Tag Archive: Week 1


Day #6 – 3 Mar 2012

We had school today—on a Saturday! @.@

It was a school replacement day, for one of the days during the Chinese New Year holidays. Thankfully, though, it was following the Friday timetable, and so we finish at 12.15 pm. 🙂

However, we did not really have classes; the students had their own programs like motivational seminars for the exam years, and the teachers had their own programs as well, like a gotong-royong.

So after the assembly and the students were sent for their respective programs, all the teachers helped to clear out the staff room. Mostly, the staff room wasn’t dirty, it was just a little messy. There were quite a number of teacher’s tables that no one really knew to whom they belonged to, with files and stuff dating way back to 2008. En. Yahaya, the president of the Teachers’ Club, told me to get rid of anything that didn’t seem important (how was I really to know that? @.@) and separate all loose sheets of papers and books into coloured and black+white ones.

Sun and I, as well as the other practical teacher from UKM teaching Physics, Hasrul, soon came to be known as the-ones-in-charge-of-recycling-corner. We separated all the books and papers into piles for recycling. The teachers would clear out their table and then send the paper stuff to us to be sorted. Strangely, the three of us working together actually seemed rather fun. 😉

Then Pn. Mazira, the head of the English Panel, and also our guru pembimbing had me sorting out the English Language cupboard in the staff room. It was quite messy, seeing as the students would often take and return things however they liked. So I arranged the reference books and other materials like CDs in as organized a manner as I could—according to level, form and even alphabetically or numerically, for some.

Before we knew it, it was already 10.15 am and we had to head over to the Bilik Mesyuarat Inspirasi for our first Latihan dalam Perkhidmatan, or LaDaP, as it is referred to here. This was my second time being in the teachers’ meeting room since the first Mesyuarat Guru-guru the other day, on Tuesday. I like the place—nicely air-conditioned with comfortable chairs. I even caught a few teachers catching some shut-eye during the meeting! I don’t blame them; all of us have had a long day.

The speaker for our first LaDaP was very charismatic and, I would say, a good speaker indeed. I managed to gain something out of the talk, I feel. If nothing else, I learned that our attitude goes a long way. If we are always saying “I can’t,” then how can we expect to be able to do something? If we are pessimistic all the time, how can we expect good things to follow us? Something a little related to the Law of Attraction. So, maybe, if I want to be able to control my class, or help my students, I have to keep telling myself, “I can.”

And keep praying for both the kids and myself, of course—for God to soften their hearts to be open to learning and my teaching, and for patience and wisdom to handle them.

Had a very tiring, but fruitful Saturday in school 🙂

Fridays are the best.

Why? Because I don’t have any classes! 😉

Do not get me wrong; it’s not that I hate my students. On the contrary, I love my kids, I do. Undeniably, they are a handful, and they often stun me speechless, but I love them nonetheless. Every single one of them. 🙂

But I do treasure a relatively stress-free day in school where I can utilize to catch up on my work or lesson plans, and complete my record book before handing it in to be checked by the GPK1.

Unfortunately though, this school currently has SEVEN teachers on maternity leave. Yes, you read that right, SEVEN. Which only means one thing—relief classes.

So yes, I may not have classes to teach on Fridays, but that does not necessarily mean that I am completely free to do nothing at all! Teachers are never without anything to do. There’s always something or other to do or take care of.

I suffer, though, both Sun and I, from something I’d like to call, the “New Teacher Syndrome” (NTS). As new, fresh blood in the school, the students are often intrigued or extremely curious about a lot of things about the new teacher. So I often get bombarded with questions in every relief class I enter: “Teacher, what’s your name?” “Teacher, where are you from?” “Teacher, are you Malay or Chinese?” “Teacher, are you married?” “Teacher, do you have a boyfriend?” “Teacher, where do you live?” And it goes on, Teacher this and Teacher that. =.=

I don’t mind the questions that much. What I do mind, is the disrespect and the utter disregard for manners that often accompanies NTS towards, of course, the new teacher. Also, the lack of fear. Students are not afraid of you at all, and are possibly “testing the waters” to see how much they can get away with, how far they can go.

