Teaching the front classes is akin to facing a firing squad. While they were working on the SBP Trial papers, they shot me questions relentlessly.
"Teacher, what does 'interval' mean?"
Other words that they asked me to define were:
prosthesis vs. prosthetic
riddle with shrapnel
Half of the words were from the text they were working on. The other half? God knows where they came from.
It felt like being in a bad reality show (So you think can teach English?), where failing to answer the questions would result in being named and shamed as an incompetent English Teacher.
You know, it's one thing to know a word, it's quite another to try to EXPLAIN it to others. And contrary to popular belief, English teachers are not walking dictionaries (or at least not me).
But to refer to an actual dictionary to answer their queries would have been to lose face. So I employed one of the 3 strategies below:
- Find a synonym (e.g. interval = intermission)
- Find a Malay equivalent
- Use the word in a sentence
Only after I had given it my best shot, would I surreptitiously refer to the Merriam-Webster app on my phone to check the accuracy of my answers.
But there came a time where I had to surrender and admit: "I have no idea".
At the end of the workshop, Yan Jhong asked me what the phrase "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion" meant.
I'd never heard of the idiom before so there's only 1 thing I could do then: I googled it.
X X X
The above narrative was just one of the many memorable moments I shared with 5 Nekad.
I took over the class at the end of March this year when Pn. Mohana was transferred to another school. I wasn't too thrilled about it at first. My plate was already full, yet I have to be a class teacher too??
Plus, I had taught some of them before. I was a hapless newbie then. I made a lot of mistakes. That's why I prefer to have new students every year so that I can start off on a clean slate.
But teaching 5 Nekad was the opposite of having a brand new slate. This slate was not only old, it's also cracked and worn.
But Allah is the Best of Planners. After spending so much time and effort in keeping their affairs in order (taking their daily attendance, writing them testimonials, meeting their parents, tracking their academic performance, etc), I cannot help but be emotionally-invested in them.
I guess I've grown very fond of them. They are funny and they make me laugh all the time. They make absurd remarks. They have curious minds. They question and challenge new information which lead us to have stimulating discussions.
I know that I'll miss them dearly. I'm never sentimental when I'm in front of them but if they happen to read this, I want them to know that being their class teacher has been one of my main highlights of the year.
They also taught me that having a used and cracked slate isn't so bad after all, provided that you work hard at mending it.