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Hi, everyone! I have finally managed to write something. I hope 2017 will bring many great things for all of us!
-TM, 2nd February 2017

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 3: 17 Days to Go (Guess with what intonation this is said)

08.15 am, SKP Computer Lab
17 Days to go, not including today. I’m starting to count down the days for ROS to be over. I wish and wish that I wouldn’t do this, but I feel so helpless not knowing what to do. Today I brought my laptop with me, so that I’d have something to do instead of just moping around, sms’ing my friends (who are also facing the same dilemma of not knowing what to do) and staring at the computer screen in front of me and adjusting my tudung until I have to force myself to stop for fear of becoming vain.

Every few minutes I usually ask any teacher who happens to be there at the moment (which is usually Kak Zah, the teacher in charge of the computer lab) if she needs any help, but as of today, there is nothing that I can do. However, I have received an assignment; a memo to relieve a class. 4 Nilam! This is the third time I’m entering their class, and I still can’t remember their names… I have to start working hard to remember, because I hate the thought of the children finding out my weakness in this. Bother, bother!

10.39 am, SKP Computer Lab
17 Days to go? How fast… hehe. Yes, I’m starting to change my thoughts about ROS. I know it’s too early to predict, but the children are starting to warm up to me, and I feel a lot better about the whole thing. Just now I took 4 Nilam (apparently the teacher whose classes I replaced yesterday is having her PJJ a.k.a. Pengajian Jarak Jauh or Long Distance Learning exam), and this time when they saw me, they started saying, “Ustazah dah sampai!” Hehe. Yup, suddenly I’ve been crowned Ustazah, probably because of my tudung, but it’s sort of funny so it’s okay.

When I entered, they all immediately wanted to draw, so I asked them to draw the animal that they wish they could be, but they rejected, saying they didn’t know how to do it, so I told them to draw anything they wanted. It was through this activity that I learned a few things about 4 Nilam, and my ray of hope grew from being very, very tiny to being a tinier bit bigger, hehe:

1) You can catch their attention, but you have to know how to do it.
2) They can actually concentrate when they put their minds to it. I have to help them somehow.
3) Some of them don’t recognise certain letters of the alphabet! Poor children. They can’t even attach certain sounds to the correct letters. Some of them write letters in the wrong way, so I tried to help correct them. I showed a few of them how to write the letter ‘e’, but they felt that their usual way writing was much easier. Need to do something about this!
4) One or two are quite bright, especially one by the name of Farah Natasha! She can spell most of the words I asked, and she finished her work quickly.
5) The children are somewhat attracted by my ‘newness’ and youth I guess, judging by the way they wave to me excitedly whenever I pass by, so I should use this to help them to learn a few things while I’m here.

I think it’s good for me to set some goals to achieve while I’m here. The instructions we received concerning ROS was too simple and too brief… many of us still do not what to do. So I hope we can all share our experiences, and maybe this blog (though I doubt anyone is reading it) will help my friends and others go through their training.

I’m going to observe 1 Delima after this. I wish myself the best of luck…

11.45 am, SKP Computer Lab
I didn’t observe class 1 Delima because the teacher said she was only doing revision for the previous UBB (monthly test), but she said I could come in tomorrow. I offered to help her with the lesson plan and the teaching materials, but she said she usually didn’t make any. But since I offered, she said she’d look at the topics and see what I can do to help. She offered me her place to teach, while she observed! I nearly died right then, and I rejected politely, saying I’d rather watch than teach. What a near escape!

Just now, I entered class 3 Nilam again because they asked me to, and it was an English period anyway, and the teacher was absent. There was supposed to be a replacement teacher, but no one came in. Strange. Anyway, I went in, and surprise, surprise! Most of them had brought books because I asked them yesterday, but a few didn’t so I asked them to share.

We read a story titled “King Lion and His Cooks” from the textbook (page 28). It was a simple story for the children, but I had to translate it into the Malay language so that they could understand. I think they can actually be made to understand, but it is so hard to capture their attention. One minute I was reading out loud and they were following me, and the next the boys were suddenly standing up and moving their desks around. Children are just exasperating.

Some of them sat down and followed my readings all the way through. I felt like hugging them! It just shows how hard it is to keep their attention on a lesson, even a simple one. Some of them ran around. One had no book, so I went up to him with my book (a borrowed one). I put my hands on both sides of his head and made him look at the book and read along. I wonder if I did the right thing? He didn’t protest much though.

