Tuition With Al, Ak, Az, Ha and Is |

Tuition With Do, Hu and Ir |

Exactly 12
months ago, five Primary 5 students who had failed at Mathematics at their SA2
examinations enrolled for the P5 Math ReLearn programme taught by me. Their names
were Az, Ak, Ha, Al and Do – 2 boys and 3 girls. And so I taught them the
content concepts and skills their school
Math teachers had taught them before.

From the
very first lesson, I told them that if they believed in themselves and practised
Math, they would pass PSLE Math; in fact, they could even get an A if they
worked hard. I saw that familiar look on their faces – polite faces that didn’t
really believe what I had said. Well, this is only natural especially for those
who had started failing Math from Primary 5 or earlier. Math had become tough and
confusing for them.

These 5 students
enrolled in my P6 Math classes and stayed with me for 9 months until this year’s
PSLE. Az, Ak, Ha and Al were in the same class and Do was in another class. As
the months passed, Az, Az, Ha and Al felt so comfortable and happy in my
lessons that they were sometimes so noisy. Very loud laughter was often heard by those outside. Sometimes
I wondered what the parents (parents of other kids) who were seated outside
thought of us and me as a tutor, especially when it seemed to the outside world
that we laughed and talked more than we studied.

This class
which was held on Friday was noisy while the one on Saturday was so quiet that
you could hear a pin drop. Why were the classes different? Well, Friday’s class was mostly composed of students who hated Math at the
beginning of the year while Saturday’s class was mostly composed of students
who were eager to study Math. (I did not categorise them this way – it just happened. But Az is a factor in this equation. If you are reading this Az, yes, you lightened up the class a lot and took us off course often! Haha! But I appreciate your enthusiasm and uniqueness.) Of course, I could cover twice as much on
Saturday than I could on Friday, but, but, but – but
before you conclude that Saturday is “better”, you must realise that Friday’s
class had a very intelligent student who had attended both classes and although
he had a confirmed place at NUS High and
scored an A-star for this PSLE – he insisted on attending Friday’s class
rather than Saturday’s class.

“Why?” I
asked. “Boring. This class is so much fun,” Is answered. “But you can learn so
much more on Saturday.” “I prefer this class.” In that conversation was a key
that many adults overlooked. Motivation. There was so much positive energy in
Friday’s class and we all (students-to-students and students-to-tutor)
connected so well that sometimes conversations begin and just find it difficult
to stop (but they do, of course). The students could ask me anything they wanted and I would answer, and they did.
Sometimes they got carried away and only
once did I raise my voice in class to manage things. Even then, one of the
girls requested that I did not get angry. I understood. Anger could make that
unique happy feeling in class disappear. And so, I continued to be very patient
and accommodating. I knew an important and positive transformation was taking place, lesson by lesson, week by week.

By June
2018, a parent contacted me stating her worry that her daughter was still
failing. I reassured her that things would be different within 2 months. In
fact, out of the 5 students, only Az passed his SA1. I guess the other 4
students were asking when they would breakthrough. I explained to them that
they had play catch up with the current and previous syllabi for the last 6 months and it’s OK that they were still failing.
OK to fail? Yes, it’s OK to fail. Why? I could see their improvements. They were really learning. They had
started liking Math and they could solve many problem sums that they could not before.
Their scores were getting better. It was a matter of time. I assured the
students that the improvement in scores would be drastic, coming in the last
month or two.

I am glad
that the parents of these 5 kids did not pull out their children from the
tuition classes. It would have been an incomplete journey. Usually drastic improvement
in scores would take place in the last months for those who have failed Math.
We will go into why another time.

By the
Prelims, all 5 students passed their Math exams except for one, Ak. His mother
met me a week before the PSLE, worried. I told her that there was still time
and Ak could still pass his Math. Although I knew Ak would improve and
breakthrough with time, I was not sure whether there was enough time, given the nearness of the PSLE.

Well, time passed. One by one, I received their PSLE Math results. Az got a C (and Az, I am disappointed because I expect at least a B from you!). Ha and Al got Cs. Do got an A, as I had told her so (when she was still failing in the months before June) and Math was her best subject (she got Bs for the other 3 subjects). What about Ak? He got a C!

Well, time passed. One by one, I received their PSLE Math results. Az got a C (and Az, I am disappointed because I expect at least a B from you!). Ha and Al got Cs. Do got an A, as I had told her so (when she was still failing in the months before June) and Math was her best subject (she got Bs for the other 3 subjects). What about Ak? He got a C!

I am so
pleased with the results of these 5 kids whom I taught Math*. They were failing
Math at Primary 5 and some from earlier years. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to handhold
them through a period of academic darkness and lead them out to brightness. I
only wish my community (the Malay/Muslim community) only realises that there is
a clear approach to help failing Math students to excel in Math even if they are stuck in a
negative cycle of failure. It is possible to break the negative cycle and turn them round in a short span of
time. But you have to teach different and I call this approach of teaching Math “Breakthrough Math”. It has its
unique features and at the end of the programme (or usually in the middle of the programme), the kids would
stop hating Math.

Such an approach exists and we can use it to break the PSLE Math ceiling. I sincerely believe that if the Malay/Muslim community breaks the PSLE Math ceiling, something positive would greet our community psychologically. A positiveness will hit us so hard (God-willing) that we would believe in our capacity and capability so much that the statistics would confirm this on the socio-economic gauge.

Such an approach exists and we can use it to break the PSLE Math ceiling. I sincerely believe that if the Malay/Muslim community breaks the PSLE Math ceiling, something positive would greet our community psychologically. A positiveness will hit us so hard (God-willing) that we would believe in our capacity and capability so much that the statistics would confirm this on the socio-economic gauge.

*To my other students, I do enjoy teaching you too.

**To those interested in my Math tuition programme, please visit this link: Tuition.

**To those interested in my Math tuition programme, please visit this link: Tuition.