Tag Archive: Week 2


Day #11 – 9 Mar 2012

I love my Fridays, I really do. 😀

Had my fair share of relief classes, which I don’t really mind. But during the exam season, it’s a little nerve-wrecking because I have to check and double-check, just in case I’m starting a paper. I don’t want to mess up and have the students start their paper late because of me! >.<

Only two days and I already have some stories to tell. I’ve invigilated a class where the teacher before me says to me, “Kelas ni memang susah nak control. Good luck.” I don’t know about you, but that really terrified me! @.@ I had done relief for that class before, and I knew that some of the boys in that class couldn’t care less if there was a teacher in the classroom—they’d act like there wasn’t.

There’d be talking, and whispering, even laughing during the exams. Some would just get up and walk, even as you stare, over to the dustbin and throw a piece of paper, staring right back at you, as if challenging you to say something. They’d be passing stuff between them, and when you demand what they are doing, they can calmly tell you, “Pinjam pemadam, Cikgu.” I am seriously appalled. Is this the exam culture for this school?

I really couldn’t stomach it. I scolded them, I did. I didn’t care that they were still in the midst of the exam. I reprimanded them for being in Form 4 but not taking exams seriously. I scolded them for not even having their own eraser during an exam. I mean, is that how you sit for the exams? So unprepared? Obviously, it was just an excuse. So the next time there was talking, I took down their names. Honestly, I was fed-up. And I meant what I said about taking exams seriously. I really despise cheating and dishonesty.

But most of all, I was angry because I knew that a lot of them think that just because I’m a trainee teacher, I must be some push-over. That they don’t have to be afraid of me because, come on, I’m just a trainee teacher, I wouldn’t do anything?

I wanted to prove them wrong. Yes, I can joke around during relief classes, but I don’t joke around when it’s exams. I am firm, strict and fierce when I need to be. And surprisingly, I pulled it off. Possibly because I was angered enough by their misbehaviour to give no mercy.

But, to be fair, the better classes, as expected, like the Bucks and the Bests, are pretty disciplined. I can conveniently sit down and do my own work (like marking test papers) without having to worry too much. Of course, I still use my “roving eye” to keep watch (I don’t trust the students completely, of course) and I do walk around every 10 minutes, but it is mentally less straining than those “difficult” classes, if that makes any sense. Actually, the only “difficult” class was the one I mentioned before. The others are pretty well-behaved.

Anyway, I was excited today because there was the teachers’ potluck after school. We, the practical teachers were supposed to bring fruits, but the bananas we’d bought hadn’t ripened yet, unfortunately. It was embarrassing to have to admit to En. Yahaya that we couldn’t even contribute fruits =.=

Had a great lunch with the rest of the staff. The food was good, with a lot of variety: soto, kuih, chicken curry, sandwiches etc. Got to chat a bit more with Pn. Khairunnisa and En. Zarif, two other sub teachers who were taking over from teachers on maternity leave, and En. Ng, a very nice and gentle man.

And the best part about today? It was the last day of school before the mid-term break—ONE WEEK! 😀

I know it’s only been two weeks in school, but honestly, I am emotionally, mentally and physically drained already! I don’t know how teachers do it! @.@ But these two weeks have left me with newfound awe and respect for all my former teachers, and even my father, who have been doing this day in day out, for so many years, still passionate about what they do. I salute them!

Anyway, happy holidays! Will be back with reflections for Week 3! 😉

I had only one period with 2 Gem today, and it was before their paper started. Assembly was cancelled because it was drizzling. So the students were in the class when I came in.

I was upset to see that most of their desks were not facing the front, as they should be. For goodness’ sake, they could have hidden notes/books in the drawers and taken them out during the exams, and none of the invigilating teachers might have noticed!

I was a little angry with the teacher who started their paper on the first day of exams, yesterday, whoever he or she is. Surely, this is the responsibility of the first teacher before the exams began? To ensure that the class is clean, the desks are facing the right way, the bags are all placed at the back of the class, the students are arranged alphabetically?

