Friday, April 25

Why Good Teachers Don't Apply For GC When They Should

In 2014, after wrestling with my personal demons, I finally applied for Guru Cemerlang.
Raise your hands if you identify with 1 or more of the criteria mentioned below:
  1. You give your best as a teacher.
  2. You love spending time with your students.
  3. You love being involved & working in 'the field'.
  4. You love coming up with programmes for your students.
  5. You constantly develop your skills to be a better teacher.
  6. You absolutely abhor paperwork.
  7. You think that paperwork does not benefit your practice or your students.
Oh yes. I see a lot of hands.

Chances are you love teaching. You're intelligent & talented. You're probably a practising GC but you think that the GC vetting process is flawed & hopelessly biased against teachers like you. So, you chose not to go for it.

You don't like to appear haughty. So much so that you avoid praise, credit or titles like the plague. You tend to deflect praise or play down your work/success. So, you chose not to go for it.

Also, chances are you've met GCs who are clueless, unimpressive, snobbish or, plainly put, undeserving of the big title which they throw around with pride. You do not wish to be identified with this lot. So, you chose not to go for it.

Saturday, April 12

The Remedial Instruction Guidebook

The Remedial Instruction Guidebook team.
Remedial instruction (RI) is a focus on teaching pedagogies/practices/activities catered towards students with low English language proficiency (the galus students). Reaching out to students who know some English but not enough to be adequately proficient. It is however different from teaching students with learning disabilities or students with complete no knowledge of English.

Let's face the facts, the ministry sets goals & requirements like all students are Putrajaya students & all schools are Putrajaya schools. They are under pressure due to poor performances in international assessments so they react with a sudden slew of 'transformations' & amazing 'goals'. But, those of us working in non-boarding/elite schools know very well that our students & schools are not able to achieve some of those goals because more than 50% of our students are remedial students.

As for me, a teacher in the interior of Sarawak, 80% of my students are remedial students or worse. My colleagues & I have to work very very hard to lift them up to the passing mark. I have no time for transformation programmes which take up my time & require me to create a meaningless paper museum which has no positive effect on student performance. What we need are programmes which directly address this group of students which form a large proportion of our student population.

Sunday, April 6

Meaningful Rewards In Sibu

Jump if you love English!
What motivates children to strive for academic excellence? Just as you & I are different, what motivates our students will be different things. Some students are motivated by inspired oratory. Some require bribes of sorts. Some require a push or a slap. Some require social intervention. Some require a combination of the above. The thing is… if we don’t try, we’ll never know & our students may never feel the need to strive for academic excellence.

My students come from a poor socio-economic background. A majority of them live in longhouses. Most of their parents are subsistence farmers, subsistence fishermen, or blue-collar workers doing menial work for meagre sums of money. Furthermore, their level of English is atrocious. A majority have difficulty forming accurate sentences; even those in the first classes. Their environment & background do not help them progress further in life. They are poor so they do not study. They do not study so they become poor. A viscous cycle.

This is why good results are important. With good results, doors to scholarships & sponsorships will be opened. That's why it is so important for the students here to study hard. It is their only way of progressing beyond what they know & see here in the jungle. Every teacher who works in such a situation needs take a serious look in the mirror & ask themselves: What can I do to help my students achieve the better grades? How far am I willing to go?

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