My first tuition after Latihan Ikhtisas

When I did my Latihan Ikhtisas, I have to teach form 1 and form 4 poems.  Yup.  Poems that I never learned, taught or studied.  I struggled.  Indeed.  But, I learn certain technique how to teach poem.  So, when I asked Ita last Tuesday 18 June 2019 what she wanted to do over the weekend, she told me that she and Aalia planned to do a tuition class for the form 5 students.  I offered myself to teach the “exceptional” students.  So, there are 6 of them but Rahim was absent (he went back because his father was hospitalised). 

Ita and Aalia planned to cover a poem and the themes part for the Captain Nobody novel.  I never taught form 5 last year so, I challenge myself to learn about the poem.  I have a quick crash course with Ita on Thursday afternoon (20 June 2019) to learn about the poem.  With a bit of confident, I started to construct a handout.  I looked at various questions that I could find from the reference book and whatsnot and I collected them all and made it into an activity worksheet that I later shared with Ita and Aalia. 

So, here is the poem that I have to teach the “exceptional” ones last Friday (21 June 2019).   I haven’t thinking about what I would do on the second class.  

What did I do while undergoing my Latihan Ikhtisas (LI)?_Part 4

I taught form 1, form 4 and form 6 (MUET) classes when I did my LI.  For the lower form, for the obvious reason, they assigned me to the classes with many students who got C range grades either based on their UPSR (for form 1) or PT3 (for form 4).  I took it as a challenge because even though some of them got better grades, their English proficiency is still can be improved.

I do admit that I struggled a bit to get myself familiar with the syllabuses and whatsnot.  So I have to search for the DSKP, SOW and stuff even though my colleagues give whatever things that I need EXCEPT activity worksheet.  I believe in personalised lesson plan and activity.  Even though we might teach the same subject/course, yet we should custom-made our teaching because we are different and our students are also different. Of course, this would entail extra efforts on our parts as teachers.  So, some might use short-cuts of using the same worksheet for different classes taught by different teachers.  “Sharing is caring“.

Even though I share the activity worksheet with others, yet I created my own after searching and looking at examples from the internet.  Sometimes, I took an excerpt from a book that I was reading and turned it into a reading comprehension exercise.  Normally, the available exercises would be abridged from the original source so using this approach, I need to abridge the excerpt as well.  This would hone my writing skills as I realise that I “abandon” writing any journal during this period of LI.  Yup.  I decided to totally immerse myself in the process of being a teacher.  As a teacher, you rarely involve in writing journals or whatsnot for publication unless you are doing your post graduate study.  When I did my LI, I notice that none of the teachers ever published their action research.  The irony is some of them don’t even know what action research is.  After investigating the factors of this phenomenon, I conclude that they are bogged down by many administrative stuff and teaching.  So, before you know it, a year passes by without doing any research about and on your teaching i.e. action research.

I religiously collected some data since I decided to use token economy for my form 4 class (majority of them rarely submitted any homework that I gave – especially the boys.  The girls were different.  They submitted their homework on time.  No problem).  I will write more about how I did the token economy in different post.

How to encourage students to submit their work?

First, you need to know how they complete their homework.  There are so many reasons how and why they submit their homework on time.   A common assumption is they do the homework themselves because they could complete the task that I give.  But there are also students who would submit their homework and yet they complete the homework due to plagiarism.  Yup, they would copy each other homework without understanding how to complete the task.  In addition, there are also students who have difficulty to complete any homework that I give because they do not understand the topic or in writing composition, they do not know how to construct sentences.  In this case, there might be students who will not submit the homework at all because of he/she does not know how to do the homework and there are also another group of students who would still submit their homework and yet, they might submit incomplete homework.  On top of that, there are also students who do not have the “tool” to write.  Meaning, they do not have any pen to write and thus, they are not able to complete my homework.

