Tuesday, December 31

4th Birthday In The Jungle

As much as I'd like to complain about not being able to celebrate the new year or my BIRTHDAY with the people I love for the fourth consecutive year, I realise that I have a lot to be thankful for.
Perhaps I have reached the 'acceptance' stage of grief. I have certainly seen myself go through all of the stages since 3 years ago when I first saw the vision of the fall of my school & started my struggle against it.
Perhaps it's time I started looking at the things I have & giving thanks for them? I do have a lot to be thankful for & I will list them down here in no order of importance.

I am thankful for...

  • A good God who loves to give me surprises.
  • A wonderful family. A great dad who sets an excellent example for me. A mom who cares for me & makes sure that I have everything I need. Brothers & sisters whom I can be proud of & are willing to spend time with me.
  • The best friends in the world. The industrious Nesa in Penang: always a great sounding board & partner in crime. The bulldozing Shin in Kuching: setting a great example of determination & will overcoming all obstacles. The humble Lung in Kuching: showing me what a family man should be like. Bros: Guna, Chee Chee, Shawn, Syahir, Mien, Nas, Najib, Hilmi, Hadi, Star, Azhar, Hafiz, Sara, Nicky, Ning, Wei Chien, Shiok, Asrul, Ah Yang, Hansen, Rapik, Kenneth, Yazi. Chicks: Sarah, Agnes, JY, CY, Cat, Jamie, Nancy, Siti, Willie, Mau, Aimi, Fiffy, Fa, Nisa.
  • Great colleagues to work with. Project X: Flo, Lya, Tim, Zak, Ijai, Pjoe, Din, HS. Teachers: Wes, Lau, ZF, Nije, Min, Myris, Tang, Patrick, Orben, Ifeane, Sunita, Andrin, Balat, Richard. Staff: Kat, Victor, Junai, Norwasti, Ilau, Nisi, Dangkan, David (groundsman), Anding, Joe, Galleh, the kitchen ladies.
  • Great invaluable mentors: Dad, Clement, Markus, Arthur, Sariee, Evelyn, Thanga, Kay, Jon.
  • Students who are so easy to manage & malleable.
  • A career which fuels my soul.
  • A boss who allows me to do whatever I want to do.
  • Involvement in important panels within the ministry.
  • An informal leadership/influence within my industry.
  • Making a difference in a neglected community.
  • A healthy body. Good genes. Good looks.
  • Making more than I can spend. Having all my material needs met.
  • The ability to play football & futsal. Both of which I love to bits.
  • A bike & the ability to enjoy it.
  • Big dreams & the drive to realise them.
  • Finally, 154 people who wished me happy birthday! (You know who you are!)

Give this a go!
Listing down things to be thankful for is intensely therapeutic & humbling. Let's balance our chase of material dreams with a little dash of thankfulness.

Finally,

Saturday, December 28

At The End of 5 Years

I have been experiencing sleepless nights & I am haunted by many things. Some of which are recorded in an insomnia induced rant I posted a few days ago. Instead of being busy & ignoring my inner most concerns, I am fortunate enough to have a few days off to think about it, talk about it & read up on it. And it helps. I spent an incredible amount of time speaking to God & quietly reflecting. The world has a way of engaging you at multiple fronts & pulling your attention in all sorts of directions. An undisciplined spirit can get lost in all that noise. It's good to have ample of quiet time to myself. Esp at this pivotal point in my life.


Why did I panic about my career all of a sudden?
Sub-consciously, I knew that my time was up. You see, 5 years ago, I made a promise to myself to commit myself to any government school anywhere in the country. I would root myself & give it my all. Therefore, in my posting application form, I put in 'Dimana Saya Diperlukan & Kebolehan Saya Dimanfaatkan'. In my heart, I didn't care where I was. They can send me to a mountain, jungle, plantation, island, wherever. All I wanted to do was teach & serve. I wanted to see if I had what it takes to be a good teacher. If I failed to do that, I'd quit before I made a career out of killing the desire to learn in children.


What have I found out about myself after 5 years?
The 5 years are over & I have achieved what I had set out to achieve. I found out that I can:
-adapt to a life of simple necessities.
-influence rural children: engage a rural classroom which is weak academically but easy to manage.
-influence peers: work in a team & motivate each other to work hard in a challenging situation with little or no reward.
-influence outside the organisation: draw talented people to travel to the middle of nowhere & help out at my jungle school.
-work at high levels: with senior officers on all sorts of meetings, panels, committees, trainings & conferences.

After 5 years, I found out that I can be a good teacher. Even though I am hard on them, my students can understand why I do what I do & they can accept it. Also, the most important consideration of all, they improve & are motivated to continue to improve on their own.
A major factor is my analytical skills (an ability to break down large issues into smaller parts & get to the root of the problem), a willingness to learn (I read books, articles & seek mentors) & the determination to do whatever it takes (no fear of rejection, fighting for what I want, involve peers/experts, or do it myself). This is my niche, every individual has their own.


Now what?
I have reached the deadline I set for myself. Which is why I am so lost. I am at a crossroads. If I want to make a move, I'd better do it now.
NOW I have to decide whether teaching is something I want to commit myself to or whether there is another calling for my life.

I have come to the end of my 5 year 'vision' for myself. I will spend even more quiet time alone to craft a vision for the NEXT 5 years of my life so that I do not end up groping around in the dark hoping to find gold. The probability of that is even lesser than striking a 4D jackpot.

I will share my thoughts on this blog.

Wednesday, December 25

Insomnia Induced Insecurities

I don't have anything worthy of sharing tonight. I just need to unload something off my chest so that I can finally get some sleep. I've been trying for hours & I'm not getting sleepier. I really hate sleepless nights. It's when I start to think about stuff & worry & fret & it is unnecessary & it doesn't get me anywhere. This is another side of me that doesn't get much time in the light. Most of the time, I find solutions & I get busy at being a solution to things.

But I'm also afraid inside & I'm so insecure about myself & my future. I don't show it much because I'm a guy. I don't like to show my weaknesses. I'm also practical. Revealing or sharing my insecurities doesn't really help me to overcome it. Also, I'm sort of a hippie. I chose to promote what I love instead of bashing what I hate.

I'm sleepless tonight & I can't stop thinking about next year. Sure, I've got a secure job & decent salary. I've got good friends & I love them. I've got a great family who supports me always. But every time I go back to work, I'm detached from all that. My support system. Every time I come back to them, I feel like such a lost cause. I don't know the new people in the circle. I miss key events. I'm totally lost in conversations. A detached stranger to all the people that I love. I miss out on so much of what is going on in the lives of the people that I care about.

