Mr Solahuddin bin Mahmud
From Pejabat Pendidikan Daerah Padang Terap, Kedah.
Nominated by Nadiah binti Solahuddin
Sebagai seorang rakyat Malaysia, saya sangat bersyukur dan berbangga bahawa semua rakyat Malaysia diberikan peluang yang sama untuk mendapatkan pendidikan percuma. Selain itu, proses pembelajaran menjadi lebih berkesan dan sistematik kerana dijayakan oleh barisan guru yang sangat profesional. Bersempena dengan Hari Guru tahun ini, saya ingin berkongsi penulisan seorang guru Bahasa Inggeris yang telah berkhidmat lebih 30 tahun dalam mendidik pelajar khususnya di kawasan luar bandar. (They Taught Me How To Teach) The year was 2005. After obtaining a degree, I was posted to a secondary school. I was not too happy with the change. The first few years of teaching in a secondary school in the afternoon session was fun and very challenging until I was asked to teach in the morning session. Reluctantly I readjusted myself to the new working hours. To make things worse, I was given the last Form Four class in the school consisting of 20 boisterous boys. I was devastated because every teacher dreaded teaching them. I could still remember the look on the students’ faces the first day I entered the class. They looked rowdy, unruly, untidy, and uninterested to learn. Gosh….. what was I supposed to do with this bunch of rogues who matched the terms commonly used by teachers such as reluctant learners, unmotivated students, hard core brats, and slow learners. The first few weeks were demotivating and frustrating and I almost gave up. My rigid lesson plans failed as they hardly showed any interest. I had to start with basic English and I had to use the direct translation method in trying to teach them some English. The class was out of control. Most of them played truant during my lesson. They were like magicians who disappeared on their way to my class. I had an audio visual room all to myself, so students came to me. I was merely baby-sitting this bunch of hooligans. These students had seen things that they should not see. They had watched things that they should not watch and done things that they should not do at their age. The past records showed that the last class in this school had never contributed anything in terms of percentage of passes in the SPM English paper. Without much expectation from me, I negotiated with the administrators to give me the freedom to design my own syllabus. I motivated and comforted myself by reading motivational books. Then, I stumbled upon the Jack Canfield’s ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ Series. I was inspired and in no time I finished reading all the volumes. After that, my perspective towards the students slowly changed. Initially I cheated them by telling them that I cared for them and I loved them like my own. What a great liar I was - always painting my face with a fake and an insincere smile. It was not a difficult task since I am a ‘great actor’. A story I recalled from the book ‘Chicken Soup For The Soul’ was about the power of touch. It was about a boy who felt that he was insignificant to the world. He came from a broken family and nobody loved and cared for him. One day he decided to commit suicide after school. Fortunately a teacher came into his class and gave him a pat on his shoulder and enquired about his well-being. A simple gesture like that was a life-saving decision. The boy aborted his plan for he felt that someone finally took an interest in him. That story was a turning point in my teaching career. It dawned on me the importance of touch. Since then, after each lesson before my students left my class, I made a point that to shake their hands and gave them a fatherly hug. Most of them had never been hugged. Not even by their own fathers. I had to bear their unpleasant body odour. Gradually they took care of their personal hygiene for they were looking forward to my fatherly hug. I was smart. I purposely left some bottles of perfume and placed them in a basket and placed it at one corner of the room. The outcome was good though I was nearly choked with an array of smell. This simple act boosted their self-esteem and things started to change. They became nicer, kinder and closer to me; and I began to love them. After countless arguments and adrenaline pumping moments I had with them, we developed a special kind of bond - teacher-student; father-son; or elder brother - younger brother. In the love hate relationship, I learnt many things about these kids. Their minds had long been corrupted since they were in primary school. They were the products of neglect. They were unfairly branded and deprived from their rights to special attention to learn and acquire knowledge. In school they were not good at almost everything except in providing cheap and easy labor services for the school. Their strengths were carrying desks to the hall and painting wall and lines on the field and their weaknesses were reading, writing, adding, subtracting, multiplying and the list goes on They were the brawns with no brain. In other words, they were the perfect ‘working machine’ for teachers. They would willingly volunteer as long as they could stay away from their lessons. So, in