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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, March 16, 2011

The Silent Treatment - It Works After All

   I have a soft spot for kids. I guess. I really don't have the heart to be angry at them, or to keep at it when I do manage to get angry at all. I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing. Maybe it's because I'm still pretty much a kid at heart myself.

   With 3 Cerdik, this does create problems sometimes. They are, as Madam Jane says, 'too comfortable' with me, that they're not afraid at all when I show the slightest hint of being angry at them. They'd just continue shouting and running around, and if they do realise that I'm angry, they'd argue over who made teacher angry. great.

   Last week, however, brought about a totally new experience for me, and for them too.

   SKP had its UPP (Ujian Pengesanan Prestasi, which is sort of like a monthly test but is not done monthly) last week, so Eza and I were free from lesson plans for one whole week. Hurray! To top it off, we had had our final observation for English the week before, so we were in good spirits when the week started off.

   We'd been given the UPP timetable earlier, and were told that we were supposed to enter classes according to our usual periods to invigilate the exam. I think this is what most schools do to make things easier rather than to draft out a whole new timetable for invigilators.

   When I entered the class as usual on Tuesday, I could feel trouble brewing. The problem with Year 3 is that since I'm mostly very laid-back and easygoing during classes, they automatically become extra energetic whenever they're with me. So, as soon as the teacher left the class, they started chatting and winking at each other. I just ignored them. As long as they didn't make too much noise, it was fine with me.

   However, on Wednesday things took a different turn. I don't remember what subject they were doing, but as usual they had finished early and started to get restless. They began passing notes and doodling on pieces of scrap paper. I thought this was not proper as it was during an exam, so I told them that I only wanted to see their exam paper and pencil cases on their desks. As usual, the cheeky little things started asking whether a whole bunch of things were allowed on the table. I was tolerant enough until one boy (whose name I will not mention here) asked if one item (which I will also not mention) was allowed on the table too.

   I glared at the boy-who-must-not-be-named. What he said was not only rude, but also rather obscene, and I knew that it was something that he would not have dared say to another teacher. At this time, the others were building up a racket, and without realising it I started to get really angry. At first I scolded a little, but when it did not work, I administered The Silent Treatment. Haha. What a name, huh?

Even these big fellas know how to give each other the Silent Treatment, huh?

   Now, this 'treatment' is one that Eza has recommended a number of times. She said what one has to do is to pull a very 'ketat' or tight face so that the kids know you're angry. I've tried it a number of times, but it never really worked, probably because I couldn't keep my face serious long enough with the kids. Besides, I rarely really, truly feel very angry with them, so I know that I don't mean it when I make tight faces. Maybe that's why tight faces don't work with me. In addition, even if I do it, they don't think I'm angry, they think I'm sulking. So I gave up and just try my best to keep them occupied through the class to keep them from being too noisy.

   This time, however, I was really angry. So I went to my seat and completely ignored them. If anyone made any noise, I would look at them until they stopped. At first, they did not notice, but soon the class went from noisy to a little less noisy. They started to notice that I was angry with them. Some of them called out to me, but I ignored them, which was not hard to do at first since I was really angry. However, the feeling started  to wear off after a while, but I gritted my teeth and kept at it. By this time I was wondering if Eza's Silent Treatment really worked. So far it was working, so I thought I should go on.

   When the time for the exam was up, I stood up and collected their papers, silently and without looking at their faces. By then, they knew that something was wrong. I completely ignored them, and when they tried being playful with me I kept a straight face and averted my gaze. This was something new to them, as I'd never ignored their jokes. In fact, I would usually join in.

   After that, I went back to my seat. There were still about 10 minutes left before break, so I wrote on the board: Break at 11 am. Yes, I did. I was so determined to carry on with the experiment that I did not want to say a single word to them. Laugh if you want. Anyway, it started to get a bit difficult because they wanted to console me. Some of them came to me and asked what was wrong, but I kept quiet. It was especially difficult when Alif, for whom I have a really soft spot, began peering at me from under his long eyelashes and calling "Teacher? Teacher?" in his high-pitched voice. Eza would understand how difficult it was for me to have ignored this!

   When the bell rang for break, I left the class, with the boys running after me. I ignored them. It was all that I could do to keep my face straight, but I did it. I thought that I'd ignored them enough for the day, so I decided that I'd go back to being nice the next day.

   But then things happened... and changed everything. I felt so hurt and so horribly betrayed. I did not know how far the truth stretched,  but I knew that most of it was. I can't speak of it. But I did know that I could not face Year 3 smiling for the rest of the week.

   When I entered the class the next day, I could sense that they had been expecting my Silent Treatment. I went straight to the Teacher's Table and dumped the question papers and my things on it. They were supposed to have their English test, but it was not due to start in 50 minutes. Usually, I would rack my brains for activities to keep them occupied, but this time I only spoke a few words. I told them to revise their lessons to prepare for the English paper, and that was that.

   It was the first time the class kept quiet without any effort on my part. They knew I was angry and they knew that I meant it. I returned their files so that they could study, and I pointedly averted my gaze. One boy, Syukri who is usually one of the naughtiest, started looking for old worksheets and sending them to me to be marked, which i did. I only talked when necessary and I swear the class has never been so quiet during my time with them! I would have enjoyed it more had I not felt really angry with them.

   I could see that the girls were affected by my treatment and longed to talk to me. Aisyah M looked sad and unhappy, while Aisyah R kept hovering in front of my desk as if she wanted to ask me what was wrong. It took all my willpower not to answer to their sad faces. Besides, I felt too drained of energy myself. Alif was absent, so I don't know what difference he would have made to my mood.

   I could go on and on describing what happened, but it will probably be very boring. My point is, if you have trouble controlling your class, and you want to administer the Silent Treatment, you have to really grit you teeth and go at it. It's not easy, but if the kids are close to you they will feel the difference in your treatment towards them. I don't know if it's a good kind of treatment, but if you think it's necessary then do it. Don't feel too bad about it, sometimes we have to be a bit mean to teach them a lesson or two.

   As for my kids, I did not see them much for the rest of the week as I had no classes on Friday. The following week was a holiday so I figured I would not see them until after the hols, but I happened to meet them just before the bell rang for the day. They slowly came up to me and began to tell me their marks for their BM paper, so I gave in and talked to them.

   The Silent Treatment- it works. It was an interesting experience, but I really hope I don't have to do it again. I like my kids too much to have to ignore them again. I hope that's a good thing.

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