I've received several requests for me to write a post regarding my teaching practicum experience and tips. I have no objections since I'm one of the earliest among my friends to go through practical, so it's good for me to provide a few tips to help them along the way. To the ones who are not familiar with me, please take note that I'm only taking Diploma of TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) in University Sultan Zainal Abidin, Terengganu. I am not from any IPG or teaching institute, which means that I may be lacking in some of the skills and experience of being a teacher. 

The posts about my experience in teaching practicum will be divided into two parts, since I've only went through halfway of the journey for now. I initially planned to mention about how I dealt with the classes in the campus, but I decided to omit those because I don't think they're of any help to my friends. I'll only mention them briefly below.

Okay, here it goes. This is going to be a very long and messy post, so please bear with me.

Before the teaching practicum

Alright, so let me get this straight. My whole life, I've never wanted to become a teacher. The times that I answered "I want to be a teacher when I grow up" during my primary school years don't count, because I'm still too young and foolish then. I noticed that it's hard for me to teach. I tend to quickly become impatient when I teach someone, especially if they couldn't understand what I taught. Being short-tempered made it hard for to teach even my own friends.

I don't know what went through me when I was applying for universities two years ago, but due to those decisions, I ended up going to UniSZA for Diploma in TESL. Life had been topsy-turvy being a TESL student, a lot of dramas whirled by and I went through many ups and downs. I had regrets in taking this course, but life had to go on. The longer I was in the course, the more I realised I might have made the biggest mistake of enrolling in the course. It was a struggle to learn things that I don't enjoy, but thanks to my supportive family and friends, I managed to survive.

And then the days that I dread the most came. Teaching practicum.

Preparing for the teaching practicum

I was absent on the day we had to pick the school that we want to do the practical, so I was given no choice to choose my practical colleagues. I end up partnering with two other boys, and Alhamdulillah, the school that accepted me for the practical was only 5 minutes away from my dorm house.

For the first week, us teacher trainees only needed to go to the school for PBS (I forgot what this stands for...), where we had to attend the school and make observations. After a week observing, we'll do a report regarding the school and send it to the faculty.

During the first week, I started feeling that maybe, just maybe, becoming a teacher was not so bad. The school that I attended for my practical was only a small school, which means that it was pretty much a close community, so I had quite an easy time to fit in. The teachers were all nice to me, and I think it was partly because I was the only female teacher trainee for this batch in the school. Thanks to a few events, I was also able to get to know a few pupils.

Things still seemed nice then.

Teaching practicum, Week 1-6

Finally, the start of the real thing. I was given two classes to teach, Year 2 (2 Al-Amanah, the lower class) and Year 4 (4 As-Siddiq, the upper class). Basically, the first week was a torture for me. I was always horrible with lesson plans, and I'm really not the most creative person you'll know, so I often panic all the while I was in the school compound. But slowly, with the help of the teachers and my own friends, I managed to pass. Not with flying colours unfortunately, but it was enough.

Alright now, I'll separate the info and tips that I got in several parts, to make it easier for you guys to read.

  • Making lesson plans
For some teacher trainees, they can plan lessons for the whole week. But this can only be applied to classes with advance students. In my case, the pupils that I have to teach were very lacking in English proficiency. Their vocabulary level were extremely low, and don't get me to start on their grammar level.

Due to this, I had no choice but to write lesson plans every single day, because I need to see whether my students were able to understand what I taught or not. Planning lessons were the hardest for me, but after six weeks, I can say that I can already write decent lesson plans now. I don't know about other teacher trainees, but lesson plans are very important as it outlines the lesson that you are going to teach.

  • Preparing the teaching aids (AVA; audio-visual aids)
Since I had to write lesson plans each day, it means that I have to prepare the AVAs daily too. For teacher trainees, we have no choice but to create interesting AVAs for the lessons, all in order to get good grades of course. My suggestion, if the school's multimedia resources are available, use them. It's definitely a good way to save money and time by showing the students videos, or teaching them using PowerPoint and slideshows. 

