Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why Do You Teach?

I first read the article last year. It was included in the Form 5 July Test. I put it away somewhere to reread it and only came across it again recently.

It's written by Peter G. Beidler and my favourite paragraph is this:
"Certainly I don't teach because teaching is easy for me.Teaching is the most difficult among the various ways I have attempted to earn my living... For me, teaching is a red-eye, sweaty-palm, sinking-stomach profession. Red-eye, because I never feel ready to teach, no matter how late I stay up preparing the night before. Sweaty-palm, because I am always nervous before I walk into that classroom, sure that I will be found out for the fool that I am. Sinking-stomach, because I walk out of the classroom an hour later convinced that I was even more boring than usual."

True isn't it?
When a lesson goes well, you feel on top of the world. But when it doesn't, it's thoroughly soul destroying. You then ask yourself: Why do you choose to become a teacher? You are horrible at it!

Why am I still a teacher then?? (Apart from being bound by contract) the rest of the article seems to partially answer that question for me.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


This past week has been very hectic. On top of marking the students' March Test papers, I had to settle 2 major things: registering my students for the district-level tennis competition and the upcoming HELP debate.

The former was particularly time-consuming. There are so many forms to fill in; MO1, MO2, Borang Pendaftaran Mengikut Kategori, Nota Minta, parents' consent forms, etc. The huge paperwork made me feel like buying a shredding machine and turning all those forms into confetti.

I have so many things to settle that my desk is littered with post-it notes. So much so that the teacher next to me jokingly asked, "Dah habis tampal dah tu?"

It's true what Dayah has said; When you're burdened with too many tasks, the quality of your work deteriorates. You end up doing things in a touch-and-go manner. Which aptly describes the quality of my work nowadays :(

I thought I had reached breaking point last Friday, when I reached home at 6pm. I had to endure a 1-hour traffic jam in a journey which normally takes around 15 minutes. It was raining heavily and, feeling wet and utterly miserable, I felt like quitting my job and becoming something, anything else.

But alhamdulillah, after having a home-cooked dinner prepared lovingly by Mom, after eating chocolate-flavoured ice cream straight from the tub with my sister, and after getting sufficient sleep, I woke up to a beautiful Saturday morning :)

Though I had to work on a Saturday from 8am to 6pm, I was in a good mood (those who think that teaching is a half-day job are gravely mistaken). Seeing my students benefiting from the debating workshop we attended made it all worthwhile.

I was reminded of 2 quotes:
1) "Orang yang hidup untuk dirinya sendiri akan hidup seperti orang yang kerdil dan mati sebagai seorang yang kerdil. Tetapi orang yang hidup bagi orang lain akan hidup sebagai orang yang 'besar' dan mati sebagai orang yang besar juga" -Syed Qutb-

2) "Apabila kamu merasa letih kerana berbuat kebaikan maka sesungguhnya keletihan itu akan hilang dan kebaikan itu akan kekal. Dan sekiranya kamu berseronok dengan dosa maka sesungguhnya keseronokan itu akan hilang dan dosa itu akan kekal" -Saidina Ali bin Abi Talib-

Maybe I should write down these quotes and add them to my post-it notes collection...

Friday, April 02, 2010

Hands of Honour

'Hands of Honour' is one the the activities we did during the English Camp. I thought I would try it out with my 3Q students as a pre-writing task.

They were supposed to write 'What I Am Passionate About'. What I really want was for them to write about what they absolutely love. I do not want them to merely write about their hobbies.

The 'Hands of Honour' works like this: Students trace their palms on a piece of A4 paper. They then write down 5 things that are synonymous with them.

I gave them a simple exercise on synonyms first (casual=informal, incorrect=wrong, etc) before asking them to write the 5 most significant things about themselves.

To further clarify the task, I gave a few examples:

"Contohnya, bila saya tengok Arif je, saya teringat silat; kalau Azfar, rubix cube; kalau Fahmi pulak, tenis."

(Yes, I codeswitch in class!)

Pretty soon the rest of the class wanted me to do/"read" them/their friends.
"Kalau saya pulak Cikgu?"
"Teacher, buat Adam pulak"...

Eventually, they settled down and began writing. Then, they had to swap their paper with a friend's and proceed to write 5 things about that friend.

Only after that do they start writing the actual essay. Yes, the pre-writing task was too long and it seemed to go on forever but I need to get my students excited about the topic first as they are chronically allergic to writing essays.

At the end of the lesson, the students handed in their essay and their "palms". I had fun reading the 5 things they had written about themselves and their friends.

These are among the ones that made me laugh out loud:

1) "If fight learning, lots man have falls". Confused? Fret not, a Malay translation was provided next to it: "Kalau lawan belajar, ramai yang kalah".

2) "Look kind, his heart still in investigation" = Nampak je baik, hati tu tak tau lagi"

And this one made me raise my eyebrows in serious doubt:

"Never misses 'Indahnya Iman' on Astro Oasis"

Then, I came across this:
Somebody had done the 5 things for me. I asked 3Q the next day and the mystery author turned out to be Mas Dayana.

So, thanks Mas, you had made my day! :)

'English Is Just Awesome' Camp

The Form 3 and Form 5 students of SMA Rembau were forced to attend the above mentioned camp (co-hosted by the school and KRIM Negeri Sembilan). So naturally, most of them had negative preconceptions about it.

But on the last day, after speaking English for 3 days; after doing all the fun language-based & non-language-based activities; after bonding with the facilitators, good feedback was received from the participants... Alhamdulillah...

I thank Allah for the opportunity to be a part of this programme. Credits to my juniors in IPBA who formed the backbone of the organising committee. They had to do all the required planning, preparations and arrangements in the midst of their assignments. May Allah ease their tasks for them...

What made this experience special was the people that I was surrounded with. I love my fellow facilitators (Fariena, Izyan, Saqinah, Abby, Thuaibah & Safura) who were very fun and enjoyable to work (and drink teh tarik) with. I admire their enthusiasm, creativity, confidence, humour and their overall nice-ness.

And the participants were wonderful. They were eager learners, punctual,courteous and oh-so lovable.

So different from the students I'm used to having... :p

It was heartening to observe students who were initially reluctant and hesitant to speak English gradually shed their self-consciousness as the camp progressed. We even caught participants speaking English to the canteen operator and on the telephone to Mum and Dad! :)

All praise is due to Allah for the camp's success. A teacher there even suggested that the camp be held annually from now on.

Hopefully, the camp's positive impact will last for a long time instead of being a short-term thing. And may all our sacrifices, difficulties and hard work be counted as good deeds in the sight of Allah SWT... amin...

Read other accounts of the event here and here.