Sunday, July 1

2012 MELTA Conference in Kuching

    Last month I had the privilege of attending the 21st MELTA Conference in Kuching. MELTA = Malaysian English Language Teaching Association.
    Since it was held in Kuching, I was seriously contemplating paying to join the conference as a participant (a fancy name for the type of attendee who sits there & pretends to be listening) when the ELO from JPNS sent me a message on FB enquiring if I'd be interested in attending the MELTA conference sponsored by the JPN & other private entities. What did you think my answer was? hahaha~~~
    For this, I would like to thank him. He has always been inspiring, supportive & ever helpful in my professional development. Mr Sariee Minan. =)
    Looking forward to collaborating with him even more in the future!

MELTA Conference Kuching was held at the spacious Four Points Sheraton Hotel.
    Ladies & gentlemen, this was my first ever teacher's conference in my 4 year career! I attended all the sessions & took notes! I was so hungry to learn! Many many years of missed conferences to catch up with!
    A majority of the sessions did not add much to me. Most of them were presentations of studies which have little relevance to the classroom. Perhaps the one in KL was better.

    With that in mind, I challenged myself to come up with a study that is relevant to classroom practice & finish it in time to be presented at next year's MELTA & CAMTESOL conference.
    Dont expect anything bombastic la. I'm looking at something simple & practical to add to my learning experience & professional development.

    Last Saturday, during a long car ride to Mukah where I had Sago Worms & Umai, I had a stroke of brilliance in between naps head-banging on the rough roads...
    I came up with an idea for a study of something that teachers could adopt easily in their classrooms, improve exam results, motivate students, improve proficiency & was backed by research. Talk about killing 2 birds with 1 stone! Whoever said that siestas were unproductive?
    Don't ask me what it is because I will not tell you... unless, of course, you're really hot.

    Even though most of the sessions did not add much to me, the people I met there really rekindled a fire in me to continue striving & innovating in the jungle. Speaking to teachers dripping with ideas & experience added a lot to me. Being in the presence of teachers who were near retirement but still passionate & creative really give me something to look forward to in the future. Let me end with some of the great people I've had the pleasure to spend time with:

    The most inspirational figure I have met at the conference has got to be Mr Marcus Raja of SMK Lopeng Tengah. He began his career as an English teacher &, even though he is a principal now, he is front lining innovative teaching techniques in his school. His mind is as active as a young teachers with plenty of ideas & he is also very clear about what he wants to achieve. Learned so much from the short time I spent with him.
    I could see that he is a good leader. He is the kind of principal I want to work with. He may work me hard but all my efforts will be worth it because I'm contributing towards a larger grand purpose. He will be retiring very soon & it is sad that I have only met 4 other such principals in my entire career.

Dr John Newton, Victoria University of Wellington.
He was the coordinator for my overseas link programme in Wellington. Had the opportunity to have several coffees with him  before MELTA. We brainstormed & talked about the Malaysian education system.
He is a man with a big heart as well as a big brain. Picked his brains, gained fresh new insights & relearned lots of ideas!
Mdm Anis Abdullah, IPG Batu Lintang.
My English teacher back in SMK Batu Lintang. It was very refreshing that she treated me as an equal & asked for my insights on certain issues with teacher training. Seeing her so eager to improve herself at that level really encouraged me & gave me hope that there will be many great English teachers from IPG BL.
We decided to hold each other accountable to attending & producing a paper each for the 2013 CAMTESOL Conference.
Mohana Ram, SMK Bintulu, & Gilbert Chung, SMK Green Road.
Mohana is one of the most creative teachers I know. SMK Bintulu is really blessed to have him there. He really loves his students & talks about them fondly all the time.
He writes a blog too with lots of tips, ideas & examples for English teachers to adapt. Check it!
Jimmy Then, SMK Bintulu, & Kenneth Chong, SMK Kota Samarahan.
I just met Jimmy but I really like his ideas for the classroom.
Another great teacher from SMK Bintulu. Must be an awesome environment for teachers to thrive there! Should I transfer to SMK Bintulu?
Norfarhana Abdullah, SMK Lawas.
Norfarhana is a teacher with a great passion for what she is doing. You can sense it from the way she talks about what she does. She is also very frank & down to earth.
Basically, the people in the last 3 pictures are part of a group of excited English teachers who were brought together by a common desire to excel & have a great time doing it. I was very blessed to have spent time with them.
Just looking at them encouraged me & made me feel that I was not alone in the struggle. There are still many greats working tirelessly with me all over Malaysia!

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