None of that seemed to have been done with 2 Gem. >.<

I took the chance to ask Farhan, who was on duty, to sweep the classroom (it was so dirty! How did they expect to sit for their exams in such a condition??!!), and to get all the boys to turn their desks the right way front, and to put ALL their bags and books at the back of the class.

Still, a few of the boys were a challenge. They played around and stalled instead of turning their desks to the front like I told them to, and refused to put their bags at the back. So I had to keep nudging them, which is really draining, really. And one boy in particular kept turning his desk back to face him every time I turned my back. I think I’d told him FOUR TIMES to turn his desk around after he’d turned it back, yet again. >.<

I let them study; didn’t want to disturb them. But I managed to talk to a few of the boys, just simple chats, really. It was one of these chats with one of the boys that really touched me, and made me quite sad.

The boy, Alif, is one of the better students in class and one who really wanted to learn, I could tell. He asked me, in BM, if I taught one Form 1 class, and theirs. I said yes. He commented, “Cikgu, susah kan nak handle kelas kita?” I was actually surprised he’d said that, but I smiled and said, “Well, some of you, yes. But some of you, no. I like teaching you.” He told me, quite forlornly, that many teachers had complained about their class before. Then he said something that really made my heart stop. “Susah la Cikgu, nak concentrate.” 

I truly felt his pain, I did. Here he was, sincere in wanting to learn, but the environment was just not conducive, with troublesome classmates who are disrupting their learning experience. I truly felt sad, and partly responsible, somehow. I really need to do something about a few of these boys, especially that one boy who seems to be the ringleader. If I could get to him, I could probably get to the rest.

I owe it to the rest to do something about it, so all of them can have a fair chance at getting quality education, especially for the English language, where I’m concerned.

If the problem persists, I am going to call that student out and speak to him personally, to change his attitude or suffer the consequences. I hate being the bad guy, but sometimes, I need to remind myself it is necessary, if I really want what’s best for the kids.

You must think me strange, but I am thankful that mid-term exams have started.

Of course, I am not the one sitting for it. 😉

I started and ended the BM paper for 1 Best today, since I was going in for their second and third periods. I was a little nervous about it, so I was already in the classroom during the first period. (Doesn’t hurt to be early, does it?)

I was a little surprised that they had not arranged themselves according to the order in their class name list. My school had always done it that way, and I thought that it should be that way. Aswad (the monitor) did not even have a copy of the class name list (my goodness!) and I had to run up to the staff room, clutching the BM test papers, to get it from my record book.

I came back to the class and re-arranged them according to the name list. There were protests, in the beginning, but I pointed out that it would not matter how their seating arrangement was, unless they were planning to copy from their friends. That certainly silenced all protests. 😉

I made the students clear out their desks, which were all facing front (good!) and had them all seated and ready 15 minutes before the paper began. I told them to take a deep breath, since this was their first paper for the exams, and say a little prayer on their own, where they were seated. Then I gave out the question papers, but not before I had told them that I really resented people who copied or cheated in exams. I told them that I strongly believed that not doing so well in the exams is better than being dishonest.

I guess that little pep talk must have worked, because during the exam, they were perfect angels. I was really proud of them 🙂

And as expected, I had relief. Two classes: 3 Buck (Bakti) and 2 Best.

For 2 Gem’s class, I had also referred to their English Form 2 textbook. I somehow felt the burden to do some grammar with them as they are rather weak in even the most basic of grammar. I decided to use the double period to work on the Past Tense with them, since I doubted a single period would suffice. Maybe for other classes, but one measly period will certainly not provide enough input for 2 Gem to be able to convert verbs in their past tense forms on their own.

For this class, I thought I would introduce the rules, and irregular verbs to them. I had quite a lot planned out for them and I was concerned for the time. But Tuesdays are terrible days with 2 Gem—my class with them is immediately after their PE (Physical Education) lesson, which meant that when they enter my class, they would have spent the last hour running furiously for futsal or some other physical game, and they would be tired, or even restless. Worse, they are going to sashay into my class smelling of sweat and mud.

