Thursday, November 28, 2013

3 Harmoni 2013

You know that a particular class is Trouble when the teachers cannot stop talking complaining about its students.

Yes, this post is dedicated to the incomparable 3H!

My first few months with the class were Torture. They were noisy, they were disrespectful, they didn't want to learn, the boys were rowdy, I felt like I was talking to myself in class, etc etc etc.

I've had challenging classes in the past but 3H just takes the cake.

One of my ways of coping was to vent. And the only ones who truly "get it" were the other teachers who had the misfortune of teaching 3H as well. So we became each other's support system (because it felt so much better to know that the students misbehaved all the time and not just during your lessons). We stayed sane by exchanging stories and laughing at our outbursts and overreactions.

My favourite has got to be when the boys hid some tools in the workshop. The Living Skills teacher threatened them with, "Nanti Cikgu tuntut kat Padang Mahsyar!"

So you see, I have this love-hate relationship with the class. On one hand, each time I entered the class, I was convinced that the kids would be the death of me. On the other hand, their behaviour was so outrageous that they make the best and funniest stories.

There were 35 students in 3H, 19 boys and 16 girls. Out of the 19 boys, six stood out for all the wrong reasons. They formed this posse that seemed bent on creating anarchy in the classroom.

Let me introduce you to all six (anti-)heroes.

1) The Ringleader: C

I've written about C earlier so you've been acquainted. C started to miss a lot of school in Semester 2. At first, I was thankful for the relative peace this afforded me but after a prolonged absence, I grew worried. His friends didn't seem to know where he went. After a few weeks he reappeared.

A classmate announced, "Teacher, budak juvi dah balik". C, in his trademark apathy, ignored the jab. He just smiled a hello for me and I smiled back. It's weird but I was glad to have him back.

2) The Prankster: Basher

When C wasn't around, Basher took his mantle. I had a harder time controlling him than C. He once pulled off someone else's pants during a test, revealing that poor boy's boxers. The whole class howled with laughter. Then Basher was chased by the boy all over Block C & D.

Did I mention this was during a test?

3) The Alpha-Male: Danny

Danny was the one whose pants were pulled. Any other person would be so incredibly embarrassed and not come to school for a week or so. After chasing Basher, Danny just shrugged it off and laughed at himself. He proceeded to tie his tracksuit bottoms more securely and joked that, "Aku dah ikat mati dah ni, balik rumah nanti pun aku tak boleh bukak".

This elicited fresh rounds of laughter and at that point I gave up trying to get the students to concentrate on their test as I was laughing so hard myself.

4) The Contraband Dealer: Bloom

During Ramadan, the explosive sound of firecrackers filled the air. It got so bad that the teachers did spot checks to catch the culprits and immediate suspension was meted out to those caught red-handed with the contraband items.

One day, while in 3H, a particularly loud explosion was heard. I remarked casually, "Mercun apa yang diaorang guna? Kuat betul."

Bloom happened to be seated in front of me so he started talking about the different types of firecrackers on sale. The best-selling ones were DBomb1 and Mercun Botol. The most expensive and the loudest one is, of course, DBomb1 (who came up with the catchy name, I wonder?). Bloom was very knowledgeable about the subject; he knew all about the prices, the sizes and the "power" of the different types of firecrackers.

In the middle of his Mercun 101 tutorial, he realised (rather belatedly) that he's incriminating himself. He anxiously added, "Saya tak jual Teacher. Tapi kalau Teacher nak beli, saya tahu nak beli dengan siapa".

5) The Good-Looking One: Ryan

Ryan's good looks and his indiscipline prompted a teacher to rebuke him, "Awak ni Ryan, muka je handsome! Perangai....".

Ryan is a big football fan and since he discovered that I'm an Arsenal fan, he would always greet me with the latest score instead of hello. For instance, he would wave and say "Dua - Kosong Teacher" when Arsenal beat Napoli at home.

Thank God Arsenal has been doing very well this season. Otherwise, the constant updates/reminders would have unbearable.

