When I was a kid, my favourite role play was acting as a school teacher. I loved to “teach” my two younger brothers and pretended to mark their papers, just like how my dad used to do. He’d bring back stacks of test papers from school and I’d be the one helping him mark them! Throughout my primary schooling, I’d fill in the blank space in the forms where we were to write down what our ambitions were, and mine would invariably be TEACHER. But after my dad’s health had deteriorated due to school pressure and other factors, I changed my mind about being a school teacher. I didn’t want to go down that stressful path of not having full control of school teaching and school life! So I chose the next best thing: PIANO TEACHER!
But for the past 2 weeks, on 2 Thursday and Friday afternoons, I had a whole new experience of teaching 2 groups of school-going kids under a project called Little Yellow Flower. It was at a rented 3-storey townhouse in OUG – a guarded residential community. Upon entering the warm abode with polished parquet floor, the aroma of spicy red curry pervaded the air and I was immediately greeted by happy, smiling kids who were obviously enjoying their fragrant curry rice lunch! After we had exchanged greetings, I was led upstairs to the classroom where I was to teach English to the children there. The first class consisted of children aged 6-10 and the second class had older students between 11-15. I had rarely taught such a big group of children in a classroom setting. So when my attempt at having them gather just outside the classroom for a story-telling session ended up disastrously with the hyperactive boys utilising the big space kungfu kicking one another, with one of them landing on a boy’s face, I decided to herd them back into the more confined space of the classroom and we remained there somewhat more peacefully for the rest of the sessions.
The children in this program are given home cooked lunch from Monday to Friday, and after lunch, they are taught English by a teacher who works with a carefully planned program for the children. I was there to replace the teacher who is away for 2 weeks to work on a local theatre project. The children took to me warmly and kindly and made me feel at ease immediately! I was to use my discretion in using the lesson plans and free to innovate in anyhow I liked. Sounded good to me 🙂
I brought story books for the kids to read in class while I busied myself with lesson preparations. Read them stories related to the topics of House and Family, gave them written exercises to do for vocabulary and spelling (which they love!), encouraged them to use their creativity when selecting words to fill the blanks in to make their stories funny, and for my last session with them on Friday, I taught them a song (The More We Get Together) that was about friendship and expanding one’s family circle to include others as well. “In Malaysia we are one big family, helping one another!”
And from what some of them had written in their books that day, I think my message went through somewhat successfully 🙂