In fact, all 3 classes with 2 Gem for the week are similarly disadvantaged, in terms of time. Mondays, after recess; Tuesdays, after PE; and Thursdays, after assembly. >.<

On this particular day, I don’t know why there were so many distractions. True enough, the boys trickled into class, hot and sticky. And barely half the class were in even at 11.30 am, when my class was supposed to start at 11.10 am. I was very annoyed by then, and had the back and front doors locked myself. Here I was, excited and ready with the day’s lesson and not even half are in the class. I simply could not wait any longer.

Anyway, on with the lesson.

As a set induction, I simply asked the class when is the past tense used. It is rather unfortunate that, even for a question that seemed so easy, some of the students were not able to answer me. @.@

I explained to the class that it was necessary to indicate an action that has already happened in the form of the verbs in English. There are modifications made to the verb itself, as compared to BM, where adding “telah” or “sudah” would indicate that the action has occurred. I asked them to turn to page 58 of their textbooks, and I went through each of the rules for changing verbs to past tense forms. The rules are:

1. Add ‘-ed’ to a verb: walk –> walked, climb –> climbed

2. Add ‘-d’ to a verb ending in ‘e’: like –> liked, smile –> smiled

3. Add ‘-ed’ to a verb ending in ‘y’ if the letter before it is a vowel: play –> played

4. Add ‘-ied’ and remove the ‘y’ for a verb ending in ‘y’ if the letter before it is a consonant: apply –> applied, cry –> cried

I went through each rule together with them and gave them examples so it is clearer. I then wrote certain verbs on the board and got a few students to come up to the board and write the correct verb forms in past tense. Thankfully, they were able to do all of them correctly. There were, though, certain answers given that made me alarmed. When I asked what the past tense form of “enjoy” was, a student, one of the better ones actually, said, “enjoying”. I was quite taken aback because his answer seemed to indicate that there is a misconception on what past tense is, or possibly what the present continuous, or a gerund is. I wonder if I will have time to go back and correct them on these errors in learning.

For the final rule, where the verb form is changed completely, I had prepared a worksheet with a list of irregular verbs (incomplete) for us to try out together (Handout 6A). I explained that, unfortunately for them, the first 4 rules we had learned could not be applied to these verbs and they had no choice but to just memorize these verbs and their past tense forms. I also pointed out that there are certain verbs where, in the past tense, remain the same, unchanged; especially common mistakes like “put –> putted” and “cut –> cutted”.

Even this took longer than expected. To demonstrate my point on verbs that change forms completely, I thought a very simple example that they surely knew would prove my point. So I gave the example of “run”. I tested them by asking if “runed” (after adding ‘-ed’ to “run”) the past tense of “run”? One poor boy actually quite enthusiastically told me, “Betul, Cikgu,” (Correct, Teacher). T.T I was honestly stunned speechless. I thought, of all the simplest of verbs, this would be one common one that I’m sure they have come across. Surely, they knew “run –> ran”?

Apparently, not. >.<

So, these two activities already took up my double period. Which was really a shame. I had wanted to do the worksheet I had prepared (Handout 6B) together with them, just in case they needed more help and guidance, or any explanation for difficult words. Instead, I gave them the worksheet to do as homework, to test what they had learned in class today.

I did have a little trouble with one of the boys, again. The same boy as it always is. I had already noticed that he was not really paying attention to me during the class, but I had left him alone, as long as he was not disturbing others. The last straw was when he walked all the way to the front of the class to talk to one of the boys whom I could see was clearly trying to concentrate on my lesson. I reprimanded the boy and told the rest of the class off for being rude and disrespectful. However, I did not let it disrupt the class for too long. It barely lasted a minute.