Then, I think about my love life. People so easily peg me as a sower of wild oats. I don't do that. I've never even paid for sex. I'm confident & I try to project myself presentably. Esp in a professional setting.  Also, being single doesn't help. People look at me weird & think that I'm either a player or gay. What's up with that? Perhaps I should be a total slob. (I'm slowly turning into one actually.)


Sadly, I don't have love to look forward to next year. Heck, not even a chance to be able to pursue love. I'll be in the jungle most of my days. It'll be hard enough to meet someone let alone get to know them or maintain a relationship. 5 years in the jungle. I don't know what to say. It's not looking up for me.

And then I think about my career. I'm starting to have doubts about whether I want to dedicate my life to teaching. I want to grow personally & professionally. I want to experience things. If I can't grow, I get pissed off. If there's something preventable keeping me from achieving what I want to achieve, I get pissed off. I'm working really really hard in the jungle. There is no doubt about that. I'm also getting recognition from people who care. My work appears in local newspapers. Still, I believe that much much more can be done where I work. But there are preventable obstacles there due to oversight or ignorance at high levels. Perhaps I can be ignorant too? No wait... I can't. I will always want to do more. And please don't tell me to make the best of what I have. What do you think I've been doing all this while?

Perhaps it would be better if I quit & do something else. A wise investor needs to know when to cut a bleeding investment which is taking more than it is giving. Perhaps I can go corporate or run a simple business. I'm willing to make less money but be where I am able to do what makes me happy & add value to the community. I am also willing to fail.

Also, somebody told me very recently that I lost my shine. I was really attractive when I first started & now I've lost my shine. What the f***? Sigh... How can I even respond to that? I have given so much to my work. I've been trying my best to add value to a place where people won't even think twice about rejecting as if I owe it to them to make up for any shortages.

I've gained so much too. Experience. Stoic determination. Thick skin. Bouncing back after being broken physically, mentally & emotionally. Well, I can't get my shine back. I guess. But I accept that as my destiny. I was meant to give & add value to those wiling to accept it. I found myself when I gave everything I had to give until I had nothing left inside & yet still be able stand up & keep fighting.  5 years full of stories I could write a book about. F**k you & your opinions about my shine. If you ask me what would I do if I could go back in time, I'd do it again any day than be a spoiled pretty boy prancing around the place.

Some of you reading this might think that I'm overreacting. Perhaps I am. Insomnia can make body chemicals become imbalanced in some way. But it's better for me to do this at 28 than 38. I'm not getting any younger & if I want to make any major life decisions, I'd better make it before I'm 30. Right now, I have proven that I can achieve success in challenging situations. Also, I have proven my character: integrity & determination as well as my work rate.

I try to be optimistic & think that everything is going to be fine. I do have faith that God has great things in store for me. But maybe. Just maybe. That uneasy feeling I get whenever I think about next year. Is a quiet sign that I need to make some changes. What those changes are... I don't know yet. Whatever it is. I don't want to lose myself. I want to always be true to myself & add value to the world.

Hmm... Don't think this is working. Still can't sleep. Perhaps I shouldn't have had a latte yesterday night at a chic cafe while having a one on one chat with a... dude. Sad guy... Hanging out with a dude when he could actually be hanging out with chicks. Boo!! Whatever. Maybe I really should be gay... Nah. Can't do it.

Somebody please end my misery.

Saturday, December 21

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The MoE is seriously looking at CEFR as an internationally recognised framework for describing the ability of language learners in Malaysia. This will likely be used for foreign languages (English, Japanese, German, French, etc) & might also be applied to local languages (BM, Iban, etc).

Besides listening to speeches & presentations from industry experts, we were organised into 4 interest groups, i.e. higher education, teacher training, curriculum & pedagogy, and assessment, to explore the application of CEFR into our education system.
From 29-30 October 2013, I attended the symposium at the Sama Sama Hotel, Sepang. We were given a basic understanding of the concepts & principles of the CEFR.
Here is a summary of what I have gleaned from the symposium. Do forgive me for lapses in my understanding. Any comments & insights will be gladly appreciated.

What is CEFR?
• Benchmark for a learner’s language ability
• Can be used for any language
• Assessed based on communicative tasks
• Learner autonomy & learner-centred via self-assessment

It was developed to help immigrants to assimilate and participate in a democratic society. These are adult learners in an immersion setting. It has been applied in Europe as well as other continents and available in 39 languages. CEFR is a reference for describing a learner’s ability in any language. It can be used for English, French, German, etc.

The CEFR attempts to characterise & structure the communicative acts of competent language users. The competences are categorised into levels with descriptors of what they can do. There are 6 levels: A1 & A2 (Basic user), B1 & B2 (Independent user), C1 & C2 (Proficient user). A1 is on survival communicative language. A2 & B1 are on social communicative language. Learners have to be able to perform certain communicative tasks to achieve a level.

It seeks to promote learner autonomy via self-assessment. They found that students are usually reactive learners who wait for the teachers instructions before the engage in learning activities. When teaching stops, so does learning. Therefore, ‘learning to learn’ is regarded as an integral part of language learning. This is done via self-management of learning or self-assessment based on a set of ‘can-do’ descriptors stating what students of a certain level can do. Self-assessment is based on a self-assessment grid.

Furthermore, it should be regarded as merely a reference. It does not advocate any particular approach nor does it have powerful pedagogic implications. We can still decide the curriculum, pedagogies & assessment methods albeit some considerations; i.e. the descriptors within the levels can be used to specify a learning target, develop learning activities & guide the design of assessment tasks.

Sama Sama Hotel was superb & the rooms were perfect.
It had everything a professional would need & more!
Summary of CEFR levels:
• A1: Learners can interact in a simple way rather than relying purely on words and phrases.
• A2: Learners can cope with a basic range of social interaction and make simple transactions in shops, post offices & banks.
• B1: Learners can maintain interaction in a range of contexts and cope flexibly with problems in everyday life.
• B2: Learners can engage in sustained and effective argument and have an enhanced language awareness.
• C1: Learners have good access to a broad range of language that allows fluent, spontaneous communication.
• C2: Learners can communicate with a high degree of precision, appropriateness and ease.

