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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

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Big Classes vs. Small Classes

   When I first went to SKP to see what it was like, I asked the guard how many pupils the school had. He said they had around 80 pupils.

   "From Year 1 to Year 6?" I asked.

   "Yes," he answered without batting an eyelid. "This year we had 8 pupils who registered for Year 1."

   That was last year. There you go. As soon as I heard that, I estimated that the most I would have for a class was 15 pupils.

   When I got here, I found that I would be teaching English to 11 children. 6 boys and 5 girls.

   Hah! She'e got it easy, you think. 11 pupils? Well, you think wrong. Well, perhaps you are not entirely wrong. A lot of my friends say that I have it easy because there are so few pupils in my class. Even my supervisor said I was lucky, as was my partner who got 14 in her class. I say, try teaching my pupils and see what it's like.

   What I mean is, perhaps the number of pupils does affect your teaching in class. Maybe having fewer pupils helps you to have better classroom control and management. But it's not necessarily so. In my case, it was very, very difficult. For one thing, I did not give the impression of a strict teacher when I first entered my class. I was nice. I smiled. In fact, I did all the things that my seniors and friends who have had experience in teaching warned me not to do.

   For the first few weeks of my class, I experienced all sorts of disasters. Kids crying. Kids fighting and squabbling. I think it's normal, but for me it was difficult because I felt that I should not have any excuse for being unable to control my class. Some of my friends have over 40 pupils in their class. I had eleven. 11! And i still could not control them.

   Another thing that bugged me all the time when I teach in class is managing how I gave my attention to the children. My problem was that I knew every child so well... so much so that I wanted to help each and every one of them to learn according to their own styles. I could not see the children as one class. Instead, I saw them as individual beings who each need my help in different ways. It bothered (and still bothers) me, and distracted me from trying to keep the class under control.

   One of the most embarrassing things was how, when Mdm J. came to observe, a teacher who happened to pass by my class, asked another teacher, "Isn't there a lecturer in that class?" The children were that noisy. at first they were quite in awe of Mdm J., but that soon passed. 9-year-olds. Yeah. I wonder if I was ever that bad. The thing is, they're not bad children. They just can't help quarreling with each other. When they speak, they just have to raise the volume of their voices to the utmost level. If they need to ask me something, they come running to me instead of waiting patiently in their seats.

   Alhamdulillah, things have turned for the better now. They have improved a little (and hope I have too...) thanks to some 'help from my guiding teacher, haha. Now, they at least try to glue their bottoms to their own seats. They don't shout so much, but sometimes I still can't help feeling exasperated when they get too boisterous. The thing is, I don't mind how noisy they are as long as they do their work, but I cannot let them distract the other classes. Oh well. Time will tell whether I've improved and whether they have learned anything at all form my classes.

   So that's it. Whatever happens, however big or small your class is, you still have different sorts of challenges to face. Don't say things like, "You have it easy, you have such a small number in your class!", or "You're lucky for getting the smarter ones, you don't have to use BM at all." Don't someone else has it easy. you don't know the difficulties they're going through, and by giving these comments to them you're just bugging them even more. Just saying so from experience.

   And whatever happens, don't give up. Find one small moment in your class that makes you feel that you have to go. Something that helps to lift your spirits a little. Don't keep finding excuses. And DON't compare your pupils to that of others. Your pupils are special. They need you, just like other pupils need their own teacher. If you don't want to be there with them, they can feel it.

   I give my best wishes and prayers to all teacher trainees and teachers who are fighting, every single day, to make the world a better place by educating our children. May Allah bless our efforts, Insya-Allah.

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