6) The Cheery One: Frank

Frank rounded off the gang. He's always so cheerful even when he's misbehaving. He liked to shout at his classmates, "Wei korang, senyapla. Tak nampak ke Teacher tengah mengajar".

Though I appreciated him looking out for me, his outbursts never helped calm the class because just seconds before he yelled at the others, he was the one in the thick of the disruptive action. It was a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.

The above anecdotes are what a real classroom looks like. That's why I detest people who have no teaching experience whatsoever saying things like, "Oh, you should do this and this and this...". I know that they mean well but students nowadays are different from students from yesteryear. You're lucky if you can get all 35 students seated and looking directly at you.

After 9 months of (trying to) teaching them, 3H and I have come to an understanding: They still drive me to the edge but they don't push me off the cliff. And surprise, surprise, I've come to love them.

I find that the most challenging students are pretty unforgettable. They reside in your heart despite the pain & heartache they've caused.

The following pictures were taken a few days before PMR.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

3 Nekad 2013

I think I'm fated to be affiliated with Nekad classes. Last year I was the class teacher for 5N, this year, it was 3N.

We just had our class party this afternoon and since I left, I've been thinking of all the things we've gone through this year. Finally my writer's block is lifted and I'm raring to write and recall all the wonderful memories I've shared with my kids.

1) The first day

After the usual routine (introducing myself, briefing the students on what to expect in the year ahead, choosing the class monitor, etc), I asked the students to write a short journal entry. They could write about anything but if they were stuck for ideas, they could write about their first day of school so far.

This was what Aiman wrote:

That's right Aiman. NOT YET. All in good time ;)

2) Class pictures

Our first class picture was taken early on in the year for PERSADA (our school magazine). I guess the ice hadn't completely thawed yet since everyone looked so skema (i.e. prim & proper).

We've come a long way since then. After 9 months of getting to know one another, we looked far more relaxed and cheerful in our last picture together, which was taken a few days before PMR.

3) Whiteboard Art

One of the reasons my markers always run out of ink is because my students like to use them to write/draw on the board. I have to hoard them zealously so that they last longer. But occasionally, I let the students have a free reign and write/draw whatever that they would like to express. Who knows? Maybe one of them will become the next Ernest Zacharevic ;)

One of those times was when we had our second Hari Interaksi (report card day). Not many parents came so while waiting, the students came up with this:

Below is another example. They did this one during Art Class, in conjunction with Merdeka Day.

4) Pick-up Lines

I don't know how it started but the students like to share the latest pick-up lines they've heard with me. I would be walking to the office/class/canteen, when Efa or Aida would stop me excitedly and say, "Teacher, I've got another one!" and they would rattle off the newest cheesy line that I would groan at.

The tradition continued right up to my birthday when Efa gave me this card and Aida sent me this message:

5) Class Party

Everyone had to say a few words before we parted and I was the last one to speak up. I'm terrible at speaking in public, and I tend to do even worse if I have to speak off-the-cuff. Thus, I quickly typed a few things that I wanted to convey to my students. While writing the prompts, I realised that what I was going to say to them was applicable to ALL my students, past or present. Below is the speech which I rewrote from the notes I had typed:

Thank you for being wonderful students with, ahem, colourful personalities. It has been a privilege being your class teacher. Thank you for keeping me amused and making me laugh throughout the year.
I apologise for any shortcomings on my part. I know that I always fall behind in marking your books and test paper. Sorry if my teaching was ineffective/incomprehensible. In short, sorry for any inefficiency on my part.
I hope that all of you continue to be good students. Or if you know that you haven't been one, do try to become better. Being smart isn't enough; You need to work hard to achieve success.
Besides being good students, I hope all of you become good sons and daughters to your parents. And I sincerely hope that, in the future, you become successful and kind individuals.

After all that sentimental stuff, we took a group photo and dispersed.

P.S. Thank you Amira, Zuhayra, Aida & Efa for organising the party!