Wednesday, December 29, 2010 3 comments

Practicum - Organizing your portfolio

For those who are going to have their practicum next year, I'm sure that you have received the "Practicum Portfolio Content List" (Senarai Kandungan Portfolio Praktikum) from your respected institute. For those from IPG KBA, you may download and edit the practicum portfolio forms. Based on my experience, here are some tips on how to organize your portfolio:

  1. Put separators / coloured-papers for different sections in the portfolio.
  2. Re-type all the forms given.
  3. Make a copy of all letters that you receive in relation to your official duties in school. For example: The Appointment Letter as the Advisor to the English Language Society (Surat Lantikan sebagai Guru Penasihat Persatuan Bahasa Inggeris), The Invitation Letter to the Department of English Meeting (Surat Jemputan ke Mesyuarat Panitia Bahasa Inggeris), etc.
  4. Make a copy of all paperwork, forms or just any documents for any activities or events that you are involved with during the period of practicum. For example: The paperwork for the sports events in school, the booklet (buku cenderahati) that you receive during Student Excellence Day Award (Hari Kecemerlangan Murid), etc.
  5. Take photos of any events that your are involved with in school or in relation to your official duties as a teacher . For example: Sports events, Teacher-Parents Association General Meeting (Mesyuarat Agung PIBG), etc.
  6. Organize all forms, documents and photos based on the Practicum Portfolio Content List.
  7. Ask and get approval from your supervising lecturer. Some lecturers are not interested in or disapprove of seeing colourful documents whereas some does not mind - like my lecturer. Thank you Dr Sharmini Ghanaguru! You are the best! 
Good luck!

Sunday, December 26, 2010 5 comments

Practicum - Weekly Journals

Apart from preparing the teaching and learning materials, teachers are required to write weekly journals for 12 consecutive weeks of their practicum. So, what are the contents of a weekly journal? Generally, there are 7 main points that need to be highlighted:
  1. Problem - What are the problems that a teacher face for a particular week during practicum? 
  2. Analysis - Why do the problems occur?
  3. Suggestions for Improvement - How to overcome the problems?
  4. Duration - How long does it need to resolve the problems?
  5. Assessment of Success - Does the teacher manage to work out on his/her problems by executing the suggestions? 
  6. Further Action - What else can the teacher do overcome the problems?
  7. Conclusion / Reflection - What can be learned from the problems? How does the problems become beneficial to the teacher?
It is not compulsory to write a journal using the above method. It depends on you and your supervising lecturer's approval. Nevertheless, I am happy to share the 9 weekly journals that I had made. You may download the files from the link given.

A. Weekly Journal Example 1. To download click this link: Week 1


Problem
The long most awaited week has finally come. The practicum week has at long last commenced. This is the first week of my practicum at my school, Sekolah Agama Menengah Bandar Baru Salak Tinggi (SAMBBST). My supervising lecturer, Dr. Sharmini Ghanaguru, had kindly come by for a social visit on Monday this week to meet up with me and my cooperating teacher, Pn. Wan Rose Azian, and to discuss important matters that need to be done during the practicum weeks. Even though Dr. Sharmini has been very motivating and reassuring, I cannot stop but feeling a strong apprehension in my mind whenever I come to think about my duty during practicum and the observation that will be done by my lecturer and my cooperating teacher. Will I be able to meet their expectations? Will I be able to carry out what I have planned successfully? How will the students react to my teaching and learning activity? I was so worried and keep thinking whether or not I could balance my time to carry out the never-ending school workload that I am shouldering, to execute my practicum duty and also to give an unconditional attention to my family especially to my two year-old daughter. Having a good rest can no longer fits into my tight schedule. Honestly, it is hard. The pressure is intensifying.


Analysis
The problem may arise due to the lack of mental and physical preparation in facing all the obstacles to meet my vision of becoming a great teacher with exceptional personality. With little experience that I have, I knew that I need to make a lot of effort to uncover the myriad of knowledge in this wide world. I could learn from the dedicated and enthusiastic lecturers of IPBA, or from the senior English teachers in SAMBBST who are always ready to lend their hands, or just from anybody or any sources that could assist me in strengthening my journey towards building my career as a teacher. In my opinion, the 14-month duration of KDC (Kursus Dalam Cuti) in IPBA is not enough for me to face all these challenges as a teacher. Nevertheless, I have to admit that my lecturers in IPBA have been a great mind opener by working diligently to relay and to share their knowledge in making a skillful teacher out of their students including me. They have also been a remarkable source of motivation. Hence, it is up to us to never giving up our effort by applying what have been learnt using our own creativity to uphold the teaching and learning method devised the Ministry of Education. What is more, sincerity is the number one essence in carrying out my duty as a teacher.