that particular year and with that particular class, I decided to make a difference. I started teaching them using UPSR materials. In fact, later on I discovered, their level was even lower than UPSR. I found it very difficult to teach them. Their attention span was very short. Then, I realized I should not torture them anymore with any serious teaching and learning. I switched to fun learning. If they were not ready to learn, I was not ready to teach. Every English period was incorporated with activities which complemented their musical, bodily kinesthetic and visual spatial intelligences. I introduced songs and games. My lessons were task based. I was well equipped with tons of fun and creative materials to tap their thirst for knowledge. I danced according to their tunes. I used a lot of actions, warmers, riddles and jokes to make my lessons interesting. They started to listen to me talking attentively in trying to understand the jokes and riddles. Most teenagers love songs. My students did love songs, but not English songs. I had to go through many hurdles to get them to enjoy English songs. I managed to collect quite a number of slow beat rock songs with clear pronunciation. They began to enjoy them and started to ask for meaning of words found in the lyrics. There were also a few pop songs with catchy tunes which captivated them. Songs such as Lemon Tree by Fool’s garden, Money Money Money by ABBA and Barbie Doll by Aqua were their favourites. I used lots of songs to teach grammar. We started the session by having a karaoke session. By then, no more students played truant. Since then, they were no longer the disappearing magicians and made a beeline to my class. Early birds had the chance to request for songs. They also started to introduce their own favourite songs for me to listen and share with the rest of the class. By then, downloading songs and videos were my new hobbies and my wife started to feel a bit concerned about my new interest. Apart from making my students feel tension-free and have fun, every lesson was a motivational session. I started reading them stories for their soul and used every quotation in order to make them believe in themselves. The book ‘Chicken Soup for Teen Souls’ and other volumes of Chicken Soup were my new compendium in teaching. Of course I had to translate most of the stories after letting them to read. To a certain degree, it helped a lot. Sometimes, some of the stories were really sad and touching, so much so a few of them cried with me. I still remember one day some of them came late to my class which happened to be the first period of that day. When I asked them why they were late, they told me that they had to help a primary school boy who met with an accident on his way to school. It was a hit and run case on a deserted road. They helped the boy and accompanied him to the hospital and made arrangements for the boy to return home. They told me that the boy’s house was quite far so much so their motorbike ran out of fuel. The story touched my heart so much because I didn’t expect them to do such a selfless deed. I cried in front of the class. They really did not expect me to take the incident seriously. To them, it was a small matter but to me it showed a noble humanitarian act. That incident spurred me on to dedicate myself to molding them into useful citizens. Time flies and they were now in Form Five. I continued to ensure that they really enjoyed my lessons. My audio room was to be their den. They were frequent uninvited guests to my room so much so I lost my precious free periods to do my clerical work. There were times when I had to lock myself in, in order to prevent them from disturbing me. I still remember how they rocked the grill of the door asking me to let them in. I was cruel but I needed some time for myself. After all I was a subject teacher and not a full time counsellor. On April Fool’s Day, one of them said, “Sir, when are we going to start learning seriously?”. I was shocked and at a loss for words. “Are you serious? Do you really want to pass your exam? Are you ready to learn?” What they didn’t realize was that they were actually learning and I was preparing them for the examination, at least just to pass. Of course, I did not teach them everything. But by then, they already knew few techniques which enabled them to answer certain sections of SPM paper with their limited vocabulary. As the SPM examination was looming, my students were plagued with all sorts of challenges. Most of them had family and financial problems and some of them were suspended from school for several days for various offences. Only a handful managed to keep themselves focused. Towards the end of the year, a few of them expressed their wish to have a class party and they sought my help although I was not their form teacher. According to them, they had never had any class party since they were in Form One. I pitied for them. So we started planning and I taught them social etiquette. They wanted to have a barbecue. The students were very enthusiastic about the party and they had been talking about it for days. Then, the day finally arrived. That very morning, things were well organized. Tables were