Implications on Curricula:
• Reflects learner needs & accommodate learner initiative & control of the learning process
• Regards spontaneous & authentic use of target language is a precondition of effective learning.
• Foster Learners managing their own learning/autonomy
• 4 domains of language use: personal, public, occupational, educational
• Learners focus on the here-and-now of their own learning, not on the as-if communication in the ‘real world’ outside the classroom.

The food at the Degrees restaurant was awesome too. There was plenty of variety & the quality of the food was good.
Implications on Pedagogy:
• Engage learners in interaction in the target language.
• Do not set out to teach A1 tasks. Students acquire them by being engaged in A2 interaction.
• Descriptors include activities that can be mastered via sustained target language use.

Implications on Assessment:
• According to the understanding that language learning is language use.
• An action-oriented approach on what learners can do.
• Promotes autonomous learning. Helps learners to identify learning targets, monitor progress, and self-assess learning outcomes.
• Rating criteria made based on the descriptors & their implications should be arranged in a progressive continuum.
• Both formative and summative assessment.
• Includes teachers assessment, peer assessment & self-assessment.

Useful Websites:
www.ncca.ie/iilt
For English Language Proficiency Benchmarks, ELPs & assessment kits (primary & post-primary)
www.coe.int/lang & www.coe.int/portfolio
For information on how CEFR was adapted in Ireland.

Some of the leaders (from ELTC, Eng Lang Standards & Quality Council, lecturers, teachers, etc) I met at the conference.
Reflection
I believe that our education system is very much in tune with the CEFR’s philosophy as it is very similar to the existing PBS system. Also, our current curriculum & pedagogies can be retained even if we use CEFR as a reference. However, some tweaking & recalibrating may have to be made to our assessment methods & especially on how to bring about learner self-assessment & autonomy.

It would be great though if we could have a grading system that allows easy comparison between our local students & the students abroad. Looking forward to seeing what will come out of this.

View all the pictures on my FB page.

Thursday, December 5

The Ultimate Motivation Programme

Giving students portraits of themselves in graduation robes so they can visualise being graduates = purpose.
Thought up & sponsored by Sarah Lasung of Teach For Malaysia.
What do you think of when someone mentions ‘motivation programme’?
Most schools conduct a motivation camp or organise a 1 week talk with invited speakers & that’s it. Actually, for some schools, that is good enough because parents take care of the rest of the motivating. That is, if the students have got attentive parents. What about those students who do not?

My students come from a poor socio-economic background. Many from broken families & their guardians are either illiterate or uneducated. They are aware that education is important but most are ill-equipped to support their children.
Also, my students stay in the hostels so they spend most of their time at school. Having so little contact with their guardians, we cannot expect the guardians to be able to make much of a difference.

Based on my personal beliefs & building upon the success of my 2012 PMR Motivation Programme, I decided to conduct an upgraded version for this year’s SPM students. (This year’s PMR Motivation Programme was delegated to the 2012 programme alumni.)

Here is the Ultimate Motivation Programme I devised & executed this year:

#1 Heart2Heart Discussions

"Begin with the end in mind." -Stephen Covey
Form the very beginning of the year, it is very important that students have a clear idea of what is expected of them & what they have to achieve by the end of the year. This will put the year into perspective & all their struggles into context.

I did this by having Heart2Heart sessions with the students individually first. Then, in groups.
Before the individual meetings, I conducted a workshop for all the students on study tips as well as how to prepare a target for SPM & a study schedule for the entire year.
It is important that students prepare their own targets & schedules instead of teachers doing it for them as they need to take ownership of their own learning.

During the individual meetings, we’d discuss their targets & compare it to their past achievements.
This is when I adjust their targets up or down depending on how they performed in the past & make them aware of the amount of work required to achieve their desired results.

After every exam, I’d chair a group session to listen to them share their struggles, study techniques & triumphs. I wanted them to reflect on their performance as well as learn from each other. I did this for every student throughout the year.


#2 Reminders

What is the point of having targets if students are not reminded to ward off procrastination?
Children are easily distracted & they need constant reminders. Even adults need reminders to keep them focused on achieving their targets. Reminders need to be engaging & ongoing throughout the year.

I believe that students relate easily with visuals. Reminders need to be self-accessible. To make it effective, there needs to be some form of peer accountability / transparency as well.

List of Reminders:
1. Fujifilm Instax: I took Instax pictures of students holding a piece of paper on which their targets were written. They had to display these photos where they could see it every day.
2. Exam Results: I’d print out & post their exam results on the classroom notice board so that they & others can track their progression.
3. SPM Schedule: I had the SPM schedule printed & posted on their notice boards as soon as it was announced so that they could tweak their study schedules accordingly.
4. Weekly Motivation: Every week, I'd meet up with them for a jogging session & speak to them after that.
5. The Heart2Heart sessions.
6. Peer accountability: I did something simple where the more responsible students reminded the others but I think this is an area for further development in the future. I can incorporate peer rewards (giving thoughtful gifts to buddies who improved) & peer reminders (talking to each other on a scheduled basis about the status of their preparations).


#3 Jogging: Building Cardiovascular Health

I can barely remember the National Philosophy of Education but I do remember 'holistic' (aka JERIS) & for good reason too.
Any motivation programme should include regular physical exercise.
There is plenty of research to show that exercise leads to a healthy cardiovascular system which leads to better blood/oxygen circulation which leads to better cognitive health.
Exercise also helps students to sleep better at night. Sleep is important because it is when the brain turns short-term memories into long-term memories.

I started my exercise programme from the very first week of school. I’d gather up all the students for a jog around the school. Then, we’d so some stretching & exercises. Finally, I’d sit them down around me for a motivation sermon/reminder about how important it is to stay focused on their goals.

I chose jogging instead of games because I wanted EVERYBODY to take part.
When it comes to games like volleyball or football, some students will be passively watching. Also, jogging is something that everybody could do. Everybody would then be able to experience the benefits of physical exercise.


#4 Inviting Speakers

Excellent Students from SMK Kapit.
The #missionKatibas team.
RELOs from the US Department of State.
Eventually, students would get tired of the same old dog (me) barking the same old tune again & again all year long. So, I roped in a few foxes, giraffes, hippos, zebras & bald eagles to do it for me.
Bear in mind that not everybody is willing to come all the way into the jungle WITHOUT BEING PAID. But when we reach out to altruistic people & offer them an experience that money cannot buy, there will be people who would be willing to come AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE. For these people, I am thankful.

