Here I sit in the staffroom at SMA2 Pangkalan Bun after another late arrival to school. On Monday we arrived too late to get to the Monday Flag Raising Ceremony and today we were slightly late for Bu Arfa to start her duty on the ‘piket’ desk. In a tiny room off the staff toilets in the front office building, is a computer which is connected to the piket desk through a window in the wall. This computer has a program on it which runs the lesson bells. When the bell rings for the end of lesson, a voice then says very loudly, in Indonesian twice “Pelajaran pertama sudah selasai, Pelajaran kedua akan mulai” and then once in English, “The first period has finished. The second period starts.” Or, “Murid dipersilahkan istirahat” and “Students may now leave their room”. When we arrived this morning, we found Bu Kutmie trying to find the power switch on the computer. Bu Arfa found it hiding on the side and once it was on and the Bell ringer program opened, the 4 staff on the piket desk relaxed. Here is Bu Arfa getting some marking done while she mans the piket desk.
The piket desk is always manned and is a cross between the front office at PEPS and Student Services at VHHS.
All non official visitors (parents, students) report there, all students wishing to leave the school grounds also have to report there. The staff manning the desk are responsible for ensuring student behaviour in the yard is appropriate and that anyone wandering around is on ‘official’ business. Just near their desk is a hook on which hangs a wooden shape stating the number of the current lesson and at the change over of each lesson, this is changed. Any announcements to staff and students are all made from the microphone on the desk. Yesterday a meeting was suddenly called and this was announced over the PA system informing students that while staff would be busy in a staff meeting, it was expected that they would sit in class and study independently.
In the staff room at the moment, are only a few teachers which is unusual.
A few students were in here earlier sweeping the floor, but all teachers must either be in class or not here yet. When teachers first arrive, they wish each other “Selamat pagi.” (Good Morning) while shaking each others hand very gently. It is more like a short grasp and then upon releasing each others hand, they bring that hand to their chest to convey the good wishes straight to their heart. In the middle of the staffroom is a lounge setting for visitors to sit while waiting.
Teachers use this printer to run off class sets of worksheets!! No wonder Bu Arfa thought our photocopier with it’s pin numbers to keep track of individual usage was amazing!
Some days I barely sit down before one of the English teachers ask me to assist them in a lesson. Of the 4 English teacher, Bu Wahyu & Pak Ujen are the most frequent, and today I hope to finally assist Bu Chandra, the year 12 English teacher.
Pak Ujen’s lessons are always entertaining. He has no concept of my role and is convinced that I am here to demonstrate and while I try to explain that my role is as an assistant teacher, he must be confused because I always end up taking his lessons while he sits at the back and joins in or uses the time to catch up on his phone messages! My first lesson with him is a good example of how this happens. The day before the lesson, he presents me with a very, very old English text and points to a paragraph about seals. He pleads with me to tell him about seals because he doesn’t know what they are. I suggest he go on the internet to research them which he thought was a brilliant idea but I think that was more to butter me up because the next day it was obvious he still was no clearer! At the beginning of the lesson, he tells the students to get out the book and looks confused when the students remind him that he has them. A student is immediately dispatched to his desk in the staffroom to collect the pile of books, and meanwhile he tells the students how lucky they are to have a native speaker working in this school and how they should make the most of my time here by practicing their English whenever they can. Pak Ujen certainly does this! When ever he sees me, he makes a beeline for me to practice his English. After the student returns with the pile of books we open them to the correct page and then before he starts to read, he again reiterates how lucky they are that I am in the room to work with them. He then invites me to read the text to them which I do sentence by sentence and then at the end, Pak Ujen invites the students to applaud my oration! After the applause the students are then instructed to ask me questions about seals because I am Australian therefore I must be an authority on them! Naturally there is absolute silence in the room and no one is brave enough to be the first one to put their head on the line. Pak Ujen then walks around the room berating them for their lack of courage. To get the ball rolling, I step out the length of a male seal across the front of the room to show them how big a male seal can grow to. Eventually one brave student, a male, asks a question and once the ice is broken, several others also dig deep and ask some questions.
Another lesson with Pak Ujen was about Sydney. The lesson begins identically to the one above however as the text is about Sydney, he invites me to get up and tell the class all about Sydney. I try to explain to him that I know very little about Sydney as I have only been there a few times, but he could not comprehend it. I said it would be like me asking him to tell me about Denpasar (capital of Bali) but he is totally puzzled about why I want to know about Denpasar when we are talking about Sydney and anyway he has never been there! I smiled to myself and internally raised my eyes to the ceiling! So I went to the whiteboard and drew a very rough map of Australia and put all the capital cities on it. I then explained that it was roughly 1000km from Sydney to Adelaide. Pak Ujen then turned to the class and invited them to ask me any question about Sydney! Of course, there was silence, so instead of standing there waiting for someone to ask me a question about a topic they knew nothing about (and wasn’t this an English lesson???), I asked the class, if they could go to Australia tomorrow what would they like to see. Knock me down with a feather! The first thing that someone suggested they would like to visit is a museum! There I was totally expecting the first would be a kangaroo or a koala! I explained that the best museums in Australia are found in Australia’s Capital City and then instantly realised that I had forgotten to put Canberra on my map! Whoops! I quickly corrected my map and spoke briefly about the amazing museums found in Canberra before again inviting the students to suggest what they would like to see. Other sites of interest included beaches (Sydney & Middleton got mentions here!), Australian animals (Urumbirra got a free promo at this point), shopping (Sydney) & Zoo’s (Sydney again). I asked if anyone had heard of Ulururu and no one had, so I talked briefly about that! Then someone asked about bridges and I explained about the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Sydney Opera House and it turned out that there was a small grainy picture of them both under the text in their books. Turns out I knew more about Sydney than I thought! There were a few minutes left of the lesson, so I taught them celebrity heads. I stood Pak Ujen in the middle of the room facing his students and then wrote a teachers name on the board behind him. Once all the students had read it, I erased it and then explained that he had to ask yes or no questions to discover who the teacher was. He did well and finally guessed Bu Arfa! He then chose a student who came to the front of the room to have his turn. This student was way outside his comfort zone yet played and gave it his best. I was so impressed. It was lots of fun. Made me realise that I need to do some research and remember some more games that I did at the IALF which promote language learning in a fun manner.
By contrast, Bu Wahyu’s lessons are very organised. A lesson Trees & I did with her was on recounting an event. She had a worksheet to model the language she wanted from her year 11’s and the lesson went very smoothly. The students had to write a recount on something they had done last night. Bu Wahyu and Trees modeled the questions they had to ask each other and then how they would put it together. The students worked in pairs to each write a paragraph about what their friend had done last night. The variety of answers was very interesting. The boys I worked with either played sport or went shopping and just about all the girls went shopping. Many of the locals had gone shopping the previous evening because Pangkalan Bun’s first shopping centre has just opened and everyone wanted to check it out. Apparently it made 2 billion Rupiah on its first night of trading! Can you imagine living in a small remote town when suddenly a Kmart or a Big W opens when up until then there had only been a corner store? Very exciting and we have all been eagerly awaiting its opening!
The contrast between By Wahyu’s English lessons and Pak Ujens is like chalk and cheese however both are lots of fun and I thoroughly enjoy working with the fantastic students here at SMA2 Pangkalan Bun.