as told by CHONG KAR YAN, SK Tumunda Salimandut volunteer
As decided on the previous day, we started our day by dividing the students based on their gender and talked to them accordingly. We gathered all the female students in their dorm with all the female volunteers, while the boys were gathered at the usual meeting place. Overall, I felt that the sessions were useful. For the girls, I could see that some of them started to feel more comfortable with the female volunteers as they had questions for us throughout the discussion. We discussed about personal matters such as what to expect or are already expecting during puberty, personal hygiene, etc. Through this, I also got to learn about the different practices different religions carry out which was interesting.
After that, we commenced on our teaching routine. Each volunteer was assigned to the same Standard 6 students that they had been working with for the past few days. Based on our daily feedback sessions, we felt that by teaching in this way, we would be able to carry out a more consistent and better teaching approach as the volunteers would be more familiar with the students that they have been teaching. It was reflected by how smoothly the classes ran. For Mathematics, the volunteers continued teaching from where they left off and for English, we guided the students to form their own sentences. We believed that the students needed to learn how to at least construct simple sentences before being able to tackle more difficult tasks such as writing an essay. We also believed that by doing so, we were able to build the students’ confidence in writing.
After recess, the volunteers were split into 3 groups where some of us taught Science to Standard 4 students while the others taught Standard 2 students English. I volunteered to teach the Standard 4 students and it was a completely new experience for me. Their Science syllabus was in Bahasa Malaysia but I have always learnt Science in English. Thankfully, my limited Bahasa Malaysia knowledge was enough to get me through with teaching the students. We tried to teach the students by having one volunteer in front conducting the class while the other volunteers helped the students by tables. However, we could barely hear ourselves, let alone expect the students to hear us, as the classroom was not conducive for learning at all. Therefore, we decided to split ourselves into smaller groups and had a more proactive class. We tried to make it more interesting for the students, thus each volunteer brought their group of students outside of their classroom to learn. We thought them about the sundial, about how to read a watch and so on.
For the after school extra class, we gave the students some objective questions to do as some students raised their concerns about not doing as well in that paper. My students were struggling with it and they could not answer the questions as they did not know the meaning to most of the words on that sheet of paper. I tried my best to push them and convinced them to at least attempt the questions and not to leave it blank. Their progress was very slow, but some progress is better than none.
Following that, we introduced Frisbee to the Standard 6 girls. They were initially very afraid of the Frisbee and they did not seem to enjoy it. However, we proceeded with playing a match and some of them seemed to be more receptive to the sport, but we could all still see that they preferred games that required balls. Thus, we decided to allow them to play captainball, volleyball or football from then on.
When night came, some of the girls started to act out and the crying party began. Some of the girls cried because they developed rashes and they could not bear the itch, some of them cried because they were ‘sick’ and some of them cried because they were homesick. All in all, we believed that the crying was contagious and when one girl cries, it affects the emotions of others and it was like a domino effect. It was truly an exhausting and unfamiliar experience but we all tried our best to help them out as much as we could.
At the end of the day, we had our usual feedback session, which was kept short and sweet so we could all rest up for the following days to come. It was a tiring and draining day, but we were all still motivated as ever to teach the students as much as we could and to help them achieve their main goal, which was to pass their UPSR examination.