as logged by Nurul Jannah
Today we (aka Amanda, Jia and I) were assigned 3K again, much to our delight (and extreme relief). I loved teaching 3K the first time round – they were so exceedingly well behaved on our first day of teaching it kind of made me think every class would be as easy to handle. Five days, seven classes, countless shrieking children, one bloodied nose and two wailing children later… I am so much more the wiser. The last time round we taught them the ‘Wh’ question words: who, what, where, when, why and how. They breezed through our material, and today was no different. The topic of the day was ‘Emotions’, plucked right out of the Primary 3 syllabus. Our aim was to present the syllabus in a way more fun than just filling out the blanks in a workbook.
We started by asking the kids for examples of emotions they were familiar with. It warmed my heart to see the arm of nearly every student shooting up; so eager they were to offer their own answers. Some were even bouncing a little on their chairs, or outright standing up. Once we got 10 examples up on the board, we got everyone to stand up. Amanda shouted out emotions, and everyone had to walk around and make faces at each other based on that emotion.
I played along, but was absolutely terrible at it because I couldn’t stop laughing at all the kids. They were giving all they got, and some of their ‘angry’ faces were some of the funniest things I’d ever seen. It was meant to be a silent game, but we ended up having a shrieking class on our hands when Amanda called out “Scared!” My favourite emotion by far was ‘jealous’. The boys got really into it, pushing each other to the ground and shouting the most incredible things. “Kau curi awek aku!” one yelled to his friend, motioning to ‘hurt’ him. The girls stood aloof, watching the boys’ antics in bafflement. I stood there laughing.
We had a little art and craft after everyone had seated themselves again. Each student was given an oval, and was required to draw a face featuring any emotion they wished. On the back of the paper, they had to write a sentence with that emotion in it. They did splendidly, but again, some of the drawings made me want to laugh something terrible. One boy drew a ‘happy’ face, but with its teeth bared and eyebrows a little lopsided, the face looked so ‘happy’ that it seemed almost angry. Some drew thick black moustaches on their paper faces. One cheekily admitted to having drawn “Teacher Amanda”. After that they wrote a short diary entry about an emotion of their choice, and again, they did very well.
Class 2R was a different matter altogether however. We started off with a song with a set of actions to accompany the lyrics (eg. steepled fingers for ‘house’ and two fists together for ‘rock’.) It went as well as expected, but things got harder as the class wore on. Amanda began telling them the story of the ‘Three Little Cats’, using the names of students as the names for various characters in the story. It was a ploy to get them to pay attention. It worked to an extent, but eventually some of the kids grew restless. It became a full time job trying to get them to listen.
The hardest part by far was when we gave them all worksheets – that was when chaos erupted. They did alright at first but as I was trying to teach one student who didn’t quite know how to spell ‘wood’, another came. Then another, and then another… until I was absolutely swarmed. And then the crying began, when a girl tearily accused one of her classmates of stealing her tiny sticker and throwing them in the bin. The one accused denied having done anything, and pointed the finger at someone else. At that point I was in a quandary – I had no proof, and I could not tell who was telling the truth. And as I was puzzling that out, the girl’s wails grew increasingly loud. I wasn’t able to catch the culprit, but I did manage to get the poor child to stop crying, and I sat with her and walked her through her worksheet. My nerves were frayed, but I forced myself to stay calm, I had to. I thought about teachers all over the globe and I wished they were paid more, because god knows teaching kids can be a distressing job at times.
By the end of the school day, my energy was shot. But it was my group’s turn to facilitate the day’s afternoon workshop, so I had to self-pep talk my way back to cheerfulness. We were making volcanoes today. There was a short video, and in groups the kids had to answer a crossword puzzle projected onto the wall. Then we started building the volcanoes, using small plastic bottles, art block paper, tape, and cardboard. We wrapped the paper around the bottles to fashion a cone around it, and then the kids stuck pieces of paper on the cone to decorate it. Once we were all done we moved outside to begin the ‘explosions’.
A few teaspoons of baking soda was poured into each bottle, and then one by one, the workshop leaders poured the red-tinted solution of vinegar and dishwashing liquid into every bottle. The result was beautiful. ‘Lava’ oozed out in a bubbly rush out of the mouth of the ‘volcano’, and it was gorgeous to watch. The kids loved it. I loved it.
And so ended my day at SK Seri Setia.