Suggestions For Improvement
There are several ways that could be done to overcome the problem mentioned earlier:

  • I must make a proper mental and physical preparation by reading a lot of materials related to motivation and pedagogical approaches in education.
  • I need to seek help and support from my supervising lecturer, my cooperating teacher, the senior teachers or those who are more experienced, to discuss on the best way to overcome my problems and anxieties. I need to have faith in myself.
  • I have to learn to cope with the new “atmosphere” by taking it positively to ensure that I can manage my core business successfully even though I undergo loads of obstacles and have too many commitments to meet. I will not let any of these problems bog me down. I have to be strong and persevere despite of having tonnes of school workload and time constraint due to the lack of opportunity to focus on my practicum duty.
  • I need to re-schedule my time management in order to carry out my responsibilities efficiently. If I cannot do my work during the day, then I will do it in the middle of the night. Even if I will not get enough sleep and rest. I will put aside the less urgent school workload as to give more room for my practicum.

Duration
I will try to overcome my problems soonest possible; that is prior to week two of practicum. I realize that if I am unable to manage the major problems that I am facing this week, it could jeopardize my capability of performing my practicum duty and delivering the teaching and learning activity effectively. The problems can also interrupt other crucial tasks that I need to carry out in school.


Assessment Of Success
I will need the assistance from my cooperating teacher and colleagues to assess the effectiveness and success of my handling the problems. I will also need to do some self- assessment to solve these matters.


Further Action
I will think of ways to deal with my problems from time to time. I will always seek guidance and help from my supervising lecturer and cooperating teacher who have been wonderful assistance so far. I will also ask for advice and support from other teachers, and not forgetting my beloved family; to make sure that my problems can be overcame.


 Conclusion / Reflection
Every cloud has a silver lining. It means that every difficult situation has a bright side. This idiom is closely referred to my current situation. Even though my problems make me somewhat apprehensive, it is actually a gift from God. This situation has really put my capability and potential to the test. I just want to take them positively and I will endure all difficulties with God’s help. I will grab every opportunity that permits me to give more focus on the teaching and learning activity. After all, that is the core business of a teacher. According to Joshua J. Marine, Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”



B. Weekly Journal Example 2. To download click this link: Week 2

Problem
Week two only started on Wednesday because the school was having a four-day Chinese New Year holiday. Starting from Wednesday, the school was having sports events from 17 February 2010 to 21 February 2010. There was no teaching and learning activity this week as all students and teachers were involved in the sports activity throughout the day from morning until evening. I thought that I could seize this opportunity to focus on work related to my practicum. Unfortunately, I had to prepare the 2009 Yearly Financial Report for the “Parents and Teachers Association Committee Meeting” that was held on Friday the same week as I am the treasurer for the school’s Parents and Teachers Association (PTA). I was very worried because I will be observed by Dr. Sharmini for the first time on Tuesday, 23 February 2010 next week but I was not even ready.

I felt that I have a lot on my plate. I was so depressed. I was really occupied this week and it was hard to find the time and opportunity to write a good and well structured lesson plan for Week 3. I had prepared a detailed lesson plan before for the literature micro-teaching back in IPBA and it took me weeks to come out with one particular lesson plan. But this time, I need to prepare three different lesson plans for each and every week during practicum. I was asking myself, “Can I ever manage it?” It is really tough. I am the kind of person who loves to do things orderly and systematically. I will put a lot of thoughts in preparing a lesson plan. In other words, I think too much. I am really careful in everything I plan.

Planning a lesson plan is extremely challenging but preparing the teaching aids can really exacerbate the present mind-boggling problems.

Analysis
The difficulties of finding time to prepare a lesson plan are due to my lack of experience and efficacy in organizing my time.

Suggestions For Improvement
There are several ways that could be done to overcome the problem mentioned earlier:
  •  I must make a proper mental and physical preparation by reading a lot of materials related to motivation and pedagogical approaches in education.
  • I need to seek help and support from my supervising lecturer, my cooperating teacher, the senior teachers or those who are more experienced, to discuss on the best way to overcome my difficulties.
  • I need to re-schedule my time management in order to carry out my responsibilities efficiently. I will grab every opportunity that permits me to give more focus on the teaching and learning activity.