In retrospect, I was probably again over-estimating them. Maybe I should have focused on only the four rules that could be applied to convert verb forms in past tense and saved the irregular verbs part for another day. In all honesty, I had truly expected that we could have completed everything in time. What I had not expected were these little indications that they had not even mastered the most basic of grammar. Nevertheless, I believed that some who were paying attention may have benefited from today’s class.

Handout(s):

1. Handout 6A (Irregular Verbs)

2. Handout 6B (Simple Past Tense exercise)

Today, I was following the scheme of work and doing a topic on A Healthy Lifestyle from Chapter 3: Live Smart of the Form One English textbook with 1 Best.

I was thinking, if there was one thing that I want the students to take away from this topic, what would it be?

I guess I’d want the students to know what a healthy lifestyle means or involves, and to practise it.

So I began the lesson with asking the students on what they understood about a healthy lifestyle. From their responses I was able to draw a rough mind map on the board, consisting of 3 main elements: “eating”, “exercise” and “sleeping”. We had a lot more discussion than I had expected. We discussed why they’re important. Why these practices are necessary. I also pointed out to them that most people think about eating and exercise habits when talking about healthy living, but in fact, sleeping patterns are equally as important as the other two.

They were able to tell me that we should sleep at least 8 hours a day. I tested them, “So, can I sleep at 2.00 am and wake up at 10.00 am? It’s still eight hours, right?” Some were taken in by what I’d said, so they said, “Yes!” But others were very confident and told me, “No, teacher! Cannot!” So I asked them again, “Why? I’m sleeping for eight hours, why is that wrong?” So here, I emphasized the fact that we need to not only have sufficient sleep but also early bedtimes. Otherwise, our entire day after waking up, is affected. We would be tired and sleepy and inexplicably exhausted. NOT healthy living.

Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a 5-minute set induction became 25 minutes! @.@

Then I got the students to work in pairs and discuss the questions on page 35 of their English textbook. I gave them 10 minutes to discuss with their partner about whether each was a healthy/unhealthy habit. And why. Then, again, I did a whole-class discussion with them, and referred to the rough mind map I had done on the board. We talked about what we should, or should not do. For example, we should exercise at least three times a week. We should not eat too many snacks. We should play more outdoor games. We should drink at least 8 glasses of water per day etc. I wrote most of these on the board on the mind map.

I also managed to do some vocabulary with them. I was surprised to find out that, when we were discussing fast food and why they were bad or health, the students said that fast food was makanan ringan, which was actually untrue. I had to point it out to them, that makanan ringan was actually junk food, or snacks. But not fast food. That was different. But this then led to why junk food was not good for health. One of the boys actually managed to give me the word “preservatives”, which is very good indeed! 😀 And I was also surprised that when I prompted them for what “seldom” meant, they said, “kadangkala“! I had to explain to them that kadangkala actually meant “sometimes” or “occasionally” and not “seldom”. “Seldom”, or “rarely” is actually “jarang”. Who knew that they also had difficulty in differentiating certain adverbs like these?

Unfortunately, the time didn’t allow me to go any further than this! I had actually more planned. They were supposed to also refer to page 36 of the textbook and discuss different food groups before I guided them to draw their own graphic organizers of a healthy lifestyle.

Again, my time management was really bad. I had too much planned for a one-period lesson. I ended up ending the class very badly, because I could only give brief instructions on drawing their own graphic organizers by referring to the rough mind map I had already drawn on the board, and not guide them step-by-step as I had planned. I did, though, show them a sample of a graphic organizer that they could draw in their Reading Comprehension books (Handout 5A).

However, I was very very disappointed with myself. My allocation of time was getting worse, not better. And because of my own mistake, I feared the students would be quite lost with the task of drawing their own graphic organizers. I had initially planned to give them the handouts where they could just fill in the bubbles themselves. But I had thought that asking them to draw their own would allow some individuality and creativity, as well as give them practice in making their own graphic organizers, a skill that could be transferred to other subjects of learning.

