I think every teacher goes through this phase, regardless of a novice or veteran. That moment when you doubt why you took up teaching in the first place. And in this 94th day of my teaching life I am sitting here, amidst a confused mind, a yearning soul and an aching heart wondering why I ended up being a teacher. I struggle to contain the tears. The inner me has grown tired of saying the same, "You can do this, Raevarthy" for the umpteenth time today and it has gone to a corner to take a nap. Drama much? Maybe this is how depression feels like. Like everyone around you are alive but you are not. "Where on Earth is your positive self, Raevarthy?" Or "What the hell happened, Raevarthy?", you may ask. Here's me wondering the same.
I sit here and relive yesterday's class in my head. How excited I was that a Nazir choose to observe me. While the others cringed, hoping not to be picked, I was wishing to. I think I am an excellent teacher, or else I thought so. Those years of IPBA life where I always did well in Micro-teachings and Practicums. Hell, I was observed for GC! I remember that feeling of walking out of classes in full swing with a huge smile on my face and a high even those hooked on alcohol or drugs will never feel. Read my previous post and you will know.
And then here I am. Sitting at my desk, wishing the bell won't ring and I wouldn't need to take that walk to that one class which has given me so much to ponder on. I check my watch. Another 20 minutes. Here's to hoping I would feel better after this post. Because truthfully, not a soul wants to sit next to me, ask me what's wrong, or why I feel this way. And truthfully, I don't think I will be able to say anything without bursting into tears.
Yesterday I took my kids to the lab. They are the last class pupils with an extremely limited range of English proficiency and are known for their discipline problems. I had a meticulously prepared lesson. Lots of fun. And then she walked in. I was calm. I knew what I wanted to do. It started off well. My kids were seated and well behaved. They wished her. Wide inquisitive eyes looked on for the next instruction. And then I started teaching. It was all ok. A boy shifted in his place and kicked the boy next to him. I saw that. I stopped, asked him to sit next to me and I continued on. Another voice chirped in, "Teacher, tengok dia...dia ambil pencil saya...dia kacau saya". I smile at them. Patience level is still very high. I reprimand that behaviour and I continue. They are responding to my questions! After a lot of gestures and a lot of prompting! Ok, I am still ok. And then half an hour passes. And knowing my kids, I knew it is going to be difficult. One boy screams at the top of his lungs, "Teacher!!!! Bosan! Saya nak tidur!" and he sleeps on the ground. I watch in horror. The Nazir is at the back. She looks at me. I walk to the boy, say "Sayang, tolong bangun. Jom kita belajar. Kita jadi pandai hari ini, nak?". He looks at me, smiles and sits up straight. A relief! But by the time I went there, the rest has somehow found something more interesting to do than my boring presentation I suppose. The boys are banging on the floor with their hands and the girls are pulling on one another's tudung's. "Ok, Stay clam Raevarthy. You can do this", I say to myself. I get them to stand and raise their hands, move a little. Then they sit and I set them on task. The task is to copy 4 simple sentences into their exercise books. I go to one of the girls who can't write, I adjust the posture of her hands. While I am with her, one boy screams, extremely loud I might add, "KELING!". My ears shoot up. The rest of the pupils start screaming at him. I hear "Teacher, X cakap Keling! Teacher rotan dia! He shouts, "Aku x cakap",,,they start arguing. I call him to the front. He comes. I ask, "X cakap x perkataan tu"? He looks at me, laughs and nods his head. My blood boils, to say the least. After a gazzilion times of hearing that being said, and a gazzilion times later of punishments and reinforcements and going up to the headmaster's office, it still happened. Ok, a Nazir is at the back. I look at her. I look at my pupils. I ask, "Kelas, betul x apa yang dia cakap?". They say NO. Ok, settled. He says sorry. I let him go. What else am I supposed to do? Stand there and yell at him. Honestly, I am tired of doing that. I have done that countless times before for the same reason.
But that is not hell yet. Oh, remember the 4 sentences? Well, not even one has written the first. They are busy punching one another, sleeping on the floor and somehow found excitement in playing with the LCD light. 26 of them versus one of me.I am tired of scenes replaying. I watch this happening every day. It isn't that my lessons are boring. I have tried everything, from ICT based lessons to chalk and talk to using a variety of materials to telling stories in class. I even give them sweets, and little gifts as a form of reinforcement every time they hand in their books or finish their homeworks ( if it happens at all) Name it. I bet you I have done it. They know the classroom rules by heart. But, do they know what it means even after explaining, by examples I might add, every single time before I begin a lesson? Nope.
So, there I stood with a Nazir at the back watching me, my kids running around the class, jumping here and there, laughing and throwing their books in the air to say the least. I stop. It isn't one disruptive behaviour. It is 26 disruptive behaviours. After a whole semester of classroom management, I cannot control my class. I yell out with a stern, "3 X, settle down!". They look at me, laugh and continue on. I can see even those who were interested to learn at the beginning are now busy doing something else. I try my best to stay calm. Oh yes, remember the inner voice I told you...she is back whispering in my head, "Raevarthy, it is going to get better. Just be you.". I look back at her mockingly. This, this whole thing that is happening in front of my eyes? Hell just broke lose and please tell the floor to open and swallow me up. I stand there for a few seconds, watch everyone. I check my watch. An hour has passed since we begin. Another half an hour to go. I walk up to the Nazir, keep my cool and tell her, "Madam, I am sorry. My kids are very restless. They need a new environment. I am sending them back to class,". She looks at me with a smile, "Sure. I understand". The kids go back to class. I stand there for a good few seconds wondering what I did wrong before I go sit next to her to hear what she thinks of me as a teacher.
It isn't so much about what she told me that has me sitting here typing this out. She was a very sweet person who gave me constructive feedback and told me to not give up teaching. But it is that feeling of worthlessness I suppose. I cannot bring myself to blame my kids after everything that happened. I feel that I have let them down somehow. I know I did my best and I know I have tried everything I could imagine of.
I never knew that I could feel this way in my teaching career. Defeated. Yes, that's the word.
I walk around school with my head hung low today. I look at my kids with a feeling of emptiness. I am here but my teaching soul has left a long time ago. What if I wake up one day and decide, I do not want to do this any longer? Where will I go to then? I cannot stop asking myself this since yesterday.