List of Invited Speakers:
1. Program Jalinan Kasih. My school lacks student role models: students who can be used for benchmarking or as an example. I knew that students learn more from their peers than they would from adults & I needed to take advantage of this desperately. I wanted to provide them with peers who are excelling at school.
Cikgu Ho from SMK Kapit was very interested in visiting my school so I challenged her to bring along the best students from her school to influence & share their tips with my students.

2. #missionKatibas. Motivational speakers are expensive & hard to lure to a school like mine. So, when I found a group of professionals who were highly competent & interested in coming to my school, they became motivational speakers to both my PMR & SPM students for FREE!
Kudos to Sarah, Trish, Sonia, WaiLeem & Esther.

3. Jalinan Kasih Antarabangsa. The ultimate motivation activity would involve having native speakers of English at my school. When I got to know English Language Officers from the US Department of State, I knew I had to invite them to my school. To my surprise, Dr Kay was as adventurous as I hoped she would be. She brought along her super cool boss, Dr Dawn, too.


#5 Building Exam Competence

Unfortunately, if students are going to be evaluated with exams, they need to build exam competence on top of their language/subject competence.
That is why it is important for me to conduct PMR & SPM English Exam talks.
For a school like mine where the students do not have access to tutoring/tuition centres, they are totally dependent on the teachers who enter their classes for exam competence. Therefore, it is even more important for the teachers themselves to be exam competent before they can pass the knowledge on to their students.

I have invested a lot of my time & effort into building my knowledge on exam competence but I am only 1 teacher teaching 1 subject. There are plenty of other subjects at school which are as equally important for the success of my students. So I thought about how I could provide an opportunity for the teachers at my school to connect with more experienced teachers & build up their own knowledge.

Providing opportunities of development to other teachers so that together we can make a bigger difference.
Thus, I coordinated a Benchmarking & Sharing Visit to SMK St Elizabeth, Sibu (one of the top 10 performing schools in Sarawak). I made sure that each exam subject had at least 1 teacher represented. I wanted the teachers to learn from the best teachers at SMK St E & then bring back that information for the benefit of their students.
The teachers were very receptive & most of the teachers went on to conduct talks on their respective subjects.


#6 Being A Book Mule

Well past the second half of the year, a few students came up to me to ask for my help in acquiring reference books, past year questions & model exam papers. It was then that I realised that my students had difficulty acquiring paper resources essential for their preparation. They were deep in the jungle while the best books were only available in a land far far away called Sibu.

And so, I became a book mule. I carried the books from the book store to my hotel, hotel to the wharf, wharf to the express boat, express boat to the sampan &, finally, from the sampan to their classrooms.

I decided to purchase all the books they needed with my own money first & pass on my 15% teacher discount to my students. They come from a poor socio-economic background so the discount would go a long way. Also, I wanted the discount to be a motivating factor for actually using those books. I made this point extra clear to them too.

Even though I foot the transportation bill & some students did not pay me back for their books, I did not feel bad about this. It actually felt really great to see my students fully equipped for their preparations. Now they have absolutely no excuse & I harped this point on them again & again & again to great effect!


#7 Finishing Well

"How you start is important, very important, but in the end it is how you finish that counts." -Forbes
Students don’t need a dictator: Someone to tell them what to do.
They don’t need a friend: Someone to be close to them.
They need a mentor: Someone to tell them the hard truths & make it easier for them to achieve their goals.
They also need to know that someone will be there for them until the end.

This year, I decided to stay at my jungle school until the end of SPM; foregoing more than half of my year-end holidays. I did this even though there was no internet at school & the water pump broke down so I had to bathe & wash my clothes from a communal reservoir as well as cart bucketful of water up to my 3rd floor apartment for cooking, cleaning & toilet business.

I have been building them up since the beginning of the year & I am not about to leave them behind at their most pivotal moment. I have seen what it was like without anyone to watch over them during this period of the year when the school is empty & all the best teachers are gone. Not a good thing.

I stayed back to make sure that they had food, water, a suitable place to study, a guardian & recreational activities. Every night, I would gather them into the hall & sit there with them to make sure that they stay focused on their preparations. I did this until the last day of SPM.

On the very last day of SPM, I had a BBQ with whoever was left & we toasted to success in the future.


Reflection

At the end of the day, I am just a Guru Akademik Biasa. I don’t get paid extra to do this. Neither do I get extra credit in my LNPT (annual evaluation).
To complete this motivation programme, I had to overcome many obstacles including bureaucracy, back-biting & sabotaging. Naturally, it took a lot out of me because I took on too many roles at once.
But, the sense of achievement is... priceless & oh so satisfying.

I, myself, am not free from sin. I have stepped on toes & undermined the jurisdiction of other officers at my school. I would like to take this opportunity to apologise publicly to anybody whom I have offended in the process of completing this programme. Sometimes I forget that I need to consider more than the students in my decision making process. This is something that I am working on & will improve on in the future.

Next year, I will NOT carry out this programme. There are actually plenty of capable people at my school who are paid to come up with such programmes. I am not one of them.

I want to focus my energy on my subject matter (English) & come up with more innovative programmes to promote the use of English at my school & in the local community. I have not focused on English language programmes since I became Ketua Warden 3 years ago. Since then, I have been working on ambitious large scale programmes like this one. I have several ideas of what to do next year & it is all so exciting to me. Trust me. It's going to be ground-breaking.

Here's to an amazing new year full of surprises!

Tuesday, November 26

Burying Love Like My Heart Is A Grave

If you understand the symbolism, you'll understand me.
Somebody asked me whether I was hurt before because it seems like I am avoiding or trying not to remember.

Sigh... That made me recall memories long buried & left me feeling exposed, reflective & dejected.
I'm 28 & I don't have much to show, do I? I don't have a house. I don't have a car. I don't have a family. I don't have a wife. Heck, I don't even have a toy girl. Symbols of a successful man.
I have some achievements at work & great friends I can depend on, but when it comes to things that people typically look for, I have nothing to show. Nothing I can be proud of.

And yet, should we really be so concerned about what other people think or see?
It's true that I have been hurt before. Who hasn't?
I guess it's true too that I am avoiding love. Since my last relationship 3 years ago, I have decided to stop dating. Instead, I poured all my energy, love & creativity into the only thing I know will never hurt me: My work. I have done so much these 3 years, I can hardly believe it.