I wore a nice kebaya today, since it was a Friday. But who knew, it made me rather like the center of attention, which was made even worse by the NTS. I got catcalls and wolf-whistles, and comments like, “Cikgu nampak seksi.” Honestly, I had no idea how to respond to these actions. (I had previously only dealt with “Apa nombor telefon Cikgu?“) If I could have caught those boys who wolf-whistled me, I would surely send them to Mr. Thina, the discipline teacher, and a very nice and helpful colleague. I had called them over to get their names, but they ran. Oh, they ran from me, they did. >.<

A week in this school doing relief in Forms 1, 2, 3 and 4 have led me to the conclusion that students nowadays are completely different to the kind of student I was when I was in school. I had always been the obedient student, sometimes even the teacher’s pet. And though I was not the most quiet of students, I had always respected a teacher’s authority. Students today are rude and disrespectful, who act like you are not even in the classroom. I couldn’t help feeling utterly appalled at what the kids today are like, angry at how they treat me, regardless of whether I am a new teacher or not, and then depressed that I may just have to stomach all this, or figure out how to deal with it, for the next few months. >.<

I was getting a little nervous, especially about the F2 class I was teaching, because I had just gotten a look at the English KBSM Form 2 syllabus and the school’s scheme of work. Apparently, they were supposed to have done the poem I Wonder by Jeannie Kirby. And from what I knew about their previous English teacher, I was not entirely sure the class had already done the poem.

Besides, I was unsure of what to do with 2 Gem today, and after the havoc they’d caused playing Sports Hangman, I thought I would do more of the talking this time, and do something more academic with them, so they’ll be less noisy.

I thought I could start off with something simple for the poem: choral reading, and maybe just understanding the literal meaning of the poem, as well as working on any difficult words that they did not know. I didn’t want to give them any notes yet, just focus on the words of the poem in the literature text.

However, it was only a one-period class, and I worried that I would not have enough time to do what I wanted to with them. And, true enough, the class came in late after assembly—my class started a full 20 minutes later, leaving me with only another 20 minutes for my 40-minute lesson! T.T I did not really have a choice.

I had already informed the class the day before to bring their literature texts, yet, I still caught a few of them sharing their books. I do not know if it was a wrong choice on my part to let them off the hook with a warning and advice to remember to bring their books to class the next time. I was, though, disappointed that even after having informed them beforehand, they still did not bring their books. It was either a sign of carelessness, or a tidak-apa attitude that I was not very happy with.

Nevertheless, the show had to go on now, didn’t it?

I wrote the title and the poet’s name on the board, and then nonchalantly asked if they knew the poem. Unexpectedly, the students answered yes. So I asked them if Cikgu Faiz (their sub teacher) had done the poem with them, and again, they answered yes. Darn, I should’ve asked them if they had done the poem already. No matter, I told them it was alright, and in fact, it is better because now what we were going to do would be simple for them, since they’d done it before.

I started off by asking them if they have ever wondered about things, and what they wonder about. Initially, I had planned that they write one “I Wonder” sentence and be as creative as possible with it, and then share it with the class, as a set induction. For example, “I wonder why people always associate me with Lisa Surihani.” (Personally, I’d received this comment numerous times this week. I even found out from one of the teachers that the female celebrity had also recently tied the knot with Yusry.) However, due to the lack of time, I skipped this part. 😦

Then I read the poem aloud, line by line, and asked the students to repeat after me by mimicking the sounds and tone, if possible. Unfortunately, I kept getting interrupted by one of the boys. After that, I went through the meaning of each couplet in the poem, explaining any difficult vocabulary they did not know as well. I found that, even though they told me that Cikgu Faiz had done the poem with them, it was if they hadn’t. They still struggled to tell me the meaning of the poem, and there were numerous words they did not understand.

To sum up the lesson, I asked one of the boys to read the poem aloud in front of the entire class. He read it rather well, even if it was not perfect. I was quite satisfied. Unfortunately, I had gone over my time and had to rush out of class, very flustered. Plus, I was also unable to give the students a brief summary of the poem (which I wanted them to copy into their books). However, I did manage to ask one student to tell the class what the poem was about in his own words, and the answer was quite satisfactory. 🙂

Still, I have to admit that I experienced problems with one of the boys—the same boy who kept interrupting me, and also half-chased me out of the classroom by saying, “Cikgu, dah habis masa la!” He did not want to cooperate when I asked him to answer a question, and responded by saying, “Cikgu, nak tidur la.” I still made him stand up and coaxed him into answering (why did it feel like I was begging? >.<) and giving me his interpretation of that particular couplet.