Duration
I will try to overcome my problems soonest possible; that is prior to week three of practicum. I realize that if I am unable to manage these problems immediately, especially in the aspect of effective time management skills, the situation might jeopardize my practicum duty and other major tasks as a teacher.

Assessment Of Success
I will need the assistance from my cooperating teacher and colleagues to assess the effectiveness and success of my handling the problems. I will also need to do some self- assessment to solve these matters.

Further Action
In the preparation of a daily lesson plan, I need to be resourceful in planning activities which will suit the curriculum specifications and the learning objectives within the time stipulated. I will always seek guidance and help from my supervising lecturer and cooperating teacher who have been wonderful assistance so far.

Conclusion / Reflection
As a teacher, I need to increase my knowledge on how to save time without sacrificing the quality of my teaching. I need to learn how to organize my work. I am hoping for excellence and flawlessness in my teaching and learning process. I will not tolerate mediocrity as it does not deserve a place in my dictionary of life.

According to K. J. Wagner in his article “Time Saving Tips for Teachers”, teaching can be overwhelming, at times. A teacher have piles of books to mark, courses to attend, grades to calculate, loads of school tasks to get done, and, if there is any time left—teach. There is so much to do, and so little time in which to accomplish it. So, organization is the cornerstone of time management. 

In addition, Jennifer Wagaman in her article “Organization and Time Management for Teachers” stated that organizing our work and prioritizing our time will help us catch up, keep up and even get ahead in our busy life as a teacher.    

Lastly, “Don't agonize. Organize.” – Florynce Kennedy



C. Weekly Journal Example 3. To download click this link: Week 3

Problem
Week three only started on Tuesday after a day off on Monday due to the Sports Events that was held on Sunday, 21 February 2010. Apart from preparing lesson plans, I also needed to prepare the question paper for English Form 2 - Progress Test 1 that is going to commence in Week 5 of practicum. This week, my biggest problem is to find ideas that can be implemented in the teaching and learning activity At times, I feel like throwing in the towel and just do a boring and a mediocre lesson. On the contrary, I want my student to enjoy and learn something from my lesson as it makes me feel like a contented winner.

Planning a lesson plan is still a major problem to me; which I think takes a lot of time and careful thinking. It is hard to device the teaching and learning activity so that it will coincide with the curriculum specifications and the learning objectives stipulated in the lesson plan.

I have a lot of questions and doubts popping into my mind when preparing a lesson; Is the activity suitable for my students? What should I plan for the Closure stage? The Set Induction stage takes only 5 minutes, but why did I take forever to come out with a suitable activity? Does the activity provide a lead-in to the next activity? How and where should I apply the strategies and ideas suggested by the reference books and the websites that I referred to?

On top of that, I need to prepare the teaching aids that will complement my lesson plan, which is also time consuming and would drag my time up to 5 o’clock in the morning.

Analysis
My short of ideas in finding the best method to be implemented in my teaching and learning activity may be due to my lack of experience and efficacy in developing a good lesson plan. I am also skeptical to apply the ideas that I found from the internet and the reference books which I refer to because I always think that the activities suggested are not suitable for my students’ level and that they will not enjoy the activities.
                                                                    
Suggestions For Improvement
There are several ways that could be done to overcome the problem mentioned earlier:
  • I must make a proper mental and physical preparation by reading a lot of materials related to motivation and pedagogical approaches in education.
  • I need to seek help and support from my supervising lecturer, my cooperating teacher, the senior teachers or those who are more experienced, to discuss on the best way to overcome my difficulties.
  • Considering myself as a neophyte at teaching English and Literature per se, I knew that I could not prepare a lesson by merely using my prior knowledge. Preparing an organized and detailed lesson plan is totally new to me. So, I need to make a lot of homework by referring to plenty of reference books and the internet before embarking on a “journey” of coming up with a lesson plan.


Duration
I will try to overcome my problems soonest possible; that is prior to week four of practicum. I realize that if I am unable to manage these problems immediately, the situation might spoil and jeopardize the achievement of the learning objectives in the teaching and learning activity that is planned in the daily lesson plan.

