Category Archives: Academic

Mr. Gomez’s Last Lecture

NEW TEACHERS

Now for you, it is all coming to a close,

Ending of an unique phase of your lives,

With new beginnings just round the corner,

Teachers! Cohort Four! Freshly minted!

Energetic, eager young teachers of English,

Awaiting eagerly your first postings, first salaries too,

Conscious of high expectations, graduates in primary schools,

Hearing the loud call to make a difference.

English teaching will indeed be challenging,

Raising standards demands professionalism, and

Sustained commitment to caring, respecting, responding and knowing.

Note:

I have been there.

I too, was once a new teacher.

So I wish you, Cohort 4, from the bottom of my heart,

The very, very best that life can offer you.

By Antony Gomez

The above is a poem and note from Mr. Gomez to Cohort 4. I also like one of his particular lectures especially on becoming a language educator.This lecture answered my question pretty well. In the beginning of the class, he asked all of us to ask him questions and expectation of the course. If I have not mistaken, one of my questions is ‘How do you sustain the passion of teaching?’ In the blink of an eye, today is his last lecture. This is the best ever class that I experienced throughout my journey of 6 years training. Mr. Gomez is not only a language educator, but also a superman. Thank you for your wisdom. May God bless you.

Lecture: Becoming a language educator

Becoming a language educator is a choice of career that requires you to be a lover. The career of an educator is a human embedded calling.

1.Introduction

a)A teacher who concentrates on the content without being concerned with the human environment is an instructor.

b)A teacher who is aware that he is concerned with person through the subject is an educator.

2.How?

Becoming a language educator require acquisition of values. “Values are hard to teach, they have to be caught.” In this course, these values are presented through poems, stories, films, and other writings.

3.The Materials

(i)Student Masterpieces

(ii)Sandra Enos article: The importance of relationship and the character of the teacher.

(iii)Film: Freedom writers

(iv)Poems: “ I liked To Ask The Questions” and“Memories of My First Day”

(v)Narrative: “We are the Retards”

(vi)Poem: Unloved stories: A poem for Two Voices

(vii)Song: Children Learn What They Live

(viii)What is dialogue? Creating meaning together

(ix)Short story: The Teacher (Powerful story)

(x)The good listener/ the bad listener/Listening test

4.All these can be summed up through Erich Fromm’s (Psychologist) analysis of love in his book, ‘Art of loving’

What is his basic premise? What is love? 4 closely interrelated qualities.

a)Care: The capacity to protect, provide, and nurture

Mostly unconditional acts of assistance to those who are in no position to defend for themselves. The ideal carers: Parents

b)Caring must go together with Respect. Lack of Respect leads to prejudice. Prejudice can be defined as seeing differences in others as weakness which is sign of security.

Types of prejudice:

  • Racism
  • Sexism
  • Ageism (two types) –Old people is useless. Young people is inexperienced
  • Classism –status consciousness

c)Responsiveness – The capacity to respond (nodding) appropriately during interaction. You can be over helpful- giving solutions too quickly.

d)Knowledge- Our knowledge of each other is constantly changing as we and other change or is responsive to the situations and roles we find ourselves in. Who am I is the result of person you met.

5.Conclusion

Teacher burnout. How to avoid? LOVE. The need to grow as a teacher.Three growth interests:

a)Knowledge of Subject

b)Knowledge of Matters

c)Knowledge of Students.

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Licence to teach ABC

I entered the classroom and gave them two choices. From the choices that I gave them, I already expected the choice of answer that they are going to give me. It is a written choice. I shoot them two questions. Choose A if you would like to do 50 questions of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and problem solving involving the topic of length. It appeared only one of them eager to counting. The rest? They had chosen the second choice which was making an origami butterfly. They liked purple very much which most of them took purple colour paper. So my mathematics class turned into origami class. It shows that they are children. It double confirmed the theories that I have learned. Intrinsically, learning in fun way is theirs’ nature. There was time when I was imparting my knowledge, 3 of the girls laughing and jiggling disrupting my lesson. You don’t have to shout to them as you will grow old. I just asked them, ‘Hey girls, I don’t know how to laugh and smile since my childhood, share me your story? If I laugh, then you laugh. If I don’t laugh, you make me angry!’ There was also one time this girl while doing exercise asking me, ‘Sir, are you malay or Chinese?’ I answered her, ‘I am InChiMa. My blood mixed with Indian, Chinese, and Malay, but if you cut me into two pieces, my blood is red in colour. So what am I?’ They confused. That was part of my experience with the year 4 girls. Awesome!

Next was my experience with year 1 kids. They were really cute. Asking them to vote which activity they like most, most of them liked games, story, but not song? I thought they like it because they’ve got amazing voice.Don’t judge the book by its cover then. Teaching them make me realize that ‘teaching is not a profession, but is all about passion.’ You need to have special skills. You need to be a good role model. They are like a piece of blank paper ready to fold to be a butterfly. I smoke and they will take drug. ‘Wow, your picture is beautiful!’ ‘Wow, your handwriting can be a future doctor!’ They liked to be praised. They liked to go to toilet. Their moods can be changed all the time. I scold them today. They smile at me back tomorrow. They forget things easily. That’s why I need to keep reminding them. No wonder I felt old and grow hairless after the class. Small kids, you’re my source of anti-ageing.