I tried to ask them to spell a few words and tell me the meanings in Malay, to see if they understood the story. Hah! Don’t say it. I know, I know, a lot of people disapprove of the Grammar-Translation Method, but the people who say that have probably never taught children in Palekbang. Sometimes, we need to resort to the methods that best suit the children, but of course I have yet to find out which method suits these children best. Adoi. Anyway, I ignored my sense of guilt and asked them to translate the meaning. At least it helped them to understand the story. So there!

Then suddenly, two of them started fighting. I’ve had my eye on one of them since yesterday. Macam samseng. But he came when I called him, so I guess he can be trained to follow what I say, but I am in despair when it comes to their personal fights. I’m not at resolving conflicts, and these children are nine years old… I don’t know, are they too young to differentiate between good and bad? Anyway, I tried my best to separate them (nearly got killed in the process. Kidding. Not) and decided to go back to the lab. Whatever possessed me to accept these kids invitation? I must be mad. However, when I wanted to go out, they tried to stop me. Pulak. These kids are beyond me. Really!

My usual words… I hope tomorrow will be better. I’ve planned to discuss the things we have to include in the logbook with Ijah this weekend. We better stick to it! With Ijah it is dangerous… you’ll probably end up gossiping instead! And I hear there’s a new gossip in town… but this doesn’t have anything to do with teaching, so I won’t talk too much about it. It didn’t rain today. And I had another free meal! (This time it’s Ummi’s friend, Cikgu Siti Noor). May Allah help me get through the days that are to come…. Amin!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

ROS Day 2: Fried Mee and a Ray of Hope (…?)

PHASE 1: Fried Mee

Today, I entered class for the first time. The thing that crossed my mind when I came out was, “What on earth possessed me to choose this profession?” What I experienced yesterday was not encouraging enough to help me face the children in class. But I guess some fried mee, especially a plateful that is free, helped… hehe

When I arrived at school, I went straight to the office to sign in. This was done by writing my name at the very end of a list of teachers in the school logbook, writing the time of arrival complete with a signature (you have to sign two times, once when you arrive and once before you go back. Fuh). Then, not knowing where to go, I went to the teachers’ room and went straight to the seat I was offered yesterday, which (of course) was actually another teacher’s seat. When the teacher (Kak Na) came in, she was not at all flustered but went straight to another desk, but I felt as if I was being a nuisance so I stood up and went to the computer lab, which was, thank God, open.

After sitting down for a while at the lab, I got bored and asked the teachers in there if they needed help with anything. Two of them were arranging the duties for teachers who had to relieve classes for the absent ones, so they asked if I’d go in. When I got the timetable, I was very, very flustered. I had to relieve four classes, two of which were DOUBLE periods. O.M.G. What was I to do? I was already late for the first one, so I went to my seat, took up my handbag and walked to the class, trying to calm down as I did so.

When I entered the class (4 Nilam), all the kids looked at me in a puzzled manner. I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to give the salam, or if the kids were supposed to do so. I had NO IDEA about what I had to do. I sat down, and smiled blankly at them. They stared back. In my head, I was thinking, this is definitely different from doing university programmes for children. Usually, I am pretty spontaneous with children, but with my new status as a ‘teacher’ (even though only a trainee), I felt conscious about everything I did. When the situation started to become unbearably uncomfortable, I decided to ask them to introduce themselves in English.

I asked them 3 questions: (1) What is your name? (2) How old are you? (3) Where do you live? Some of them were rather shy about it, so I decided to write the questions down. I turned to the whiteboard and… oh oh… there were no marker pens. Shoot. I was to discover later that it was the same for all classes (I suppose the teachers carried them around at all times to keep the marker pens safe. Judging by my encounter with the kids, they probably eat marker pens), but right then I just thought the marker pens were lost. So I just went on asking the kids the questions. Bother, bother. Their accents were so thick that most of the times I had trouble understanding what their names were. Another obstacle. Duh. I also had trouble remembering the names. Double bother. Anyway, as I went from each pupil to the next, the class started to get out of control. At first I tried to quiet them down, but then I gave up. They just wouldn’t listen. Thankfully, I didn’t feel like crying yet, and thankfully too, the teacher for the next class came in at the moment, so I managed to escape. Fuh!