I was quite unlucky because the classes in the school could not provide the multimedia resources, so I had no choice but to settle with Mahjong papers, manila cards, flashcards and other physical AVAs, which require quite a sum of money. Teacher trainees from IPG are blessed because they receive allowance to cover for these things, but as for me, the university did not provide anything. Everything, every single material that I bought had to be paid using my own pocket money.

I mostly use Mahjong papers (because they're huge) and flashcards (easy for the kids to remember) in my lessons. I also draw a lot on my AVAs, which always succeeded in attracting my pupils' attentions. Here are a few obvious tips for creating good AVAs:

  1. Make sure the letters are HUGE. The students at the back need to see the words clearly as well.
  2. Use bright colours. If you opt for black, blue and red markers only, use colourful manila cards. If you're using Mahjong papers, write the words using colourful markers. Colours excite the pupils, and they remember better.
  3. Don't make it too wordy. Write down only the important words.
  4. Don't use too many AVAs in one time. It distracts the pupils and it will confuse them.
  5. Use pictures. Draw. Pupils love it when the teachers draw something; they're so easy to impress lol. But printing pictures are acceptable too, of course.
  6. Be creative! Don't just settle with normal texts and flashcards. Make dices, big books, etc.

  • Class management
No matter how good you are in preparing lesson plans and AVAs, you'll end up struggling with class management. No worries, all teachers went through this at first. But just a heads up though: kids nowadays have very little respect for teachers. This is the very first thing that I realise when I started my teaching practicum. I can say that most of the students can be labelled as disrespectful, and some to the point of becoming 'rude'. I'm not embarrassed to admit this, I did cry several times because of the disrespect that I get, but there wasn't much a teacher trainee like me can do in a short span of time to change their attitude.

  1. The first impression is very important: BE STRICT. Act like you'll beat them up if they don't listen to you. If possible, don't even smile to the students in the first few classes = this can help to make the students scared of you (them being scared is the only way for you to gain respect actually, so don't be afraid to be strict)
  2. Set up rules in the class. State what they should and should not do in the class. It can be "no making noises or playing during lesson time" or "no speaking Malay in the classroom during English time", but make sure the students understand and follow the rules. Give punishments if they disobey the rules.
  3. Get to know the pupils' names. Memorise them. When they misbehave in class, call out their names and make them do something (answer a question or ask them why they aren't paying attention). Pupils hate it when the attention was given solely to them, so it helps when you can call out their names.
  4. LOUD VOICE. This is very important in order for the whole classroom to listen to you. If their voices get a little too loud for you to be heard, knock the board/desk several times to grab their attention again. Be loud, but don't scream. Screaming is definitely a no no.
  5. Build a good rapport with the pupils. This helps the pupils to love your class, and at the same time, still be respectful towards you. SET A LINE BETWEEN YOU AND THEM. Being friendly and nice to them is good, but make sure they are aware that you are still the teacher, and they need to differentiate the times when they can play around and the times when they need to behave well.
  6. Create more group activities. Children love doing hands-on activities with their friends, so opt for more group activities. It is also easier to control their behaviours this way.

  • Others/extras
- Make a star board for the students. If the student behaves well in class, or performs any good deeds (your call, it can be completing their homework or simply trying to talk English with you), give him a star for it. The star board can be a big star board on a mounting board, or small name tags where you can draw mini stars for each of the pupils. Make it a competition where the student with the most stars receives a reward by the end of your teaching practicum. This works very well for my students, they're excited to become active in class for the sake of the stars. I'll show the star name tags that I made for them in my next post.

- It's also important for those who are going to become teacher trainees or new teachers, to always give your level best in everything. Be polite to the other teachers, and don't ever show your bad side to anyone in the school. Always show your positive side. Please, please, please don't make the teachers or schools staffs lose trust in you, because that's when you're going to be doomed. If there are anything that you need help, do not hesitate to refer and ask help from the teachers. They do have more experience anyway.

For now, these were the only things that came up into my mind. It's a bit messy, but I hope it helps a little to a few of you. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email me. I'll answer them in the next post. 

Thank you for reading, and you're welcomed to share your own tips too if you have some!

