Monday, February 09, 2009

Ms Sour Face

Phew...I finally finished setting the question papers for the Year 6 pupils! It is actually quite easy to set the questions, I just hope the level is low enough for most of them to pass.

I was a bit disappointed with myself and the Year 6 bunch for the last few days. I used to believe that strict teachers do not equate to good teachers. In that sense I mean that an effective teacher does not necessarily have to be feared. I used to think that Year 6 pupils are old enough to understand the concept of "I treat you nice, you treat me nice". I thought that they would know how to be responsible for their own learning. How wrong I was!!

I am essentially not a strict teacher. I am quite easy-going and I think my best virtue as a teacher is that I am very patient. I learnt to be patient when I was asked to teach Year One kids during practical and in my first 4 months in Sepang. My approach to teaching, which is to be nice to the pupils, was accepted and well-liked in my practical school and towards the end, in Sepang. Applying this approach in town chinese-medium school is a huge mistake.

For three weeks, I struggled with class discipline, getting the pupils to pay attention, to do work. I used psychology on them, advising them, nagging them. It would work for a while and then everything would be as though I was not in the classroom the next day. Worse part is that the classes would be more in control when there wasn't a teacher in class!

The girls who are willing to study, who are more matured and more susceptible to my approach felt that my classes were boring because they don't learn anything. I was stunned. What do they mean by they do not learn anything during my classes? What have I been doing for the past 3 weeks screaming my voice hoarse in front of the class? Quickly, the girls changed what they said, said that the boys were too noisy that they could hardly hear my explanations. is something for me to think about, I told them. "Teacher, use the cane on us." I went berserk. These kids actually prefer a teacher wielding a cane before they could do their work, before they could learn?!

I am disappointed with myself, the kids and the chinese school system. I came from a national school. I am lucky I was a good student. I didn't have very strict teachers, I remember all my teachers were quite nice. I didn't have to be caned. A word of advice and most of my friends would feel regret and be more proactive in learning. I didn't have to be drowning in homework to learn to be responsible. But my friends and I turned out well.

When I went home, I cursed the school system. No child of mine is ever going to this kind of school. No child of mine is going to want to be caned before they learn some thing. No child of mine is going to be turned into an animal which needs to be trained and whipped!

Then, I talked to my sister. Remember Mr. Tan Bong Leong? she asked me. Yup, a teacher so nice that noone bothered listening to him when he was in class. A teacher whom everyone knows is so good at BM that those who are kiasu went to his tuition but do not listen to him in school. A teacher so lenient that copying is rampant when he is invigilating during tests. That is the kind of attitude Form 4 and Form 5 kids from the best class gave him because he is too nice and lenient. What do you expect from Year 6 kids?

So, the next day, I went to school with a resolution. To hell with being nice to unthinking kids. I was Ms Sour-puss the whole day and the kids were actually easier to teach. They listened. They did their work. They spoke in English because I did not bother about them when they asked me questions in another language.

And it is hard for a happy-go-lucky person to be sour-faced the whole day. I don't know how some people can be unhappy all their lives. Hahahaha...gotta make myself angry for the whole year! Wish me luck!!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Top prize

Well, I have been transferred to a new school this year. My old school's district made a blunder and sent me in there when there was no vacancy. So, before I get kicked out and then posted to a place even more "ulu" than my old school, I took the initiative to apply for transfer while pulling cables and begging for a school which has vacancy to take me in. And so, I got my transfer. In town. Big school. Need English teachers. Perfect? Well, I prefer my kampung pupils. Hahaha...

First month in the school and I created history in the school. The longest-serving teacher told me that she had never heard of that kind of a thing happen in all the 30years that she was there. What happened?

Well, I was teaching Year 6 Phys. Ed and a child was hit on the head with the putt. Yup, I was supposed to be choosing a pupil for the short putt and the freak accident happened. At least 10 kids had given their best shot before this boy threw the metal ball waaaayyyy out of range and hit a girl on the head. It all seemed to happen in slow-mo. I saw the boy throwing the putt. I saw the ball making a big curve in the air before I noticed that it was flying in the direction of the girls who had strayed to the left-front of the boy. I screamed for the girls to run. I saw the girls running helter-skelter while screaming. I saw the tallest of the girls scream loudly. I saw the same girl looking at the putt coming at her. I saw the same girl cover her head with both her arms and ducked. I saw the putt hitting her head. I saw her fall to the ground with a thud. I ran to her. I saw the first rush of blood from her head. I saw my hand putting pressure on her head. I saw blood flowing freely from under my hands to cover her face when she sat down. Within 2 minutes, her face was covered with blood. I panicked.

Valuable lesson number one: never show that you are afraid, shocked, or not in control in front of the children.

It was not a good experience. Trust me. It was horrible. Seeing so much blood made me really, really scared. I then realise that the films actually did not exaggerate to portray fear. When the girl's head stopped bleeding, my hands shook so much that I could not put the mouth of my water bottle to my lips properly. I felt so nauseated. I hyperventilated. I burst into tears when my colleagues asked me to recount the incident. Yeah, embarassing. But the accident was just too shocking.

Luckily the girl is all right. She had to get a few stitches but her skull was not fractured and she did not have a concussion. The boy blamed himself at first but kids can easily forget about these things. For me? Well, it's not something that I'll ever forget. So, new teachers...think of every possibility. Get out of this profession when you have the chance! Hahaha...