I was told that it was a very flowery choice of words..
The title of this writings may seem to look and sound ridiculous, but this is whatever that first came into my mind when I first started to write it. I have been warned by Madam Maheran for my tardiness once before this, and I have been trying to correct my ways as much as I can at a pace that I am able to garner. However, it seems that my efforts and whatever it is that i have been doing were futile against everything that has happened so far.
Things were easy at first, during our ROS programme; we were free to roam the school to search for information and gathering whatever intelligence we can harvest for our write-up. Afiq was enjoying his moments in taking pictures of the school grounds, as we pretty much felt as if we were like some kind of covert operatives coming to school for the IPG to get whatever stories and images to tell to the higher-ups at the headquarters. Masyitah seems to be trying to get along with the other female teachers of the school, to me, she looked desperate to join in the topics of conversations as the topics seems like to be about fashions of the previous generations, business like conversations of selling clothes, booking for the tailor services for the coming Hari Raya festivities and what not. As we try to blend in with the school culture, we see things as colourful as the rainbows and the atmosphere was as calm as the as blue skies were.
The week all three of us received our designated classes, we were excited. The Senior Assistant of Administration (PKP) briefed us of the way the school handles their students and how teachers were expected to deliver lesson to the students with everything that they have. At first, writing lesson plans were not as much of a pain for any of us who were just recently started our first week of the practicum. I have been planning for my first lesson weeks ago, having the mental-imaging training on how to handle the students and the conducting the activity I have intended to carry out with the little sprouts of the society that were assigned to me. Remembering how I was trained and how many educators have I encountered in my life, I can say that most of the great educators I was put under were very lenient and happy go lucky type of respectable men and women.
During the first class, 1 Cekal was ok. Everybody was behaving. I choose to be the kind of person who enters the class with a serious face and a firm personality, yet a very understanding and caring person towards my students. Well, I cannot say that I have not tried to be the person I have aspired to be. Hence I started the class with everything that was all planned out from the very first week I stepped my foot on this school compound. There were lots of absentees that day, but judging from the ones that were present, I assumed that all students were nice little angels that are waiting for their teacher to quench their thirst for knowledge. Little that I know, most of the little angels absent that day were countless little Beelzebubs, waiting to be unleashed by the chains that were binding them. 1 Cekal was left improperly attended as the teacher in charge of their English classes were on medical leave, and the substituting teacher was more or less unable to give them the drives and passion to want to learn more and enjoy the fun of English Language. Hence, due to the prolonged stagnant environment, they have seemed to lose their aptitude to learn English at all. It was okay, I know I can train these little kids into a bunch of kids that likes English and would definitely enjoy the lesson more. I tried focusing on their grammar first, teaching them from nouns to verbs, from verbs to the basic use of the concords of English. They seemed to understand what i was teaching, however, in the process of me trying to teach them, two sweet little kids were acting very impulsive in disturbing my class, the first one was Safwan, the very embodiment of mischief of the class, and Zetty, the proclaimed beauty of the school, even the form 4 students were talking about her when I was out relieving the classes without teachers. Safwan was annoying beyond belief. He was absent from school most of the weeks, but when he was present, he will be disturbing the class a lot. You can find him walking around the class during lesson, disturbing others concentration and fool around with the other students. I’ve scolded the boy, penalised him, and ignored him during class to make him less prominent in the class, but nothing happened. I finally snapped, called him to my desk in the teachers’ lounge and slow-talked him in to cooperating with me. I interviewed him about his personality, talked about my experience when i was at his age and talked about consequences that would befall upon students that have disobeyed their teachers and also mentioned about the “berkat”, when he annoys a teacher he will lose the berkat from the teacher and what not. Finally, after that talked with him, he has started to behave more and more during my class.
These two young teenagers seem to enjoy disturbing my lesson, with Zetty often refused to cooperate because “I am too beautiful to do any of the things you asked to do”. Her little diva-complex was getting stronger and stronger as the days pass by, yet I try to tolerate her juvenile idea of self-importance and glory. I try to ignore her intolerance to the rest of the class, continuing lessons as they were planned, but then one day she acted very rude and stupid. She just suddenly stood up and walked away from my class just to talk with her friends from the other class and went out just like that. I was enraged by her actions, and yelled her to come back into class, but with a very big ignorance and stupid pride, she looked at me and went away as if I was some kind of a slave set to serve her just because she was pretty.
