Monday, 17 February 2020

It Takes a Lot of Energy to Teach Grade 1

Photo illustration: Novita Eka Syaputri


This article is part of the Teacher's Note series on teaching experience as a beginning teacher.


I began teaching in August 2016 at a public primary school in Bandung District. I taught Grade 1, succeeding the previous teacher who was promoted to principal. Despite replacing a permanently employed teacher, I remained a substitute teacher as there were three others with similar status as myself.

Several months later, the principal made me and another substitute teacher as permanent teachers. The other two substitute teachers remained non-permanent because, at that time, there was no shortage of teachers in the class.

When the principal delivered the news to the four of us, the two non-permanent substitute teachers broke into tears. They were upset and felt they should have been the ones made permanent teachers.

I had mixed feelings hearing the principal's decision. I did not think it would happen, but I kept my spirit high as I was entrusted with the new role.

In the end, the non-permanent substitute teachers resigned from the school without saying goodbye to the other teachers.


Teaching Grade 1

The school where I teach happens to be an experimental public school, where the authority is allowed to experiment with new curriculum or teaching methods in a bid to improve education quality. Many parents are interested to send their children to this type of school because it is considered better than other schools.

Here, students not only study core subjects such as thematic learning, physical education, math, Sundanese language, and religion. They are also facilitated with various extracurricular activities, from scout, computer, Quran recital and writing, English, young doctors programme, badminton, traditional music of karawitan practice, futsal game, dance, traditional martial art, and marching band. This school was also among the first to implement the 2013 curriculum in the district.

Teaching Grade 1 takes extra energy and a louder voice because the children are at the age of playing and are new to the formal education atmosphere. Some of them cannot yet read or write.

At the beginning of the new school year, I introduced students to their new school in a five-day orientation. Within the five days, parents were allowed to wait for their children outside the classroom. I took the children around the school and told them the name of each room. I also engaged them in games, allowing them to introduce themselves and get to know each other. The last activity in the orientation was assessing the children’s ability in reading and writing.

After the orientation, I had a meeting with the parents. I introduced myself, asking for cooperation from the parents and informing them about programmes available in the school.

I was happy because most of the parents were willing to cooperate. We made time to visit sick students together. Whenever there were swimming activities outside the school, the parents came. I had good relationships with them.


Undertaking Various Tasks

I enjoy working at this school because, among others, the school exercises the curriculum well. Once a week, the teachers conduct daily assessments on sub-themes being studied.

In 2016 and 2017, Grade 1 teachers were beginning teachers. We worked together and divided every administrative task evenly. In 2018, I did most of the class administrative tasks because I was the only beginning teacher teaching Grade 1 at the time. The senior teachers handed over the class administrative tasks to me.

In addition to my main job of being a Grade 1 teacher, I was entrusted with mentoring the little doctors extracurricular. My job was to offer knowledge about health to the students.

I was also assigned to supervise a reading literacy programme to prepare students for the West Java Leader’s Reading Challenge. Praise to God, one of our students received an award at this event.

I was also asked to guide students who were competing in Sundanese language, reading, writing, and counting competitions. Again, praise be to God, my students won fourth and fifth runner ups.

I did many activities outside the classroom as a teacher, such as preparing and supervising outdoor classroom day, competing in an Independence Day event, class exhibition, workshop outside the school, and being a commander in a flag ceremony. As a teacher, I think all of the activities keep me on my feet and keep learning.


*This Note was written by RO, a primary school teacher in West Java.

**All articles published in the Teachers' Notes are the views of the authors. They have been edited for popular writing purposes and do not represent the views of RISE Programme in Indonesia or RISE's funders.

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