Earlier this afternoon, after the last period of the day, a student came up to me and said, ?Thank you Mr Shaifudin.?
Had it been some other students or for some other reasons, I wouldn?t have kept my mind about it. But this is someone special. Someone whom have been having difficulty expressing his words, his feelings since Primary 1. Someone whom have been getting <30 marks for any subjects since the day that he can remember taking his first exam paper.
Let?s call him YW. When I took control of my first form class as a full-pledged teacher, I half-expected that I will be assigned to a Foundation stream class. Nevertheless, I told myself that I will persevere and try to instil at least some life-skills to these kids. Never mind that they are already academically challenged, thus not motivated to learn. But at least, I wanted them to leave from me, taking some form of positive affirmation at the end of the year.
However, YW is different. YW have been diagnosed as being dyslexic, speech impairment and have an IQ less than 70. If that is not enough, nobody wanted to befriend him during group activity or even during recess. Time and again, I took time-out to explain to the class in general about the importance of team-work and communication. But behind my back, I was told that they still refuse to cooperate with YW simply because YW can never give any contribution to any form of tasks done.
Today?s episode was the last straw. After hearing from two of the pupils that YW was found sitting at a staircase crying himself for being ostracised once again, these two quickly alerted me during the last period of the day. I decided to use this as the ?teachable moment? of the day.
I ask the group that YW prefers to hang out with but is always not welcome, as to the reason why they keep rejecting. Some said that YW cannot understand what form of activity/games that they want to do during their break. Some claimed that they don?t want to waste their time explaining everything to YW. While another claimed that it?s their choice on who they want to make friends with.
I chided all of them for their excuses. Then I told them to try and be in YW?s position. How would they feel if they are playing on their own and nobody wants to talk to them. Everyone bowed their head low. They know that they are at fault. But I didn?t stop there. I told them the mentality that they have is even worse compared to other classes. Where other classes have a healthy competition when vying against classes, they are actually striking blows deep from within their own class. The class was not united, lack of teamwork, lack of communication and cooperation. I incorporate the school core values of respect and willingness to lead and serve into my talk.
That did the icing. After the end of the school, a few of them came up to YW and said sorry for hurting his feelings since the start of the year. And that, probably help YW to start opening up to me today. It felt surreal. But I am enjoying such moments happening in my life.