Journey to become a teacher

1st week (17th January - 21st January 2011)
It was a school assembly when I first report for practicum at one school in Klang. The headmistress, Pn. Rubiah asked my friend and I to join the assembly before she gave us briefing. I was a little bit upset when the HM told us that we were a little bit disturbing the school system. For her, trainee teachers were not good and would spoil the pupils. Even though I felt upset for that, but I promised to myself that I would do my very best and to prove to the HM that sometimes, trainee teachers are much better than the ones who already taught permanently.
On the first day, there was nothing much for us to do. We just explored the school to see the facilities and school culture. We were also given a relief class for the last two periods. Coincidently, the relief class was the class in which I would be teaching in. So, I decided to make an icebreaking activity with them to get to know them and see their English level as well as their attitude.
My first impression towards the school and the culture on the first day was so-so. I could say that I felt the sense of unwanted in here. The morning session teachers were not so friendly. Even though we tried to smile to them, some of them did not return the smile to us. Even worse, there was one teacher who seemed like to avoid us for we were kind of hunting textbooks from her. The way she dealt with us showed that.
The pupils in the school were not that bad. However, since we learnt in IPBA to give salam and greetings to lecturers and any people pass by, I were shocked with the culture here. Maybe the pupils were not taught to say salam and greet new people. Or maybe they were not emphasized to do so. I still remembered when I was a contract teacher in a secondary school, the principal kept on reminding the students to greet anyone (teachers and strangers) who pass by them. I think, it is a suitable time for teachers to inculcate the habit of giving salam and greetings among small children.
On the first week, I joined pupils’ training for merentas desa activity which was held on Saturday 22nd January 2011. I was assigned to stay on a check point and help pupils on their directions. I had an experience handling merentas desa activity with secondary students. I can say that handling primary school was different as compared to secondary students. I could not forget to see one NASOM’s pupil ran on that day (The National Autism Society of Malaysia). He was from Year 5 and his name was Yaw. When he reached at my checkpoint, he looked very tired and his face was red. He asked me about the pit stop. He mumbled all the way. He said that the route he took for merentas desa did not make sense because it was too far. Even though he was a special person, he had a very good IQ. I was once entered his class for a relief. He loved to ask questions and he was very active. He could not even speak other language but English.
The first week of practicum did not really portray a life of a trainee teacher. I still had enough sleep (not as what Dr. Norasiah told me). Maybe the heat of practicum will start very soon next week. 

2nd Week (24th January - 28th January 2011)
I started my second week of practicum with good mood. We did not have relief on the first day. However, on Tuesday, I was given two periods of relief class and my colleague, Zuraida 4 periods. I felt weird because as far as I know, the maximum period for a teacher to relieve classes is 2 periods. But maybe since we were trainee teachers with only 10 periods of teaching, GPK 1 assigned us so many relief classes. As for me, until Thursday, I had 4 periods of relief classes. Even though I struggled to complete my lesson plans, but I still had to enter the relief classes as a part of my responsibility to take of the pupils.

In term of timetable, I was happy to get 1st timetable for I was given 5 Kecubung and take over the class fully for three months until April. However, since the HM afraid that pupils would leave unguided, she changed the timetable. I had to share the timetable with the original teacher. Four periods for me and another three periods will remain to the original teacher. For me, I didn’t like this kind of arrangement. It was hard for me to arrange the lessons and making lesson plans. I had to work very closely with the original teacher and to check until what topic she had stopped to avoid repetition of topics.
Another problem of sharing timetable was interruption by the original teacher. As for me, there was once the teacher came to me and asked to switch the teaching day for she had to do her work. It did not mean that I did not want to help her. It just that I did not ready to conduct a lesson for that particular day. This practice would later on interrupt my lesson. I really hope that it would not happen again next time.
For classes that had started this week, I was excited to conduct the lessons. I thought that my lesson plan would work well on the first class since I had planned the lesson well on the paper. However, I was wrong. The English level for the class was intermediate. I could say lower intermediate. So, my activities could not be carried out well. Since I had to explain to them on certain things again and again, I failed to manage the time. When the bell rang and a teacher for next subject came, I was still inside the class and urging the pupils to finish their works quickly. I did not able to do the closure. I was only able to do. This was due to my high expectation on the pupils. So, next time, I have to plan lesser activities and focus more on explanation.
We also put on our scout’s uniform on Wednesday. Initially, I was a little bit shy because only both of us put the uniform on. However, after we saw positive feedbacks from teachers and pupils (based on their reactions when they saw us), I optimized about wearing scout’s uniform.
Tomorrow, the school will be having cross country activity. Until this evening, trainee teachers have not got any special task for tomorrow. But we were asked to put on sports attire tomorrow in case some teachers not turn out tomorrow.