I was numb emotionally so I learned to be less dependent on other people for self-efficacy.
I walled myself from needing emotional comfort from other people. I walled myself from needing the approval of others. I walled myself from both praise & criticism. Nobody could hurt me. And it helped me endure years of accusations, persecutions, full frontal clashes, back-biting & bitter hard work.

I'm burying love like my heart is a grave. I have learned to push my loneliness & need for comfort & love deep into a dark hidden corner of my heart where it will not be a hindrance to my ambitions or my control of my emotions.

Some people think that I have it all put together. That I've things all figured out. The truth is I don't. However, I have begun to take upon the properties of water & be like an unstoppable torrent when I have found a path to go. Think about it.


What of love?
I don't know.
I don't know if you can understand the depth of my emotional burden. Can you imagine the emotional strength it takes to withstand 5 years of hard work & dedication at a school in the middle of nowhere with little reward or recognition?

Now imagine that emotion in a man who needs love, care & companionship. It's really really painful to go this long without a companion. I do feel the loneliness. It's cold & unforgiving. Honestly, I am not built to be celibate. I'd live a very dreadful life if I didn't have a woman. I like all things about women. But, I only need 1 woman. One woman to end them all.

90% of men will admit that there is a wolf within them while the 10% are lying.
I don't know if you can understand the predator in me. How I am now so tempted to seek casual teman wanita relationships with a pretty young woman. No strings attached. Enjoying each other & fulfilling each other's physical needs.

Yet, I choose not to do so &, instead, put my energy & money into my work. It's not easy. I pay the price every night when I sleep alone. I don't sleep very well so I exhaust myself before I go to bed so that I'd sleep right away instead of thinking & thinking & the pain that follows. Why do you think I wrote this blog post at this time of the night?


What am I doing about love?
Honestly? Nothing.
I don't believe in going all out looking for a hot chick to hook up & settle down with. I don't want to lose myself in my pursuit of a woman. I want to be true so that I can be honest to both her & myself. She'll find out eventually anyway. And, hopefully, she'll like enough of me to stay.

I believe that I'll meet her some day... But with every passing day... A little light goes out in my heart.
Despite being so proactive in my work, I'm not going to look for 'her'. I'm going to walk down my chosen path & I'll stumble upon a woman who shares similar values, is passionate & understands what I have to do. And, when I meet the right woman, trust me, I will know.

Meanwhile, I will prepare myself for her. Build within me a man who is able to care for & cherish a woman. Charm her & romance her. Sweep her off her feet & surprise her.
I'll start by making the right decisions in love & not going for temporary relief. Discipline myself. Perhaps even starve myself of love. Fasting until she comes along.
That is... IF she comes along.

Sunday, November 24

The 1st School Orientation Programme (For Teachers) @ SMK Katibas

A warm welcome by my students! =D
Remember back in September when 2 English Language Officers from the US Department of State visited my school? Well, at the same time, I had the privilege of supervising to a pair of future teachers during their 1 week ROS (school orientation programme) at my school.
Nope, they were not trainees from KPM. They're actually fellows with Teach For Malaysia!

I think that there is not much difference between KPM & TFM’s ROS programmes. Both had information seeking, school observing & reflection writing at the end. The only difference was the mindset of these TFM fellows. Very different from a majority of KPM trainees.
They had enthusiasm &, most importantly, PURPOSE. Instead of treating teaching as a mere job, these two had a mission: to bring about education equality at the level where it makes the most difference... teaching.

This kind of thinking actually sets them up for either great success or great disappointment.
The bad news is: the latter will almost always come before the former. However, if they are persistent & resourceful, they are guaranteed to succeed. That is, if they can survive the initial shock of their first few months.
The good news is: TFM is at its 3rd cohort now &, with so many exemplary seniors to emulate, I believe that they are well on their way to making a BIG difference in the lives of their future students.

Look at that big smile. It was gone at the end of our 3k run! lol!
Their ROS fell on our busiest week of the year so they had plenty to see & take part in.
Firstly, there was the Program Jalinan Kasih Antarabangsa where they rubbed shoulders with the aforementioned English Language Officers. They visited an Iban longhouse. They also judged competitions during the Merdeka ParadeKatibas Idol, Malam Kebudayaan RIMUP & Asrama Terbuka.
One afternoon, they drenched themselves in sweat & jogged under the sun with my PMR students, their mentors & me.

Shearon & Anders in action.
Besides that, they got to observe yours truly teaching & they were given a taste of teaching themselves.
They did very well in those lessons & I can definitely see them teaching in classrooms. They were very positive during their ROS & were thoroughly involved day & night in school programmes.
Our school & my students have benefited greatly from their time at my school.

