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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

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…

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