I myself was enjoying the work, writing, planning and imagining what I would be doing with my students for all that I can care. Writing those tiny little details never seemed to be a burden to me at all. As soon as school was over, I started my bike and head straight back home, somewhat 20 kilometres away from school with a jolt feeling of excitement for my class tomorrow. However, after a few weeks of long distance travel, I’ve started to feel the tiredness and the after-effects from the school workloads. When i got home, I feel tired, not blaming the distance of the travel from school to mu home, but the mind fatigue I was experiencing from the juvenile attitudes of my class. The heat from the sun was also affecting me as I reached home, not to mention the condition of my old motorcycle was also making my body ached from the constant vibrations coming from it with every strain of speed I am harnessing from it. I was the first of my housemates to leave home, yet am the last of my housemate to reach home, due to the failing of the motorcycle to go full speed of to get faster than I wanted it to be. I was usually passed by Azam and Afdhal halfway from the journey to my school as they were able to speed up to race against the time. Again I am not placing the blame on the condition of the motorcycle, but the effects of the travels were making me weaker and wearier. Whenever I got home, I was too tired to think and I would usually fall asleep easily as I sat on the sofa. When I woke up, it was usually maghrib already. Concerned with my condition, a few friends suggested that I rest at their house first before I head home. Well, it was a good way to avoid the heat of the day as well as the crazy traffic at the city, but then again it means that I will be arriving home around 8pm. Hence i continue to write my lesson plans that I can managed, when it suddenly became an issue when people were talking about we were using the wrong lesson plan. I stopped writing my lesson plans, only writing up the procedures but not the format that was supposed to write at front as we were still in confusion in how to exactly write it.
That was when it started to kick in. My habit of procrastinating. Writing lesson plans started to look like burdens to me. The urge to get home as soon as possible and to finish whatever it needs for my ROS report, I neglected writing my lesson plans in details, only drafting them in a note book and just implementing it as the way it was planned to be. Things were going alright as there was no problem to it, the lesson was planned, everything was carried out perfectly and students were not complaining. My weeks started to get busier. The Principal was trying to get a raise in her ranks; hence weekly meeting about the school administration and small, useless details that needs to be checked out for the sake of making sure the school condition can raise her chance to be promoted DG52 as high as possible. She was rambling about little details, asking for more work from the teachers and staffs, and of course, without considering the consent of her employees. Teachers started to talked behind her back, making fun of her decisions and questioning her application considering how awful the condition of the school was under the skin of the perfectionist ruler.
I was recommended by Afiq when a Head of Sector was asking whether we can help her translate some paper for her assignment. Since it was my free day that day, I said I can do it and I did finish the translation for the questionnaires in less than 3 hours. Amazed, she asked me to continue translating the whole research paper, but i refuse seeing how much of a hassle it is to finish all those works. However, it did not end there. I usually had breakfast at school with Afiq at the school canteen. Knowing that fact, the teacher secretly pays for ours meals day by day, unknown and reluctantly accepted by me and Afiq, hence, I felt inclined to translate the wall of text to her. My life got busier by the moment I accepted that job. I get home from school, wrote my ROS, translate a few page, trying to figure out some activities for my students, and then it came to me. Hari Raya was coming. But before the leave, I have to deal with the fasting month of Ramadhan. Students were very uncooperative during the Ramadhan. Adding oil to the fire, the PKP’s words during the assembly on the first day of Ramadhan was an overkill statement. “I allow you to sleep during class if you are feeling too tired, but just don’t ask permission or try to go home earlier than the time you are allowed to leave”. Students were using that excuse to sleep during class. Hence I had to resort to a way that would make them awake during my lesson, which is to always have competition during class and there will prize or winners and consequences to losers. I hate that kind of environment. I hate it because students were just looking for excuse for not learning anything at school.