4th week 
(7th February 2011 – 11th February 2011)

 This week I would like to focus on language level of pupils at the school. After few weeks of teaching, I found out that I had to lower the down the English level for their lessons. Let me take Year 4 Firus for an example. The class was on the 2nd rank out of 6 classes. I thought that I could teach them fully in English. During my first teaching of the class, they seemed not to understand on my instructions. They kept quiet most of the time and rarely responded to me even in Malay Language.
On the second time I entered the class, I made a fun activity in which they had to move around the hall to do it. They responded quite well to me on that day. However, when the third class, they were back to the first lesson where they were quiet. They even did not respond to me for the simple questions asked. For example, when I asked them, “where do we go for swimming?”, none of them answer swimming pool.
It seemed like their vocabulary was not reached the level. The fourth class became worst when they even responded lesser and did not complete their homework. I was not sure whether it happened because there was a teacher observing me on the third class and a lecturer on the fourth class that made them reacted like that or they were not really understand my language given during the lessons.
I was frustrated and felt that I failed them to make them understand on the subject. I felt that I made them as experimental object for me to pass the practicum. I wandered why I did not face such difficulty to make them understand in the class when I was a contract teacher. For the next lesson, I will try to simplify everything and try to focus on their understanding of the language rather that my activities.

5th week (14th February 2011 – 18th February 2011)
 I was down again this week. According to my supervisor, my lesson plan did not follow the topic in the textbook. The original teacher advised me to do any topic within the main title. Therefore, I chose Personal Hygiene as the topic for Tuesday’s lesson. I prepared the lesson well. Furthermore, the supervisor would come to observe me on that day.
When she said that I would get low marks because of the reason, I was very upset. She gave me an option to postpone the observation on Thursday and I agreed. Initially, my lecturer said that we could not use textbook for our lesson. The textbook was only meant for reference only and could not be used as the main object throughout the lesson. Due to that, plus the suggestion from the original teacher, I thought that I should put aside the textbook.
At the same time, my confusion over this issue kept in my mind. Back then when I was in a school as a contract teacher, my head panel for Bahasa Melayu said that the PPD asked the teachers to maximize the usage of textbook. Then, I received a different input from my lecturer when I entered IPBA which made me confused.
I guessed, the reason of not using the textbook was because to encourage pupils to think wide and not only restricted to the topic within the texts. However, I questioned myself about the validity of the questions during examination whereby pupils must be tested on the set of lessons they had learned. In addition, what was the purpose of having a textbook if teachers had to avoid of using it.
In the end, I followed my supervisor for I believed that textbook was the best way for pupils to refer to. In fact, by looking at the textbook, pupils would have clear visions on what is the topic all about. Widening pupils’ mind and thinking could be done in some other way or if teachers were have time, they should include more topics related to the main title. By following the textbook and modified the activities, I felt less stress in preparing lesson plans for I already had the idea on the topics that I should write for the lesson.

6th week 
(21st February 2011 – 25th February 2011)

 The meeting for Parents Teachers Associations was held on 26th of February 2011. Zuraida and I were appointed as minute meeting writers together with the other two teachers. At first, I felt uneasy because writing a minute meeting was not a simple job. Since both of us were quite new and still not familiar with the school culture, I was afraid that we might not able to do the minute meeting.
However, I did not reject the job and tried to be an optimistic person. My bonus for taking the job was due to my few experiences as a secretary for History Panel when I was in school and Volleyball Association at IPBA. So I did not really worry about the meeting. I was just afraid that I might miss out some information during the meeting. The other two teachers convinced us by saying that we worked together as a team. Therefore, the writing from each and every one of us would support each other in case one of use missed out the information.
On the day, we sat at the front seat to copy the minute meeting. During this important event, the chairperson played a vital role to make sure that we got all the information needed. The chairperson had to explain the rules of voicing out suggestions and ideas by asking them to tell their names first. We did not face much problem on doing the minute meeting and were able to accomplish the task successfully.

7th week 
(28th February 2011 – 4th March 2011)

 When I received my PR 1 form for my third observation, I saw more improvement marks on the sheet. My time management was getting better and I had not much problem on conducting all the activities. I developed my rapport with my pupils so that I could manage the class better. My view on how to conduct classes by using different methods and strategies was now clearer than before. Basically, experiences taught us better.
My cooperative teacher, Pn Indira was very good in advising me and giving me tips on how to conduct the classes. As for the last classes that she observed, she gave me few tips on teaching reading skills to pupils. She taught me the steps of doing it for she said I should not straight away asked pupils to read individually.
She told me to read at least twice with the pupils. Then, identify what were the words that pupils could not pronounce properly. Drilled them on those words by writing on the board and asked pupils to repeat after the teacher. When the drill gave better result, then I could switch to group reading.
When I first heard about the term, I thought group reading was dividing pupils into groups and the do the reading on their own. I voiced out my thought to the teacher and she quickly corrected me. She said group reading was one of the strategies to reduce time. I had to divide the class into few groups, say four groups. Then, I could ask each group to read one paragraph and the other groups listened. So, pupils would know how to pronounce certain words by listening to their friends’ reading.

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