Assessment Of Success
I will need the assistance from my cooperating teacher and colleagues to assess the effectiveness and success of my handling the problems. I will also need to do some self- assessment to solve these matters.

Further Action
In the preparation of a daily lesson plan, I need to be resourceful in planning activities which will suit the curriculum specifications and the learning objectives within the time stipulated. I will always seek guidance and help from my supervising lecturer and cooperating teacher who have been wonderful assistance so far.

Conclusion / Reflection
I spend an inordinate amount of time writing neatly organized lesson plans. I think it is good because it forces me to think about things like how long an activity should take, what the goal is, and what kind of interaction it involves. Any teacher will agree that these things are important and should not just be forgotten about once our Diploma in Education certificate is in our hand. According to Katie, a TEFL teacher, in her article “Lesson Plans: Tips for New Teachers”, teachers do need to prepare. But once a teacher got the hang of what makes a good lesson, he/she will realize that going overboard on the preparation is not what gives a lesson that extra something. Teachers have to have a sense of how students are feeling and when they do not understand or when they are ready to move on or when they need a light-hearted game. A good teacher needs to build up a stock of activities that can be adapted to whatever he/she is teaching. And these things do not come out of long lesson plans. They come from experience. So, I just need to hang in there.



D. Weekly Journal Example 4. To download click this link: Week 4

Problem
It was already week four but I still have trouble with planning the right activities for the teaching and learning sessions. This problem occurs before every lesson took place. I am facing a lot of difficulties to come out with a suitable activity for the level of my students and I am spending inordinate time to think and plan the activity. Coincidently, as the school’s Athletic Manager, my colleague and I needed to take nine students to the Majlis Perbandaran Sepang (MPS) Stadium on Thursday, 4 March 2010 so that they can practice and make preparation for the MSSD in the athletics events. The MSSD is going to be held on 31 March 2010 and 1 April 2010. Besides, as the treasurer of the Parents and Teachers Association (PTA), I also needed to prepare, check and finalize the 2009 Financial Report prior to the PTA General Meeting that was held on Sunday, 7 March 2010. For that reason, I am feeling at a loss of thinking, searching and finding ideas of varying the activities for my teaching and learning sessions that will suit my students’ level. This problem really troubles me as I am worried that students will be bored stiff with the techniques and methods that I normally apply in class.

Analysis
This problem continues to exist because I am thinking too much about my practicum duty and at the same time, I also need to accomplish other school workload that has been assigned to me and fulfill my duty as a teacher in this school. I have bought many books and do a lot of research from the internet to find teaching ideas for my lesson. I know that the teaching and learning session is trial and error lesson for me to see whether or not an idea is suitable for my students. However, I am still scared to put the ideas to the test because I always think that the activities suggested are not suitable for my students’ level and that they will not enjoy the activities. This problem really upsets me and I am feeling guilty towards my students as I think that I do not deliver my lesson well. At times, I can see their unenthusiastic face and subtle reluctance to get involved in the activity that has been planned. I can also feel their boredom during my lesson.
                                             
Suggestions For Improvement
There are several ways that could be done to overcome the problem mentioned earlier:
  • I need to make an in-depth thinking while preparing for the activity to be implemented in my teaching and learning session. I have to imagine the real situation and ask myself, “How will the students respond towards this activity?”
  • I need to seek help and support from my supervising lecturer, my cooperating teacher, the senior teachers or those who are more experienced, to discuss on the best way to overcome my difficulties.
  • I have to make a lot of research by referring to plenty of reference books and the internet before coming up with an activity.


Duration
I will try to overcome my problems soonest possible; that is prior to week five of practicum. I realize that if I am unable to manage these problems immediately, the situation might spoil and jeopardize the achievement of the learning objectives in the teaching and learning activity that is planned in the daily lesson plan.

Assessment Of Success
I will need the assistance from my cooperating teacher and colleagues to assess the effectiveness and success of my handling the problems. I will also need to do some self- assessment to solve these matters.

Further Action
I need to be resourceful in planning activities which will suit the curriculum specifications and the learning objectives within the time stipulated. I will always seek guidance and help from my supervising lecturer, my cooperating teacher and other colleagues who have been wonderful assistance so far. I need to be bold in trying new ideas and be optimist by giving my students chances to get involved in the new activities.