Today was my last day of practical. I think experience is very importance. Practical is not that tough as what I thought initially. With God, everything is possible. I prayed that I would get the school that help me to grow wiser. I got it. My experience of teaching year 1 girls in fact makes me grow. It helps me to understand girls better. Talking about the presents that I received, I now have 2 new ties. All this while from foundation up to last day of practical I only use 2 ties interchangeably. It shows that I have got no fashion sense. Anyway, I felt really a blessing from God reflecting from the beginning till the end of my practical. Below are just my random thoughts that came up to me during these 3 months of practical:

1.      Be vigilant all the time. Burglar wont inform you when he comes to your house (Observation)

2.      Tomorrow will take care of itself. (lesson planning)

3.      Testing without teaching is cheating. ( Teaching in the class)

4.      How to look fierce without bringing a stick? ( Classroom management)

5.      Hidden curriculum is taught through words of mouth, but it depends the pupil themselves.

So now I got licence to teach like what my supervisor told me. This licence is best to get through experience. With that I offer up the following song to you Lord, for continuously moulds me and guide me to grow. Most importantly, whatever I pray for is according to your will, and not my will. For the coming long breaks, I am going to learn how to cook, gardening, and brushing up my English.

Here I am, Oh God

I bring this sacrifice

My open heart

I offer up my life

I look to You, Lord

Your love that never ends

Restores me again

Chorus:

So I lift my eyes to You Lord

In Your strength will I break through Lord

Touch me now

Let Your love fall down on me

I know Your love dispels all my fears

Through the storm I will hold on Lord

And by faith I will walk on, Lord

Then I’ll see

Beyond my Calvary one day

And I will be complete in You

(Complete by Parachute Band)

Library saves me!

 

I have spent 5 hours studying for my exam next week.In such a quiet environment, I managed to finish one whole book of Basic Entrepreneurship in almost 3 hours for only today. The phrase, ‘whole book’ may deceive you. It is only not more than 150 pages anyway. While reading it, I tried hard to relate my aunties’ life of doing business. For the whole 14 weeks of lecture. I have not paid any attention on this course. As if I will become the next Bill Gates? I just could not make sense why should I study this subject. Extra knowledge? What a satisfaction finished reading it finally. At this peak and last minutes hours of preparation, I still have another 5 topics to go for another subject called, Ethnicity. These two subjects kill me. I feel drowning and suffocating to digest as my national language a bit rusty now due to my ignorance of practising it. I felt good for the productive 5 hours of studying today. Who saves my intellectual today? National library! Turning my head back before leaving, I tell ‘her’, ‘You are the greatest shopping mall!’ (metaphorically)

Act it out-yoh

The blending of sigh and hooray is a mode of describing my feelings while I am typing this entry of blog. Hooray, I have come to an end of this course, ‘Plays and drama for the primary ESL classroom’ after gone through 14 weeks of trial and turbulence. Thanks God I am still alive. Let’s move on to my deep thought regarding the experience of drama group performance which was held at S.K. Bandar Utama Damansara (4) two weeks ago.

Sigh, what should I start with? I am in a state of topsy-turviness. I just feel demotivated right now. When I feel demotivated and down, the remedy is either pray or hunt for motivation books. For your information, self-help books always taught us: ‘be yourself’. I repeat: ‘be yourself’. Ironically, I cannot be my self this time especially when it comes to drama performance. I have to copy the character in the story and act it out. Copy? Perhaps the best way is to say I have to take on the role of the character based on the playscript and act it out using my own style.

I still remember vividly taking the role of father on the stage. My group drama performance is entitled ‘The burglar friend’. It is about a burglary happening in a house. A girl named Marie acted as an innocent girl encountering the burglar. She didn’t know what she did was wrong until the next morning. Basically, I needed to show my anger in front of the audience because of my innocent accomplice daughter. After I finished the performance, my pimples grew, indicating the frustration that I felt during the performance. My costume was very simple. I was just wearing formal attire with the blazer in order to show that my working place was in the office. Although I have to memorize only fifteen lines, I need to do lots of movements, especially turning. The fact that I walk around on stage while saying out my lines indicates that the feeling of frustration is not an easy job. I have always believed that practice makes perfect. With the motto on my mind, I managed to perform my role as a father excellently.

