Selasa, 03 Juli 2012
I Let my Orphanage Students to speak
Every kid needs to speak up and every teacher needs to listen. This idea is clearly the emphasis in Campano’s (2007) article “Honoring Student Stories”. This “kernel” of idea leads to a rapid popcorn explosion of questions. How do you get those kids to speak about their feelings? How do you invite them? How do you support them?
Making kids share their ideas can be uneasy work to do. My very first experience in pre-service teacher training program answered aforesaid questions. Like other Indonesian students, my students wore the same uniform every single day from Monday to Saturday. This uniformity blinded my eyes to reality. In the very beginning weeks, I only focused on the academic content, preparing strategies, approaches, and methods to do my best teaching. I focused on myself and did not pay much attention to the students’ background. I wondered why the students got bad score and did not concentrate fully on the lessons I gave. Was it because of my teaching ability? No. A shocking moment happened when one of students invited me home to visit. Most of my students were living in an orphanage. Some came from poor families and the others from a worse situation - they did not have any parents. Those kids lived depended on donation from society.
After the first visit, I made a commitment to make class become their second home where they could be comfortable to stay and live. The willingness to be their professional teacher just disappeared and changed to a desire to be their friends. I never lived in the orphanage, but I knew exactly what they needed and I should do. As Campano (2007) stresses, I needed to find books and stories that would be familiar to them and address their lived circumstances (p.52). In the classroom, I opened my lessons with unfunny jokes, bad experiences and silly stories – anything to reduce the power that I had as a teacher and the social gap between us. At first, maybe they thought that changing my style was odd. Maybe they were suspicious about what I did, but I continued, and finally I got to them.
One time, I browsed on YouTube to look for some Upin - Ipin videos – Malaysian animation and picked one that enabled me to modify into their story. Using Windows Movie Maker, I dubbed the sounds and changed the conversation. I intentionally created a script in which I could include some students’ names into the video. In the original video, is Ishan, one of the characters, shows how proud is that he has lots of money that his father gave him because he was able to complete his fasting in Ramadan. To me, the green money that he holds is like an invitation letter for a birthday party. With my brother’s help, I recorded our voices with my mobile phone to make easier transferring the conversations. I made the tone of the original video down and replaced with our voices. It took about 6 hour for me to edify ten minutes video. I was glad since they showed happy expression.
Another example of modifying curriculum to include the students was when I taught them to recount their story of life. Campano (2007) encourages inviting the students to share the stories to better understand how the students can use their background knowledge to gain access to curricular content (p.50). After giving an example about my own happy and bad experiences, I gave them two construction papers for each. I asked them to do a project in which they tell their own feelings about staying in an orphanage. I asked them to write the concept in Bahasa and then translate it into English. I let them to write about their happiest and the saddest moments like the way I did. I told them that happiest moment when I got first rank for the first time when I was elementary students. I still remembered how happy I was at that time when my parents gave me a Barbie as a present. I played the Barbie in the afternoon with friends. And, the saddest moment was when I lost my grandfather. I felt guilty of having a bad prayer to God. It happened when I was senior high school students with many home work to do. I wished I had a strong reason to escape from the class on that day. My pray was answered. I got a phone call from mom, and she said that my grandfather passed away. I was absent for the class with very bad reason.
The week after I gave the assignment, they came with varied stories. Like the painful memories I shared, they came with their stories of losing a father, mother, and sisters. They also shared the happiest moments in their life such as living together with friends in an orphanage, reciting chapters in the Holly Quran, and having vacation to the city. We shared the stories from one kid to another. I let every kid to narrate their own stories. I listened to their stories and learned how I should treat them.
If we want to understand the kids, we need to listen to them, and not judge or assess them from the very beginning. If they make a mistake, it might be the result of their personal life. As teachers, we not only need to know and understand their personality but also treat and honor them as well as we honor ourselves.
Campano. (2007). Honoring Student Stories.