Conclusion / Reflection
I realize that I am new to teaching English. I always have to remember that trial and error goes a long way towards perfecting my teaching style. So, I need to ask questions when I am struggling. Alan Alda, an American actor, director and screenwriter in the 70’s and 80’s, quotes: “Laugh at yourself, but don't ever aim your doubt at yourself. Be bold. When you embark for strange places, don't leave any of yourself safely on shore. Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory.”

E. Weekly Journal Example 5. To download click this link:Week 5

Problem
Week five was a Progress Test Week for all students. So, there was no teaching and learning activity conducted this week. My problem this week was unable to find the time to work on my practicum portfolio but I was wrong. There were a lot of important matters that need to be taken care of. Firstly, I needed to make sure that I finish marking the English test papers for Form 1 and Form 2 classes. Secondly, as an ex-chemistry teacher in 2009, I needed to prepare the Chemistry PEKA (Penilaian Kerja Amali) certificates for the former 2009 SPM candidates. Thirdly, I had to manage the MSSD registration on Friday, 12 March 2010 by meeting up with the school’s 19 athletes, filling up a form and faxing the form to SMK Sg. Pelek. This week was quite exhausting as I need to run here and there to get all the high priority work done on time. As anticipated, I could not get the practicum portfolio even started.

Analysis
This problem may exist due to my ineffective time management skills. Sometimes, I refuse to blame 100% on myself when things do not go well as planned because there are certain time when suddenly so many things need to be accomplished at the same time.
                                             
Suggestions For Improvement
There are several ways that could be done to overcome the problem mentioned earlier:
  • I should get organized and prioritize all my work properly.
  • I need to seek help and support from my supervising lecturer, my cooperating teacher, the senior teachers or those who are more experienced, to discuss on the best way to overcome my difficulties.
Duration
I will start on my practicum portfolio during the one week school holiday. I may not be able to complete everything that needs to be placed in the portfolio but at least I will do the weekly journal writing.  

Assessment Of Success
I will need the assistance from my cooperating teacher and colleagues to assess the effectiveness and success of my handling the problems. I will also need to do some self- assessment to solve these matters.

Further Action
I will update my practicum portfolio from time to time and work hard on finishing all my work on time. I should utilize every opportunity that comes to complete my work. I try not to procrastinate in getting all my duty done. I will always seek guidance and help from my supervising lecturer, my cooperating teacher and other colleagues who have been wonderful assistance so far.

Conclusion / Reflection
Honestly, I can sometimes be a bit of a procrastinator. Every so often, after an exhausting day at work, I would get engrossed with Facebook or watch some of my favourite movies even though I knew that I still have a lot of work to do. Can I call that procrastination or just a way of rewarding myself after a long hectic day? Whatever it is called, the first thing I need to do is decide upon my goal. I need to learn to manage my time better. I should not wait until tomorrow to start. As quoted by Abraham Lincoln, "The leading rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every other calling, is diligence. Leave nothing for to-morrow which can be done to-day."




F. Weekly Journal Example 6. To download click this link:Week 6


Problem

This week, I am having problem dealing with the time management when conducting activities during the teaching and learning session in class. The problem was related to students’ involvement in the activities that was planned in class. The students were cooperative and putting a lot of efforts in carrying out the activities that were assigned to them. However, the class has been a little too noisy when everybody wanted to answer a question at the same time especially during the brainstorming activity. Furthermore, students were unable to keep up with the time allotted to complete the activities that have been given; particularly in group work activities. This matter has interrupted the flow of teaching and learning session.

As a person who is new in teaching English, I knew that it is not easy to plan an activity for the students. When I plan a lesson, I always assume that students will be able to do the activities that I have planned within the time allocated. But when the lesson was tested, I found that my assumption was wrong as students required more time to do the activity. For instance, this week I planned an activity in which students, in groups, were only required to write only five sentences in 10 minutes based on a picture of an accident scene. When the lesson was tested to my first class, 1 Zuhud, I found that most students were having difficulties to write even one sentence even though I have given words that they could use to help them come up with a sentence. They were not able to complete their work on time. Since I was running out of time, only two groups were able to present their work. After the two groups had finished with their presentation, I merely corrected their work without even explaining their mistakes as there was not enough time to do so.

Analysis
This problem exists because I was being very soft to students in terms of keeping up with the time in doing the activities in the teaching and learning session. In addition, I felt that I have failed to give clear and accurate instructions prior to the activities. This has caused students to have difficulties in carrying out the activities because they did not get a clear picture of what they were supposed to do.

