Tag Archive: Week 3

24 Mar 2012

Today is a Saturday, but there are a few things I wanted to update here.

Dr. Melor called Sun to tell her that she will not be able to enter our classes on Monday, after all. She has a very important urgent meeting to attend.

Truth be told, I was a little devastated. Sure, I was extremely nervous about Dr. coming on Monday, so soon, but in a way, I wanted it to be over and done with. I’d prepared my lesson the best I could, and I was even beginning to look forward to it. Besides, after Monday, who knows what our timetable will be like? Because apparently, the teacher who was on maternity leave, Pn. Shahril, will be back that Monday. And that will ultimately result in a change of our current timetables. Sun might possibly teach Form 4, and I might stick to lower secondary, but I may not teach my 1 Best and 2 Gem anymore.

I am a little sad about that, actually. Yes, they are a problematic bunch, both of them, but I had just gotten to know them, and I am familiarizing myself with teaching them, after 3 weeks. And now, I might have to “get to know” and “familiarize” myself with a brand new class, all over again! Oh, dear. :/

So, that also means that when Dr. wants to come to observe, it might be in a brand new class where I’m still trying to figure out my footing in the classroom. Oh gosh, I don’t know what it will be like. But it somehow doesn’t seem like too positive a thing. 😦

Anyway, another matter I wanted to talk about is one of my students. Today, I was marking the few journals books that were handed in to me from 1 Best. I came across one student’s journal. Again, to protect their identity, I’ll give her a pseudonym. Hm, let’s call her *Aina. Now, I am ashamed to say that when I read the name on the cover, it took me a while to be able to place a face to that name. I suddenly remembered, she was one of those girls whose mid-term paper I was still keeping because she had been absent for the past week.

I started reading her journal, correcting grammar mistakes here and there. She wrote much much more than the minimum number of entries I had asked of them, so I was quite happy. Then the content of her journal began to trigger some alarm bells in my head.

She talked about how she had no friends, how lonely she felt. That because of that she had created her own group of imaginary friends to keep her company, from a fantasy world  which she said she wished they would come and take her away to. She said that she had a “boring and stupid” life, one that she couldn’t take anymore, and how she just wished that she could just “die, not in a horrible way, but a peaceful way.” That she didn’t want to live in this world anymore, that every day she questioned why she was even born into this world. According to her, her mother blames her for everything, and her siblings do not respect her. And it appears that they are from a poor family, since she says she does not have money to buy books for school, and often makes excuses to teachers. She also talked about how she hates school, how it’s like her own “prison and punishment place”. She says she is “a loser and a failure” because she is not good at any class subjects like Maths, BM, Eng etc. but can only draw anime and comics to make herself happy. Many times, she mentions wanting to die, wanting to be taken away from this world.

I am very disturbed by this. Her journal is covered in drawings of anime characters (whom she says are her imaginary friends). They are all very well-drawn—this girl certainly has a talent. But the message these pictures seem to convey are all very dark and disturbing. More than once there has been drawings of hands with their wrists slit, knives with blood on them. Tear-filled eyes.

One drawing in particular, scared me, terribly. It was a drawing of a teddy bear, with mirrors on both its left and ride sides. The mirror on the right is labeled Fantasy World and reflects an image of a smiling teddy bear with beautiful blooming flowers. The one on the left, however, is labeled Reality World and reflects an image of a torn and broken teddy bear with wilting flowers and fallen dead petals.

How disturbing is that? @.@

And this is from the journal of a young Form One girl.

Frankly, I am terrified. I am very disturbed by what she has written, as well as drawn. I have no idea how to deal with this. I am afraid of what might happen. I feel this is way above my head—wayyyyy above what I am trained and experienced enough to handle. At the same time, I cannot just leave her be. She desperately needs help, and a friend. A confidant perhaps. I do not know if I should refer her to a counselor, or if I should deal with this personally, because I do not want to betray her trust. I am lost. I really don’t know what to do, what to say. As a teacher, I know I need to help this poor lost girl, but am unable to relate to how she feels. How can I help her?

But I do take comfort in the fact that she has written how she truly feels, so painfully and scarily honest, which tells me that she is almost screaming for someone to notice, to understand.

Maybe she just needs someone to talk to.

So I wrote in her journal, after the last entry, that I would like her to come see me after her recess in the staff room. I know that much is necessary. But I have not exactly worked out what I should say to her yet. How do I speak with her so that I do not sound like an uncaring know-it-all adult, but rather a concerned um, older friend? I don’t want to say the wrong thing and lose her trust completely. She may never write honestly anymore. I do not know.

I think I need to ask God for His guidance. I guess it is in this kind of situation that a caring teacher can make all the difference in a young person’s life. I hope I can be that kind of teacher. I hope I can do that, for her. For Aina.


