I was thinking of starting off with a formal introduction, but I am afraid you might get bored and leave. So to make the story short, I am a teacher. I have been a teacher unofficially for the past 25 years of life (technically, we have all been teaching unofficially. Just that no one labelled us as a teacher. Not yet, at least). Officially though, as I write this post, I am a 12 month old teacher.
Why I am doing this? Easy. I like teaching. I love writing. So this is a space where I combine both.
I am a Malaysian born, teaching in a Malaysian school. I am not an expert in teaching, but everyday I experience something new and it would be a waste to not share it with you. So if you’re bored, or if you are a teacher and you’re hoping you’re not in this journey alone, I give you permision to have a peek inside my head. There’s a lot going on in there. But do get your popcorns and pillows ready, because you’re about to read some of the funniest, scarriest and joyful moments of a teacher.
There are so many things that happened today but I have limited time left for tomorrow’s lesson planning. So I will try to make it short.
During assembly which is the last period, I was sharing with a teacher how I was unable to enjoy my new year because I was preparing lesson. She asked me, “what lesson? It’s the first day.” I said, “I was typing out class rules on my slides.” She chuckled and I immediately felt insecure. I wondered if I did anything wrong. I mean, aren’t rules important for students to know what they should do and shouldn’t do?
See, last year my classes were chaotic because I didnt have a proper classroom culture. This year, I had a game plan. Laugh all you want, but my classes were pin-drop silent today. Of course, they are only Form 1 and it is the first day of school. I am well aware those claws and fangs should be out in a week or two. But for once, it was amazing to see all of their eyes glued to me as I explained my classroom culture. Of course, when you give me attention, I get excited and I go on and on and on talking about why we should have rules, till the teachers outside have to remind me that my time is up.
If you’re a class teacher, a new one that is, have procedures. Have rules. Have a consequences. It does’t only makes teaching easier, but it gives a sense of structure to your students. There’s a reason why cookie cutter exist. Because without it, your cookies become deformed. You have the power to form your students. To mold them. To direct them. Whatever you say, and do, especially how you make them feel, they will remember.
As a class teacher, I have a few roles in my class to help me manage my classroom. I have a monitor, an assistant monitor, three cleanliness leaders and a documentation head. Today I selected the students for each and defined their roles. I think it is important that they know what they must do.
We live in a world where people think it is okay to stay in a gray area. Yes it is, but not all the time. Sometimes you need black and white. Sometimes you need structure.
My next plan is to give them appointment letters and a contract to sign to create a sense of responsibility so that they will take their task seriously. (No, I am not kidding)
I always wondered, what kind of first impressions others had on me. But when I became a teacher, it has become one of the most important criteria.
As I was trying to show my strict face to one of the classes today, I heard from outside, “Cikguuuu!!!” (Means teacher in Malay). I saw my former students entering my class and trying to be funny. In my heart, I was bursting in flames because they totally spoiled my strict nature. On the outside, I was giving a poker face. I walked over, calmly and said “Go back to your class, now.” I turned back and I saw my other students giggling. Part of me was happy that my former students greeted me, the other part was crushed, because that might have messed up my first impression.
First impressions are super important. It’s how your students will remember you for the rest of the year. Last year, I was nice. I was so nice, that my students treated me like their friend so much so they begin to lose respect. I guess the trick here is to find the balance between gentle and firm.
Be firm, but let them know that you care. Be gentle, but let them know you’re not someone they can mess with. Be kind. Always be kind. Because sometimes you might be the only one who is.
I want to write more. I want to share with you my self-made ice-breaker wheel. There!
But time is my enemy.
Nevertheless, I’m giving a pat on my back, because for once, I am living up according to what I have planned. I plan to launch this blog on the 1st of January 2017. And tadaa! Here I am posting this up.
Hoping to post more teacher stories in time to come.