ve never missed out teaching reflection would all that transpire. Thus, DEAR TEACHERS out there, reflection is a must and I have to say! Besides, I dare to assure, you’re such a fantastic teacher I’ve ever known on earth whether doing teaching reflection is constantly a part of your daily routine. Well done!

My tutor life, for the record, isn’t all about entering classes, distributing dull three-page worksheets to school kids and discussing the correct/incorrect answers and whatnot. Could be some other tutors’ class routine – however, at least, not mine! It’s actually more than you might think. Since I’m sorta perfectionist (I guess), certainly, each of the tasks I’m gonna do has to be pretty well organized. Well prepared. Such as having all teaching learning resources (or teaching aids) ready so things won’t turn a complete chaos when it’s time to teaching. I should’ve completely known the things I wanna do.

Right after doing a quick sum in my head, oh God, can’t believe my eyes I’ve long gone myself into this quite tough career for the last 11 months! Every so often, I felt psyched. Ecstatic. Occasionally, delighted. Ironically, some other time, I too got bloody devastated, dizzy, shaken up and, probably, rather taken aback. What’s often on my mind is to keep up the good work, as best I can.

Seeing that I’m teaching Malaysia’s second language i.e. the English language, needless to say I’m longing to get my pupils take to this international language. And several years later, they get expected to have mastered English a lot better. Still, the question is: How?!

Well…I’m a teacher who hardly ever feels contented with my teaching just like that. Most of the times, seems like there’s something missing in my teaching. I can tell. I do try to come up with super cool ideas, though. Not only that, I regularly do a great deal of reading as well, in the hope of discovering something called a ‘secret recipe’. Like the secret recipe of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). The recipe which is likely to stimulate my pupils’ interest in education – yet, I can still reckon myself that something’s missing in my own teaching ingredients all this while. What is it, then?!

In either class I’m in charge of, there’s a Year One girl named Izzati. And the rest of the class are respectively in Year Three and Four. That means a different teaching module is wanted whilst carrying my teaching out. The Year One girl can never be taught the same module as for the rest. Hence, I’ve been making endeavour so as to make sense of Standard Year One English exam question formats. In the hope that I can impart info relevant, appropriate with a Year One pupil’s needs.

But nevertheless, I ain’t teaching the English language as an exam subject like in school. This is called Intensive English class. Should be a little more different with any other typical subjects in the way I teach. On top of that, a tutor must be somebody all creative and brainy – who’s able to come up with a wide range of inspiring, engaging, attractive teaching pedagogies. And THIS is what I’m doing now!

More significantly, a pupil is hoped to be able to bring some knowledge home. Even if 10% of the entire lesson can be considered more than enough. At least, this pupil, evidently, has learnt something within a one-hour lesson, rather than none of it, right? I still regard this a ‘triumph’ though I know, ‘the more they learn, the more they understand’.

My lecturer used to insist that assertion really counted. This kinda characteristic requirement I find it somewhat tricky to make it all the time. Just because I don’t look as fierce as a roaring lion I think. I love children, for sure. Moreover, they’re just kids, you know. By attempting to approach them much closer, they’d feel appreciated and loved.

They’d realise somebody else really is concerned about ‘em. Somebody else who CARES about what the hell they’re up to. And there’s somebody else currently looking after ‘em. Such things make them tend to be very honest with you, sharing with you whatever they reckon, ponder about something, etc. More importantly, I enjoy this way so much. Miserably, some people out there would thoughtlessly evaluate it a big failure. That I’m not good at class organization, am I?

Even so, I strongly object that remaining firm toward the pupils makes things better. They won’t be enjoying every second of my teaching at all, to my mind. Let alone engaging with the foreign language being taught! Sense of humor, jokes, friendliness, accountability, affection – these are, practically, a quarter of the whole required ingredients in teaching. Please…no moody faces but cheerful looks.

Can’t deny that some pupils mainly males assume as if my class setting is somewhere at the playground – where they can move around anytime and do whatever they please. Playing soccer in class? Um…they never have, as yet. Argh! That makes me feel like whining, “God, I can’t take any more of this!” But then again…say, the class appears all silent, I’m not even enjoying my teaching either, am I? – dilemma.

I'm telling you today's classroom phenomena appears as terrible as in the picture!
Teachers are terribly under pressure... please lend them a helping hand!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Remaining Unemployed Isn't All Bad

Breakfast is very crucial indeed, if you ask me. A must for the-early-bird-catches-the-worm society. Mind you, would be fine whether you’re always sleeping in every morning. Like me. Heehee. (Sounds like a loser’s confession. LOL.).

Staying up for an hour without breakfast can get me into hot water. Stomachache. And freaking starved. And this is who I am.

Rarely do I stay up in the whole morning unless I’ve no choice. At work, for instance. Pretty sure I’m not a morning type of person and so was my Semantic lecturer. Whoops. She did confess before us in a lecture, OMG. Incredible! Well… it’s a shame, really. Do we both have the same bad habit, too? HAR HAR HAR…

Can’t deny gettin’ up much earlier in the morning is such a good thing! The truth is, you can say that again. Used to read up an article in a mag discussing the goodness of being ‘the early bird catches the worm’ people. Not gonna talk about that now, though. At least, not now.

Every time I sleep in, later on I find myself regretting of all the big loss I’ve deliberately made. A pretty huge waste of time, you know! That’s why I’m constantly takin’ brunch instead of breakfast.

Also, a few years back in Uni, most undergraduate varsity students like me hardly ever had breakfast on account of the so-called time constraint whereas I overslept. Most of the times, brunch was an option. Busy bee, more like. The question is, “Oh really or this is only a trick?”