Till next time ♡ Love, Maira

The Last Princess: Deokhye, daughter of King Go Jong, was the last princess of Korea at the turn of the 20th century. Under Japanese colonial rule, she is taken to Japan as a hostage. Her father attempted to keep her safe by having her secretly engaged, but due to the king’s sudden death, she was forced to relocate to Japan when she was only thirteen, and was then married off to a Japanese nobleman at the age of nineteen. With the era's harsh conditions, she struggles to maintain the hope of the Korean people. Jang-Han is a fighter for Korean independence whose mission is to bring Princess Deokhye back to South Korea.

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 out of 5)

I swear I have never seen a movie about the royals as heartbreaking as The Last Princess. I can literally hear my heart breaking, and almost all the time, I wanted to bawl my eyes out (if not I watched it with my family, I'd totally finish 10 boxes of tissues). Warning: spoilers ahead because I need to rant

Okay, so The Last Princess is a story about how Korea's royalty ended, how they lost their last princess. It is based from a novel, which was also based from the true story from the country's own history. The movie started when Deokhye, the princess of Korea, was still a young girl. She was cheerful and radiant, bringing smiles to everyone she passes by, and definitely the apple to her father's eyes. Even from a young age, it is obvious that the princess will grow up to become a fine young lady, strong enough to be independent on her own. I love the scene where her father sent out a traitor while he was holding her, and she repeated her father's words bravely. 

In order to protect the princess, her father engaged her to a boy who can keep her safe, Janghan. Shortly after that, the king was pronounced a sudden death due to being poisoned. What made matters worse was that it was the princess herself who found her father dying. Despite that, the princess grew up into a wonderful princess, loved by the people. During the Japanese colonial era, Princess Deokhye had been the one to inspire and motivate the Koreans to keep moving on. When the Japanese noticed this, they sent her to Japan in order to contain the Koreans from rebelling and fighting them.

That was the start of the horrible years for Princess Deokhye. Many years passed and Janghan managed to reunite with the princess, but it took a lot of efforts for him and the other Koreans trapped in Japan to get the princess back to their homeland. The dedication they poured for their country and the princess were sacrifices that no one should ever forget. It was heartbreaking because Princess Deokhye and Janghan were separated even after the struggles, and she was forced to marry a Japanese nobleman.

Even though in the end, when Janghan was finally released, and he went back to bring the princess back to Korea, everything seemed almost too late. Almost. Though most of the Koreans did not even know the existence of the princess any longer, her loyal people still remembered her and the part where she was reunited with her people brought tears to my eyes. The last princess of Korea definitely suffered a lot, and more people should remember her and her sufferings, and also the things that she did for the sake of her people. The traitor never got the punishment he deserved in the movie, and that was the very part that pissed me off even until this very second.

The Last Princess definitely deserves more than five stars, and it should be given more recognition. I recommend this if you're into Korean historical culture, or just a great tear-jerking movie that provides you with real history at the same time. Do leave your thoughts on this movie too!

Till next time ♡ Love, Maira

I'm back with another haul post! As you know (or you don't?), I hoard a lot of stuffs, especially if I think it's cute, which means that I buy a lot of nonsensical things each month. I'm combining January and February because posting them separately feels funny (since it's already March).

I'm also trying a new way of uploading my haul pictures! Do you think it's cute?

1. Watermelon Clutch
I'm obsessed with anything watermelon, and I was so happy when I found this baby. I'm currently using it to keep my journal stuffs (washi tapes, stickers, sticky notes, etc.)

2. Coloured Pens
To be honest, I already owned a lot of coloured pens, but I can never help it whenever I find ones with cute designs. This set of pens are not really a favourite, the ink is a bit hard to flow, but I love the cute design a bit too much.

3. Monami Sign Pen
One of best pens to journal! I could use them to write and even colour using them! Definitely a fav ♡

4. Alpaca Washi Tape
The cutest alpaca washi tape everrrrrrrrrrrr

5. Biscuit Sticky Note
Got this from Daiso and it's been my fav ever since (because duh it's biscuit, how can I not love?)

6. Cat Sticky Note
Not sure if I should call this sticky notes? It's very small and you used it to mark a page or something. Also got from Daiso.