I didn’t have any classes today, but I was expecting my 2 Gem and 1 Best to be handing in their books—quite a number actually. 2 Gem was supposed to hand in their Grammar&Vocab, and journals, while 1 Best was supposed to hand in their Writing books, and journals as well.

So I was happily thinking to myself that, finally, I would have some marking to do! (Weird, I know. But I wanted to have a go at it, since Sun has been busy marking. I, however, haven’t had a chance to mark books yet because my students were not sending in their books to be marked >.<)

Anyway, the day was almost over and I was anxiously waiting for my students to pass me their books. It was almost the last two periods of the day, and still there were no books?

I went for relief in 2 Perdana (it wasn’t really my relief, but I was doing a favour for one of the teachers who suddenly “had to go somewhere” =.=) and passed by my beloved 2 Gem. I was dismayed to see that there were just as few students in the classroom as there were the day before, and they were just sitting around chatting, with no teacher in sight. I stopped by to talk to them.

The poor things seemed bored out of their mind! “Boring la Cikgu, hari ni belajar BM je.” So many teachers were not around, and the students are the ones who suffer. It feels a bit pointless to come to school :/ Anyway, when I reminded them to hand in their books, only 2 students handed in the two books I wanted, a third only handed in one. Again, I was exasperated. When I asked why weren’t the rest handing theirs in, there were a million and one excuses. Tak bawa la, Lupa la, Tak siap la. >.<

I told them that I was going to punish them next week. Not Monday, luckily for them, since Dr. Melor will be coming to observe me teaching then. So, probably, Tuesday. Tuesday I was going to make them stand outside the classroom, I told them. “Ala, Cikgu. Tak nak la. Berdiri kat luar, macam mana nak belajar?” Hm, all of a sudden they’re so eager to learn, is it? @.@

As for 1 Best, I am disappointed, yet again. I caught two of the girls from 1 Best in the staff room, and I asked them where their books were. They came back later to hand in about 5 or 6 students’ books.

5 or 6 students.

If that isn’t really clear, let me help you: OUT OF 29 STUDENTS, ONLY 6 HANDED IN THEIR BOOKS.

I guess that 15-minute lecture they got from me the other day had no effect whatsoever. >.<

Can you imagine? Since I started teaching this class 3 weeks ago (not including school holidays), I have yet to receive more than 6 students’ work from the entire class of 29? And they are supposed to be the better class! And to think I wasted all my breath scolding them the other day!

Now what am I to do? What can I do to make sure this does not happen again? Should I punish them severely? I think I am going to make them stand. Stand during my class until I feel like telling them to sit down. Do you think that will work? Or will I just have to get used to the fact that my students are just not going to hand in their work to me T.T

Well, another alternative is to make time in my lesson for them to complete everything and to paste them into their books, immediately. During my class. Which means that I will have to carve out some time to go around the whole class and check that they have their books and are pasting the handouts I gave them, there and then. Which means I will have less time in my lessons.

What a waste of time, don’t you think? @.@ But I may have no other choice. 😦

Sun said she would really like me to be there for the Choral Speaking practice today. She kept telling me I’m better at this than she is, which I don’t think so. :/ But I was actually dying to see the Choral Speaking kids and see for myself this adorable bunch that Sun has been going on and on about! xD

However, the Choir and Choral Speaking practices were going on at the same time. I am solely in charge of Choir, and I can’t just leave them completely unattended while I’m at Choral Speaking. >.< I tried to decide what to do, and it was difficult. But in the end, I decided to help out with the Choral Speaking group today. Besides, the Choir group seems to be doing well with, or without me.

Of course, I still can’t leave them unattended, so I was going to be with the Choral Speaking group, but also check up on the Choir group from time to time, just to make sure everything’s going okay 🙂

Oh my gosh, it was really fun, doing Choral Speaking today! Sun gave me the floor, so to speak (haha) and I taught the kids on the intonation and the pronunciation and the “feel” of the script. They basically knew what it was about—Sun had gone through the script with them yesterday. So I told them that they had to “feel” the script, because otherwise, it would be kinda dead :/

I tried to give them many examples of facial expressions so that, even when there are no actions or movements, they would still be able to express meaning in EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. THEY. SAY. 😛

I had fun teaching them, I did. Made me miss my Choral Speaking days in primary school. I had always regretted that at the time, I never had the chance to compete with other schools. My brother though, had the privilege to go up to the national level. Spending time with the Choral Speaking group today made me wish I had the courage to try as many new things as these bunch of kids seem to. I was always so concerned with my studies, and the fear that any other extra activity would jeopardize it. So I never joined much of anything, besides Choir, due to that fear.