Getting friendly with the students, staff & teachers.
To Anders & Shearon, I wish the both of you well & I hope that you will prepare yourselves emotionally, mentally & physically for the challenges before you. It will not be easy, but it'll be worth it.
On behalf of my school, I thank you for being willing to come all the way & spending time with us in the jungle. We look forward to inspiring stories from your classrooms.
~~~~~~

Mind you, TFM fellows will not be placed in easy schools. No, sir.
KPM decides where they are placed & the deal is they must be placed in challenging schools. They will work with the weakest students with the worst discipline problems. They will go into classes which make regular teachers, like myself, wet our pants yet still be expected to produce results.
That is why I have a lot of respect for TFM fellows & also KPM teachers who are of a similar mould. Unlike many in the teaching line, they actually walk the talk.

Those who can, do. Those who cant... criticise. Which are you?
Feel inspired? Are you highly qualified & confident in your abilities? Are you tired of living a meaningless life? Do you want a real challenge? Do you want to prove yourself? Do you know real altruism? Are you willing to do what it takes to make a difference? Even without reward or support?
If so, sign up here. Welcome to the ultimate test of a person’s talents & skills: teaching.

Monday, November 18

The Romance of Exam Talks

My 2013 PMR BI Exam Talk @ SMK Katibas
As much as we, teachers, want our students to fall in love with the subjects we teach by getting them to relate to it via performance arts, experiments & projects. In reality, our students have to match up to only one criteria at the end of Form 5: paper excellence (aka Writing).
I feel that the mere pursuit of this turns them into soulless regurgitators &, at the end of their exams, they will have no desire to hang on to what they have learned because it is meaningless to them.

When teachers plan their lessons, they have to strike a balance between the robotic reality described above & the romance which makes us human & gives these robotic functions purpose.
At the end of the day, no matter what teachers believe, if they really care for their students, they will be compelled to put their students in the best position to perform in the exams.

A key part of this preparation is an Exam Talk.
It should never be the one & only programme to prepare students for the exams but it has an integral part to play in any school’s exam excellence programme.

Why are talks so important?
So that every student is on the same page. Teachers will have emphasised & practised the necessary exam skills from the beginning of the year.
However, it is important that students are reminded & given the best & most comprehensive advice just before the exams; so that none of them can complain that they weren't given everything.
The best is if experts (GCs, examiners, experienced teachers, etc) were invited to do it.

My 2013 SPM BI Exam Talk @ SMK Katibas
What if none of the experts want to come to your school?
Perhaps your school is disadvantaged geographically (too far), financially (no honorarium) or prestige-wise (bad or no reputation).
Guess what? My school has all 3 disadvantages &, true enough, NOBODY wants to come to my school to talk to my students.

As a teacher in such a situation, what do I do?
Do I follow in the footsteps of those before me & do nothing except point fingers at those selfish knowledge tyrants who didn't want to come?
No excuse is every good enough for inaction. I decided many years ago that if they didn't want to come to me… Fine. I’ll go to them.

Since 2010, I approached experienced teachers, examiners, any random contact that I had for information. It’s surprising how many teachers were willing to share & help me without any reward. For this, I have to give credit to the English teachers in Sibu. They played a big part in developing me into a knowledgeable teacher.
The biggest teacher in Sarawak, Arthur Wee, played the biggest role because he was such a heavy personality with such a big bulk of knowledge. Thanks, mentor!

Even though I was just a common inexperienced new teacher, I designed my own talks from what I have learned from the experts, books & online resources. I made myself a jaguh kampung expert for my students because the need was too great to merely sit around complaining while the students faced frustration & were unaware that they could do so much better.

In 2011, I gathered up all my courage & gave a talk to all of my PMR students. Even though I was only in my 3rd year of teaching, it didn't matter because a talk from a well-read inexperienced teacher is still better than no talk at all. In 2012, I followed up with talks to BOTH my PMR & SPM students. I have done it again this year & I intend to keep on doing it year after year.
To help my fellow teachers, I shared my PMR slides earlier this year. Since it is the final year for the exam, I wanted to let everybody have a chance to help their students perform at their best.

This year, I was invited to give talks at schools but I turned them all down because my school’s need is greater than theirs. I’d rather devote my time here.
There are plenty of experts out there who are not as needed by their students (schools with select students). Ask them.
Or, better still, make YOURSELF a jaguh kampong expert & share your inspiring story with the world. It is easier than you think.

View all the pictures of the PMR Talk here.
View all the pictures of the SPM Talk here.

Sunday, November 10

Remedial Instructions Workshop for Secondary School Teachers @ PPD Song

I believe that if I have something good, it is not meant for me to hoard for myself alone; but meant to be shared &, in the end, cause a bigger ripple in the world. That is what courses are meant to do: share best practices which teachers can apply & invigorate their weary souls.

This year, I benefited greatly from 2 Remedial Instructions Workshops I attended in June & September. I was really excited about what I learned during the 2 courses because they were simple yet significant & did not require insane amounts of preparation. The approach/pedagogy/activities we learned were also at the level of our weakest remedial students. A perfect match with my teaching situation.

When I got this new knowledge, I was really excited. I knew that I had to share it because the need was too great. I estimate that 90% of students in Song are remedial students of the English language. ALL of the teachers in Song & also all of Malaysia need what I have learned.

Therefore, I have decided to provide the PowerPoint slides from my workshop for the benefit of those who are interested. Download the slides & do what you do will with it. Make sure that you share what you have learned & be generous like I have been with you.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.


I shared games which made drilling feel less painful; instead, more pleasing.
I shared the Total Physical Response.
I took them on a Language Experience Approach.
Also, I selected a articles which I thought were relevant to Remedial Instruction & got the teachers to present about it in small groups. This is one way to 'encourage' course participants to read materials: give them a purpose for doing so.
One thing I regret was not taking a group photograph with them.
Remember these faces, they are the future leaders in our education system.
View all the pictures on my FB page.

Thursday, October 24

Sistem Analisis Kompetensi ICT: My Tips

what the website looks like. clean & straightforward. just the way I like it.
For your information (esp those of you who are not working for MoE), everybody in the ministry has to take an ICT Competency test. The officers & teachers in Perlis, Perak, Melaka, Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Penang, Kedah, Labuan, Negeri Sembilan, KL & Johore have already taken the test.

So from 23-31 Oct, its our turn in Sabah, Sarawak & Selangor. Here's the link to the website.
Here are my thoughts...

#1 FAST & SMOOTH!!! OMG!!!

How many of you dread using MoE websites? Esp if it has to do with clerical data entry? It's not the data entry that we dread but the servers which tend to get crowded too often & log us out all of a sudden. Because of this, many teachers wake up in the middle of the night to key in data. Oh, this reminds me, I have to update SPPBS. Dank. No sleep tonight.

When navigating & using this website, I cant help but notice how smooth things are running & how fast the website responds. Everything looks good & in its place. Very well thought out website. Then, I noticed at the bottom-right... Powered by Microsoft. No wonder. The website was even better to use than the Cambridge Placement Test website.

So feel free to log in at any time of the day to do your test! It's a breeze!