7. Pink Pencil Box

8. Fluffy Socks (red stripes)
9. Fluffy Socks (polka dots)
Got both of these socks from Daiso (Daiso is literally heaven and hell for me, I love everything in Daiso but Daiso also is the reason why I'm broke) and I'm happily using both socks to go to sleep. It warms my feet and makes me feel cute too at the same time ⋐(ల◕◡◕ల)⋑

10. Black Numbers Totebag
Just like what We Bare Bears said, there will never be enough tote bags! Bought this to use for my teaching practicum so I can bring my AVA (audio-visual aids) in it.

11. 80's Glam Sharpie
Love love love the colours, there's never anything wrong with Sharpie pens, but for some reasons I haven't been using them much.

12. Pilot Whiteboard Marker
Originally bought to be used at school for teaching purposes, but the school where I'm doing my practical now has no whiteboard, so I had to settle with chalks. Using these markers for my AVA, and I really recommend it since they're really smooth.

13. Giant Grey Teddy Bear (name: Maru)
One of my friend gave this to me as a birthday gift. It's seriously huge, almost my own size! And so fluffy tooooooooooo. I named her as Maru (^(工)^)

14. Chicken Plushie (name: Cuckoo)
Also a birthday gift! Named her Cuckoo despite being a chicken ◔ ◡ ◔

15. Floral notebook
I definitely don't need another notebook, but how could I resist such a cute notebook??

16. Worldmap clutch/bag
Not sure if I should call it a clutch or a bag... but this one is also used to store more of my stickers and sticky notes for journalling purposes!

17. Craft papers

18. Stickers

19. Die cut papercrafts...? (not sure of the name)

20. Washi tapes

21. BTS Stickers & Jungkook Artprint (by jin.blossoms)
My first BTS fanart stickers and artprint! They're seriously so pretty and god I'm so in love with jin.blossom's arts ♡

22. Panda and Polar Bear Sticky Notes
I think the panda and polar bear are characters from an anime series? I can't remember the title (was it Polar Bear Cafe?) but I'm loving this sticky notes!

23. Nametag
For my teaching practicum. I would prefer to use the name Humaira, but I was scared the kids I'm teaching might have a hard time to pronounce it.

24. Mermaid ring (by wander.bug)
Hands down, the prettiest ring that has ever existed ♡

25. Mermaid bracelets (by robxofficial)
Robxofficial has officially become my favourite place to shop for mermaid bracelets. I already have 3, and currently eyeing 3 more designs. Will upload soon if I buy the other 3 designs too ♡ Plus, the owner of the store is amazingly nice to me and even drew me some mermaid stickers! Definitely fav!

26. Novelty socks
I'll never be able to say no to cute socks, especially the Ariel one.

27. Tonymoly Peach Hand cream
I'm a sucker for hand creams and god this peach hand cream by Tonymoly has the cutest packaging in the whole world! I've always wanted to have this peach beauty, and I'm so grateful to mom for buying it for me recently. Thanks mom ♡

28. Mermaid Keychain
I was like a happy child when I found this baby when I was doing my grocery shopping. It's a mermaid and a pink one too, combination of my favs!

29. Cleo Magazine (January Edition)

30. W.Dressroom New York Perfumes (April Cotton & Peach)
The April Cotton perfume went viral thanks to Jungkook of BTS, and I'd be lying if I say I myself was not curious as how it smelled like. But the main reason I bought these perfumes was because I wanted a Peach perfume (and dah alang-alang tu, beli je la yang April Cotton jugak lol). They both smelled sweet and mild, which suits me a lot because I don't really enjoy heavy scented things.

31. BTS Official 2017 Calendar
This is from the official Season's Greetings, but I didn't want the other things in the set so I settled with getting the calendar only. The pictures were all very beautiful :')

32. Phone Case (비스쿹 ♡)
This phone case was inspired by one of the love of my life's sweater, and his name is the one written in Hangul. Congratulations if you can read it and guess who's the man ♡

So, there you go! My hauls for January and February. I definitely bought way more than these but most of the other things were rather... say, insignificant? I hope some of you did read this post until the end, and to those who do, thanks a lot and love you guys!

Do look forward to my next hauls!

Till next time ♡ Love, Maira