It’s one of my regrets. I wish I could have the chance to compete at inter-school levels in Choral Speaking. I think it is really interesting and fun 😀

The kids were also an enthusiastic bunch. We worked on the first three stanzas and already, I was feeling exhausted. Some of these kids have so many other programs! @.@

When I checked on the Choir, they were also doing quite alright without me. They didn’t really need me, because they have a very talented Choir Director, Sufia, in Form 3 who is very musically talented, and natural-born leaders 🙂 They’ll be fine.

I went to check on them a couple of times. Then when it was almost 5.00 pm, I went to make sure they were closing shop. I heard them sing what they’ve been practising and it was quite good! HUGE progress since yesterday, and I told Sufia so. I said they were okay, and they have made so much progress. Maybe because the band wasn’t practising in the same room as well >.<

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised with what they’ve done so far 🙂

They wanted to continue practising on the weekend (my goodness, who wants to come back to school on a weekend except THESE kids??!! >.<) but unfortunately, I will not be available this weekend—I’ll be going home to Seremban. Still, they wanted to continue, saying that another teacher will be around to supervise. But when I checked with Cikgu Mazira, she said she’ll be busy training the netball team and may not be able to check up on the Choir team >.<

So, to be safe, because I do not want anything untoward to happen to the kids when there is no teacher in charge, and I didn’t want anything to happen, really. If anything did happen, I would be responsible. And that won’t make for a very good track record with the school then :/

So, for Choir, no more practices until next Monday. Then it will be in full-steam-ahead mode till Hari Anugerah Cemerlang next Saturday! @.@ Yikes.

The Choral Speaking group, though, have decided to meet up after school tomorrow, a Friday afternoon, at 3.00-5.00 pm. (Who are these kids and why do they love the school so much??!!! @.@) Sun will be handling the practice though, because I would be on my way back home by then. Next Friday though, I might have to handle it on my own too, because Sun has a prior engagement. (Nah, nothing fancy. Just a dental check-up appointment! xD)

Reached “home” at a little after 6.00 pm. Exhausted, and yet I’m still up at 11.00 pm at night because I wanted to do my reflection first. Aren’t I hardworking? xD

Only one class with 2 Gem today, and I really dislike it because it is after assembly. I always end up with about half my time left :/

Anyway, remember how surprised I was to see only nine students in class the other day? Well, today there were seven.

Yes, SEVEN. =.=

Well, I guess it didn’t matter. It’s not like I will not teach if there were less than ten students 😉 In fact, it’s a GREAT thing because I find it soooooo much easier to teach and they are sooooo much easier to handle when there are only seven of them 😛 Plus, these seven were the better, more well-behaved kids, and I guess this was a rare opportunity for them to have uninterrupted learning time—for TWO days now! 😀

I wanted to do Adverbs with them today. So I started off by asking them, “Class, where did I put my bag?” The expected answer was, “You put your bag there.” And since they had just come from assembly, I asked them, “When did you go for assembly?” And the expected answer for that one was, “We went for assembly just now.” So these words, tell us more about the verbs, more about when and where an action takes place. So these are called Adverbs 🙂 Most important to note is that adverbs are always related to verbs—they must tell us more about a verb. Otherwise, they are not called adverbs.

I gave them this example, “There are some books there.” I asked them to identify the verb first: are. Good. Then which one is the adverb. They told me, ‘there’. “Which ‘there’?” I asked. “The first or the second one?” They said, “The second one.” Which is right. But I wanted to find out from them if they knew why. One of the students actually managed to answer it correctly, saying, “Because the second one is related to the verb.” I was mighty proud of him :’) They actually managed to answer quite a challenging question! 😀 True, it’s only one boy, but it’s better than none! 😉

I referred to their English text books page 57. I made them copy down these notes in their Grammar books:

Adverbs tell us more about a verb. Adverbs of place tell us where the action takes place. Adverbs of time tell us when the action takes place.

To demonstrate, we did Task 1 in the text book together. I found it very important that they first, identify which is the verb. Only then look for words that describe either where or when the action happens. And then specify the type of adverb: either place, or time.

Since there were so few of them, I managed to ask some students to try the questions out one by one. Of course, I guided them by asking, “Okay, first of all, which is the verb?” “Good, now which is the adverb?” “That’s right! Now is that an adverb of place or time? Does it tell us where or when?”

I made sure all of them bracket the verbs, then underline the adverbs, and then identify the type. Because we were going to do the same for their subsequent task. There was still some time left, unexpectedly, so I thought I’d try out the first few of the items in my Handout 11A.

I managed to do the first four or five items. Doing the exact same thing that I’d taught them, 1) bracket the verb, then 2) underline the adverb, and finally 3) identify the type. Initially, I had wanted them to make their own sentences using those same adverbs in this exercise. But as a last minute judgment, I felt that they weren’t ready yet to make their own sentences with just an adverb given. I had not given enough, or the right input for them to do so, and it wouldn’t be fair.

