I started the new work year with some apprehension. The school informed me that my 2015 form class will be challenging, comprising of the weakest students of the NA classes, boys who could not pass.
In the staff meeting in December last year, some teachers even warned me of a particular “student D” in my new class. He has a string of discipline records, and suffers from ADHD, a type of behavioral problem. His parents are divorced and the boy flares up often in class.
Checking the student records, I could see more “worries”. I have a returning students from overseas, that has a near zero in math scores. There was also a repeat student that reportedly had mixed with bad company. Some of them had incomplete families and several had financial difficulties.
I steeled my nerves, strengthen my resolve and entered the class. Looking into their eyes on the first day of school, I assessed them quickly. Some looked apprehensive, a few of them appeared “hardened”. Later on, I realized that many of the students had not wanted to come into this class, as they had tagged this class as a class of losers.
The first 2 weeks passed by fast. I did my usual form teacher duties and a bit more, so that I can understand these students better. I stepped into their subject classes to see how they responded to other teachers. I communicated with all their parents so that we can work together for these children.
I wanted to help these boys. Give them a fighting chance.
There were the usual and expected problems. The students tried at their work but I could see that they had issues, as they were academically weak. Student D also acted up often, even once hurling abuse at a new teacher. He was called up often for discipline matters.
But yesterday 2 things happened that gave me renewed hope that all is not lost. I have another senior class that is pretty good in studies. I explained to the older boys that I need tuition teachers for my form class and asked them to give of their time to mentor their juniors after their own lessons.
Many of them stepped forward and asked how they could help.
I couldn’t hide my smile, and my pride at these older boys for their generous spirits.
And in my last form class period yesterday, I asked for some written reflections. The boys wrote of how they felt, after 2 weeks, of being in the class. I collected the slips of paper and dismissed them for the weekend.
In the quiet of my office I read their replies. All were positive responses, with many students saying that they enjoyed the new form class and look forward to a good year ahead. But what touched me particularly was a note from student D. He wrote:
“Dear Sir, thank you for having confidence in me. I like being in your class. I love you.”
I was touched by the simple expression of sincerity and thankfulness.
Reminds me of this song: Greatest Love Of All
“I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be
I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I’ll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all”
And for now, I am having hope again. Hope that perhaps, I can make a difference.