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Beyond examinations

October 14, 2011

Having been put in charged of 3 Form 5 classes (2 of which are the ‘excellent classes’), I had been feeling a lot of heat and pressure to prepare them for the SPM; and to achieve the school target.

Words cannot explain how much i hated the word ‘target‘ now.

It’s all about the gimmicks, the tricks, the drillings ——> so that students could scrape their way through a ‘pass’, even though they do not know simple English words.

Furthermore, exams lack validity and reliability as you have teachers giving out ‘spot questions’, and students cheating during exams with the help of the invigilating teachers!

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So how are we ever gonna move forward towards a more student-centered education, when the environment, the culture, the mentality, and the ridiculous emphasis on scores and percentage came pressing on us from the authorities???

With only 3 more weeks till the D-Day for my students, the school is forcing us teachers to do more tuition classes, and to come out with miraculous programmes that could ‘luluskan’ our students @_@

To me, all those are merely for show, just to refute parents when their child doesn’t do well, by saying ‘hey look, our school has done this and that and so on hence it is not our fault that your child sucks did not fare well‘.

But in terms of the efficiency, I personally think all those are jokes. Come on, stop taking our P&P time to give ‘motivational talks’ to students who were not even listening;then ask us to come to school at night to give additional classes. Why don’t you just let us teach, during our P&P in the first place?

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Knowing that I could not change the system or the demands, I was forced to strike a balance. To be able to teach according to what is expected of me from my ‘bosses’; and to be able to teach English.

After 8 months of trials and errors in this ‘sekolah luar bandar’ and ‘Sekolah Berprestasi Rendah’, I believed i found my pace, my direction. Of course, there is still much to learn and to grow professionally and as a person. Thus, I am thankful for the immense opportunity to continue learning.

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So how do I manage my teaching?

I decided to focus on making a lesson relevant, and EXPOSURE.

For instance, when I used a past year question that uses the topic of Ancient and Modern Olympics for their information transfer task, I introduced the students to Greek mythology. Touching on how Ancient Olympics were held to honor their gods, I brought in stories of Zeus and Hera, the students excitedly asked me about Hercules, and we later even talked about Medusa.

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For a summary task about a 17 year old boy who goes around collecting information about WWI and WWII, I first taught students about perseverance and goals (taking the 17 year old boy as an example) then I exposed the students to Holocaust and the Concentration Camps. To my utmost pleasure, some students got so interested, they even went back and googled on the topic, then shared with me what they have learned.

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When teaching them the novel ‘Catch Us If You Can’, there were the characters of the ‘travellers’, better known as the gypsies. So not only I brought in pictures and stories of the gypsies, I showed them the difference between the gypsies caravans,

and modern luxury motorhomes: of how some of the rich and famous like the celebrities, travel around with their comfortable mobile homes.

It’s really cool to see how the students get really excited to learn about such a life, outside the world that they know…

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And quite recently, I did Gulps and Gasps with this Form 4 class I recently took over. When I told them for their oral test, we were gonna do a drama competition, they freaked out BIG TIME. It was something so alien to them, so intimidating, so NEW.

So I decided to give them Drama 101. From doing fun ‘expression and dramatisation’ activities, to lip-synching, and even teaching them how to ‘sing their lines’, incorporating elements of a musical… The students warmed up to the whole idea, and I gave them freedom to use my speakers and projector.

When the day of the class drama competition / oral test came, I was in disbelief.

My students borrowed coats, fedoras, hats, ties, dresses, made their own props, had placards of funny captions….

They used audios for sound effects, played Taylor Swift’s Love Story for the dancing scene, and one group’s Rose even made the effort to act and sing out her lines!

I was in awe, and other classes and teachers came to see what’s the whole commotion about. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take any pictures or videos because I was the MC, the Judge, and also Organiser. But truly, I could not have been even prouder of them. They just proved that they had so much to offer, so much creativity, even though they may be labeled as the GM kids.

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With my 5S1 kids, I’m also working on an English Class Magazine with them. There’s a lot more to do, in a very short time, and I want to make sure that they still learn and practise their English while working on this project. I only allocate once a week to work on the magazine, so there’s still a lot to do. For now, we had our Individual Portfolios, Mini Sagas, Wacky Awards, Dedications, Time Capsule, The Bucket List and some entries done… next to cover in the remaining weeks are our ‘parodies’, ‘gallery’ and some good journal entries.

I’m excited to see how this magazine would come out.

I do hope that the students could understand what I’ve been trying to teach them: SPM may seem the most important agenda for them now, but it is not ‘everything’. As SPM is approaching, so is their farewell with their friends and memories of school lurking around the corner.

They need to know that there is life beyond examinations.

A life worth exploring, a life worth treasuring.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2011 7:25 pm

    Love your entries, they inspire me a lot!

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