I did, however, believe in copying sometimes being able to solidify what has been learned. So I made them rewrite the sentences. Hopefully, all that SVA and present tense or past tense sentences will be able to seep through, somehow! xD

They were able to identify the adverbs pretty well, sometimes skipping ahead of the ‘identifying verbs’ part to give me the answer for the adverbs immediately. But I wanted to make it very clear that adverbs are related to verbs, and that identifying the verb FIRST, will allow you to be able to identify the adverb accurately.

Strangely though, they had not too much problem with identifying adverbs, but more on identifying the type of adverb, either place or time. :/ So I told them to ask themselves if it answers a Where, or a When question. Then it would make it a Place and a Time adverb respectively. 🙂

All in all, they are certainly making progress, little by little. And I am beginning to be really proud of this bunch of kids, even if it’s just a small fraction of the entire class. I really hope the others will be able to catch up. My suspicion though, is that some of them just won’t be bothered. I have all the handouts with me. I wonder how many will actually seek me out to get them from me? >.<

A simple but satisfying lesson with 2 Gem today! 😀



1. Handout 11A (Adverbs of Place and Time)

Today, we started Choir and Choral Speaking practices, simultaneously. @.@

I was involved in Choir because I mentioned to En. Zaini, our GPK1, that I have experience being in Choir. I do. When I was in school, it was always Choir competitions. And I was Vice President of the Artisukma Choir Club of UKM, that doubled (or tripled?) as the pianist and Music Director as well.

So the Choir is performing for the school’s Hari Anugerah Cemerlang next Saturday, and since the initial teacher-in-charge, Pn. Dahlia, is superrrrrr busy with olahraga events, they put me solely in charge—which is terrifying @.@ But I had the impression that the school Choir is really good and very independent—they can train and handle practices on their own, and the songs they were supposed to sing are simple, and ones that they have already learned.

Unfortunately, it seems that I had the wrong impression. They are singing two patriotic songs in four vocal parts which, trust me, is no easy feat to complete in just about a week! >.< And I don’t think they know the songs at all! They’re learning from scratch! Oh, my. @.@

Anyway, we met for practice at 3.00 pm. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the school had their own drum set and a keyboard (from Korea, apparently)! The school even had their own band. Unfortunately, again, the Choir, the band and the pemuisi all needed to practice in the Music Room—all at the same time! There was not much space for the students, and it was extremely noisy and chaotic. I had to silence the drums while the Choir was practising, and the kids were noisy when the pemuisi were practising etc. It was tough to handle them! >.<

I also handled the Choir auditions—there were a few who showed up who were interested to join. Sadly, out of the eight girls, I had to turn down 3 of them. Honestly, I hated disappointing them. They came together with their friends, and I guess they did not expect to not be together. But I had no choice. Otherwise the quality of the Choir’s singing would be jeopardized. 😦 Still, it felt horrible to tell them I was sorry they didn’t make it 😦

The room was a bit too crowded for my liking, and by that time, I was really exhausted from a long day and the lack of sleep. :/ The Choir didn’t seem to really need me anyway. Yet, I couldn’t just leave them to fend for themselves.

Then the school band wanted to stay on after 5.00 pm to continue practising. When I asked them what time their practice usually ended, the girl said, “Oh, we normally just stay on till 6.30 pm.” My eyes literally went like this —-> O.O

6.30 pm? Why would you want to stay in school till so late? And it was just 2 boys and 2 girls in a Music Room located in one of the lonelier sections of the school, quite hidden from the eyes of the school admin people and teachers. At a time when almost nobody else was in school. And one of the girls is actually holding the key to the room! @.@

Goodness! How can that happen? If anything were to happen to these kids, who is going to be responsible? And if there was any hanky panky going on, who’s to be blamed? If I were to leave them be, then I would! >.<

So I told them I was not comfortable leaving them, these 2 boys and 2 girls, alone, unchaperoned in the Music Room, and shooed them off at 5.20 pm. >.<

Sun, on the other hand, seemed to have a pretty good time with the Choral Speaking kids. I am actually supposed to help Sun with the training for Choral Speaking, but because the Choir performance is slightly more urgent, seeing as they’re performing on the 31st of March, while the Choral Speaking competition is on the 27th of April, I would have to help out with Choir first. I will help Sun when Hari Anugerah Cemerlang is done with 🙂

The kids were very enthusiastic and even had their own ideas to contribute to make the script more fun and exciting! She told me all about their ideas, and I thought some of them were just hilarious, and absolutely brilliant! 😀 These kids, when they really put their minds to it, can be capable of so, so much 🙂

At this point, I wish I could just help Sun with the Choral Speaking. The Choir seems to be fine without me. I’m not really needed, so it’s quite tiring when you’re bored. :/ Still, Choir is my responsibility. Well, at least for the Hari Anugerah Cemerlang event. So I will do my best to help train them 😛