(I logged in from in the middle of the jungle so... you should have no problems.)


#2 Bilingual but Bahasa Malaysia handicap

I hope that no fundamentalists will castrate me for saying this.
The test is bilingual. It's kind of like our PPSMI exam papers. Each question is written in BOTH BM & BI. An ICT test is bound to have plenty of technical terms. The problem is, when translated to BM, the technical terms become EVEN MORE CONFUSING.

I started out with the questions in BM because they were the ones on top but I found them really confusing & it took me even longer to answer even simple questions. So I ignored the BM translation & focused solely on the BI part... Worked like a charm.


#3 Easy peasy walk in the park like a piece of cake

I could finish this test with both my legs & hands tided up & 1 eye blindfolded. Seriously.
How would I be able to point & click? Well, use your imagination... *wink**wink*

This test is easy. If you are below 30 years old, you should have no problems with this test because you grew up or were born in the age of the computer. Those of you who use your PC regularly in the English language for work should have no problem.

The questions were about computer parts & their functions. Also about the Internet & certain technical terms. I also remember questions each about MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint & Access. Still, they were really easy & there is no need to cram before you take the test.

However...


{{CHALLENGE}}: BEAT MY TIME!!!

I actually took my sweet time to answer the questions. I was also confused at the beginning with the BM translations. Anyhow, I still got a really sweet time. Think you're better than me? PROVE IT!! I DARE YOU!!!

My final time. I took a screenshot before entering my last answer.

Saturday, October 19

Jalinan Kasih Antarabangsa: A Milestone For My Jungle School

The students of Form 4D (the weakest class) produced this beautiful banner. I believe in employing the strengths of usually overlooked students in such projects & boasting about their good work. Our visitors loved the banner.
Many Sarawakians have never heard of my school & while many express a desire to visit my school, very few actually put in the effort to travel to my school except these people & these people. For walking the talk, I salute them. So it is even harder to find foreigners who would be interested in visiting my obscure (but awesome) school in the middle of (a very romantic) nowhere.

However, as I mentioned in a previous post, God has a good plan for my school & I am only tapping into God's plan & His will for the people in this region. He set in motion the events that would lead to this: Program Jalinan Kasih Antarabangsa. The first ever visit to my school by foreign education officers.

It started with a chance opportunity to be part of a Remedial Instructions Workshop during the June holidays co-organised by the School Management Division of MOE & the US Embassy KL. All of the other more 'qualified' teachers just happened to be occupied & I just happened to be free during that period. That was when I met Dr Kay, an English Language Specialist flown all the way from the US.

I was very impressed with her thoughts about education & her experiences teaching all around the world. She was very direct, composed & she was a woman of her words. I thought that she would make a perfect speaker for my students & my colleagues.

I approached her with a proposition. I would arrange for a unique experience into the mystical jungles of Borneo in exchange for a simple talk with my students & a simple sharing session with my colleagues. She jumped at the idea & brought her boss with her, Dr Dawn, the Regional English Language Officer from the US Embassy Manila who oversees US English programmes for Malaysia & other SEA countries.

Firstly, they travelled from KL to Sibu by plane (2 hours). Then, from Sibu to Song by express boat (2 hours). Finally, from town to school (1 hour). My students welcomed our visitors in traditional attire & a short Ngajat performance. The students were guided by Mr ShahrulnizanOur guests also received a garland made of flowers. 
It was a school tradition to have a barbecue with visitors. A Malaysian ice-breaking via food. After all, the way to a person's heart is through the stomach. This BBQ, however, was different from the others.
Why? Because Dr Dawn was a vegetarian, the BBQ team prepared a very special vegetarian BBQ.
The food was great & so was the merry making. Kudos to the chef, Mr Hayazi & his team.
The visit coincided with our Medeka Parade so our visitors joined the event & got to witness our students expressing their love for Malaysia. This awesome parade was organised by Mdm Lia.
Dr Dawn & Dr Kay conducted an in-house training for all the teachers at my school. They shared their teaching experiences, about the US, their opinions on education & gave a few tips for the classroom. Set up by Mr Andrin.
I wanted ALL of the students to benefit from our visitors so I organised a talk for all the 450 students at my school.
Dr Dawn & Dr Kay played games & sang songs with the students. They talked about various places of interest in the US & encouraged my students to work hard to learn & practice the English language. Students were clearly very excited & engaged.
I wanted to force my students to interact in the English language so I was delighted when Dr Kay agreed to do a Q&A with my students. Representatives from each class attended. They were instructed earlier on to prepare questions as a class and, after the Q&A, share the experience with the rest of the class.

Students got the chance to ask questions & shake hands with the visitors. It was a golden opportunity for them as many of them have never seen a native speaker in the flesh before; much less interacted with them. My brother chaired the Q&A. He handled it so well. I'm so proud. =)
We took Dr Dawn & Dr Kay to a longhouse, TR Pillai Ng Miau. They spoke to parents & took part in the Miring, played the Engkerumong & danced the Ngajat.
Tuai Rumah Pillai, who will be retiring soon, was especially overjoyed. He said that the visit was the best thing to happen since he became the TR many years ago. He had never had foreigners visit his longhouse before.
The last night of the programme coincided with our Katibas Idol competition so we doubled the competition as a closing event. The students & teachers put up an entertaining night for our guests. Organised by Ms Flo.

We also presented tokens of appreciation to Dr Dawn & Dr Kay for coming all the way to our school. The banner we gave to them had the signatures of all the teachers while my students presented key-chains handmade from beads. Ms Ifeane oversaw the production of souvenirs.

Here's what Susianna Jannet, one of the 8A PMR students I brought to Kuching in February, said about the programme: "The Jalinan Kasih Antarabangsa programme was the best programme organised at SMK Katibas. This was a very good programme because it gave us motivation to study hard. When we interviewed them, I knew some good tips to improve my studies. It made us interested to study hard and give us a new mission in our lives. From that day, I wanted to study overseas."

I have reason to believe that plenty of other students were similarly inspired & encouraged; their mental horizons broadened. After the talk, students started speaking English with me more & also amongst themselves. Many of them expressed a desire to visit the US & were inspired to study harder. In my classes, students were more eager to learn the language. Dr Kay & Dr Dawn's visit had produced its desired effect! The WOW effect with the intrinsic push. Something which I hope all ETAs in Malaysia are working hard to produce.

This programme was perhaps the biggest programme I have ever had to coordinate. I had to liaise with the US embassy, get permission from JPN, inform the local IPD, mobilise my great team of teachers (some of which have got their names mentioned here because I love them so much) & struggle with a little Napoleon (I might write about this little episode one day). I am privileged to be one of very few common teachers who have brought foreign officers into a jungle school. If I can do it, what is stopping you from doing something similar at your school?

Thank you, Kay & Dawn, for coming all the way to our humble school!
I wish you both all the best! Our school will always love you & remember you! You will live forever in our folklore!

Here are all the pictures from Merdeka Parade, Katibas Idol & Program Jalinan Kasih.

Saturday, October 12

Remedial Instruction For English Language Teaching Workshop (Phase 2)

The workshop was held at Harbour View Hotel, Kuching.
I remember, not too long ago, I said that when an individual stands up for a cause that is bigger than he/she is, good things start to happen, people want to help, resources find their way & all with little perceived effort. This was one such occurrence.