Looking at this variety of reasons how and why students submit (or don’t submit) their homework, as a teacher, we need to use different strategy and approach to deal with these variety of issues even though it might lead to these two things i.e. submission or no submission of homework.  It is really unfair for a teacher to punish a student who did not submit his/her homework when he/she does not have a pen to write with.  It is almost unthinkable at this age that there are students who do not have this basic stationery, a pen.  Yet, this is the reality.  There are students who could not afford to buy a pen.  Given a choice of buying a RM2 worth of meal and RM2 pen, some might choose to buy a meal than a pen.  Hey, you can’t blame them.  According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the lowest basic needs are related to physiological needs.  Yup.  You need to eat and drink in order to survive (Alhamdulillah the air that we use to breathe is free).  

In addition, it is also unfair for students to be punished if they are not able to complete their homework due to lack of understanding even though they have given their best effort to complete any given task.  For example, if a student is only able to complete less than 350 words essay, we need to look closely at several aspects.  If they have already use all of the points which have been discussed/given, this means that they are not able to elaborate the points in more than one sentence.  What should we do?  Rather than punishing them for incomplete essay, we have to acknowledge their effort (and hidden struggle).  But at the same time, we need to give constructive comments.  There is an incident in which a student does not able to complete his homework because his pen has run out of ink.  Yup.  This relates to the first point.  No pen = incomplete homework.  

However, if they copy each other work, we could not let this matter go without any action.  We need to do something about it.  In this case before we make any decision (i.e. punishment), we need to identify why they copy other’s work.  Most probably, they might also have lack of understanding to elaborate points.  But in this case, rather than giving their best shots to complete the task, they use the short-cuts way i.e. copy each other work.  This is a classic example of mini plagiarism.  Students should be punished if they copy each other work.  Individual effort should be applauded and encouraged.  

That’s why sometimes I give students “group essay”.  Meaning, they have to discuss the points in groups and write their essay in mahjung paper later on.  We can divide the essay into several paragraphs.  So, each group would be assigned to one paragraph of at least 50 words.  So, if I have 6 groups of students (one group = 4 members), I would have 6 paragraphs which equivalent of 300 words.  So, in any continuous essay, since it is required for them to write 350 words, I wrote the first introductory paragraph of 50 words (of course, I asked each group to provide on sentence) on the white board.  Later on, ask the students to continue writing the following paragraphs in their own group.  In this case, students don’t feel pressured to complete the whole task on their own.  But, you need to monitor closely when they complete their group work.  To encourage group cohesion, you need to give reward if they could complete the task as a group.  This would lead to the second point.

Second, reinforce desirable behaviours.  Use rewards, praises etc. to make your students feel appreciated and valued.  To be continued…. 



What did I do while undergoing my Latihan Ikhtisas (LI)?_Part 3

When I did my Latihan Ikhtias, I taught form 4 students Directed and Continuous Writing [English class].  For Directed Writing, there are three types of essays: Letter, Article (Report) and Speech.  For letter, there will be divided into formal and informal letters and for article, there will be divided into formal and informal articles.   Formal articles are articles that one writes to give feedback or complain which will be addressed to certain individual.  For informal articles, the articles are for wide range of audiences which one find in magazines or newspaper.  A good example is an article that you can find in school magazine.

For Continuous writing, there are five types of essays: Narrative, Argumentative, Factual, Descriptive and Reflective compositions.

Narrative composition is a story-telling kind of composition.  It has 5 plots: Exposition, Rising action, Climax, Falling action and Resolution.

Argumentative composition is a composition where you state your stance either agree or disagree about something.  A good writer can include the agreement and disagreement in one composition and able to balance both arguments well.  But for novice writers, it is better if one sticks to one side of an argument i.e. either agree or disagree.

Factual composition is based on facts and hard-core reality.  In this case, students must know facts and reality and cannot state hypothetical information or evidences.

If they want to state hypothetical assumption or views, it is when they write reflective composition.   So, the differences between factual and reflective compositions are not much.  One is based on facts and another is based on hypothetical assumptions (as long as it is logical).

Lastly, for descriptive composition, students write either to describe an event, a place or a person.  It is kind of straight forward yet many students struggle in this task.