In addition to what made me feel terrible was the fact that their next teacher had to wait outside of the classroom for me to finish giving the class instructions on drawing the graphic organizer. I felt, as a trainee teacher, that was very rude to my senior teacher, and I apologized to her. Still, that did not make me feel much better 😦

Nevertheless, in retrospect, the longer, in-depth discussion that I did with the class cannot entirely be a waste. It was a whole-class discussion that could only add to their knowledge. I just hope that they were able to catch the content of our discussion and make use of it when they draw their own graphic organizers. I just wish I had executed the lesson better so that I could have helped them draw their graphic organizers in the class itself.

I guess this serves as a lesson for myself—to not be overly ambitious with a one-period lesson. Otherwise, I will have a ton of regrets. 😦

Handout(s):

1. Handout 5A (Graphic organizer–sample)

Day #7 – 5 Mar 2012

With 1 Best, I also decided to implement the point system that I did with 2 Gem. In time, we’ll see if it works out with them as well 🙂

I did two periods of literature with 1 Best today—Flipping Fantastic by Jane Langford. I had already informed the class to read the short story during the weekend. Still, being not very confident that I can trust 1 Best to have read the short story just because I told them to, I prepared activities on the plot of the short story also, for the benefit of those who had not read the story.

I started off with the plot of the story. I had photostated pictorial notes from a reference book I’d borrowed from Sun for the class. At first, I had one student read out each event written in the notes, and then elaborated it. I asked them questions based on what was just read from the notes, and we did it one by one, as clearly as possible. I wanted to go through any difficult words, and tested their understanding of the reading as well. With them, I also encouraged them to write down any new words in the Vocabulary book, and did not mind English-BM translations either. Even though 1 Best is the second class in Form 1, their language proficiency is not really up to standard. @.@

Anyway, I realized that the one-by-one readings were taking too long. Their reading was slow, and my elaboration was taking up too much time.  So, after the first few, I made changes to the plan and read them out, quickly, myself. I think it was a bad choice on my part to have started out that way, but not continued it till the end. Still, I did not want to waste precious time. >.<

After going through the pictorial notes together (from Rani K.M.’s 2011 book), I gave them Handout 4B to try, to make sure they knew the story and the sequence of the plot well. Due to the lack of time, we didn’t really get to discuss why the sequence was so. They had worked on the exercise on their own, and hopefully giving them the answer would be enough for them to figure it out.

Next, we worked on the characteristics of James and Tristan, the two main characters in the short story. I gave them Handout 4C as a guide, while I also drew a similar graphic organizer on the board so they could fill the spaces up as we went along. We discussed characteristics of the two that were mentioned in the notes, and also drew on their knowledge of the story. I tried to get them to refer to events that happened in the story, and then to come up with an appropriate characteristic that was reflected. Or, I also gave them hints. For example, “James and Tristan care a lot about each other. What do you call someone who cares about someone else?” (Answer: Caring) etc. As we came up with similar and different characteristics of the two, they wrote them down in their graphic organizers.

I was able to test them on the characteristics of James and Tristan by means of a short quiz, and then awarding them points for correct answers (following the point system) for each team. Thankfully, they were able to give me the right answers!

Unfortunately, that was all that we had time for! I was distressed. I was supposed to also complete doing the synopsis with them. Although it was not entirely vital since, if they really knew the story well, they should be able to give a short synopsis, I had thought that giving them a dictation on a short paragraph of the synopsis could accomplish two things: 1) provide them with notes that might help them remember what the story is about when they need to prepare for exams, and 2) give them some practice on listening and also spelling.

I was upset with myself for the bad time management. I did not achieve all my objectives for the lesson, which means that it will have to be postponed. Seeing as it is already the mid-term exams this week, I will only be able to give them the synopsis AFTER the holidays when school reopens! By then, they would most probably have forgotten the story altogether, and it would be strange bringing forward a topic that was from quite some time ago. Still, it was my own fault for planning the lesson so poorly.