Practices still on, tomorrow! (But it’s exhausting, coming back from school at almost 6.00 pm T.T)

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 😀

Day #13 – 20 Mar 2012

I wasn’t expecting many students to be in the classroom when I entered 2 Gem today, seeing as I knew they had their PE lesson just before my English periods. (Actually, who has their PE lessons after recess?! A little odd, don’t you think? :/) But even with that expectation, I wasn’t expecting a mere NINE students to be in class! @.@

When I inquired more, they said that the rest were either absent, or involved in olahraga. Ah. Well. It’s olahraga week, or month, I think. Many students are involved, and it’s really hard to keep track of who’s involved in what, and when @.@ And I did not want to spend too much time on that, and compromise those who are present in class—they deserve a proper lesson.

To start, I also wrote everything that we have done in class so far, and which ones are supposed to be in which of their books, as I had done with 1 Best. The purpose was because I also suspected that a lot of their work is either not completed, or missing. I guess that is the problem with using handouts. And I’ve used a lot of them in my lessons! :/ Well, to justify myself, handouts save time in copying—time that weak students like these can use to actually focus on the content matter. For example, instead of spending so much time copying mindlessly, they can instead think or work out if  the subject ‘she’ goes with a verb that has ‘s’ or no ‘s’. Do you get what I mean?

I want them to focus on the content, rather than on the mechanical aspects, like writing. But then again, copying and writing sometimes do help to solidify what they’ve learned. But that is why I sometimes include rewriting the sentences in the handouts. Otherwise, they would conveniently forget that I told them to rewrite the sentences I gave them =.=

Anyway, housekeeping matters aside, I started with the discussion of their mid-term paper. However, I was horrified to discover that they had actually passed up their question papers together with their answer sheets. I, however, was only given their OMR sheets that were marked using the machine! So, where were their question papers?! @.@ Because of that, I found it rather difficult to discuss the questions with them, since they had nothing to refer to. But because there were only 9 of them, I made them sit closer to the board, and to me, so I could show them the questions I was referring to. Still, not great. :/

However, I picked only certain questions to discuss with them and especially focused on phrasal verbs. Their poor vocabulary is definitely one main reason that so many of them did not do well. And of all the elements of the English language, I think that phrasal verbs are one of the most difficult. It’s because you either know the meaning, or you don’t. And the knowing, comes from reading widely, which I doubt they do 😦

Phrasal verbs like, “worn out”, “broke down”, “show off” I wrote them on the board and told them to copy them into their Vocabulary books with the meanings in BM. So, they could write “letih/penat”, “menangis” and “menunjuk-nunjuk” respectively. The main point is so they understand, and can remember these words. When I saw some of them were not copying the words down, or writing anything down, really, I scolded them. I told them what is the point of being so interested about their marks when they don’t pay attention or make an effort to find out why they got wrong?! I told them, very frankly, “I don’t care if you failed. The point is to learn, and to improve. If you get 13% now, but get 20% in the next test, I see that as improvement! As progress! You should learn from your mistakes so you don’t repeat them.” They were quite sober after that.

There were quite a number of other phrasal verbs that were not found in the test that we worked on together, and I was very happy when they asked me things like, “Teacher, what is the difference between ‘show off’ and ‘show up’?”. This shows that they have read some of these phrases, and they are interested to know. I am always so happy when they ask me these kinds of questions 😀

After that, I discussed previous exercises I had given them on Past Tense and Subject-Verb Agreement with them. I wrote the answers on the board, and they checked their own work. Of course, when they hand their books in, I will check them again. But this is for discussion’s sake.

Then, we played a GAME! 😀

It was strangely coincidental that when I had first entered the classroom, one of the boys asked me, “Cikgu, hari ni main game ke?” And I had smiled to myself, knowing what I had already planned, and said, “We’ll see, we’ll see.” 😉

Basically, it is a quiz; one that I designed with questions on 2 topics: Subject-Verb Agreement (SVA) and Simple Past Tense (PT). I had already prepared 20 items, 10 of each, for them to “draw” from. Here are the items:

Subject-Verb Agreement:

1. Khairul and Fahmi (has/have) the same jersey.

2. She (d0/does) not like Mathematics.

3. You (is/are) the tallest boy in the class.

4. Samad (has/have) two younger sisters.

5. The children (climb/climbs) the monkey bars all the time.

6. My parents (like/likes) to walk in the park every day.

7. I (drive/drives) to school in my Honda City car.

8. My brother and I (enjoy/enjoys) going to the cinema.

9. The mouse (run/runs) into the hole in the wall.

10. These baskets (contain/contains) oranges from Australia.

Past Tense:

1. My brother * (drink) too much water this morning.

2. I * (cut) myself with a pair of scissors by accident.

3. They * (be) sick yesterday.

4. We * (ring) the doorbell and waited.

5. He * (drive) to Malacca last week.

6. The dentist * (pull) out my tooth last month.

7. Our family *(enjoy) ourselves at the zoo.

8. My mother * (apply) some medication on my cut.

9. Zul * (pay) a fine because he was late to school.

10. Pn. Rosmah * (cook) chicken curry for her husband’s dinner.

Now, the quiz is rather normal, really. But the novelty was: how we chose the categories.

