Tuesday, June 30, 2009

immuned to noisy, misbehaving students

I taught Pendidikan Moral for the first time today. I was so unprepared. I was basically clueless on how to teach the subject.

The class was a disaster. Most of the students did their own work. Only several boys at the front participated in the discussions I initiated.

Then, one boy, after repeated warnings to his noisy classmates, exploded. He told off his friends for not paying attention and being disrespectful to me.

Then a verbal match ensued between him and this particularly noisy group of girls.

I just tried to get everybody to calm down.

I didn't even scold the students.

Yup, I told you that I have the most atrocious classroom management skills. It's not that I don't scold my students at all. But I understand how the students perceive Pendidikan Moral. It's hardly an engrossing subject is it? And it was my fault that I didn't prepare well for my first class with them. I should have shown them some relevant videos, brought mahjung papers for group work, given out some interesting reading materials to complement the textbook, etc.

I mean, I have to teach Rukun Negara in 70 minutes.

The five principles of Rukun Negara. You can do that in 15 minutes! Just how long can you drag the session and sustain the students' interest?

So, yeah, basically, I didn't scold the noisy students because I felt that it was largely my fault for not being well-prepared.

Some time later, another boy who sits in front asked, "Teacher, how can you be so calm?"

That's a bit hard to answer.

At times, I do wish that my threshold for patience is a bit lower. And that I have a louder voice like some teachers who can address the whole assembly without using a mike (in contrast, I could hardly make myself heard to those seating at the back of my classroom!).

I prefer to maintain my calm rather than blow my top because I'm afraid of saying things I might regret later. It happened once and I felt just awful afterwards.

Besides, you are going to see the students 5 days a week until the end of the year. If you hold grudges, sakit hati, dan seumpamanya, you will drag your feet to come to work everyday. And I do not want that.

So, this is how I manage my classroom in a nutshell:

-If the class is noisy, I raise my voice.
-If the students comply with my orders to quiet down, I thank them. If not, I gave the main culprits "The Look" or gave the whole class the silent treatment.
-I patrol the class intermittently to check on the students' work and to shush the noisy students.
-If the students are really pushing it, like what happened in my Pendidkan Moral class, I will just teach those who are paying attention and ignore the rest.

Granted, my "just ignore them" tactics would no be approved by a lot of people. It's hardly the kind of assertive discipline lecturers in teacher training colleges espouse. But hey, different people cope differently right? Besides, there are a lot things teacher training colleges do not teach you/prepare you for.

I do want to be more garang - I'm not trying to win any popularity contest here - but I just don't know how.

Tips anyone?