Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Tools of My Trade

Do you have a favourite teaching tool or teaching aid? Apart from the basic marker pens (or sometimes the traditional chalk), the whiteboard (or blackboard) eraser and occasionally a super long wooden ruler (hmmm...), the overworked laptop computer and of course the faithful red ballpoint pen (for marking and correcting, of course), I am sure that every teacher must have at least one or two things that he/she would never be seen without every time he/she goes into the classroom. In this post, I would like to share a few of my own favourite.

1. The 'Magic Box'

     This box is my faithful teaching companion, I would never go into the classroom without it. It contains everything I need, and so far it has never let me down. The 'Magic Box' has gained quite a reputation, almost all my pupils know it and know its name. Some of them can even remember every single doodle I made on the lid. There was one day when I forgot to bring the 'Magic Box' and one boy asked, "Teacher, where is the 'Magic Box'?"
     Actually, it is just a common tool box that I got from Giant Superstore for RM10.90. I love it, because apart from having a large main compartment that can fit even my giant scissor, my whiteboard eraser and my long ruler, it also has a smaller upper compartment where I can put smaller things like staples, paper clips, erasers, a handful of 'Tack-It' and sometimes my pen drive. It makes my things look so organized, it would please me so much that I can stare at the 'Magic Box' and its contents the whole day and smile like a crazy person (Hehehe).

2. Faber-Castell's 'Tack-It'

     I get to know about the wonder of the 'Tack-It' when I was doing my teaching practical at SK Timbang Dayang, Kota Belud. When my lecturer, Miss Lee Sow Ying saw me trying to stick my word cards on the blackboard using double-tapes, she recommended the 'Tack-It' to me. I went to the book store and bought some, used it in my next lesson, and needless to say, fell in love with it. And still in love with it to this very day. 

3. The Vicker Speakers

     This is a cute little pair of computer speakers that my brother Ian got for me at Karamunsing for about RM50++. Do not judge it by its size though, the sound quality totally blows me away. It is loud enough to be used as an audio aid in the classroom, and portable enough to carry around. Ever since I have it with me, I become addicted to producing audio aids for my listening classes. I play recordings of reading passages, jazz chants and songs with it in the classroom, and my pupils love it and keep asking for more.

4. The Paper Clips (lots and lots of it)

     It is a very small and often insignificant everyday object that we often ignore, yet it is also one of the most useful thing on the Planet of Teachers. It helps me divide the pupils' worksheets into categories and put them together, organize my documents, and keep everything neat and orderly. I have a box of it every where. On the office desk, at home, even in my car.

5. Mr Kapok
     Ten years ago when I was still a young, thin and pimply-faced uni student, I bought Mr Kapok from a tiny guitar shop a few blocks away from Komtar, Penang after months of saving up my allowances. I took the crowded bus to Sungai Dua and had to struggle to balance myself on my feet (the seats were all taken, even the standing space was also crammed) while at the same time holding the box that contained Mr Kapok as tightly as I could so that it would not fly away as the bus maneuvered and swerved left and right at every corner and turn. I remembered the moment when I took it out of the box, tried to tune it, and tried to play my first song on it. It was a magical moment.
     It had been more than ten years since I brought Mr Kapok back from busy Georgetown to my lonely small hostel room at USM campus in Sungai Dua, yet the ever faithful little guitar still serves me like the most reliable companion to this very day. Throughout the years I have had about 6 or 7 guitars, one or two of them are a bit more expensive than Mr Kapok (I bought Mr Kapok for only RM80 ten years ago), yet Mr Kapok remains one of my favourite guitars ever - simply because Mr Kapok was my first. Mr Kapok had started it all.
    After ten years, Mr Kapok has shown some signs of deterioration and worn, with the out-of-place buzzes and twangs and sometimes impossible to tune strings, but whenever I bring him into the classroom, my pupils would stand on their feet and clap and roar with joy.  

6. The Sketch Pad

    For making picture cards and other visual aids, obviously. When I am in a hurry and need some teaching aids ASAP - a quick pencil sketch, some doodles and a few oil pastel or crayon touches would always do the trick.The products are anything but Picasso, but my pupils do not seem to mind. The uglier and more ridiculous the sketches look, the more they love it. And the easier for it to stick in their minds.
     Apart from sketching some doodles to use in the classroom, I would also use the Sketch Pad to do meaningless doodles and sketches - I doodle and sketch a lot. It calms my nerves on hectic days and helps me when I am stumped and in need of some fresh and new ideas.

     I have several more, but for now these are all that I could share. I hope you would share some of your favourite teaching tools with me, too. Feel free to share them here, I am very interested to know what other teachers would prize as their favourite tools of the trade. ;-)


  1. Hehe your magic tool box memang menang lah. Mine is smaller than that and it doesn't look too much like a tool box hehe.

  2. Chegu Carol, I'm very sad to inform you that my Magic Box that has served me for many months has 'died' today. The latch broke and I can't close the lid, so it couldn't be carried around anymore. The good news is, I've replaced it with a new and an even larger one. And I absolutely love it!!!

    RIP old Magic Box. You'll always be remembered.


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