What I did was, I used a roll of cellotape to stick two slips of paper for each “side”: Simple Past Tense, and Subject-Verb Agreement.

After doing that, it will look like this:

So all the students had to do was, spin it (or flip it–like a coin–as some of them did), and whatever was facing up would be the category they would have to answer a question from! 😀

Well, I didn’t think I could make a die big enough, nor did I have the materials I needed to make one at hand… So I guess you could say, I improvised! 😉

Yeah, the students laughed at my creation, but it certainly caught their interest. 😛 And it is definitely something they can’t say they’ve ever done before, can they? 🙂

But what made me happiest was when they were able to answer all of the questions right! (We had time for 12 questions, 6 for each group.) True, some discussed with their team members for the answer, but the very fact that they were able to discuss, because they had some knowledge of the rules that can be applied, made me really happy! I tested them at every turn I could. When they said the past tense of “ring” was “rang”, or the verb that agrees with “Khairul and Fahmi” was “have” and not “has”, I questioned them, “Are you sure? Are you VERY SURE?” Most of them were able to answer quite confidently.

I cannot truly describe how I feel. Dare I say that they are making progress? That they are actually improving? 😀 Sure, they might still be a little shaky here and there, and sometimes they do get confused. But at the very least, they know something, they have some basic knowledge of the grammar rules, of which I can now always refer to even when we’ve moved past this topic for good.

I was realllyyyyyyy very happy with these bunch of kids—MY kids :’)

I told them I was really happy, and that I would get them something as a reward. I bought them Choki-Choki treats! (They actually requested for it =.=) Which I will be absolutely delighted to present them with when I see them for class on Thursday :DDDDDD

My boys are getting better! 🙂

p.s: Regarding *Zaki, he was not in class today—involved in olahraga methinks. So I still have no idea on the effect of The Talk with him. Will I see a difference on Thursday?

p.p.s: Choral Speaking and Choir practices start tomorrow. I am nervous, and afraid at the same time! I’m solely in charge of the Choir (nerve-wrecking!) and Sun and I are both in charge of training the Choral Speaking students for the competition, which is in about a month. I think I’m going to pass out from the pressure T.T

Today I was a little bit kelam-kabut. I had to make an announcement about Choir practices and auditions starting tomorrow after school at 3.00 pm. Well, I wasn’t making the announcement—the PSS student on duty was. Still, it was my first announcement. And I was supposed to meet up with the Choir kids after the assembly to let them know about the practices.

Anyway, one period with 1 Best today. I always worry about the single periods. They always seem to be placed at the most “strategic” of places. 2 Gem’s is after assembly on Thursdays (they always come in late T.T) and 1 Best’s is, of course, after recess. They all trickle in too. =.=

While waiting for the students to all come in, I decided to write down all the work that we’ve done so far, and which activities were supposed to be in which of their four books, together with all the dates. I was a little surprised to see how much we’d done in these two weeks—and then got a little worried because I have yet to mark any of their books. Not entirely my fault though, because I have told them numerous times to hand in their books, almost as if I were begging them! However, I do believe that I should take responsibility for the fact that I lack control over the class that they do not really bother about my instructions. It is very discouraging, honestly :/

I think, again, it is my fault when the students get anxious looking at the list of things they were supposed to have done. I must have let them go too long before checking their work. Maybe I’m not strict enough >.<

I started off the lesson with introducing Chapter 4: Better Safe Than Sorry. I asked if any of them have seen an accident before. I got one of the boys to tell the class his story of witnessing an accident. Then I drew the class’s attention to the tense that was used when talking about events that have already happened. In English, the action words change forms to indicate that something has happened. I pointed out the word “crashed” which the boy used when telling us about the accident, and underlined the ‘ed’ to show them that that part of the word indicated to us that it has already happened.

So that led us to their text book, pages 53 and 54. I focused on the Spelling Rules there, quite similar to the ones I did with 2 Gem in their Past Tense lesson as well.

Spelling Rules:

1. add ‘ed’: eg. talked, walked, reached

2. change ‘y’ to ‘ied’: eg. tried, fried, cried, applied

3. add ‘d’ to words ending in ‘e’: eg. hoped, liked, smiled

4. double the consonant and add ‘ed’ for words ending in a short vowel followed by a consonant: eg. stopped, hopped, skipped

After trying all the examples written above with them together on the board, I did Section C of page 54 in their text books with them as well. I wrote down the words on the board, but got them to spell it out for me. For each one, I asked them which of the four rules did they apply and why. For example, I received answers like this, “The third rule! Because the word ends with ‘e’.”

