Extraordinary for the Ordinary

by Kartikasari

Every time I enter a classroom to teach my students, I must turn myself into a full-fledged teacher—since I am not a senior teacher with a bunch of experience. I even still remember a couple of months ago I was still sitting in a classroom with my classmates listening to my professors. Sometimes it is not easy to just switch from ‘student mode’ into ‘teacher mode’, especially when your students are much older than you are. So how can I turn this into my benefit?

As teachers, we should not forget that we—even if it was a million years ago—were once students too. This way, we can position ourselves as our students; we try to feel how they feel, we try to see how they see, and we try to understand what they want. From my days back when I was just a common student, I got bored every time my teachers discussed the lessons. At first, I thought it was just me. But then my teachers started to give unusual tasks, and assignments which made me complain at first, but as I did them, I got excited. Now that I am a teacher myself, I try to grab that excitement from when I was a student; I try to experiment with unusual tasks on my students.

The task does not have to be a complicated one. It can be somethng awfully simple and brutally easy. One of my experience is when I had to teach writing. Many Indonesian students do not make writing as their habit, so were my students. It was about writing a diary entry, so the first question I asked was “Do you keep a diary?”. Of course they answered with a long chorus “Noooo”. Typical. What did I expect? So then I figured that if I just simply asked them to write a diary entry on a piece of paper, they would surely do it, but they would not get the excitement. Since I know from experience that we can learn better in a happy environment, I tried to make the writing fun. The big question is “How?”. Since the did not have their own diaries, I asked them to make one for themselves. They had to put several pieces of papers together and put a stapler in the middle before they folded them just like any book. In no time, everyone had their own little diaries, and I asked them to treat them as such. They were free to draw and put colors and decorations on the cover, and they were free to spill their feelings inside the diary, and if they wanted to, the could also put small drawings every now and then when they wrote the diary entries. They were so excited to do it. In fact, they giggled while writing—I am sure that was the first.

Another example happened when I taught my students how to express plans for the future. After several questions such as “What are you gong to do tonight?”, “what are you going to do tomorrow?”, and “what are you going to do next week?” things started to get monotonous. I needed to change my trick. So I asked them to have a disussions about their plans in two groups: “the apocalypse group” and “the immortal group”. It was a bit crazy because in one group, they had to think about things they need to do before the apocalypse happen, while the other group had to come up with their plans if they would life forever. They had fun and the grammar point was achieved. It was a win win solution for everyone. So why would teachers stuck with the ordinary if we could make it extraordinary?

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