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.

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