I had a little more time, so I decided instead of giving the handout as mere homework, why don’t I do it together with them as well? It would be similar to the Section C part. They would tell me the answers and write them down in their handouts as I write them on the board. Of course, I still got the students to spell them out for me. I adapted a short exercise on past tense action verbs from the text book to come up with a longer text that talked about witnessing a road accident in Handout 8A.

However, there are several verbs in there that the rules were not really applicable to—they are irregular verbs. Still, I thought it would be good exposure for the students; to know these special action verbs that are different from those following the rules. Plus, they are useful in describing road accidents, or witnessing one. For those action words that did follow the rules, I made sure I asked the students for which rules were being applied.

Managed to complete everything just in time! However, students had quite a number of questions to ask me after the lesson, regarding certain house-keeping matters like which activities were in which books. I had to keep explaining that I had already written that down at the beginning of the lesson. It would be good if they can check with their friends to make sure all is complete.

Unfortunately, I did not realize their next teacher standing outside the classroom waiting for me! ARGH. And it’s not the first time, either. I felt horrible, I did. I did apologize. But I know it is terribly unfair to take up almost ten minutes of another colleague’s time. What if she had only one period with them as well? I left her with only 30 minutes! 😦

Anyhow, with regards to the teaching, I think I am alright. I may need to involve the students more. Maybe by calling on students to write on the board. Or calling on individual students, rather than expecting a chorus of answers. However, I always feel that these alternatives take up time—time that I might not be able to spare. :/ Ah, the dilemma!

Also, I think I need to watch my time more, and by hook or by crook, be punctual. Or otherwise risk my colleagues resenting me for taking their precious time. >.<

By the way, met with Dr. Melor today! Wow, it’s been such a long time since I’d seen her, and even longer since I’d been to the PermataPintar offices! She looked good, but she seemed a little unwell–a bout of cough, I suppose? She is so busy, I feel quite sorry for her 😦 But we sort of managed to confirm a date for her observation—next Monday! ARGH, I am freaking out, I’m so terrified! @.@ Well, all I can do is plan the best that I can, execute it the best that I can, and leave the rest to God. *gulp* I have no idea how my students are going to behave on the day, but I think it unfair of me to tell them to act differently than they normally do. I’ll just have to learn to deal with it. I might only inform them that a visitor is coming, and to show some respect, is all. Hopefully they won’t be extra naughty! That’s all I ask, really. :/

Look of the day! 😀



1. Handout 8A (A Road Accident)

Day #12 – 19 Mar 2012 (The Talk)

I had the talk with one of the boys that was giving me problems today. The previous posts where I mention this one guy who is rude, disrespectful, uncooperative—it’s this one boy. I won’t mention names, but let’s just call him *Zaki.

Well, Zaki was being his normal arrogant self in class, and showing little respect for me and what I was teaching. When he kept walking around, and did not bring his book, nor copy down anything that I had written on the board, I told him I was going to deduct marks from his group’s points. (I had previously put a point system in place for the class, that helped class participation somewhat.) He very loudly retorted, “Tolak la Cikgu, tak kisah pun!

And I just did not know how to respond to it anymore, so I said, “Zaki, I want to see you after the class, is that alright?”

So, after class, at 11.10 am, I told him to follow me to the staff room. I gave him my record book and other things to carry for me up the two floors to the staff room. I was strangely calm at the time, even though the nights before, when I was anticipating this moment, I was terrified that I would say the wrong thing.

After he had put my things for me at my table and I’d thanked him, I took him to a corner of the staff room and talked to him. I asked him if he was angry with me. He said no. Was there anything that I had said or done to him before that made him unhappy or angry? He said no. Then why, I asked him, was he acting this way in my class?

I told him how much I actually do enjoy teaching his class, because they are sporting and fun. How I sayang each and every one of them like they were my own. But sometimes, the things he does hurts me, upsets me. As a new teacher, I work really hard, I try hard, to plan lessons for them. It would be so much easier if everybody cooperated and did all the work I asked them to. I told him, yes, I know sometimes it’s a lot of work, but it’s for them, for their own good, so they can improve.

I said that I didn’t want perfect, correct answers all the time. All I expected of him was to try. It’s not like I would scold him if he got the answer wrong. I would be happy if he tried; that would be enough. I am very happy when all my students are actively participating and eager to learn. I am, truly. I also told him that I don’t really mind when he sometimes main-main in class. I mean, it’s part of the learning fun. But what I cannot really take is when he disrespects me. It’s just….not nice. 😦

I told him that I noticed that he is a born leader, it’s in his personality. That even though he is not the monitor, there are classmates and friends who look up to him, and follow his lead. So when he plays around, they play around too. So it would be really good if he could set a good example for them to follow. Cos the others want to learn too.I told him too, that I wasn’t going to be around for very very long. Till July. And it would be really nice if there were happy memories that we could have together as a class, and not sad ones. It was my hope that he would be able to give me his cooperation in class. Could I count on him for that?

