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.

If you're smart, you would have figured out that I was actually describing myself up there. Since the first time I looked at the GC application process, I decided a long time ago that GC was not for me. The application process did not identify with my core values.

I'd very much prefer to be awarded directly if I truly am worthy. Applying for GC is not like applying for a scholarship where the prize is something honourable & praiseworthy. It's actually more like applying for extra rewards for work that we are already paid to do or supposed to do. Kind of like how little children beg for praise/attention/gifts/rewards from their parents. I feel that it is shameful.

Believe me, I struggled very hard with this decision. So, why did I apply for GC anyway?
The answer will surprise you.

The #1 Reason
I always tell my students to study hard. Fight for a better future for themselves & their people. I tell them that it is worth it: Temporary pain for long term gain. Do what you don't like for the short-term so that you get a great certificate you can leverage for a brighter future. If you are a responsible teacher, I bet you'll say the same.

And I'm sure you notice the great irony in the parallels in my students' struggle in their studies & my struggle with applying for GC. The main deterrent has always been the insane level of paperwork which has to be prepared for the application & inspection. All GCs have to be paper museum curators. Paper museums which take up precious time & resources which could be put to better use with the students.

I hate paperwork. So do my students. Me applying for GC is similar to them collecting their own paper museums of notes as well as completing tons & tons of exercises for a better grade. Me applying for GC is similar to them getting a good certificate to leverage for the future.

I also tell my students to fail with honour. Give it your best &, even if you fail, you have no regrets. The truth is, I fear trying & then failing. I might as well not try. But this is not the attitude I want my students to emulate.

If I don't apply for GC, would I have the right to reprimand my students when they don't give their best?
I don't want to be a hypocrite. I want to be an example. Defeat my own demons so that my students can see & do the same.

Reason #2
There are many Guru Cemerlangs out there who are not cemerlang at all. We all know who they are. They're just really good at paperwork, PR or riding on other people's hard work. Seriously, how many GCs are teaching the worst classes & leading the way to success in the worst situations? Very few. Most of them are in the best classes where the students are very likely to get As with or without them.

I have also met GCs who do not reveal their GC status at all. They are humble. They are generous. They are very willing to share. These are the people I aspire to become in the future. They are magical in the classroom & also with other teachers. I wonder whether I will ever be such an exemplary teacher. I constantly catch myself self-sabotaging; thinking people will not be interested or people will hate me for standing out.

Ladies & gentlemen, let's face the facts. We work within a flawed system. The way to hell is paved with good intentions. What started out as a wonderful idealistic programme has evolved to what it is now. From an administrative point of view I can understand why the application process is the way it is. It is much more easier to look at a paper museum than to evaluate something as subjective to personal opinion as a teacher's touch in the classroom.

We have already done the hard work & produced real results. We only have to take extra time & effort to work on the paperwork.

If good teachers who work hard & produce results do not apply for GC, who will? 
I don't want to see the undeserving be rewarded. I want more of the truly amazing teachers up there so that those who are inferior will, on their own, buck up or withdraw.

Reason #3.
I have consulted with some of the best teachers in Sarawak over my application & I want to honour them by helping you with your application. Therefore, I will be writing a special guide to the GC application. This guide is written just for you, the hard working teachers who are too busy with work that makes a real difference to be bothered with rewards or recognition or promotion.

This is not about you getting the reward & recognition you deserve.
This is about changing the system from the inside out!
This is about making sure that those who are giving the most value, come first so that they are empowered & equipped to give EVEN MORE!

Is that an honourable cause? Yes, it is.
Is the temporary pain of doing paperwork for the programmes/activities you have already carried out worth it? Yes, it is.
Is change possible? Yes, it is.

I want to help you gain an edge. I don't care if undeserving teachers use what I share because they will never be able to outshine those who truly have substance. No matter how beautiful the cover of their book is.
Time to reveal your light from under the bushel.

Stay tuned for my Road To GC series. (I will add the links here as I complete the guides.)

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