But I gave them some tips and techniques to differentiate the different compositions and examples of compositions for each type.  Some of the compositions are based on my own experience so, they cannot find it from elsewhere.  It makes my class a bit special because I wrote the examples myself.  No duplication even though I learn the characteristics of each composition by referring to the various books.  Just to make sure my essays are in compliance with the characteristics 😀


What did I do while undergoing my Latihan Ikhtisas (LI)?_Part 2

I had a blast when I went for my Latihan Ikhtisas last year, even though at first I was thinking about doing a post doc instead.  Why a blast?

After so many years of teaching at university i.e. more than 10 years, I can compare the challenges being a teacher and a lecturer.  Well, I find that teaching at school is not that “challenging” as compared to teaching at university.  I might be bias in this case given a fact that since I am not a real teacher, so I was exempted from doing many of the other things that teachers have to do on daily basis.  For example, I didn’t have to fill in any information at SSDM (Sistem Sahsiah Disiplin Murid).  SSDM is a system to record students good behaviour and misbehaviour.  Yup, it is expected that teachers have to do it on daily basis.  But of course, it is very rarely for them to do it unless they are the discipline teacher or school counselor.  

I was also exempted from managing the “elearning” kind of thing known as Frog VLE.  Why?  ONLY Malaysian teachers, students and parents can use it.   They can register and thus they will have username and password.  I am not a teacher, student nor parent so I can’t create an account.  On top of that, I was also exempted from fill in any information about the students on different system such as PAJSK and such.  So, what did I do at school then other than teaching?

Well, I created lots of exercise worksheets.  You name it. I have it all.  I looked at various sources such as Busyteachers and others.  On top of that I also created some cute posters using Canva (Example: Dueling Proverbs).  I shared with my English panel teachers so we could print it out and posted it on the notice board.  But, cute things don’t last long.  The moment a teacher posted it, it only lasted for few hours.  Sigh

I also wrote some essays as examples of continuous writing compositions.  Some of the essays from my own experience.  So it does make it more real to the students because they can know a little bit about me through the essays.  2 in 1.  Teaching and getting to know me better.  

To be continued…. 

What did I do while undergoing my Latihan Ikhtisas (LI)?_Part 1

Some colleagues have been asking me this question “What did I do at school other than teaching?”  Well, to think back about it, there were so many things that I did.  Most of the things were fun, new and challenging.  I never thought that I would create a mural (I still need to touch up some of the drawings though :D) 

Other than that, I would also never thought that I would harvest pineapple which they planted within the school compound.  At first, we had to pay but if we harvested it ourselves, we could get FOC.  So, armed with a small machete and gloves, I harvested the pineapples while wearing my baju kurung.   I also experienced cooking using wood (so traditional and basic!).  But of course, I was not the one who made the fire.  The fire was already made by the students.  As teachers, we don’t do the dirty works, for obvious reason.  That’s what the students are for!  But as the evaluator [uhuk uhuk judge], we were entrusted with the task to evaluate the students’ survival skills that they have to show during a 2D2N camping such as making fire.  So, we have to let the students “show” their skills to make fire etc.


What else?  To be continued….



What are the impacts of Latihan Ikhtisas?

I have been wondering about it myself.  Well, to tell the truth, what I gain from the LI is a new experience of teaching adolescents (and its challenges).  Well, that’s it.  Networking?  Indeed.  Networking with the school.  Yup.  I still conduct tuition class and whatnot as a form of my after-LI-service.  

Making impact or difference in the students lives?  How on earth would I know that?!!!  I am not going to be overambitious on this part.  After all, only Allah knows best on this matter.  

Other than that?  Nothing much.  For example, did I get any  Industrial grant?  Nope.  So, it does resonate with the survey findings.  

Well, perhaps I can tell what I have gone through instead.  Yup.  It might take a while since I need to look at evidences that I collected in various forms such as daily journal, students reflective notes and such.  

I have posted some personal rambling on various posts.  Here are some of them:

Things that I produce when I did Latihan Ikhtisas_Part 1

Things that I produce when I did Latihan Ikhtisas_Part 2

Teaching poetry and literature

Latihan Ikhtisas Part 1

Latihan Ikhtisas Part 2

Latihan Ikhtisas Part 3

Latihan Ikhtisas Part 4

Latihan Ikhtisas Part 5