Tuesday, October 28

The Dream SIP+ Visit

Just a few days after the nightmare visit by the Nazir, an SIP+ visited my school.
At that time, the teachers were weiry of visitors; including myself. We wouldn't want to go through another round of scrutiny & condemnation.

When a colleague came into the staff room announcing that an SIP+ was looking for me, I admit I was pretty negative about it. I recalled how a colleague of mine was publicly humiliated only just a few days ago. I dragged my feet as I forced myself to meet with this officer.
As it turned out, the officer was very peculiar & he had a peculiar reason for visiting my school.

As I approached the man, he began to look familiar. I struggled to recall his name.
When he saw me approaching, he paused, lowered his head & gazed at me above his glasses. He began to study me with eyes of vague recognition. I had become darker since we last met at a conference 2 years ago.

"Markus!"
"Jarod? Is that you?"
We stood there & chat like old friends for about half an hour even though the weather that day could have made a camel sweat.

Mr Markus Raja Gatuman is a legendary teacher who has written countless academic articles & conducted plenty of talks/workshops.
He was an English teacher, Nazir & principal. He is now an SIP+ coach for PPD Miri.
I read his work years before I met him & he is someone I aspire to emulate.

The truth is... He wasn't supposed to come to my jungle school.
He was invited, along with other SIP+, to conduct a session at PPD Song (the school district of my jungle school). PPD Song did not have an SIP+ coach of their own so they had a session with their school heads & visiting SIP+ coaches.
When Mr Markus arrived, he told the PPD officer that he wanted to go to SMK Katibas (my jungle school). The officer said no & told him he only has to do a session for SMK Song (the school in town).
He put his foot down & was promptly on a boat to my jungle school. SMK Song would be served the next morning. He was the only SIP+ to make the journey.

During our chat, he made a rather peculiar request.
"Do you have class later? I would like to enter your class."
He wasn't there to observe me though. He was there to...
"I want to motivate them & share with them my story."
He had humble beginnings & he wanted to share his story so that my students would feel encouraged as they laboured for their examinations.

Admin agreed & I proceeded to arrange for him to speak to both the Form 3 & Form 5.
He spoke about his childhood years in Bario & how backward the conditions were during his days as a student. He spoke about how poor his family was & how he couldn't afford shoes until he got a free pair at 15 years of age.
He spoke about his determination to achieve his dreams & how he did it which gave him the amazing opportunity to achieve all that he has done today.

Mr Markus speaking to the Form 5 students.
My students were truly inspired. Many of them began quoting him during the weeks after his talk. Many expressed a liking to Mr Markus.
If he could achieve his dreams coming from his impoverished background, they should be able to do even more.

That afternoon he conducted a workshop on cooperative learning techniques for the teachers at my school.
He not only talked about the benefits of the techniques he shared, he also allowed us to experience it ourselves.
He shared about:
1 Red & Green Feedback Cards
2 Jigsaw
3 Peer-Tutoring

At the end of the workshop, teachers stayed back to listen to more of his stories & ask him more questions. The atmosphere was relaxed, friendly & I could sense a lot of respect for him.
This is in direct contrast to the Nazir visit which occurred only a few days ago where the teachers could not wait to leave the room!!

A Cooperative Learning Workshop
Teachers learned a lot & stayed back to ask questions & learn even more.
This is what leadership means & how we can inspire teachers to change. By SHOWing them how it came be done instead of condemning them openly.
People rarely think that they are inadequate until they are shown a superior practice.

View all the pictures here.

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