For Wednesdays, I only have class with 1 Best. Since it was still the first week of school, and Pn. Koh, the head of the Language Department, had told us that we did not have to really teach yet but use the chance to get to know the students, I did not really know what to do with the class. Plus, Sun and I were still trying to get a copy of the English KBSM syllabus and the school’s scheme of work for our respective forms (she was only teaching Form 2 while I was teaching Form 1 and Form 2).

But since I had done “Whose Favourites?” with the class in the previous lesson, I thought it would be good to do something that would build on top of what they had just done.

I had collected all the slips of A4 paper in which the students had written their “mini essays” on their favourites, so I had a chance to read through what they had written. Of course, none were perfect with flawless language, but I did think that there were a few errors that most students were making, and I thought it would do them some good if I worked on correcting those errors with the class. Draw their attention to some of the mistakes that the entire class was making, so they know that it is incorrect, and what the correct form was. Besides, they were in F1, and these mistakes they were making were very basic, and should be corrected as early as possible so it is not repeated.

I pinpointed several common errors:

1) SPELLING: Many produced spellings that were correct in the Malay language (BM), but not in English. For example, hoki instead of hockey. Or mee kari instead of curry mee. It was possible that they did not know the right spelling or term in English, and I thought I could help them with that. Some, shockingly, could produce words like, “playying” and “readding”. Shocking, indeed. @.@

2) INFINITIVE ‘TO’: It seemed that they were not aware of the rule that all verbs that come after the infinitive ‘to’ MUST be in its base form. For example, “to jog”, “to play”, “to eat” and not “to jogging”, “to playing” or “to eating”. This mistake was particularly common.

3) SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT (SVA): The most common was on the plurality of the subject pronoun. For example, many manyyyyy students had written things like: “My hobbies is…..” “My favourite drink are…..” I am sure these are basic grammar rules that they know and are familiar with, yet, possibly needed some reminding, or drilling.

4) PLURAL AND PROPER NOUNS: When using present tense, and giving general statements that are most often true regardless of time, the nouns used are usually in plural. For example, “I like reading novels”, not “I like reading novel”. Many did not seem to know this, unfortunately, or did not apply it in their writing. Others, were mistakes in proper nouns that were not correctly capitalized. For example, “My favourite drink is mountain dew” and “I like to watch harry potter”.

So, after continuing where we left off in class the previous day, I returned all their slips of paper and asked them to look at their own and correct any mistakes they’ve written. For discussion, I pointed out some of these common errors and discussed why they were wrong and what the correct form should be.

It took me much longer than expected, really. @.@

Anyway, after discussing with them, and I was sure that they’d understood why some of these forms were incorrect and what were the correct ones, I wrote 20 items on the board for them to copy in their books. In these 20 items, they needed to identify the errors by underlining them, and then rewriting the correct sentence in order to (hopefully) solidify what they’d learned about the correct forms.

I’d also intentionally picked out certain original sentences written by students in their mini essays to be included in the exercise, because these were errors that many of them were making. So hopefully, the authenticity of the exercise would help them learn.

(The 20-item exercise I had given them: Identifying Errors)

In a way, I was applying what I’d learned in Error Analysis: identifying students’ most common errors, evaluating which ones are necessary to be addressed, and then creating subsequent tasks that will help them avoid producing these errors in the future (hopefully).

During the class, it seemed I had better rapport with the students. The moment I’d entered, they quickly asked me if we were going to continue the “Whose Favourites?” activity from the previous lesson. Some were very enthusiastic and participative, while others were rather quiet. Too quiet. My teaching as well, was a little bit messy. I suspected that I had introduced too many new elements that needed their attention: Spelling, Infinitives, SVA and Nouns. In retrospect, I probably should have chosen one or two that needed their particular attention and created the items based on those. I am now afraid that the students may have been a little overwhelmed and may very well have forgotten everything I’ve told them. >.<

Anyway, I told them to paste their mini essays into their Grammar books and rewrite them while correcting any errors that I had addressed in class today. And, to also complete the 20 items of identifying errors I had given them to copy into their books. I figured it is not too much work, since the next time I was seeing them for English was the following week—which meant that they had Thursday and the entire weekend to complete all their work. Not too unreasonable, right?