The problem worsens when some students in groups have different opinions and disagreements in completing a task. I guess that since they are still kids, they are being intolerant, defensive, hardheaded and opinionated. As a result of their immature behaviour, they were not able to solve their “dispute” and finish the task within the given time because they refused to give and take. The only things that they could do to solve their disagreements were by quarreling, pointing fingers, making long faces and in the end refusing to continue their work. The time given to complete their work was just wasted and flew away like dust.

Some groups were having difficulties in writing even a sentence. I found that these groups were too scared to make mistakes and kept asking me whether or not the sentences were correct. I knew that as a teacher who acts as a facilitator, I should be there whenever my students need me during the teaching and learning activity but in this situation I felt that things went overboard. They have really annoyed me and tried my patience. Even though I have reassured them that their work was going to be checked later, they continued to bug me to check their answers. Were the students showing good signs of having much interest and enthusiasm in the activity? I am still vague with the answer but all I can say is, their attitude has caused them to work exceeding the time limit and hindered them from completing their work.
                                                                    
Suggestions For Improvement
There are several ways that could be done to overcome the problem mentioned earlier:
  • I should be firm with students when it comes to work within the time limits. I should always remind students about keeping up with the time allocated.
  • I should give simple and clear instructions to students before asking them to carry out certain task during the teaching and learning session so that they fully understand what are they required to do.
  • I need to seek help and support from my supervising lecturer, my cooperating teacher, the senior teachers or those who are more experienced, to discuss on the best way to overcome my difficulties related to time management and how to handle peer disagreements in the class.
  • I need to inculcate good cooperation and teamwork among students.
  • I will continue to do more research from the reference books and the internet to find the best activities that can be applied in my lessons so that students will not get bored in learning English.

Duration
Planning an activity for students of different abilities and dealing with students’ attitudes and weaknesses are no easy tasks. However, I am sure that all these problems can be overcome if I continue to work hard to improve my lessons. To be honest, I need to give myself some time to enhance and develop my teaching skills as planning good lessons require a lot of trials and errors.

Assessment Of Success
After having a discussion with my lecturer regarding on the improvements that I could do with the similar lesson that I had with I Zuhud, Dr. Sharmini had given some suggestions which I think are interesting and will be attention-grabbing. One of the suggestions is I need to provide question prompts that will help students to produce sentences to describe a picture. Dr. Sharmini had also suggested that I carry out the “Gallery Walk” activity instead of conventionally asking students to present their work in front of the class as the latter may cause embarrassments and can be somewhat unnerving to the groups who presented. So, I made some changes to my original lesson and tested the revised lesson plan for the other two classes, 1 Iman and 1 Taqwa.

For 1 Iman and 1 Taqwa, prior to writing the five sentences, I instructed them to brainstorm words which were related to the picture of an accident scene. I was surprised with their capability as they were able to come up with more than 30 words. Then, I asked them to use the words which had been brainstormed to write sentences. I even provided the question prompts in order to assist students in producing sentences. The revised lesson worked well with 1 Iman. It was really hard to make students work within the time limit but I made a point to be firmed with them. When the time was up, I immediately instructed students to place their work on the designated wall. Although they took a few minutes more than the time allocated, we managed to do the “Gallery Walk” activity where students were actively participated by checking and correcting their friends’ work. I even had time to comment on their work.

However, things were not the same with 1 Taqwa. The students were still having difficulties to write even a sentence albeit the brainstorming activity which had been done and the question prompts which had been provided. I was so upset. What more do the students need? Some of them could not even write a simple sentence, not to mention settling their childish arguments. I tried to reassure them by saying that it was ok to make mistakes but my lack of psychological skills failed to restore their confidence. I was upset even more.

When I am disappointed, I like to read motivational quotes and exchange experience with other teachers as they help to bolster my confidence – temporarily.

Further Action
As mentioned earlier, it takes time to be a great teacher. I will continue to do more research from the reference books and the internet to find the best activities that can be applied in my lessons so that students will not get bored stiff in learning English. I will also continue to seek help and support from my supervising lecturer, my cooperating teacher, the senior teachers or those who are more experienced, to discuss on the best way to overcome my difficulties related to time management and how to handle peer disagreements in the class.

