I have been a teacher for 41 years now. Since 2000 I never miss to observe my students undergoing their practicum. I have long traversed the country from Kelantan, Terenggangu, Pahang, Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Selangor, Perak, Pulau Pinang dan Sabah. This time around I am assigned to Alor Setar. I have gone there for a few times but never ventured around the town. Most often I was just passing by. On business with little pleasure.
Going for observation is always fun but also full of surprises. Traveling is one besides lodging and food. Away from home and office for days may pose a little problem to the stomach. Different place means different food. Sometimes the mouth has no problem but the stomach can be different. A few years back, going for observation was quite a torture. Mind you! I was away in Terengganu, Port Dickson and Ipoh for two months. Yes, two months. Two long months. The number of students to be observed was also fantastic. It could be more than 30 of them.
Then there was changes. At times it was for a few days only. What a relief. And suddenly in 2010 I have to go outstation for two weeks. Two solid weeks. Quite perplexing. For an old timer like me, two weeks is quite a soul searching. Away from the comfort of my office. Away from the comfort of my home. During those early years, going for observation was really greatly anticipated. Business cum pleasure. Seeing new places and meeting new people and along the way making new friends. But now it is two weeks. My goodness. Two weeks is quite a length of time.
On Sunday Mac 21, 2010 travelling north was quite an effort. Travelling to Ipoh was not a problem. It has been considered to be my second home. Been there for 12 years. But to Alor Setar is much further up north. It took me almost 10 hours from Kuala Lumpur. Traffic was not heavy. I was travelling at a constant speed of around 110 km/hour. I like travelling alone. No one to argue with. I simply follow my instinct where to stop and what to do. Most of the time, I was singing to myself, fiddling my handphone and snapping pictures on the undulating hills and mountains, the trees, the greenery, the imposing hillsides, the tunnel, and least but not last the changing landscape of the crops planted from Selangor to Kedah.
Down south most of the crops are palm oil and the dwinddling rubber trees. I was expecting the green paddy fields. Very nostalgic. Then it was a great dissapointment. I saw only dry fields, bare and dusty. Just as bare s my heart. That pulsating moment of great expectation was gone. Wrong time of the year. But then the vast land occupied by paddy fields gives a grand sight. What if only it was green! The green green grass of home. I suddenly remember that song sung by Tom Jones. Yes about 50 years ago.
Still Alor Setar poses a different excitement. This time around I am going to observe a few of my own students. They have gone under my tutalage. I expect them to perform well. It is as if I am evaluating myself. Pure exitemant. My, at 64 I am still excited doing a routine. As if youth, that bountiful energy is bursting within me. Of my students performance is my satisfaction. Alor Setar is a challange by itself. For two days I discovered little. I did not venture much. Preety tied up with other things. Nonetheless, yesterday, Monday Mac 22, I went to Tok Pulau in Perlis to visit my cousin. On the way back I passed through Jitra. The airport is still there. Quite deserted.
There are three categories of students: DPLI students, bachelor students with polytechnic diplomas and bachelor students with matriculation background. I expect their performances to vary somewhat but for the moment I just cross my fingers. Let them perform.
When these students first underwent their practicum, there was a lot of questions than answers. They were uncertain of what to do and how to deal with the little darlings in the name of students. Some were facing a lot of difficulties fitting into the teaching routine and fitting into the teachers group. A few solicited advice from me. I tried to be there when these students were reaching for their lecturers. My involvement with faceboof was welcoming. I was freely communcating with students on practicum. And of course I was able to dispense some guide and advice. After two weeks, they settled down. Much to my relief. Feel great to be of some help.
Now for the final round of observation, students are excited. Some are still panicky. My advice is be yourself. Your lecturer is human. Very much human. They are helping students grope and cope with reality. Teaching is a profession. Not many people have the knack to being a good teacher. Going to schools, see the real things, bridged the gap between teory and reality.
I observed one student. An average one. There are 17 more to go. A real task. See you there my students. I am not imposing, not intimidating. I am here to share, to help. Of course I want my students to be my copy at least. Or clone maybe. Technologies, they should be well versed with the nature of delivery. Creativity is expected from students.
Please take control. Comfort yourself. Yes of course life is full of surprises.