The Principal, still in her attempt and efforts for a promotion, constantly held meetings after meetings after school hours. Just for the sake of recording things into the files that were left unattended during her rule before this. And to fill the files with activities, she decided to have two consecutive activity on the last two days of school, the Zakat distribution ceremony and the Khatam Quran ceremony on the last day. The day before the Independence Day, the school was having a gotong-royong to prepare itself with the necessary things for the two coming events, for example, mopping the school canteen floor so that when the parents come, it will look spotless clean. The week before that, Afiq and I were left in charge of training the students for the Busana Muslim Program during the last day of school, hence the need for us to stay back after school and train the unwilling students to perform a catwalk for the whole school. We did what we were asked, not mentioning anything, and enjoyed ourselves as we get to be nearing the end of the school term of torture. After all of this was over, the holiday is coming to greet us with a smile.
. . . . . . .
After the holiday was over, we started the school days as usual. That Sunday morning assembly, the Principal announce to the students about the Hari Raya celebration which was to be held on the next day. Ok, how bad can it be? It was just a celebration. On the day of the celebration, I went to school in the formal attire instead of the Baju Melayu, which was never stated to be the compulsory attire for the day. I went there and was asked to meet the so called “Bonda”; the Principal; by the Senior Assistant of Student Affairs, the PK HEM. We were asked why were we not in our celebrative attire. I answered, “It’s been a while since mom made me one of these Baju Melayu, and due to my preference, Mom only make the Baju Melayu part, not together with the pants”. Afiq answered that his Baju Melayu was washed last night as the attire was also his sleeping attire, the only set of Baju Melayu that he brought this semester. Both of us received a cold stare from her, then she mentioned her wishes that was stated to us during our very first meeting with her long ago. “I asked you all to present me a choral speaking competition, but I don’t see any efforts coming from any of you in preparing the students for that event”. Obviously she did not know her student well enough, how are we to train the students during the Ramadhan if they would not even come to school during normal school hour, let alone to come to train for the choral speaking after the school hour? We said to her that we were gauging the students’ level first, and will be training them right after the Ramadhan. She was pleased with the answer we gave her, we were given one more burden from her.
All three of us notified our classes about the competition and the training that will happen for the sake of the competition. Students were unwilling to cooperate, yet they have to due to orders from high above any of us. Hence, we were to find texts suitable enough for our students, and squeeze time to train with them. Please note that we were given orders to use one of our slots to prepare the students for the competition by “Bonda”. If she was so concerned about the students’ performance in English, why not focus more on the syllabus instead of the competition?! I just could not understand how that woman is thinking. The students comply with our orders to join the competition. In order to prepare ourselves for the upcoming contest, we asked them to be available after school hours to practice. As to be expected, students were not cooperative enough to com and join the training session at all. Time was running out, we need to train, we need to teach, and then came orders from Mr Subra, an English teacher of the school that we were to assess our students oral communication skills and get the results before the 30th of October. What am I going to do? Time is not on our side. I waited for the students to come after school hours. After waiting for more than half an hour for each of the designated time, only few students came. If I am lucky, more than 10 would be there.
I am burning out. I see Afiq coming to school in a tired state, I saw Masyitah crying out after she called Madam Maheran to explain about our predicament, and I saw myself in a tired expression through the mirror in the school toilet. What am I to do? How am I going to survive? I admit, Afiq and Masyitah was able to complete their lesson plans in their record books. But not me. I have one big flaw compared to them. I am still trying to get rid of that flaw. I tend to procrastinate when there were to many things to do at once. I have poor time management skills. I am trying to improve these flaws of mine. But with the burdens over my shoulders, I see myself caving in. Desperate to fill the gaps of my lesson plan, I tried to complete whatever there is to complete. I race for more time. I slept less, I went back home lesser, I stayed at my friends house more. Just to get more time to finish all this unfinished craps I created myself. I am the biggest blame for all what have happened to me, my failure to be a good teacher, yet my fatigue was only making me more and more unproductive as I move on with the practicum days. I hope I get a second chance, I am not slacking off from my duties, I am trying to recover from my lags, I will be a better teacher. Please, give me a second chance to grab hold the duties of a teacher once more. My love life has nothing to do with this at all. Instead, it was the one that helped me to find time and giving me ideas to get some quick solutions to my troubles. Without that support, if I were to ignore the suggestions she gave me, I might have been in a bigger mess than I am now.
That is all that I can say about me. I am not looking for sympathy, I am not seeking for pity. I know it may not be enough, but I am hoping that this can at least help me to get a second chance and prove myself once again, and not to disappoint the people that trusted me through all this time.