Sunday, June 23, 2013

Tough Week

Last week was probably the toughest week of 2013 so far.

On Wednesday (June 19), a teacher from another school came to check on our school's PLBS files and conduct the coordination exercise. After my first period with 5T (7.30 a.m. to 8.10 a.m.), I went to help my school's PLBS coordinator to get the files ready.

I ended up staying until 1.00 p.m.. There were so many things to do that I didn't have the heart to just get up and leave.

I didn't enter 3N, 3T & 3H. For the ULBS coordination exercise the day before (June 18), I was relieved from 10.30 a.m. onwards. So I fooled myself into thinking that that day was no different. I couldn't be in two places at the same time, so I was fervently wishing that my 3 classes were taken care of.

But if I were to be honest with myself, I had a feeling that the classes were left to their own devices. The were 2 other assessors present that day to check the Science & Geography files respectively; It was impossible to relieve all the teachers who were involved. I could only hope that nothing untoward would happen while I was away.

I was thinking, "What could possibly happen?" The classes would undoubtedly be noisy but what's the worst thing that could happen if the students were left unsupervised for 80 minutes?

Well at 1.00 p.m. I found out exactly what could happen.

I came out of the room where the coordination exercise was taking place and came across Syf, a student of mine from 3H. She looked absolutely miserable. I asked her what's the matter and she told me that her classmate, Aq, fell while chasing her and she was now immobile.

My blood turned cold. I pried more information out of Syf:
-No, there wasn't any teacher in the class when it happened.
-Aq fell and hit her forehead and pelvic bone.
-She was taken to the Counselling Room and the injury seemed really bad.

I tried to comfort Syf but she wouldn't have it:
"Kenapa Cikgu tak marah saya? Marahla saya. Memang salah saya"

I told her that it was my fault because I wasn't in class. We both tugged at the blame, each feeling more responsible than the other, each wanting a bigger share.

I took leave from the coordination exercise and went to see Aq. She was writhing and crying in pain; the sight broke my heart.

Her mother had been called and she was on her way to school. The ambulance was also called because Aq had to be transported on a stretcher to the hospital (she couldn't sit nor walk). Syf and I looked progressively worse with each passing minute.

My main concern was Aq could end up paralysed. If that were to happen, I could never forgive myself. Guilt is a powerful, all-consuming emotion. Now I knew how people could self-destruct when they're consumed with guilt: You wished for bad things to happen to you as penance for the misery you had caused your victim(s).

That night, I received a text message from Aq's sister that greatly relieved me. Aq is fine. No broken bones nor fractures; just bruises. I let out a huge sigh of relief and promised myself to never leave my classes unsupervised again.


On Friday (June 21), on my way to 3T, I came across Aq. I had never felt so happy to see her! She was limping a bit but she said that she felt much better.

I was uplifted by the news but I wasn't happy for long. Something unpleasant was waiting for me in 3T.

The students and I were reviewing the Mid-Year Exam English Paper. The students had to detect and correct grammatical errors in sentences that were taken from their own answer scripts. They had to do so in their composition books.

CZ started making a fuss (the student I had written about in a previous entry. I wrote that he reminded me of the protagonist in the book 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time').

CZ asked for his composition book. I said that I didn't have it. I had checked and I only had his E1 & E2 books.

He grew cross. He alleged that I had lost his book. Then he started throwing a tantrum.

"She lost my book. I'm going to kill her," he said repeatedly.

I tried to ignore his outbursts. His classmates defended me by suggesting that he never submitted his book in the first place/his book was probably at home/etc but CZ was adamant: I was at fault.

"She lost my book. I'm going to kill her"

Up until that day, I was able to keep calm when dealing with him but I guess the death threat was the last straw. I turned to face him and snapped, "CZ, either you do the exercise in a piece of paper or you don't do it at all - I don't care!"

His classmates were taken aback as I rarely lost my cool but CZ didn't back down. In contrast, he grew more cross and his threats took on a more sinister tone.

"I'm going to murder her!"

This time, I kept mum and did not respond. Somehow it worked. After some time he calmed down and he even did his work.


I was surprised and grateful that I'd survived the week. Despite these bad-days-at-the-office instances, I do love my job. Sounds crazy but I do. I cannot imagine not being a teacher.

Later that same Friday, I came across a quote that summed up my feelings on the matter:

My job matters; that's what makes it fulfilling.
It matters every day (there's no letting up); that's what makes it exhausting!

Thank Allah for weekends!