An hour to go, my classroom will be caved in silence. Screaming, giggling and endless rattling will cease.
It was the last day of school. Final exam was done and so was their graduation. I asked my students to take home their books, toothbrushes, sandals, worksheets, projects, and anything that belonged to them. They made more rattles and laughter as they checked what they had accumulated during the entire year. I was quietly watching the commotion. I completely remembered how we began as a class. Then varied emotions flowed up on me more than the resonance of their small voices. "What had I achieved as a teacher, as a class?" "What had I given them? What had they taught me for the past year?" So many moments of ups and downs, sheer joy and triumphs, but there were things I wish I could have done better.
I wish I had created more opportunities to develop their confidence in speaking the English language outside the comfort of our classroom. I was surprised when one of the mothers expressed her frustration over her child's English speaking ability. What made her speak to me like English wasn't a problem than replying to her Mom in a simple word? My students weren't scared to ask questions, share ideas, and answer questions inside the classroom. But, it wasn't the case when they were away from the classroom. The reasons could be overlooked learning goals, student's confidence, uncertainty, and others. But, I wish I could have done better.
I wish I was more organized in planning and achieving practical learning activities, made time for students who needed more help, explored art, music, and other areas. I was told I should teach through exploration but at the end of the day, I was still asked for worksheets and finished workbooks. Were there ways to plan more effectively?
I wish I had contested the idea of play. I am a play advocate among children. A lot of learning takes place during play. Play teaches children to resolve issues, a way of comfort, and helps them develop affinity to learning. My students play time ceased as I was told, "Children miss something if they play. They should practice writing". I wish I had reasoned better.
Colleagues as friends
I wish I had connected more with my colleagues. I couldn't like everybody, but most of the time in a workplace, one is asked to be nice, courteous and be a good team player. Whatever my preferences and personal views are, colleagues are always a great help at times when you need them most. I believe most people aspire to do a good job. I wish I had talked more to them.
I wish I had learnt more Thai language. Language connects you to anything - be it to parents, colleagues, food, and culture? It isn't a necessity to survive, but surely it will go with me a long way. Also, I like seeing my students with amused faces whenever they hear me speak a word in Thai.
I wish I had created avenues to connect with parents. There were a lot of times when I wanted to give them firsthand information of their child's progress or simply to ask how they were. But most often, we just settled on being nice.
Lastly, I wish I had told my students more often that they were special and loved every day. Time was scheduled and so things had to be accomplished. Most of the time, I was too occupied with each lesson, looking after them - who was behaving and not; and make sure that they wouldn't go home untidy or injured. I wish I had told them love more than anything else.
It takes one to know how self-reflection is hard. It requires honesty to get things done for the better. I may be feeling inefficient in some ways, but I take comfort from what Pope John XII said, "Men are like wine - some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age."
An hour to go, my students know that the next time they enter a classroom, it will be theirs, but with someone else. As for me, I will remain a teacher and I will do better.