well arranged. The coal was burning hot. The smell of the grilled barbecued chicken wafted in the air. They set everything so as make it looked like a five-star hotel. My wife and I genereously lent them whatever they needed. We also fried a few kilos of noodles; baked cakes and prepared some jelly. The class monitor and the assistant were busy ushering teachers and the principal to the party. We had plenty of food and most of the teachers turned up. They were really impressed. My students smiled from ear to ear. They were very happy and proud of themselves. After that, they invited other students who happened to be nearby. They even invited the school gardeners. I noticed that they did not eat much and they were not gluttons. They were happy and busy entertaining the guests. Such big hearts they had. It was the class party of the year. Before they went home, they came to me and hugged me and thank me profusely for an awesome party. For once I could see the sense of pride on their faces. A few days after that, they sat for their SPM and when January came the following year, I was missing them. No more naughty students coming to shake my door grill. No more confession sessions. It left a gaping hole, an emptiness in my heart. Finally, when the SPM results were released, I had a shock. Six of the 20 ‘rogues’ managed to pass their English paper and one of them got a credit. So, the zero percent record had been smashed. I vividly remember two of them running towards me with their arms wide open and I gave them a warm congratulatory hug. “Sir, you see, we passed our English paper. Thank you, sir.” Tears were streaming down my cheeks. This particular class has taught me a great deal of things. My perspective towards teaching has turned 180 degrees. I learnt to respect students and in return I am being respected. I learnt to appreciate my students more and in return I am being appreciated. I learnt to love my students and in return I am being loved. I have learnt a lot from this group of 20 admirable students. I am what I am now because of them and most importantly, they taught me how to teach. --- Perkongsian diatas ialah hasil penulisan bapa saya yang dilebih senang disapa sebagai Sir Solahuddin/ Sir Din. Sebagai seorang anak yang telah melihat usaha seorang bapa yang bergelar guru, saya dapat melihat dengan lebih dekat pengalaman naik turun beliau dalam memastikan tanggungjawab beliau sebagai seorang guru dijalankan dengan penuh amanah dan dedikasi. Usaha beliau untuk memastikan anak didiknya untuk berjaya bukan hanya semasa waktu persekolahan dijalankan, tetapi juga dilaburkan siang dan malam. Saya melihat usaha beliau dengan mengadakan kelas tambahan secara percuma tak kira siang atau malam, membantu membekalkan buku kerja dimana beliau harus berulang alik ke bandar untuk memdapatkan buku berkualiti dengan harga paling murah supaya beliau dapat menghadiahkan kepada semua pelajar beliau walhal gaji beliau pada masa itu tidaklah seberapa. Tidak lupa, ketika beliau meninggalkan ibu dan kami adik beradik yang masih kecil selama hampir dua bulan kerana berkursus di luar negera untuk memastikan beliau lebih 'competant' untuk mengajar anak bangsa dan banyak lagi usaha yang saya sebagai anak dapat melihat dengan lebih dekat jasa seorang guru pada anak didiknya. Antara pengorbanan besar yang ingin saya kongsikan ialah semasa saya mendapat anugerah kecemerlangan sempena Hari Anugerah Cemerlang Sekolah di tingkatan 4 dan 5, beliau tidak dapat hadir untuk mengiringi saya untuk naik ke pentas, meraikan hari anugerah saya walaupun inilah detik yang ditunggu-tunggu oleh ibubapa terhadap anak mereka. Ini kerana beliau tidak rela hanya disebabkan saya seorang, proses pengajaran dan pembelajaran ratusan murid beliau pada hari itu terpaksa di tangguhkan dan menyebabkan pelajar beliau tidak dapat belajar pada hari tersebut- beberapa minggu lagi pelajar beliau akan menduduki peperiksaan SPM. Namun, saya sebagai seorang anak yang telah berusaha siang dan malam menjadikan impian mereka tercapai dapat melupakan rasa ralat dan sedih kerana saya bangga dengan kewujudan guru seperti beliau. Bermula dari tahun lepas, beliau menerima tanggungjawab untuk berkhidmat sebagai Pegawai Pendidikan Bahsa Inggeris di Pejabat Pendidikan Daerah. Walaupun saya tahu minat dan kesabaran beliau ialah untuk berada dalam bilik darjah untuk mendidik anak bangsa, atas nasihat dan pandangan kenalan beliau, beliau telah membuat keputusan untuk menabur bakti dengan cara yang berbeza- iaitu untuk memberi inspirasi kepada guru-guru dengan harapan lebih ramai anak bangsa dapat merasai proses pembelajaran yang lebih menyeronokkan dan berkesan. Akhir kata, semua yang bergelar guru harus diberi setingi-tinggi penghargaan, kerana di dalam setiap kejayaan anak didik, terdapat seribu satu pengorbanan oleh para guru yang ramai antara kita tidak sedar telah menjadi punca kejayaan kita dihari ini. Selamat Hari Guru, Cikgu! Semoga Tuhan memberkati hidupmu dan keluargamu. SRK Kg. Goebilt, Kuching, Sarawak (1985-1990) SK Naka, Kedah (1990-1998) SMK Dato' Syed Ahmad (1998-2012) SMK Pokok Sena 2, Kedah (2012-2014) SMK Jabi, Kedah (2015-2016) Pejabat Pendidikan Daerah Padang Terap, Kedah (2016 - Kini)