The Class That “Could Not Be Saved”

This story is for those of you who are wondering if what you are doing is worthwhile,” says 2012 Fellow Ranjeetha Sivajanam. “Wondering if your kids get why you are working so hard. Wondering if they will care enough to work as hard as you.”


For those of you who don’t already know, I am teaching Geography,  to just one class. The most challenging class out of 9 Form 1 classes. Why challenging? Because on an average they scored 5Ds for their UPSR. Because they fist fight and kick each other in class while I am teaching.

To be honest, I was scared to teach this class. I am not familiar with the syllabus, and so many had said that this was a class who could not be saved.

Classroom management was a horror, getting them to come to school with their books was a nightmare and just having a little silence in class was unheard of. But somewhere in late January, I decided that this had to change. That they have to prove to the rest of the school that they are worth it. That they deserve a good education and the respect of their community. Or else, what’s the point of being in Teach For Malaysia?

I redid everything. I gave a very emotional but truthful speech. I told them that I was probably the last person who will ever believe in them and care enough to spend hours teaching them. Things started to change after that, but I had to keep reminding them of many things. I am most drained before this class (preparing materials and lesson plans) and after this class (managing and making sure everyone gets it). Today:

  • only two students don’t have their notebook
  • everyone stands up and are ready to greet me when they see me walking towards their class
  • they smile every time they see me
  • they apologise when they do something that goes against the classroom policy even before I point it out
  • by the time I count down from 10 to 1, they are ready to learn
  • the noise in class comes from their eagerness to answer questions and ask questions.

For this first school test that they sat for, they were tested on five chapters, and that’s a lot for those who are not used to studying. I am happy to announce that:

  • The highest and only A was Shawika with 88 marks
  • 5 received scores between 70- 80
  • 9 were between 60-70
  • 12 were between 50-60
  • 8 were between 40-50
  • and ONLY 3 failed the paper with the lowest being 32

They were exceptional!!!!!!!! They did so much better than the so-called better classes.

We had a grand result announcement! I made everyone feel good because this was a class who no one thought could go beyond a few marks. Those who failed were made to vow to the class that it will never ever happen again.

This has given me a renewed sense of possibility. We will have so many downs, we couldn’t possible keep track of them. But we live for the small achievements. Once you get a taste, you will be addicted for more.