Not Everybody’s Cup of Tea
I began my teaching journey as a complete blank, knowing nothing about teaching. I didn't take any teaching course, I didn't go to teaching academy, I didn't undergo any teaching workshop. None.
I walk in the path of 'giving', knowing that teaching is mostly to share what knowledge the teachers have. I have to study at nights, about what I am going to teach the day after. More, if possible. Many more, about the extended topics. So I can share more to my students, not only what has been written on the textbook (then I can just ask them to read without listening to me, right?). And share my own experience if any.
And one day, a dear friend of mine 'caught' me in the middle of the night, bombarding me with such intriguing questions and question me -the so-called teacher-, "What are you doing, Ta?". I got dumbfounded.
Yes, what am I doing? I should have prepared my students to face the wild world, when there will be jobs that not even exist nowadays. "It's not the science or knowledge that will prepare them best. It's their attitude, the value! Knowledge is changing. Science is renewing. But their inner side will guide them at the right path."
That feels like a slap on my face. Dare he to point at my nose and said, "Apa-apaan lo diskriminatif kaya gitu? Tenaga pendidik kaya begini, mau jadi apa negeri ini?". I really wanted to punch him at that time. But as the conversation went deeper, I found that he truly meant to help me. To rediscover what's supposed to be my goal.
That what matters the most is not the flying colors, not trophies, not how vast the knowledge the students can achieve. It's the value. Yes, it is mostly clear that smart is just not enough. Smart gets you to a school or a workplace. But what holds one there in a strong bargaining position is the attitude.
It's the consistency, when my students asked, "In what effort do they study?", in respond to the ITB and UI announcement in last few days where many 12th graders have already admitted to.
It's the attitude, if you ever wonder why low-grade students got helped by teachers and given the second (or third or fourth) chance for something. Which one you prefer? A smart yet so arrogant student or a just-mediocre yet has a very good attitude toward people (not only teachers)?
So I switch from tutor-like to teacher-like (I'm not a good teacher yet, I'm just still trying to mimic one). I switch from "I don't care what you do, just do my exam well" to "I care what you do and do my exam well".
Here is the case. Some of my students didn't attend the lab work. I have two choices: 1. I don't care too much. I'll just leave the score blank for practical work. None of my business. If the parents asked, I'll just show them the attendance record. Open for anybody. 2. I'll leave the score blank and demand them to make a consent letter, signed by their parents. They will not be allowed to attend my class before the letter (and a paper work) had been submitted.
You can guess which option I take. Clearly, I took option 2. It's not that I'm happy to throw out students. I am NOT happy when there are still 2 of them not getting back to my class. Though it is still easy if their parents made a complaint later. I have every piece documented well. Just give them the facts.
I am not happy to see disappointed faces, though I clearly am not happy either to see a slight 'bodo amat, mending bolos daripada di kelas elu' face.
I felt a bit discouraged. I was annoyed. Worried. I said to my husband, "I'm sure they won't like this. I know I can't be everyone's favorite. I do have the option which might be a happier one than this". He replied, "Do you want to be a teacher or an idol?". Check mate.
A teacher's got to do what a teacher's gotta do. I am a teacher, am not a tutor. No offense, tutors. It's just tutors don't get blamed as hard as teachers do when something goes wrong with the student (so where's exactly the parents' position, eh?).
So, skipping students (yes, I know you're skipping my class, I saw you), think again. It's for your sake. Not mine. I can simply ignore you. So what? I would enjoy students who want to listen to me anyway rather than having stray minds.
But teaching's not about it. I'm going to call your parents. And am not giving you makeup class or makeup test (or quiz or whatever). Period.