In retrospect, what I should have done was check with the class if they had all read the story and, if they had, just moved on with the assumption that they had. It would have saved a lot of time and I would have been able to guide them more on creating the graphic organizer, and also done the synopsis with them without having to carry it forward to the next lesson >.<

Class control was better this time around. Possibly because of the point system. I’ll give it more time and see 🙂

 

Handouts:

1. Handout 4B

2. Handout 4B (Answers)

3. Handout 4C

4. Handout 4C (Answers)

Day #7 – 5 Mar 2012

Over the weekend, I managed to prepare quite a number of handouts and worksheets for my classes. So I was rather excited for classes this week 🙂

This week was when Sun and I really started to follow the scheme of work, since last week was our “Orientation Week”, so to speak. For 2 Gem, I was working on Chapter 5: The Value of Friendship with them. Even though technically, they should be in the fourth week of this topic, I had a feeling that they hadn’t really done that in the past 3 weeks anyway. So I decided to start from the beginning of the chapter: talking about their feelings in various situations.

Basically, by the end of the lesson, I wanted the students to be able to use some related vocabulary to convey how they feel in certain situations. Nothing too difficult or complicated, just plain and simple. So I designed several activities to help them do that. 🙂

The first was getting students to identify different types of feelings and learning new vocabulary at the same time. So I gave them Handout 3A, that I called the “Feelings Chart”, where students would see a drawing of an emotion or feeling, and read an example of a situation for it, and identify them. (I was not really good at drawing using the computer, so I drew them manually. You can also leave the last two spaces blank and encourage the students to draw in their own smiley faces for any feelings, and write an appropriate situation for it.) Here, they would be able to learn feelings like happy, angry, excited, rejected, hurt, lonely and sad, which were words I had taken from the English Form 2 text book and the English KBSM syllabus Word List.

I even reminded them to write any new words they have learned into their Vocabulary book, and that I didn’t mind if they wrote the meanings in BM because, I felt strongly that a long dictionary definition would be absolutely pointless if the students did not understand it. I would prefer English-BM translations, as long as it aids their understanding and help them remember the meanings.

Next, I had students read a letter I had prepared (intentionally using some of the students’ names for authenticity) and then fill in the blanks with the appropriate feeling–Handout 3B. I had already given them a list of words to fill the blanks up with. This was, again, identifying types of feelings, but through reading a letter and looking for clues from the writing. Plus, this would familiarize them with an informal letter, which I was planning to teach them to write in the near future. (Possibly, the next chapter.)

Finally, for the last activity, I called it the “Feeling Lucky Draw”.  I had prepared 12 small slips of paper on which I had written different types of feelings. So, what I had them do was, come up to the front, pick a feeling, and then give an example of when they feel that way. For example, if they had gotten the feeling “sad”, they would have to make a sentence like, “I feel sad when…..my friends don’t invite me out to play football.” Here, I added a few more feelings than those learned at the beginning, for example, nervous, disappointed, afraid, jealous and worried.

They managed to complete all the activities rather well, I would say, and I was extremely pleased with the class. I may need to give them more speaking and writing tasks. Oh, an important thing to mention is that, as I had planned last week, I implemented the point system with 2 Gem. They were divided into 5 groups of 4 and for any correct answers, or volunteering, or coming out front to speak, I would give the team 5 points each.

It certainly improved their class participation tremendously! They were raising their hands to answer at every turn, they stood up to volunteer, they tried even when they did not really know. Even the boy who was giving me problems before participated in the activities as well. I was very surprised—the system actually worked! 😀

It was very encouraging to watch, and my heart was warmed. 😉

However, I still need to work on ending the class effectively. I tend to forget many things in my rush to end the class on time. I forget to tell them about their homework, or what books I want them to bring for the next class. Nevertheless, I was able to achieve all objectives for this class! Yay! 😀

 

Handouts:

1. Feelings Chart (3A)

2. Feelings Letter (3B)