I was satisfied that I managed to complete what I had planned for the day’s lesson and achieved my lesson objectives! 😀

Day #2 – 28 Feb 2012

The next class was with 2 Gem. I had planned a special game that I thought would be interesting for them: Sports Hangman. It was basically Hangman, but the words revolved around sports. I decided to do something related to sports since, during our first class on Monday, all their hobbies and interests were sports activities. I figured, since it was something they liked, maybe they would be more participative then. 😀

I had prepared a list of words that were sports related, and I divided them into categories that I could also introduce to them. For example, I could introduce “Verbs” to them, with action words like smash, hit, pass, shoot, kick, serve, bounce under this category. The next category was “Equipment”, which included nouns like, racquet, shuttlecock, hoop, net, goal post, bat and mouth guard. The final category, also nouns, was “Attire” and I taught them words like shoes, socks, helmet, jersey, knee pads and elbow pads. So I thought that they could not only play a game, but learn new words as well, in a subject they were interested in—sports! 😀

So the Hangman game began. First, they would choose a number from 1-20, which would decide which word they got from my list. I would draw out the number of blanks for each letter in the word, and they would guess the letters. Every wrong guess would be one step closer to being “hanged”. Points would be given to the opposing team each time you “died”! xD

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Well, the game certainly turned out to be a huge success! 😀 They were very excited, so excited that some of them were basically sitting on the floor directly in front of the white board, practically at my feet, to be nearer to the action! 😛 I guess boys will be boys, and they enjoy anything that is even remotely competitive. They cheered every time their team got a word right, and jeered at the other when they didn’t. Unfortunately, all the cheering and the jeering made for a very, very, noisy class. I kept trying to hush them, but it was getting a little bit out of control. >.< What made things worse was when Mr. Thina, the discipline teacher, passed by my class and actually made a backtrack to it. I think he was actually considering interrupting my class and taking matters into his own hands. T.T

That made me feel a little depressed, actually. I mean, I knew the kids were enjoying themselves (a little bit too much, methinks) and in a way, they were learning something, even if it was just one new word. Still, it didn’t look good that I had a whole bunch of boys all over the classroom, making a lot of noise. >.<

I guess I achieved the goal of getting them interested in the lesson, but with consequences. Considering that this is a class of 20 boys, I may need to think twice before I play games like these with them in the classroom. I may not be able to control them as well as I’d like. And I need to remind myself that I have to be considerate as well, to the teachers and classes next door that may need more quiet. 😦

Still, the students practically begging me to continue the game when I said we had to stop, made me feel at least a little bit glad that they enjoyed themselves playing the game 🙂

I had classes with both 1 Bestari (referred to as 1 Best) and 2 Gemilang (2 Gem) today. It would be my first class with 1 Best, but my second with 2 Gem. I was actually looking forward to seeing “my kids”, as I now call them 😉 (Well, they are officially “mine”. At least for English :P)

 

I had class with 1 Best first. Unfortunately, it was after recess. And so the entire class slowly trickled in, while I stood in the front, wondering if I should wait for the rest to come in, or just go on. I decided to wait a little longer. When I finally had almost everyone in, I introduced myself as, “Miss Lisa, or you can call me ‘Teacher Lisa’ or ‘Cikgu Lisa'”. I left them to wonder if I would be teaching them permanently or temporarily, on purpose. 😉

This first activity, I called, “Whose Favourites?” Since it was the first class, I would like to get to know them; and since they were only in their first few months of their first year in secondary school, maybe they would like to get to know their own classmates better as well. So I provided them with small sheets from a blank A4 paper and told them to write these few things (in full sentences) about their favourites:

“My favourite food is…….. / I like to eat………..”

“My favourite drink is……… / I like to drink……….”