The next class was relatively the same. This time it was 3 Delima. The classes at my school are streamed into two; Delima for the high-achievers and Nilam for the low achievers. So, 3 Delima would have been easier to handle than 4 Nilam, but it was a bigger class, with around 32 pupils, and the kids were major hyperactive ones. Thankfully I went in late (because I didn’t realise that I had to replace all the classes highlighted in the table given to me), so I didn’t have to spend too much time with them. But they were noisy. So noisy.

After that, I went back to the computer lab. It was still raining, and I got very sleepy and cold, and later on, hungry. At that time, Kak Zah was having her Science class in the computer lab, and it was 3 Delima, dear dear. The kids kept looking at me, and I pretended not to notice, which is unusual of me since I can normally smile easily at kids. My experience with 4 Nilam earlier had shaken my confidence a bit, I guess. When they were supposed to make corrections, three of the girls actually came up to me and asked my age! Kak Zah stared at them, and I felt as if I was in the wrong too, so I shushed them back to their seats, stealing guilty looks at the teacher. Not that I invited the kids of course. Oh dear.

Then, I started to get hungry. All the time, I kept opening, folding, re-opening and re-opening the timetable that I got earlier. There was only about half an hour before I had to go to my next class which was DANG! Another double period. Initially I had decided to just eat at home, but the thought of facing another class, this time for a whole hour, on an empty stomach, made me feel dizzy, so I decided to go and have something to eat.

When I got to the canteen, the Senior Assistant Teacher, Cikgu Razif was there having his break. I asked for a cup of hot Milo and sat down. Now, I VERY SELDOM order Milos when I eat out, except when there were no other drinks. It just goes to show how you can easily fall into an unwanted routine when you don’t think very clearly (I’d ordered hot Milo too on the day before, when my mentor offered to treat me to a drink). As I sat down, Cikgu Razif looked at me so I politely greeted him. He asked if I was having anything to eat, so I just said yes. Then, when Ida, one of the girls working there brought me my cup of Milo and asked if I wanted anything to eat, I said I didn’t know what to eat, so she suggested ‘mee goring basah’ (fried mee), and I agreed. It was GOOD; Kak Ye really knew how to cook. Cikgu Razif who was sitting at a table behind me was also having the same food, and yesterday I’d heard one of the teachers order it, so I guess it’s the popular dish there.

When I went to pay for my meal, I discovered that Cikgu Razif had already paid for it. Yay! Two free meals in a row. I began to feel that life was not so bad after all. I set off for my next class feeling a little bit more light-hearted. Free meals can always make one happy (especially when they’re good, hehe).

To be continued…


This time, it was 3 Nilam. Bother. I did the same routine, asking their names, age and where they lived, but they were even worse, some not even answering my questions at all. One of them actually had the cheek to answer ‘Tahi Lalat!’ when I asked his name. I felt rather offended as I had one that was rather obvious on my left cheek, and the boy was staring pointedly at mine, but I ignored the feeling and insisted on knowing his name. Some wouldn’t look at me, and as I moved from one kid to another, they began to get restless and started kicking each other, jumping up and down, throwing things at each other and lots more. I tried to ‘outshout’ them, but my voice which I had thought (and some of my friends had said) was too loud before ROS, was not loud enough for to carry over the noise.

I felt so exasperated that I asked them to take out their English textbook. Most of them HAD NOT brought it, and when I asked why, they answered, “Saja.” (No reason). I grit my teeth, took one of the girls book, sat down and started to teach the girls (of which there were only four) to read. At the same time, the havoc among the boys went on, but I ignored them. Then, gradually, one or two of them started to join us. I ignored the others, who seemed like they were trying to kill each other, and listened to the ones around me reading. Actually, I read, and they followed, but it was okay, at least we were doing something.

Suddenly, there was a commotion, and I found that one of the boys was crying. Apparently, another boy (whose shirt was so yellow that I doubt it had ever been white before) had hit him the day before. Why he was crying now I had no idea, I suppose the yellow-shirted kid had hit him again, but I fell into a dilemma over what to do. I wasn’t yet good at dealing with kids when it came to this matter. So I told the kid in the yellow shirt to sit down and to NOT MOVE until the end of the lesson. I went back to my place and continued teaching the ones willing to sit around me. Sad, huh?

Suddenly, two of the girls started crying too. By this time I was getting pretty exasperated. Apparently this time, one of the boys, the class monitor in fact (whose name was Haikal but I kept thinking it was Asyraf), had stolen one of the girls’ water bottle and poured the water out. I had no idea why two girls were crying instead of one, but I tried to console them patting their heads while gritting my teeth. Then I went to Haikal and told him to sit down and to NOT MOVE from his seat until the end of my class (was I falling into another unwanted routine or something? Oh bother).