Conclusion / Reflection
What makes a good teacher? This is one of the most common questions for teachers but the answers are rarely the same. A good teacher, as for me, should improve his/her teaching skills day by day in order to adapt new teaching methods. According to Ajit Singh Nagpal, an ESL teacher, a good teacher is someone who is able to relate to his/her students.  He/She should be able to understand the needs of his/her students and should be adequately equipped to impart his/her knowledge and experience with passion.  A good teacher never stops teaching.  He/She is a teacher for life. A good teacher is also a student for life, one who will continue to seek out new methods and techniques to impart his/her knowledge to his/her students.   

I think, at times, I was carried away with my negative emotions towards my students. When I come to think about it, I should not feel this way towards them. I need to understand the needs of my students, how they learn in order to help them in that process. I need to trigger their curiosity and provide them with the necessary tools to continue learning. John Ruskin quotes, "Education is a painful, continual and difficult work to be done in kindness, by watching, by warning, by praise, but above all -- by example."

Well, to conclude, teaching English is not as easy as ABC.


G. Weekly Journal Example 7. To download click this link:Week 7

Problem
This week, I had problems focusing on the teaching and learning (TNL) activity. As the manager for the school’s athletic team, I had to bring the school’s athletes to the Majlis Perbandaran Sepang (MPS) Stadium on Tuesday, 30 March 2010 so that they could have one last training session before the Majlis Sukan Sekolah-sekolah Daerah (MSSD) for the Sepang Region. The MSSD was held for two days beginning from 31 March 2010 until 1 April 2010. I was given a TNL release by the vice-principal of co-curriculum (GPK Kokurikulum), Mr. Zamri bin Tujan, to help trained the athletes at the MPS Stadium. The 15 athletes were also trained by another SAMBBST’s teacher, Mr. Muhammad Firdaus bin Idris. I was away from the school during the MSSD Championship as I need to manage and look after the athletes’ needs during the event which started from 8.00 a.m to 5.00 p.m. every day for two days. Due to this event, I was having difficulties to find time to write my daily lesson plan and also the weekly journal. This week had been a hectic week.

Analysis
I could not find the right time and opportunity to complete my practicum work due to my absence from the school for three days. I also felt lethargic from managing the school’s MSSD athletes.
                                                                    
Suggestions For Improvement
I need to find time during the weekend to complete all pending work.

Duration
I should complete all pending work before Week 8 to prevent a heap of work load that I need to carry on my shoulder. I knew that if I fail to do all the pending tasks, I am going to feel so stressed out due to the work load that I need to fulfill during Week 8 plus the pending work that I am supposed to do in Week 7. My failure could affect me physically and emotionally because I need to double up my effort to finish all urgent work.

Assessment Of Success
I was upset with myself. I could not finish the work that I was supposed to do even though I have tried my best to complete them. This is due to my capacity as a mother to a two-year old daughter. She is my biggest challenge throughout performing my practicum duty but I could not possibly neglect her. At the same time, I also need to prepare the paperwork for the Kursus Kenaikan Pangkat Lans Koperal dan Koperal Kadet Remaja Sekolah as I am the Secretary for the said program.

Further Action
I will try my best to finish all the pending work during Week 8.

Conclusion / Reflection
Academically, I was not happy with my performance this week but I needed to bear in mind that a teacher does not only teach. As a teacher, I need to play an active role in the co-curricular activity in school even though I love teaching the most. But according to Harland Sanders, “You got to like your work. You have got to like what you are doing, you have got to be doing something worthwhile so you can like it - because it is worthwhile, that it makes a difference, don't you see?”

Despite the hectic week, I was proud with four of my athletes as they have contributed one gold medal, two silver medals and one bronze medal for SAMBBST in the MSSD Championship. This success has made a history as our school had never won a gold medal in the MSSD before. I told myself that I did not totally fail. I have contributed a little something to the school. Well, that little something did make a BIG success.




H. Weekly Journal Example 8. To download click this link:Week 8


Problem
I planned to do a listening and speaking activity for my classes this week. I did not want to use the Ministry of Education’s CD because I have done that in my previous lesson. Then I was thinking maybe I should start off the lesson with a reading activity and discuss a focused grammar item out of the text. However, I have done this kind of activity several times before. Students might get bored stiff if I continue to use the same method over and over again. Again, my aim in devising a lesson plan is to get students to enjoy the lesson so that it will be meaningful to them. I could not think of other interesting ideas that can be applied in my lesson.