By the stoke of luck (or was it?), I was called up at the last minute to attend Phase 1 of the Remedial Instruction Workshop during the Gawai Holidays. I happened to be in Kuching at that time & I happened to have no plans (which, come to think of it, is really rare). And other teachers who were more senior or 'deserving' happened to have plans & could not attend the week long course.

Besides being trained by a credible & knowledgeable specialist from the US, meeting some of the best & supportive teachers in our country was perhaps the most valuable take-away from the course.
It was a great opportunity for me because teachers from obscure or out of reach schools rarely get called up for courses. Needless to say, we rarely hear a whisper about top-tier courses like these. It's like we do not exist. Either that or the person from Song/Kapit who went to such courses did not do his/her part in sharing/passing on the knowledge. They might have been plain selfish or probably too swamped to find time to train other teachers.

I am neither. I will definitely make time to share with other teachers because I realise that it is more important for me to make more teachers better than me than for me to be the very best that no one ever was. Therefore, I will be doing my part on the 21st of this month for a group of 10 English teachers in Song. They will, sadly, have to see my ugly face day & night for a few days as well as satisfy my every whim & fancy. Any of you from Song reading this should know that I like massages & dark chocolate. Pandai pandai la...

Dr Kay Davis trained us for 2 weeks in total this year.
Just listening to her stories & her experiences teaching around the world was an invaluable motivation to me. If she could work in remote areas in the world & still find effective ways to teach, I can too.
Well, this course was divine because it led to a lot of amazing collaborations this year. The best of which was the banding together of a group of driven English teachers from Sarawak. We have a private Facebook Group, FB Group Chat & a Whatsapp Group. We keep our group private because we share a lot of personal struggles & feelings. It's a safe place for us to air our feelings away from judging eyes. We support each other & back each other up. That is what most teachers need yet do not get from their colleagues or from their administration.

Also, this course has led to a visit to my school by Dr Kay & Dr Dawn. They made a journey to my school mid last month & became the first Orang Putih to visit my school. A momentous occasion in my school history (maybe even Kapit history). They spoke to the students & even had a special session with the staff. The students were so encouraged & felt really motivated to speak English; Shifting many negative mindsets & possibly bringing about positive change in their attitudes & motivation to learn the language. I am so proud to have played a part in making it happen.

Also, let's not forget the amazing activities & insights I gained from the 2 courses. God's plan is indeed perfect.

Check out the pictures on my FB Page.

Sunday, October 6

The PMR Mentor Programme: Leadership & Motivation With One Stone

Mentors giving out congratulatory high 5s at the end of the jog. Emotional support.
Last year, I conducted the PMR Motivation Programme personally & let another teacher handle the SPM Motivation Programme.

This year, I wanted to personally handle the SPM group because I felt that it was more challenging to influence older kids & I didn't want to burden other teachers like I did last year. However, this left a big question mark as to who will handle the PMR group. I got my answer at the end of last year in a discussion with Sarah Lasung (a Leadership Development Officer with Teach For Malaysia): Get the PMR students who went through the motivation programme under me to do it for their juniors.

Pure genius. And that was exactly what I did. I'd like to thank my principal, Mr Patrick Nojey for approving the funds to pay for the shirts my students used.

Exercise is good for mental, emotional & physical health which contributes towards better concentration & memory.
Any motivation programme needs to take note of this.

This was how I went about the PMR Mentor Programme:
  1. I chose NON-prefects because I wanted students who could commit to the programme. I could not have the best students (I believe Prefects should have the first pick) but I had students who did not have to juggle with multiple responsibilities.
  2. I chose students who scored at least 1A (which is not easy, mind you) so that they had credibility. I constantly met with them to edify them (for self-efficacy) & always talked them up in front of their mentees (for perceived credibility).
  3. Initiation Reward: free shirts. I hand-picked 20 students & gave them personalised collared shirts. Their mentees had round-neck shirts of the same colour. I told them that the collars symbolised their authority, leadership & professionalism.
  4. Completion Reward: certificates. Out of the 20, only 13 deserved certificates. From the beginning, I stressed commitment & leadership by example. If they failed to commit or support their leaders, they did not deserve the certificate. I made sure that the certificate stated what they were part of.

Stretching & warming down is important after exercise. I added in a few resistance exercises at the end to finish them off.
I may be an old man but my conditioning sometimes makes me more resilient than my students.

What is the difference between my Motivation Programme & your typical motivation programme?

Schools usually go on an exam frenzy the month before the exam. They'd scramble for teachers to give talks & motivation speakers to motivate their students. They'd organise a few talks usually in the span of a week & then conclude that they had a successful programme. That will work in most schools because parents will motivate their own kids. Parents, you do realise that you have to tell your kids to study, no?

My school is a boarding school. Students spend most of their time here. Furthermore, their parents/guardians have very little influence on them or very little parenting skills to impose on their children. Therefore, in my situation, the school plays a big part in shaping the lives of these children. We don't have educated parents who will tell their kids every day to work hard. In my 3rd year, I saw the adverse effects of leaving these children to their own devices. It's not something that I'd want my own children to go through.

Therefore, I decided to take matters into my own hands & craft a motivation programme in my 4th year based on what I learned from the past principal of my school, Mr Clement Chieng (Principal of SMK St Elizabeth), whom I had the privilege to work with in my first 2 years. It's a weekly programme which starts in January & goes on until the last week of PMR.

Every week, the mentors will sit the students down & talk to them about the importance of doing well & working hard.
I believe that children need to be reminded constantly & consistently throughout the year.

Last year, I shared my personal beliefs in preparing students for the big exams. I think that it is important enough for me to briefly share here too.
  1. Children need to be constantly reminded. They are easily distracted. Motivation needs to be year-long & continuous instead of just a one-off talk a month before the exams.
    There are many ways to do it. The Counselling Unit at your school plays a big part in this. You can also do this every day in your classes.
    At my school, I get the mentors to meet with their mentees regularly to discuss their grades. Every week, the mentors must run a motivation programme for the PMR students.
  2. Basically, children just need someone to be there for them. To push them. To fight for them. To believe in them. You can choose to be that someone. Or, you can let the local gangsters do it for you.
    You, the teacher, no matter what it seems, still holds a lot of relevance in the development & success of every pupil.

You see me in the pictures above because I come in at key moments. In January, I worked with the mentors to get the programme up & running on a momentum. Then, I let the mentors have full autonomy. In September, I take over & speak to the students every week because I feel that it is important for them to hear what I have to say as an adult & as a teacher who wants so desperately to see them succeed.

Let me end with a thank you to the mentors for a job well done. I could see them grow as leaders & many of them are stepping up in leadership positions in the school. I'm proud to have played a part in shaping this generation of young people. I look forward to great things.

View all the pictures here on my Facebook page.

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