“My hobby is……… / My hobbies are…………”

“My favourite sport is………. / I like to play…………..”

“My name is [first letter of name].”

So their mini essay should look something like this:

“My favourite food is fish and chips.

I like to drink mango juice and carrot milk.

My hobbies are reading novels, playing the piano and writing short stories.

My favourite sports are badminton, hockey and table tennis.

My name is L.”

Again, they took much much longer than I expected. I thought these sentences were pretty simple and straightforward. Yet, they took a lot of time with it, and I began to worry that I might not have enough time to go through all the 28 students for the next part of the activity. However, I walked around the class, helping anyone who asked me questions about spelling, certain words in English etc. Here, I could observe that there were a few who are the talkative, enthusiastic kind, and then there are those who so quiet I could not remember their name.

Anyway, when they were done writing, I collected all the slips of paper, jumbled them up, and then asked one student to pick one, read it out loud to the class, and get the rest of the class to guess whose favourites they are! The first letter of the person’s name acts as a clue. And boy, they seemed to really enjoy it!! They made many guesses about which friend’s it was, and I was quite happy to see the activity going well, although the noise level was a little too high for comfort @.@

Unfortunately, as I suspected, there was not enough time to complete reading all the slips of paper, and they were rather disappointed. “Alaaaa, cikguuuuu.” So I told them we would continue the activity during the following lesson, which seemed to cheer them up a bit. 🙂

Their enthusiasm was certainly very encouraging. 😀

Although it was my first day of school at SMK Putrajaya Precinct 14(1), it was not my first time in the school. I had snuck into the school during the end-of-year holidays (well, the security guard let me in) to have a look at the school that I would be teaching in for four (very longgggggg) months!

I was very nervous. I had on my green sequined baju kurung and had my hair up. I was already up at 5.00 am so I could put on eye shadow, mascara and blusher in addition to my normal eyeliner and contact lenses. Even driving to the school in near pitch-black darkness was terrifying.

We waited at the canteen area, fidgeting nervously. Finally the office lights came on and we headed upstairs. We had a brief encounter with the Principal of the school, Pn. Juriah bt Bahali, who quickly handed us over to the GPK1, En. Zaini, whom Sun had spoken to on the phone once before.

He welcomed us to the school, even gave us our choice of which form we would like to teach, then took us on a short and simple tour of the office and staffroom. He even made us our own punch cards so we could punch in and out of work! I was absolutely fascinated–strange, I know. But I’d never had one of those before! 😉

We were then put under Pn. Koh Lee Chin, the head of the Language Department. She became one of our guru pembimbing to help us settle in and answer any of the questions we had. However, our timetables had not been drawn up yet, so in the meantime, Sun and I did relief. (We later found out that there were about FOUR teachers who were on maternity leave! @.@) The school, though, is extremely efficient. We had our timetables before the end of the day. I would be teaching one Form One class, 1 Bestari, and one Form Two class, 2 Gemilang.

I did, however, go into 2 Gemilang, although, at the time, I had no idea they were the class I would be teaching. I was rather surprised to find out that the class consisted of 20 Malay boys. There were no girls at all. It was not really an important fact if I was not teaching the class. But now that I know I am, I gulped quite audibly in my mind. @.@

Anyway, I did a rather simple “Introduce Yourself” activity. I instructed the students to come up to the front, introduce their name, and just something about themselves that they think is special. For example, “My name is Miss Lisa, and I like to play the piano.” They could tell the class, and me, about their hobbies or favourite sports etc.

I realized, from this activity, that the students’ English language proficiency is very low. They could not really understand what I was saying, nor truly respond to my probing and questions. When a student said that he liked to go fishing, I was intrigued enough to ask, “Oh, so how often do you go fishing?” He looked very confused and started asking his friend, “Apa? Apa yang cikgu tanya?” I was confused, myself. Did I speak too fast? Did he not hear me? I slowed down my speed and emphasized on the question. “HOW OFTEN do you go fishing?” He was still unable to understand me! It was only when I finally said, “Berapa kali kamu pergi memancing?” that he nodded in comprehension. “Ohhhhhhh. Sekali seminggu.” They also did not know that “lake” meant “tasik“.

I certainly have my work cut out for me. >.<