At the start of the year, I wrote of my new form class in a blog post, “The Greatest Love of All“. Time really flies. I had my last lessons with them this week and they graduated from me.
Initially, I was apprehensive. I wrote of Student D, the undisciplined boy that gave many teachers hell. I mentioned Student M, who just returned from overseas and had zero marks in Math. I also spoke of the repeat Student A, who came in angry that he was retained for a year.
The other students had their own unresolved issues. They were all academically weak and had the worse scores in their previous classes last year. That is why they were all banded together in my form class. It seems to be a difficult year ahead.
There were many challenging moments: fights in the class, complaints from other subject teachers on poor behavior, smoking and unlawful assembly at public areas, half my class failing their mid-year exams, to name but some.
One of them even ran away from home for a week. The parents were hysterical. The school management were called in. It became a police case. The boy appeared in the news as a missing person, much to the amusement of his classmates.
Life throws lots of curved balls and lemons. I thought that maybe this was one of those, giving me a difficult class and a tough academic year ahead. But like what I wrote at the beginning of this year, I was determined to give these boys a fighting chance in life.
In the last lesson, I said farewell to the class. Some of the boys were teary. I could see it, even though all of them were trying to hide their emotions, cos they were young boys all trying to act cool and crying is so not. I could sense their sadness. I was sad too, the feeling was like a father letting go of his children. I was like them, somewhat reluctant to leave.
So how did they perform? All but one made it to the next level. Student D was angry. He pleaded, threatened and cried. He is a smart boy but lazy. He only studies what he likes, and sleeps for all the other papers in the exams. I pleaded to the school leaders for him, that he is capable of more. Still, Student D was retained for another year.
Maybe it is for the best. Setbacks and some humility might actually do him good. It is good to fail early so that he can learn. I still have great hope in Student D.
Here are the adapted remarks that I pulled off from my final whatapps chat.
From several parents:
“Thank you very much for giving M a positive year of school, especially this being his first year of schooling in Singapore. You have made it a very good one. We are very appreciative.”
“Thank you so much for giving them many gd advice n encouragements throughout tis whole year. Yr hard work has helped n changed my son! Thank you!”
“Million thanks. Proud, honour n appreciate so much for your kind taught. ….such a wonderful teacher to my son. He shared a lot about u. U gave him motivations, realizations n be a good man in future. Hope to see again n take good care.”
“Thank you for the gift. J is so lucky to have you to be his teacher this year. Appreciate all the care, concern plus nagging.”
“Thanks for everything. No words to express my gratitude.”
And this is from the parent of Student D:
“…my thanks to especially you for watching over D and also me. I know it’s too much of me to ask of this but do watch over D next year. Do keep in touch too. Not every student is fortunate to have a good teacher, D is lucky to have you.”
And from some of the students:
“thank u sir fr being the best teacher and thank u so much sir fr advancing me. truly appreciate it so much and i hope u will take us agn as our form.”
“Thanks sir. I going to miss everything because of you guys:) I also hope that you are my form teacher next year!! And to everyone else, thank u for making me feel welcome in singapore I only hope we become even more close.”
And from Student D himself:
“im gonna miss u idiots , the only class that has made me cry when im leaving , u guys are something else alright.”
The class was given more resources by the school as they were weak in studies. They had more enrichment programs that bonded the class boys even further. The class became close and strong friendships were formed. The “loser” class quickly became the “best” NA class for the year. I even hear of students from other classes who wanted to fail their exams so that they can join the class.
The students were happy to be in this special class. The parents were happy too as I kept them updated constantly of the progress their children made.
So it seems that I must have done something right by this class. Little did the class know that they had done right by me too. By trying hard, putting in effort despite their unfair starting point and difficult family circumstances, they have shown me that my faith in them was true.
Time passes so fast. November approaches and soon we will hear the christmas bells again. Another year will come and I will take on another class. It will be a repeat of the same routine.
But for 2015, I am glad I had made a difference to this class of 15 boys. I hope that in years to come, my lessons will continue to resonate with them. A teacher’s influence is limitless. Often, we see the real fruits of our labour years down the road.
I am thankful to my class of boys. In the end, they too, made a difference to me.