Analysis
My short of ideas in finding the best method to be implemented in my teaching and learning activity may be due to my lack of experience and creativity in planning an activity for my English lessons. I am also skeptical to apply the ideas that I found from the internet and the reference books which I referred to because I always think that the activities suggested are not suitable for my students’ level and that they will not enjoy the activities.
                                                                    
Suggestions For Improvement
There are several ways that could be done to overcome the problem mentioned earlier:
  • I will continue to do more research from the reference books and the internet to find the best activities that can be applied in my lessons so that students will not get bored in learning English.
  • I need to seek help and support from my supervising lecturer, my cooperating teacher, the senior teachers or those who are more experienced, to discuss on the best way to overcome my difficulties.


Duration
Planning an activity for students of different abilities and expectations is no easy tasks. However, I am sure that all these problems can be overcome if I continue to work hard to improve my lessons. To be honest, I need to give myself some time to enhance and develop my teaching skills as planning good lessons require a lot of trials and errors. I believe that my enthusiasm will help me be a great English teacher.

Assessment Of Success
I talked to my cooperating teacher, Mrs. Wan Rose Azian about my difficulties in teaching English. Apart from giving motivation, she gave a number of ideas which I think are interesting and could be used in my teaching and learning activity. She did mention about teaching using songs. I was telling myself, “Hey, this is a good idea.” I have never done the teaching and learning activity using songs during practicum. I was positive that my students will enjoy the lesson using song. Mrs. Wan Rose Azian had kindly lent her trusty reference book, “Planning And Teaching: Practical Suggestions For English In The Classroom” written by Dulcie Abraham. I was excited and photocopied the book. I have yet to read and use the ideas suggested in the book but I will surely use the book as one of my references because the book is highly recommended by my cooperating teacher.

Besides talking to my cooperating teacher, I did countless research on the best way to use songs in the teaching and learning activity. I came across several interesting and mind-opening articles about teaching English through songs from the internet. Among the websites are:
  1. http://www.musicalspanish.com/
  2. http://www.englishclub.com/teaching-tips/music-classroom.htm
  3. http://www.eslbase.com/articles/pop-songs.asp


I also gained some ideas on the activities that could be done with songs and grammar items from the following websites:
  1. http://edition.tefl.net/ideas/grammar/fun-activities-prepositions-of-time/
  2. http://www.azargrammar.com/materials/FWG_TOC.html
  3. http://www.musicalenglishlessons.org/music-queen1.htm

I will surely recommend these pages to my other friends who are teaching English.

When I applied the activities using song to my students, I could see that most students were enjoying their time. I tried the “Timetable Running Dictation” game with the students. The aim of the game was to use the prepositions of time to complete a school timetable. However, I felt that the objective of this game was not achieved as students dictated the information in Bahasa Melayu. Nevertheless, they were excited with the “Tic Tac Toe” game that I introduced in order to get them used the prepositions of time. At the end of the game, most students said that they wanted to play the game again. I was glad. In my opinion, this week’s lesson was the most successful lesson that I have ever experienced and I felt proud of myself. I felt even happier when my lecturer, Dr. Sharmini took the song’s handout so that she could use it with her students in IPBA.

Further Action
As mentioned earlier, it takes time to be a great teacher. I will continue to do more research from the reference books and the internet to find the best activities that can be applied in my lessons so that students will not get bored stiff in learning English. I will also continue to seek help and support from my supervising lecturer, my cooperating teacher, the senior teachers or those who are more experienced, to discuss on the activities that could be use in teaching English effectively.

Conclusion / Reflection
This week’s success has really boosted my confidence in teaching English. Some people said that teachers need to have a gift to teaching. Otherwise they will not succeed. But is that so? In my opinion, a good teacher enjoys teaching, carefully prepares his/her lessons, reflects and evaluates his/her own practices. According to Rohana Andaraweera, an ESL teacher, a teacher should adjust to learners’ level of proficiency and provides practical applications for the facts he/she is presenting. She added that, a teacher should have a high proficiency in English and works hard to remain up to date in his/her subject. Good teachers therefore are hard working to be professional, creative, innovative and successful in his/her teaching.

Being gifted is not enough because a teacher should love teaching to succeed otherwise he/she will lose that gift when faced with the first classroom or administrative problem.


 
;