A Picture A Story: Moments Recorded
This was first written and shared on Blogger - 25 April 2015, during my 3 years of relief teaching experience at my alma mater.
Even the best, even the naughtiest, even the worst may falter. Everyone may and might just trip and fall. Especially when it comes to public speaking.
Yes indeed, nobody likes talking to a big group of people; not even to your own classmates nor people whom you have known all these while. Somehow, we all fail to understand the art of speaking clearly, slowly and confidently in front of a big group of people.
Labelled as the "worst" Primary Four class (in terms of behaviour and grades), the class is filled with a mixture of pupils; disinterested, academically weaker, some unable to focus for a long period of time and also some born smart yet lazy pupils. They gave me a hard time when I first stepped into the class, but I think I gave them a hard time too? Among this class of varying "pattern", I noticed this one pupil way before I stepped into the class before I have long heard of his big name in school. Adrian - the big boss of the class, challenges authorities and every single one in his class listens to him. Probably because of his big build and loud voice, he has always been the most outspoken individual in his class. In the usual classroom setting, he commands respect from his classmates, literally.
As a Primary Four pupil, Adrian is outspoken. He is really very outspoken. He is eager to share his opinion and views whenever the teacher asks for any. Sometimes, he is deemed as overly enthusiastic for his own good and labelled as noisy and disruptive, thus frequently ordered by his teachers to "keep his mouth shut". Nobody can deny that he is loud and certainly wants to be heard every moment. So, he is crowned as an attention seeker in his class. Yet you could see that everyone in class listened to him and actually admired him? Because I believed that this class was not the "worst" class, I tried anything and everything I could do to inspire and motivate them. Apparently I failed. No rewards for guessing what happened next. I tried again and this time round instead of me wanting to motivate them, I wanted them to motivate themselves. Peer influence shall do the trick? So I challenged the class to "summon" their best speaker forward. As expected, Adrian was elected unanimously and summoned to the front. You may have expected Adrian to behave the same way like he always do - the usual outspoken, loud Adrian who is enthusiastic to share his views. However, he was not the same Adrian after I called out his name to get him to come to the front.
Adrian dragged his feet as he walked forth, purposely wasted a few seconds as he paced around the classroom. He fiddled with his fingers as he stood in front of the "imaginary stage" and looked down on the floor, as if there was something attractive on the ground. Adrian first had to introduce himself before we commenced. We all clearly saw that his mouth opened and closed, but no words came out. Even though the class was as quiet as a mouse, nobody could hear him speak. It was totally unlike him. Where has the outspoken big boss Adrian gone too? Everyone wanted to find an answer to this weird sight which was happening. I was especially curious at this sight because this was not what I expected. "Adrian, please share with the class and tell us how you are feeling as you stand in front of the class to talk right now? " I pushed him for a response, despite knowing he was totally hoping he could dig a hole and dive right in it straight away. The class was absolutely silent. Somehow, it seemed like that they all understood his pain of standing in front to speak to everyone. I could feel the solemn atmosphere; the class didn't like to stand in front of the class to speak (despite being such a noisy class?). A few of the more outspoken ones looked down and away from my sight, hoping they need not be called next. Others looked at Adrian with those encouraging eyes, egging him on. Some secretly muttered words under their breath. One of Adrian's best partner in crime cheered " GO ADRIAN GO!" I quietly observed the mixed yet similar reactions of this "worst" class. "They are pretty closely knitted as a class, isn't it? " I thought in my mind. "I... I... So scary... I... " He finally squeezed some words out from his mouth. He cringed as his voice thrilled off and finally looked up and into my eyes. As if telling me to send him back to his seat right away, his eyes actually turned a little teary. I had no idea if I was the only one who saw his watery eyes, but he began to rub his eyes. "Adrian, could you please go back to your seat and sit down and tell the class how you are feeling right now?" As soon as I finished this sentence, Adrian dashed back to his seat which was at the far end of the classroom. He panted a little from the running and the sudden twist of event. His heart was beating wildly. "I... I feel so much better here now. Not so scary already," Adrian admitted honestly and he fiddled with his fingers once more. He mumbled a chain of words, "I don't like to stand in front of everybody to talk," which later I made him speak slowly before everyone could understand what he has confessed. I explained the purpose of calling Adrian - the best speaker of the class out to speak in front of the class and allowed Adrian to calm himself down while I speak. - Everyone has something which they are afraid of. Even the "best speaker" of the class has moments which he could not even say a complete sentence in front of the class. And as friends and classmates, we all understand how he feels and we do not laugh at him. Instead, we cheer for one another so that everyone strives to do their best. I am happy to see that none of you laughed at Adrian, but you all encouraged Adrian each in your own way. You all knew Adrian was scared when he stood in front of the class to speak. You all could understand how he was feeling because you would be scared too, if you were the one standing here. You all wanted Adrian to try and do his best. You all knew Adrian was the best speaker in class. You all believed in him. Adrian was not lousy. He is a good speaker. "You all believed in him. But did you all believe in yourself? Did you all ever believed that 4X was the best class? " Did you believe that "we are lousy" and "we are the worst class"? And because you believed that "we are the worst class", so you all behaved the way "worst class behave? If you were to believe that "we are the best class", would you be motivated to become better and work harder? I questioned the class and was glad that they answered in unison that they could be the best class if they believed in themselves. "So Adrian, do you think you can do a better job if I give you a second chance right now?" This time, he didn't dragged his feet and purposely paced around the class hesitantly. He walked forward, stood in front of the class and took a deep breathe before he said slowly and confidently, "I think it is not so scary now. I can stand in front of the class and speak. I did it!" He couldn't contain his excitement as he jumped a little. And the whole class cheered for Adrian. And their newly found "Belief - They are the best class". At the end of the class, Adrian called me before I stepped out of the classroom and said, " Thank you... for believing in us." And that, coming from the "worst" class, really meant a lot.
- The End -
Thank you for taking time to read this article as I embark on this journey to document these little moments which I observed in my daily life while working as a primary school teacher in my alma mater.
This could perhaps be a meaningful and heartwarming way to watch our children grow up through pictures which speak a thousand words. You could look back and be reminded of those days when you grow up too. :)