Friday, January 23, 2015

Getting Feedback

I like feedback. It’s like the thing that drives me forward in whatever things I do. It helps me to achieve my objective by pointing out what I should do more of, and what I should probably do less of. But of course, the feedback goes through my own mental filter which includes the question “how does this help me achieve my goal?” and other such silly questions.

Within this week, I’ve received a couple of interesting pieces of feedback regarding two different things. The first is feedback about my last blogpost, where I expressed my views about polygamy. Some friends of mine from school said that the view I hold isn’t a very common view to hold. One even said that it was the first time they had ever heard that point of view coming from anyone they knew personally.

I knew that my view wasn’t the majority stance on the matter, but I didn’t know that it was that rare to find someone who shared my way of seeing the matter. It may be the majority of men are very confident about their ability to be just and fair, and are perfectly capable of allowing their spouses to feel the way they do when they tell them that they’ll be taking in another wife.

This of course led to further discussions, and I like to participate in that kind of discourse, where we dissect and unravel a certain topic to get to the crux of the matter as well as expand the discussion further to make us think about the matter more critically as well as within a context, while at the same time getting to see the matter from a different point of view. I treasure these discussions very much.

The second piece of feedback I received was from a student that I taught last year. I asked him what class he was in this year, and he said “G”. (The school that I teach in streams its classes according to the students’ academic performance, just so you know) The student was in the “D” class last year, two classes above the “G” class, so I asked him how he slipped down to where he was. It went something like:

Me : Kamu dok kelas mana lani?
Student : Saya dok kelas G.
Me : La, camana bleh jadi camtu?
Student : Dah BI saya dapat rendah.
Me : Oh. Awat? Saya ajar teruk ka?
Student : Dak aih, mister ajar elok. Saya ja yang tak dengar cakap.
Me : …

The way I was trained, it is the teacher’s responsibility to ensure that her/his students learn, and a student’s failure to learn only reflects the teacher’s failure to teach. So when I found out that the student had moved down two classes, I felt gutted. Like I failed the student. It’s not a very good feeling, to say the least.

I guess that’s why I asked the student if I was to blame (saya ajar teruk ka?). Because I immediately felt a certain guilt within myself. The kid is a nice kid, and maybe he didn’t say I was a bad teacher because he was too nice for that, letting himself take the fall instead.

But yeah, I can’t shake off the feeling that I didn’t do enough to help that particular student in class last year. I did a lot, and I really tried, but I guess it wasn’t enough.

The feedback from the student was much appreciated. It allowed to reflect upon my own teaching practices and really ask myself the question of whether or not I’m doing enough for my students.

I want every success in the world for my students, but if I can’t even teach them to construct full sentences, I shouldn’t expect too much. Indeed, one would question if I am even qualified to be a teacher.

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