Credits shall be given to one of the members in the group ‘praising’ me stupid several times. I even feel no uneasy feeling if he said I am dumb. I thank him very much. Perhaps it sounds sarcastic here. The reason he called me stupid was my repeated mistakes of pronouncing words wrongly. Due to my Chinese background, I have difficulty with the words, namely the ‘th,’ ‘l,’ and ‘r’ sounds at the end of the words and sentence pronunciation. For instance, I was pronouncing ‘they’ instead of ‘there’. Not only that, I also didn’t say my lines with the correct intonation. I look very cool as a person, but it does not mean I can show my anger easily. Frankly speaking, I deserved a ‘compliment’. Instead, it inspired me to do well and prove them wrong. With the word ‘stupid’ nailed in my mind, I kept practising my lines many times with the correct pronunciation and intonation at home. Through this experience I realized one thing, which is that correct enunciation leads to a better facial expression during the performance. Indirectly, practising the character’s lines improved my communication skill as well. At last, I was succeeding in becoming an agitated father in front of the audience which was the pupils at the school. I managed to project my voice loud and clear on the stage. That’s all I want to say about my personal experience and what I encountered playing the character of the father. I have learnt the importance of voice projection. Like good actors, teachers need to use their voice appropriately in a variety of situations. Believe it or not, voice projection is a powerful tool to teach in the class. From time to time, I will spend a great deal of time working on ways to articulate the words clearly so that I have confidence to project my voice and make it sound more enthusiastic and interesting in order to grab the pupils’ attention. To put it in succinct way, I will consider voice projection as one of the elements in teaching ESL classroom in the future.

Overall, I feel satisfied with the performance of my group which outshines the other group. I would like to praise my group narrator, Narrendran for the job well done. He superbly took on his role. Through his role of character, I have learnt the importance of interaction between teachers and pupils. There was a girl named Jamie suggesting to the narrator to send the burglar to the police. Wanting to squeeze her face, I can say that she was also the narrator during the performance. Her suggestion shows a wise and rational judgement she had in mind. It also inspires me to read more to become a knowledgeable and wise teacher in handling the pupils. Just imagining that I had been the narrator on the stage, I doubt I could have grabbed the pupils’ attention well at that time. Besides that, Hozana took on her character, Marie, very well. Holding her spongebob pillow, she was the one innocent character scolded by me. Before coming to the performance, we already did lots of laughter during the practice. I was irritated by her uncontrolled smile and unable to show my anger somewhere between the lines. Two-thumbs up shall be given to Zulhusni for acting naturally as a burglar. Thanks also  to the policeman played by Haziq. He taught me lots on how to express my emotion accordingly. Lastly, thanks to my wife played by Syira. Although she is soft-spoken, she managed to testify to the situation and project her voice on that day. ‘Espirit de corps’ is the slogan that sums up my group enchanting performance. Good job guys!

We killed two birds with one stone. Not only has our group come out with an outstanding performance, but we have nailed the language focus very well with multiple word classes. The pupils not only felt entertained, but they were able to improve their language in term of writing skills. Through this, I can see clearly how drama can be a tool to teach in ESL classroom. Meanwhile, our group also injected the knowledge of drama techniques such as miming, freeze frame, and statue in our performance. Therefore, pupils gained knowledge while all of the actors applied the knowledge they had learnt in the subject.

In the nutshell, I have learnt and discovered a lot in this subject. It really enriched my artistic expression and cultivation of essential life skills which are teamwork, communication, critical thinking and imagination.The experience of my drama performance is definitely engraved in my mind and will be part of my sweetest memories to share with the others in the future. Perhaps it is time for me to think and adopt a variety of drama skills to win the attention and interest of my pupils toward the learning of English language. Hooray!!!

Distraction

Mental-block! I’m speechless! It feels like my heart is being chopped up! I am, however, still alive and sitting solemnly. My body is – pretty obviously – to be seen. My heart is worshiping the crystal truth. What about my mind? It is somewhere north to paradise. It was impossible for my pen to reach the paper at all. A word devoid of thought is a dead thing, and a thought unembroidered in words remains a shadow. Vygotsky invented that . Vygotsky concluded that not me. I only learned blindly. I only nodded my head saying okay. Saying ok because your conscience says ok is like sitting in a living room engulfed in flames and saying there is no fire because the smoke alarm isn’t beeping. I only mock his cognitive theory which is slowly injecting venom into my tiny head. You are right. He makes my head ache. He makes me feel mentally sick. Only meditation can heal my mind. Vygotsky! I ask you why you exist in this guiltless world. Your theory would have killed thousands and millions of people. I won’t succumb and enter into your spider web. Watch out! I am developing and trying-out my own children’s development theory to create a peace of mind in each and every credulous child. My mind is polluted by all the factual invented theories which make me drunk while I am walking. I couldn’t comprehend any of them. Somehow I still suck in air.

Friendly thanks to my friend, Louis, for vibrantly explaining what he understood. His mind is surely cursing me for not being a genius. I salute him. He deserves to get an award for extraordinary patience. No matter how many millions of times I try to digest every written word, I still feel like vomiting. So, there is no point learning everything by heart. Before the quiz, I die. During the quiz, I die too. After the results of the quiz are released, I die for a third time. These all happened because of my losing concentration. I blame on distractions. They come from no where. I am struggling vigorously to adjust my time now. Distraction kills me. I carve all the genesis of distraction on the colourful rock. I am moving toward the window and throw the colourful distraction rock toward Mt.Kinabalu. I am perfectly awake now. I am refreshed from the pond of baptism. However, I am still scared I will be back into the same dilemma of this wretched disturbance zone!

P/s: It’s been a real tough week and hopefully Sunday will be peaceful…………for all. Have a good day.