My daily routine seems to have already changed a lot today. All has long begun due to my lousy current status – unemployed. And unmarried? Oh, no need to mention that out here.

Most typically, after getting through all these three following things: taking bath, performing solah, brunch, and the next thing I usually do is making a hot tea or coffee. May be ho-ho-ho Horlicks, Finnish coffee (that my cousin bought it for us in Finland), Cappuccino (In case the stock still lasts) or anything I like for a drink. Must be hot, not cold! Because I’m hot! Ha Ha Ha…

Been kind of norms that I put my drink down on a square table in the living room. Just leave it there for a couple of minutes. Till it’s getting a bit warm or so. Why the hell must I put that down there, anyway? Aha. Good question!

Just because that’s where I most regularly end up reading a novel. Yea, kind of my daily routine. And yeah, my pastime is obviously reading. I take a sip of the drink repeatedly whilst enjoyin’ my precious reading moment. Let’s drink first, shall we? Heehee.

Upon feeling uncomfortable, that indicates I’ve to make a little move. My legs on the armchair. My head lying on the other armchair. Perfect! And forever look out with my sarong so I shan’t look sexy on others’ observation. Aha.

Believe it or not, I can stay there for three to four hours long. Sounds rather awkward to convince myself in the first place, I know, that I’m able to concentrate on my reading for a very much longer time than I used to. Totally proud of my performance these days. Which I sense I must carry this on. I will. For life!

Only shall I quit reading when it’s time to fetch my kid sister from school Her Obligatory Knowledge class finishes at four-thirty P.M. Particularly on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. Normally, I pick her up by motorcycle. Only takes 5 minutes to get to the school. For the record, it’s a primary school.

After returnin’ home, I perform Asr prayer in the TV room. Take it easy. There’s actually no telly in there for the time being, anyway. I keep reading the novel on and on then. Only would I ever stop reading when I reckon, “Alright. Enough for the day.” The novel is closed and kept somewhere reachable.

The next thing I’d love to do is to surf the Internet. Going online. Very significant in order to keep me posted at all times. The very first web I compulsorily sign in is, sure enough, facebook. Quite addicted to that social web for the last two years ever since I signed up. So awful. Dunno why.

Still, I very much loathe spending for hours facebooking. Sometimes, I spend only five minutes for facebook and shortly after that, I shut my laptop down. It’s dull. Fed up, I suppose.

Things become slightly more different on Sundays and Thursdays. By six in the evening, (Regularly get them done latest by a day before – a stitch in time saves nine!) I must’ve had all my teaching learning resources ready. Because that’s who I am – a tutor on Sunday and Thursday night. By the way, the English Language is the subject I’m teaching.

The reason for havin’ myself well prepared for all this ‘cause I don’t wanna count on the tutorial center for required materials all the time. I know I’m a university graduate. I know I’ve got a bachelor’s degree. I know I’m not dumb enough to become a bookish jerk, am I? I do have a brain and am supposed to impart my knowledge I’ve acquired on the students, not sort of sharing knowledge from bloody books any more, right? Think, after graduation last year, I’d be a lot smarter than I was, shouldn’t I?

There’ll be two slots, as a matter of fact. In other words, two classes. One slot takes an hour. So, I teach for a couple of hours per night. On average, around 13-18 students a class if I’m not mistaken. Both are all primary school students.

Eager to find out how I feel when teaching ‘em? Aha. I feel a bit tense. Occasionally. Which is quite normal. However, they’ve gotten the sense of humour that I can’t help laughing out loud sometimes. At least, that cures when I’m really under pressure. It works out!

Wondering what else I do besides doing all this stuff? Hmm… er… oh, shopping! Heehee. To be more precise, book shopping. Yup, I’m a shopaholic after all. Not that I’m proud of being labeled that way.

Freshly bear in mind one line of the American movie script of “Confessions of a Shopaholic” that goes, ‘When I shop, the world gets better’. Do you remember? And this is the thing I’ve gotta say, “Naturally it is!” I’m all for that. It’s the ugly truth. When entering a bookstore named PSI2 in Kuala Terengganu city center, needless to say, my favourite corner is novels/books. Or where else?!

Something in there that you feel like shopping all books you adore within an hour. Nay, one hour is never enough! Should be more! Oh my, book shopping drives me nuts every so often and I must say. But then…the excitement, the joy I’m feeling as queuing up at the cashier counter and shortly am taking out a note for the payment. Can’t you ever feel it?

And after stepping outta the bookstore, I’d be walking like the happiest man in the world! Like on a catwalk. Like a model. Like a celebrity. Like a V.I.P. As though the feeling of this indescribable pleasure and delight is truly filling all the empty space in my body. Like you’re pouring some juice from a jug into a glass. Heading briskly to my motorcycle whereupon.

Riding for ten minutes is like an hour ride. Lookin’ forward to getting home, to be perfectly honest. And then what? Of course, GET reading. Reading on and on. And guess what? The reading material one picks may probably affect the way one thinks. One’s thought as well as writing skills. I’m saying all this because I’m of ‘em. Definitely!

Whatever! This seems to have been my daily routine I’m pretty psyched to live in at the moment. I’ve no idea if this kind of fantastic life would be spoilt pretty bad once I’ve had my career. Which I ain’t in the mood of thinking of that thing yet, anyhow.

Wish all of you have such a wonderful routine like mine too! Be sure to spend some time of yours for reading. As it counts.

PS: Will I become an educator this year?