He said yes.

Most of the time, he had been leaning against the wall, looking down at his shoes. I don’t know if that meant he was sorry, or that he was just ashamed because of all the other teachers around. I asked him if he was okay, if there was anything he wanted to say. He said no. So I told him to go back to class.

And that was it.

I don’t know if this talk will work on him. I wish I could have asked more about his family, but I didn’t want to take up too much of his time—he was supposed to be in class anyway. I don’t know if he will take what I said to him to heart, or he will just let it slide off his back as he seems to with all my other scoldings and reprimands. Only time will tell. I’ll see how it goes with him in class tomorrow.

Hope everything turns out well, and that I did not just make things worse. :/

With 2 Gem though, I didn’t want to waste too much time. Again, they had sauntered in after recess like they had all the time in the world, instead of rushing in because the English teacher (me) was already in the classroom. >.<

I had wanted to ask them about their holidays, what they did, where they went, if they had gone anywhere. But half the class were involved in olahraga, DK and all sorts of other activities that I just got tired of asking. I just accepted that, for a lot of them, they had other priorities besides studying English in my class. So.

Since, according to the scheme of work, this week is supposedly the “mid-term holidays” instead of the week after, I thought I’d take the chance and work on their basic grammars this week, and then resume text book work. So, one of the most basic, most important aspects of grammar is: Subject-Verb Agreement. Without it, you could not even make simple sentences accurately.

So I started off with an analogy of press studs. I had some trouble trying to explain what press studs were, in BM. But they eventually got what I meant. I said that, in English, sentences are like press studs. The subjects (pelaku) and the verbs (kata kerja) had to “fit”, otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to close properly—like press studs! 😀 I also told them, contrary to Past Tense–where I had already told them it did not matter who the subject was the verb form remained the same–Subject-Verb Agreement is very important in Present Tense.

I made them copy down notes on different subjects and their verbs. “I, You, We, They” –> Verbs with no ‘s’. While “He, She, It” –> Verbs with ‘s’. Then we tried out different verbs; I gave them the subject and they’d tell me the right verb that agreed with it. (talk/talks, listen/listens, laugh/laughs, drive/drives etc.) Then I tested them further with subject substitution–where “Fahmi and I” could be substituted with “We” and would take a verb with no ‘s’. “Rahman and Afiq” would be “They” and take verbs with no ‘s’ as well. “The girl”/”She” will take verbs with ‘s’ and so on and so forth. Things were looking good at this point 😀

Then we did auxiliary verbs. I know, I told the class to ignore the names. Too difficult. >.< But the concept of a Singular subject taking on verbs like is, has and does while plural subjects take on are, have and do. With the exception of course of “I” and “You” where they take on plural verbs. Quite a lot to deal with, but I drew them a table to copy down as well. Hopefully, they could memorize it and it will help them.

Next was just exercises. I was glad that this time I had time to go through the questions with them–Handout 7A. There was ample time to do them one by one with them, and also time for them to try some questions on their own before we discussed them. I had some breathing time from writing furiously on the board to walk around the class and take note of the students’ progress. They seemed to be doing alright 🙂 They did still have problems with the “I” and “You”, and certain special cases like “Everyone” taking on singular verbs, but otherwise, they were slowly working out the correct verbs on their own 🙂

I just worry that they will get too dependent on the table and notes I had given them and keep referring to it all the time. But I guess they all have to start somewhere, right? Hopefully after more practice, their subject-verb agreement will not be a problem any more 😀

I had also prepared some revision questions on Past Tense (Handout 7B), which I had already taught them before the holidays. But obviously, from the questions they were asking me, and the blanks they left in the exercise, they weren’t really paying attention to me, or they have very short term memories =.= I wonder if it is possible to work on their Past Tense some more. Maybe in their Journals, I might show them how to use the Past Tense they’ve learned and put them into practice.

In retrospect, I rather liked today’s class. (1 Best’s was a bit too rushed! @.@) I was able to give them the input they needed to work things out on their own, albeit slowly. And I also had time to walk around and really see how each of them were doing. Some were faster than others, some were still struggling and kept asking me, “Betul ke, Cikgu?” Still, I was glad for the breathing time 😀 Good class, today! Achieved all my objectives, and saw some progress from the students. Satisfied! 😉

p.s: Something happened today. You can read it here.



1. Handout 7A (Subject-Verb Agreement)

2. Handout 7B (Auxiliary Verbs and Past Tense)