Today, I was planning to do Writing with 1 Best. Since it was a lesson that was carried forward from the previous chapter (Chapter 3: Live Smart), the essay would be on “A Healthy Lifestyle”. I had two periods with them, and since I had already discussed the topic and had asked them to draw a graphic organizer of it in a prior lesson, I thought it would be easy for them to write the essay based on the graphic organizer they had done.

Apparently, I was wrong.

Even though I had specifically told them to make sure that their graphic organizers were done yesterday, today, they still stared helplessly at me and said, “Tak bawa buku, Cikgu,” “Lupa buat, Cikgu,” “Sorry, Cikgu.” I went round the entire class and discovered that more than half of them had either not done my work, or did not bring their books.

I was really angry.

Well, I felt I had every right to be. I told them, very clearly yesterday, that we would be needing the mind map today. I had already guessed that some of them had conveniently forgotten to complete their work because of the holidays. But the reason I was really angry was because I had given them the chance to do it, and they just could not be bothered. >.<

I scolded them.

I don’t know for how long—maybe 15 minutes? But I had had enough of their attitude. I am trying so hard, teaching as best I can, giving them practice work to do, but they just don’t care. I told them that I was really sad and upset. This was work that was given almost TWO WEEKS ago, and they did not complete it! I gave them a chance to, yesterday, and still they didn’t do the work that I specifically said we would need. When I am too nice, they don’t do my work. Do they think I like giving them work, just for fun? That I have nothing else to do? Did they think I wrote the whole list of things that we have done in class, just for the fun of it? It was for them to check. Wasn’t it their responsibility? I was doing all this for their own good. I wanted to do Writing today, and the mind map was so that they would be able to write the essay easily, with all the main points down pat. Now, all they have are blank pages, so what are  they going to do? I asked them, “Tell me, what am I supposed to do?” I really felt like making them stand outside the classroom; I was so mad. Here I was, practically begging them to hand in their books, to do their work. Whose benefit is it for? A teacher can only do so much. As students, they have to meet me half-way. All I ask of them, is to pay attention in class, and do my work. And if they did pay attention, they would be able to do the work. I was really sad, really really sad, and maybe a little hurt. 😦

I sighed. Then I told them I hated scolding them like this. It didn’t make me feel good, either. But sometimes I feel like I have no choice. If I did not scold them like this, would they feel anything? Would they realize that they are exasperating me? That I am serious when it comes to work?

Personally, I would hate for the English Panel Head to look at their blank or incomplete books and think that I have not been doing my job properly, when I am trying so very hard.

I made them promise to please please please finish all my work in the future. By the end of it, I just felt tired, and exhausted. Is this how my former teachers felt when we didn’t do our work? 😦

Anyway, I finally continued the lesson, but with a few modifications to the plan, of course. I had to re-draw the mind map, for those who had not done them. I tried to prompt them to remember what we’d learned about healthy lifestyles. The three aspects, most importantly: 1) eating habits, 2) exercise habits and 3) sleeping patterns. Examples given were: “We should eat lots of fruits and vegetables”, “We should not eat too much junk food”, “We should sleep 8 hours every night”, “We should play more outdoor games/sports” etc.

After that, I worked on the format of an essay with them, and made them copy down these notes.

INTRODUCTION: General statements about a topic. I prompted them by asking, “What is a healthy lifestyle? Why is it important? Who should practise it?”

BODY: Every paragraph has one main idea that is written in the first head sentence. I helped them start off with, “The first aspect of a healthy lifestyle is…eating habits.” I also suggested the use of modals, which they have learned. We should this, and We should not that etc. with examples and elaboration.

CONCLUSION: Closing remarks or summary of the essay. They could state what they have mentioned in the paragraphs before, and restate why it is important, using different words of course.

Then I introduced them to some adverbs and logical connectors, because I thought it would be helpful for them to write their essay. So, some of the examples I gave them that I expect them to use are:

ADVERBS: Once a week, often, always, never, seldom, rarely, occasionally etc.

LOGICAL CONNECTORS: Besides that, Other than that, In addition, Furthermore, Moreover, Also, But, However, Yet, Even though, Although, so, because, therefore etc.

So I thought I had given them more than enough to write their essay and hand it in to me by this Friday. I was very glad to have been able to complete my lesson, with plenty of ample time after that to go around the class and check on students, see if they are doing alright. Which is surprising, since I spent 15 minutes lecturing them right at the beginning of the lesson @.@ So, I guess objectives will be achieved when they hand in their essays, written using adverbs and at least one logical connector. 🙂

However, in retrospect, I wonder if I had given them too much information. Not so much in the format of the essay and it’s rough outline—that was necessary, otherwise it wouldn’t have been enough scaffold for them to write the essay. More so for the logical connectors, I think. Maybe I should have focused on only a few. One of each type, maybe (contrasting/adding ideas etc.)? My rationale for giving them a list of these logical connectors was so that they had more choices to use in their essays. However, I worry now that they may be a little confused and use them wrongly instead. :/ I guess I’d rather they knew only ONE logical connector but use it correctly, than know many, but use them wrongly. >.<

I might consider working on logical connectors with them, one of these days 😀