It all begins with a dream

on Thursday, 21 January 2010
In the line of duty, I get a lot of dreams. Yeah, dreams. Kids with all sorts of ideas about life that you just never thought was possible to be concocted in one vessel of a person. The fact that such young children have such complex plans astounds me. It is also incomprehensible to me that they are able to rationalise what they want and what they have planned to do in life. When I was 17, my mind was basically just pondering about 2 things - hanging out and girls... or was it just girls? 

It would take years of blogging to talk about the different personalities of my students. I mean, literally, 6 classes, averagely 35 students per class gives you a lot of personalities. Along with them, their dreams. Personally, as I always try to understand and know my students individually, I try my very best to recognise each of them. Sometimes not by name but by their personalities and their dreams. I've come to realise that even that is difficult. Here's an example:

The most quiet student in my classroom barely utters a word during classroom activities. She is obviously introverted (or probably just in my class) and barely utters a word even when being prompted by me. After observing for a while, I notice that even amongst friends, she passively engages in conversation either through agreement statements or with short comments that were not initiated by herself.

Sensibly, I think that probably because her competency of English is probably a bit weak. Maybe that's the reason why she doesn't respond much in the classroom. Maybe she's also a soft-spoken shy girl who wishes to only be modest as that is how she was being brought up. There are so many other possibilities but my rational first impression would just be: she's probably just a shy girl. 

Hence, I was interested to see what she wrote in her journal. I love to know what does go on in the minds of such introverts. Never ever do I doubt the capacity of thought of any individual no matter how outspoken or shy they are. I read her journal and I knew immediately that she was not a shy girl. Not only was she not shy about divulging her hopes and dreams to me, she was very certain of what she wants to do and aspires to be something I hope she can achieve someday - to be a businesswoman. Not just any businesswoman, she wants to have an empire of baking and confectionery factories. All planned out with uniforms for the employees and what she has planned to achieve that dream. I know you must be thinking,

"She's just writing that stuff down to please you,"

I'm here to say that it could be true, that she could just be pulling my leg. However, imagine if she was being honest and frank about her future plans, I wouldn't want to be the one who brushes the dream aside as a passing fancy.

Here in this shy girl's persona lies an ambitious woman who is all prepped up to take on the world by storm. Not just a childhood dream of becoming a businesswoman, but a rational individual (soon to be graduating from high school) who is so certain about her idea of life. She wants it and has plans for it. Nothing about her persona from what I can see even reflects the slightest sign of such ambition. Nothing of her characteristics in the classroom portray an astute person, chests out, head up high charisma that her mind wants her to be.

Hence, I look at her with a different light. I talk to her with a different idea of her in my mind now. Not only that, I seem to look pass that supposedly shy figure and recognise that this person is not what I thought she is. I think it is so important that I engage with her in a completely different manner now that I know that I am dealing with a young adult with a great plan - possibly even more amazing than my own.

I have such respect for such individuals.

I used to have a dream and while trying to make it a success, I somehow feel like...

... I've lost the original dream.  

Teaching my students pleasantly puts me back on track by them sharing their dreams with me.

I feel humbled by their dreams.


Anonymous said...

Started to read your blog today. Very interesting blog regarding the shy student. Well sometimes it happen to a lot of us. I mean being introvert and passive, so I glad I see that as a teacher you did not brush it aside but try your best to bring up the best in the student. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

shy...weak..hate the subject...or the teacher..sometimes i almost feel like just run away from these kids..because it is difficult to reach someone who seems to be hopeless with other students who showed their potential..when i read about this matter...i guess i find suitable alternative to be more engaging with the 'shy' students...just go on with the shy students first...try to find something inside them...thanx...btw one question to you...what will you do if you have illiterate students? hope you can answer me...i'm really appreciate if you can..

Government Agent said...

Dead 2nd Anonymous

Illiterate students are victim of not just themselves but the system. If you look at is as 'them being the victim' you'll realise there are many ways to solve the problem.

I do it according to 'how' illiterate they are. Lets just put it at the worst scenario where they have COMPLETELY zero competency in English. It is difficult to engage with them in the classroom already. You CANNOT sacrifice your classroom for the sake of one. It's the brutal truth. You MUST separate him/her out from the class and treat it exclusively. That is the way for ZERO competency students.

The methods I think differ depending on YOUR availability, and the student as well..

In my school, they have PROBIM classes specially catered for students who are failing almost all subjects. Maybe your school has something like that too?

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