[In this first of a two part post-microteaching entry, I shall attempt to reconstruct what happened during my microteaching session. Here, I will not only detail what happened then but also, the thoughts and emotions that went through me as the session unfolded.]
I remembered viewing the class with lenses full of suspicion before I began my microteaching. In my mind, I couldn't help thinking "What the heck do these people have up their sleeves?" Well, I didn't have to anticipate long as 5 minutes into my lesson, I began to see hints of the possible (mis)behaviour that the students had installed for me.
The first signs of problem surfaced when I noticed Latifah, Weili and Lishuang gesturing and talking excitedly amongst themselves. It actually took me a few seconds before the thought "Uh-oh. Signs of trouble!" registered in my mind. I tried to curb their behaviour and also, signal to them that I was aware of what was happening by enquiring what the hype was about over there.
During this short exchange of conversation, my eyes too chanced upon a morose looking Yunbing who kept her gaze lowered and seemed to be tinkering with something in her hands. Something clicked in me then that there was something not right about the scene but I chose to push it to the back of my mind and continued on with the lesson.
A minute or so after I continued the lesson, I was interrupted yet again by Latifah, Weili and Lishuang. While addressing their interruption this time, my eyes also chanced upon Yunbing slashing her wrists with a penknife. Again, I had wanted to ignore this problem. However, I found that I couldn't do so this time. The situation just looked too pressing for me to ignore. Further, judging from Syikin's and Yingchian's (they were seated at Yunbing's sides) body language and facial expression, it looked like they wanted me to address it. However, I was clueless as to how I could tackle the problem. Plus, I was in the midst of a lesson. After a quick mental run through of my lesson plan, I decided that I would talk to Yunbing later on when I've assigned the class the group activity to work on.
However, within a minute or two, Yingchian started to urgently call out to me that Yunbing was cutting herself. The former also expressed her fear of seeing Yunbing cut herself. Thereafter, Syikin too expressed her fear at seeing Yunbing cut herself. I went over to Yunbing and asked her to give me the penknife. She ignored me and continued slashing her wrists. Yingchian commented how dangerous it was. I asked Yunbing for the penknife for the second time. Again, I was ignored. By this time, almost everyone had stood up and crowded around Yunbing and me. Some had even started to cry as they were afraid of being confronted by a self mutilation scene in their own classroom.
My only thought then was to get the penknife out of Yunbing's hands. Seeing that my pleas had failed, I asked Yingchian to persuade her to hand over the penknife. It failed. In fact, Yingchian was cut by the penknife. I then proceeded to wrestle the penknife out of Yunbing's grip. I knew that it was dangerous to do so but I did it anyway. A tussle followed. She firmly held on to the knife while I struggled to get it out of her grip. Finally, she relented and surrendered the knife to me.
Ahah! Victory! I now have the knife! Alas, I was too happy too soon. Yunbing proceeded to use her pencil to mutilate herself. When Yingchian informed me of this, I couldn't help going "What the heck?!?!" inwardly. I was also kicking myself for not having the mental foresight to consfiscate all the sharp objects within Yunbing's reach. Again, I made my way to her seat. Again, the tussling occurred. This time however, Yunbing threw the pencil and abruptly stood up to leave the class. I went after her. Did some counselling. Told her I'd give her my time and listen to her problems. Pleaded with her to please cooperate with me for the next few minutes by coming into the class and not continue with her self mutilation. Extracted a promise from her that she would do that. The short counselling seemed to work and we went back inside the classroom. I thought that I could now continue with the lesson BUT...
Someone had messed with the powerpoint and added a new slide in! The class was like a fish market! Kaixing, Yingchian and Melissa were missing! *grits teeth*
Before I go on, I'd just like to say this. Despite all that had happened, I was still aware that everything was simulated. For example, even when I handled Yunbing's problem, I was aware that I was pretending to be a teacher and she was pretending to self mutilate herself. Suffice to say, I wasn't entirely into my teacher role for the entire first half before the counselling scene. However, something happened between the time that I counselled her and came back to class that made me forget that I was in a simulation. When I re-entered the classroom, it was as that of a teacher.
As a teacher, I was definitely irritated when I saw that someone had messed around with the powerpoint WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. The irritation increased when I saw that the class refused to cooperate by telling me where Kaixing was when I asked them. My irritation level was also pushed further up when Syikin dilly-dallied in following through with my instructions to ask Melissa, Yingchian and Kaixing (I'd assumed he was there initially) to get out of their hiding place. Finally, it gave way to anger when they refused to come out of their hiding place. In the end, I couldn't help but shout for the three of them to come out.
They did. Correction: Only Melissa and Yingchian did. Apparently, Kaixing wasn't there. I enquired yet again where he was. Nobody seemed to know. At that point in time, I was really at my wits end. I looked at the class and while doing so, tried to figure out what I could do next. Finally, I just told the class "Okay, can you tell Kaixing to go and see me after this" and tried to continue with the lesson. (Not exactly the best of solutions but my main concern then was to be with the class. This was especially imperative after Yunbing's fiasco as God knows what might happen next if I were to leave her in the class unattended.)
My attempts to continue with the lesson were again disrupted. This time, it was disrupted by a discussion about AIDS. Apparently, the class had this wild idea that Melissa and Yingchian were up to some hanky panky when they were hiding and could've gotten AIDS. Also, some were worried that Yunbing's self-mutilation could have resulted in AIDS as well. Grrrr... HONESTLY! Where's the logic here people?!?
Seeing that it would be pointless for me to continue talking about photographs when the students seemed so preoccupied with the notion of AIDS, I decided to embark on a short AIDS talk with them and clear whatever misconstrued thoughts they had about this illness. Actually, another reason why I did so was because I felt that it served as a good distraction from the 'trauma' (self mutilation; classmates' disappearance) they exerienced earlier on before I continued on with the lesson.
I think that it was in the midst of this talk that Kaixing sauntered in. I enquired where he had been. All he did was gave me a nonchalant expression and said somewhere something along the lines of having a coffee break outside. I was definitely peeved at that response however, I also felt immense relief at seeing him back in class. His presence meant that all my students were finally back with me in the classroom and somehow, knowing that gave me a reassuring feeling.
Anyway, I was already utterly drained by then and just didn't want to handle the discipline problem(s) presented by Kaixing (and Melissa and Yingchian!). I just noted down the time when he wasn't present in my class and attempted to continue with my lesson. I didn't get far. Therefore, I was extremely glad when Kenneth stopped the lesson a few minutes later. It had literally felt as though the bell just rang.