Friday, July 12

Benchmarking & Sharing With SMK St Elizabeth

   My school is deep in the interiors of Sarawak & one of the drawbacks of such a setting is a young teaching staff without much experience. Take myself for an example. This is only my 5th year as a teacher & yet I'm regarded as a grandpa here.
   Due to our location, no experienced teachers, Guru Pakar, or Guru Cemerlang would want to make the long journey here to speak to our high-need students. Even the lauded ETAs have found it implausible to base themselves in the primary schools of our area. Honestly, they could get the same brownie points by just doing what they do at more accessible schools. There is a high demand for such talks all over Sarawak & our school is not able to offer comparable incentive to attract these specialists.
   Which brings me to ask, WHAT IS THE NEXT BEST THING?

   If nobody wants to come, we will GO.
   We, the teachers, will pay our own way to GO, LEARN & BRING BACK all the speciality knowledge required to best equip our students for the biggest exams of their lives.
   Yes, nobody wants to come here. Yes, higher ups rarely call us, interior school teachers, to trainings. But, we will not make any excuses. We will take responsibility for our students's development. We will do our best to give them the best education we can.

   Who will want to receive such a group of obscure teachers from an unheard of school?
   The truth is. Very few. Most principals of better performing schools can't be bothered to entertain guests from an unknown school when they receive so many visits from illustrious organisations every year.
   I was, however, very fortunate to have made the acquaintance of the principal of SMK St Elizabeth, Sibu, who stood outside in the elements one Friday afternoon & welcomed us to his school like VIPs.
   This school is an exemplary high performing school. It is amongst the top 10 schools in Sarawak. #1 or #2 if you discount the SM Sains-es & SM Agama-s where they recruit & enrol high-performing students. This school is a just common secondary school which moulds its students into top students. Something that we can emulate.

The school staff, the principal & the prefects lined up to welcome us like VIPs.
p/s: Spot the Project X t-shirt! I'll write about it soon!
We were treated to a delicious lunch at their canteen. We had just arrived in Sibu by boat & we were very hungry.
Later on, we were given a tour of the school premises. We were shown the Memorabilia Room, the park in the middle of the school, classrooms, Teachers's Office, Principal's Office, etc.
Then, we were ushered into the Meeting Room where we had our Sharing Session between teachers.
St Eliza's teachers were very generous in sharing their expertise. Many of them had years of experience under their belts & many were examiners or past-examiners. We learned so much from them.
Very gracious. The staff & their leaders. We were very thankful.
Many of our teachers were pleasantly surprised at what was shared with them. They left with big smiles on their faces.
   Honestly, even at our own school, not everybody believed in what we were doing. There were teachers teaching core subjects at our school who did not see the value in taking part in this program. It is their loss & the loss of their students. Fortunately, we had enough teachers to cover for those who could not or chose not to attend. In this way, we made the best of this opportunity for our students.
   Some teachers have already conducted workshops while others are planning to do so. One advantage of having a young teaching staff is their energy, drive, as well as their willingness to learn & serve. I could never have chosen a better group of teachers to work with.

   Is your school in a similar situation? Perhaps this is something that you could do for your teachers who are really receptive? Just an idea. It does not take big people to make a big difference. Just big hearts.

View all the pictures here.

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