Soon, I had gotten some of the kids interested in the book, and gradually more and more came to join my little reading circle. Then, I asked them to spell a word, and one of them, after a lot of stuttering, managed to do it, so I gave him a high five. This got the others interested, so it gave me an idea and I told them that if any of them could answer my question or spell the word I asked, they could give me a high five too. This got them really excited for some reason, and soon my right palm was raw and red from high-fiving so many times. But I was beginning to enjoy myself, so it was okay. Some of them were beginning to ask me to flip to certain pages, and I followed their request.

By then the havoc had died down somewhat, and when an ustaz came in for his class, he saw me and decided to let me go on and just give out his exercise books to the kids. I stood up, but the kids asked me to sit down and continue, saying that their ustaz didn’t mind, but I shook my head and said I had another class to replace (in fact I was already late). They seemed (I think, but I don’t really know) disappointed, but I asked them to bring their textbooks tomorrow and they agreed! I know, I know, I shouldn’t put my hopes up high, but as I stepped out of the class (after taking a few photos- they were VERY, VERY excited about it), I began to feel a small ray of hope creeping into me. Perhaps ROS won’t be so bad after all. Perhaps I’ll learn something after all. I don’t know, but who knows anyway? I’ll just have to go on, pray to God and ask for His help and try to survive…

Monday, April 26, 2010

ROS Day 1: A New Experience Begins... Not?

Okay. I shall only say the truth. I’m not so good at doing that, but for the sake of the people reading this (which I doubt there are any), I will try my best to express what I really feel, and not what I think I feel.

Well, today was my first day at school. My first day of ROS (Rancangan Orientasi Sekolah) or also known as School-Based Experience (SBE). To be honest, at first when I came back home, all I thought of how BORING it was. I hate having to say this, but it really was. I didn’t know what to do; I didn’t know what to do with my hands, I couldn’t sit properly, nor could I look at the teachers or pupils very comfortably. All I did was smile brightly whenever I caught someone looking at me, or was caught looking at someone, and that was that.

When I first arrived I met the Guru Besar or Head Teacher, who, apparently did not know I was coming since the one who handled the communications between the school and IIUM was the Senior Assistant Teacher. He was absent today. Great. Fortunately the clerk knew I was coming, so the Head told me to sign in by writing in the logbook, and then went out to talk with the Senior Assistant in charge of co-curricular activities. I didn’t know what to do, so I went around looking at the notice boards and taking some photos.

Then I was invited to the teachers’ room (Bilik Wawasan), but it was small and crowded as the school was having new building being built and everything including the classes was jam-packed into an uncomfortably small area. And the teachers sat where they could, some in the computer lab, some in the Bilik Wawasan. I hope the renovation gets done soon, it must be terribly inconvenient for them.

Well, I did not have much to do, so I just sat in the computer lab, and as rained, it got colder and colder, and I got more and more sleepy. I kept yawning and yawning while trying my best to hide it. The teachers showed some interest when they saw me, especially when they knew when I was doing ROS. Then, after I helped one of the teachers read some marks while she keyed them into a computer, there was quite some clamour over needing an assistant for the other teachers as well, hehe.

But it was so boring. I felt helpless and I hadn’t brought anything with me except the attendance form and the letter from IIUM, so I had nothing to read. I couldn’t wait until it was over, and when it was, I felt so relieved. When I got back, I slept for hours as if I had actually entered a class and taught. Sometimes, doing nothing can be pretty tiring too.

However, after a few hours of sleep (which I discovered quite a number of my friends did after coming back from school… signalling exhaustion? Haha), I woke up feeling that it wasn’t that bad after all. After all, it’s only the first day. For today only I sent and received over 50 SMSes, exchanging stories with my friends who were also having their first day of ROS (for those who were in Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah) and the ones who were nervous anticipating their first day on the morrow (for the ones in the other states).

I hope tomorrow will be better. For now, I just wish that this will all be over and done with quickly, but I know that’s not a good wish to wish. After all, when I work, I’ll have to go to school anyway, so I better get used to it. For now I pray to Allah that I will become more positive, and that I will be able to appreciate my experience in school and appreciate being able to become a teacher, because for now, I think being a doctor is much easier than being a teacher…