Thursday, 20 February 2014

First week in the Blackboard Jungle

Hello reader, as some of you know, I've been on my practical stint in SMK Tunku Abdul Aziz, Simpang Empat, Alor Setar, Kedah, for two weeks now.Going into this, I remember I was terrified mostly of the unknown; the people I had not met, and the students that I did not know, the place that I hadn't grown accustomed to. But it turns out, after two weeks, the teachers are nice, the place isn't that confusing, and my class makes me smile. I am assigned to a Form 3 and a Form 1 class. But I've entered many other classrooms on relief duty, some with a less friendly crowd than others. 

My students in Form 3 are in the first class, but they come in one passive package. I feel like I still cannot get them to open up. I know that because when I'm having a class discussion and someone says something funny and laughs and I ask them the just shake their head and look away, as if it's "not worth" telling me. HAHA. Dramatic much. But  there have been times when this class has come alive. I witnessed this rare moment during an interesting discussion on toilet etiquette. I believe that I have to stay focused on what I want them to learn at the same time have at least one engaging activity to bring them out of their shells a bit. Names 99% memorized

My Form 1 students are the cutest bunch of passive students. I think they live by the phrase "Silence is Golden" which is bit troublesome when the objective of the English Period is to get them to talk. Currently our Form 1 batch is undergoing a program called OPS- English, which is targeted to improve their Oral Proficiency. Ops-English comes equipped with its own textbook and CD. Throughout the program which lasts till june, students are not allowed to do any writing. No essays, no paragraph writing. It's all about speaking and listening. At first it seemed like a heaven sent program, because of its simplicity. In actual fact, when you're given a very passive class who has no intention on speaking, then figuring out lesson plans can be a pain in the neck. Oh well, lets put that 4 years of uni to use. Names 70% memorized

That's all there is, 
There isn't any more. 

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Pre-teaching (Countdown day 3)

Today, we followed our advisor to a school to observe her other practicum mentee. The three of us sat behind along with our lecturer and watched my senior handle this class. I was in awe, as she coolly handled these Form 4 students and projected a stern demeanor whilst still maintaining an approachable personality. She had already begun to remember their names, and had a good developing rapport with the students.

She used quite a few words in Malay after seeing that they didn't understand it in English. One boy when praised, would say "Awesome" obviously having picked it up from her previous class. Our lecturer mentioned that positive feedback and  encouraging words were always a good thing. Because students need to feel that their answers are valued.

Another incident I recall was when a girl gave a suggestion, and her answer was dismissed with a "no, that's not a good answer"..
I was surprised when she said. "Okay okay teacher, I just try"
She was one of the better ones, who had more confidence than the rest.

I learnt that teacher movement around the classroom was very important and that some students at the back were interested in the lesson but didn't get enough of the teacher's attention to bother about performing in class.

I guess I'm most nervous about classroom management and this was indeed a very useful experience of going and observing another teacher in her classroom. Our lecturer advised us to ask our school mentoring-teacher if we could sit in for the lessons to watch the teacher before taking over the following week.

Our school is reportedly still preparing our timetables and we most probably will be getting the lower form classes.

That's all there is,
There isn't any more.  

Pre-teaching (Countdown day 4)

Okay, it's crunch time. I've been dreading this moment for ages now. It reminds me of how I dreaded diving lessons at the pool, or driving lessons and driving school, or public speaking competitions, or debate rounds, or the literature exams, and then the moment came and passed, and I emerged all the better for it.

The hardest thing right now is finding the motivation to keep myself confident. What is it about those unknown faces? or is it because I am facing the unknown? Sometimes I find myself terrified of failure, sometimes worried sick with the challenges, and very occasionally  fleeting excitement at the prospect of stepping into the beginning of this new chapter.

For my practicals, I was placed with two of my classmates and good friends Lea and Zaini. This evening, Zaini and I took a test drive to the school to familiarize ourselves with the route. I still don't know the way though so Zaini will be the GPS I guess. The school is situated a good 30km from our hostels and this means a 40 minute drive with traffic and traffic lights. Which means that we'll be getting up at the crack of dawn to beat traffic and get to school for a decent clock-in.

We met our supervisors today and mine is one of the nicest lecturers ever but she had some not-so-nice news. She gravely told us that the school we were attached to for this 4 month teaching practical was notorious for major discipline problems and in many cases the police had to be called to intervene. Anyhow, my advisor has given us the green light to call her to observe us any time to get some feedback and improvement tips.

I have not signed in at my school yet. A lot of us haven't. We'll probably do so on Sunday. In case you didn't know, in Kedah, the weekend is from Friday to Saturday, and we work on Sunday.

That's all there is,
there isn't any more.