Tuesday, October 21

The Nazir Nightmare

**Everything written here is my personal opinion & observations. I am not perfect. In fact, I'm terribly flawed. I'm sharing because I have learned from this & I believe others can too.**

A few weeks ago, a team of officers came to my school to check on our implementation of the PT3 & our readiness to administer the PT3 written assessments.
My school is located deep in the jungles of Borneo so we rarely get visits from anybody. Not even the Nazir. Their last visit was in 2007, believe it or not.
Their visit on Monday was only made known to us on the Friday before & we were completely in the dark about what they were expecting. We were only informed that we had to prepare all our documentation especially those for PT3.

Our admin used this opportunity to scare us into doing all sorts of paperwork & it worked.
My colleagues thought that I was the cause for the visit because I applied for GC earlier this year. But, I told them that I didn't even qualify.
Anyway, if they were really here to check on me, my colleagues needn't worry or prepare anything.

Here's my account of the experience which taught me valuable lessons on correcting people.

Pre-Visit: Paper Museum Bolstering

We had no idea what they were looking for so everyone made a frantic dash that weekend to complete their panel files & PBS files. Nobody had any idea what to do for those files so they did their best with what they knew & had.

We even came up with a Fail Meja each because we were told that they'd inspect it. They didn't.
A Nazir officer informed me that the Fail Meja is school policy. Not KPM policy. Therefore, it's up to the school to implement it or otherwise.
Teachers have an RPH which is supposed to contain everything about them.

Pre-Visit: The Good
Good things came out of this...
Even the teachers who couldn't be bothered about anything (every school has those) were busy at work in the office that weekend together with the rest of us. Very entertaining.

Also, on the day that the Nazir were expected to arrive, amazing things happened.
Teachers who don't wear ties, suddenly, had awkward-looking ones hanging from their necks.
All of the teachers were punctual. Even those who were usually tardy. Some were extra early.

All of the teachers were in the staff room. Even those who preferred to spend most of their time 'elsewhere' could be seen in the staff room during the entire day! The staff room was more happening in those 2 days than all the days of the past 3 years!!

The PT3 Implementation Query
A Nazir officer called for the Head of the English Panel.
At that time, I still had no idea what they wanted because I was teaching during the early periods of the day. I brought with me all my panel files because I thought that they were auditing the entire school. The files weren't even looked at because they were focused on PT3.

The officer had a check-list to fill.
He questioned me & the SU Peperiksaan about our implementation of the PT3 Oral & Listening Assessments as well as our readiness to carry out the PT3 written tests & examine the papers.
There were no problems with our implementation of the PT3. We were found to be ready to implement the PT3 written assessments as well.
I can vouch for my SUs. They are through & diligent. They do their best with limited resources & direction.
It would be better if we had that check-list forwarded to us before the visit so that we could be aware of what was required of us.

I was uneasy throughout the interview. Not because I have done anything wrong. But, because of the manner it was carried out.
The officer  maintained an air of superiority. There were no gestures of friendliness.
Even when I offered my hand for him to shake. He looked at it & thought for a second before deciding to shake it.
He seemed to revel in that power he had over me.

I was there to learn & I wanted to know what my weaknesses were so I could improve. I didn't mind the uneasiness. I was very clear about what I wanted from that experience.

The Post-Observation Feedback
The officer observed the lesson of a newly-posted non-optionist teacher in the weakest Form 1 English language class.
I wondered why he didn't insist on observing an English optionist. Perhaps they wanted to look at our weakest link which, I admit, was a smart thing to do.
Obviously, the teacher did not do very well. According to the officer's standards, he was abysmal (emphasis intended).

I wasn't there for the observation but I was there with the teacher for the post-mortem.
His biggest mistake was using BM in 90% of his lesson. He even used BM for simple terms like 'tidak', 'tiga', etc.
Also, he didn't state explicitly in his RPH which PBS item he was addressing during his lessons.

He was told that there was nothing good at all during his lesson. He was told that his use of BM was a death sentence to the students.
I could see his eyes water up as his decisions during the lesson were torn apart again & again with strong language.
I could see that he was down. I tried to reason with the officer & mentioned all the good things he has done which were not observed my the officer but the officer kept pressing down on my friend who was downcast during most of the session.

I don't think that he was given a fair assessment because the officer did not take into account the various factors which could have limited his abilities & I also felt that his treatment of this teacher was a little too heavy handed.
taken from nickandzuzu.com
Then, the officer began to start boasting about his achievements during his days in the classroom.
He claimed that he was once at an elite school. He collected millions for a new building at school. He even sold his classroom as advertising space to YBs in exchange for thousands contributed to the class fund. He only joined the Nazir because he had achieved the highest level in teaching & he wanted a new challenge.
In the end, he said that his words were spicy because he 'sayang' my friend & wants him to do better.

I learned a lot from this session.
As the Head, I neglected to ensure that all my teachers were thoroughly checked on their implementation of PBS. Previously, I would tell them what I wanted, how it can be done & I got out of their way.
I need to provide better guidelines & follow up on them.

The Final Meeting
After 2 days of auditing, their findings were shared with all the administrators & teachers.
The leader of the JNJK team chaired the meeting. He was polite & made an attempt to provide a wholesome justification of every one of their findings about us. I appreciated that.

All of the officers produced lesson observation reports with both strengths (even those as trivial as 'has the attention of the entire class' & 'shows care to students') & weaknesses except, you guessed it, the officer who observed the English lesson.
There wasn't a single strength listed for my friend.

The leader attempted to be apologetic. He explained that this officer was very strict & the teacher shouldn't take it too hard. The officer offered to comment & he went off like a loose cannon.
At this point, teachers were turning towards me with naughty looks. A few were consoling ones. I shrugged & shook my head as if in dismay.

Apparently, they thought that I was the one being reported on. This was good. I was glad that the attention was on me instead of my colleague whose head was now in a very deep bow.
I admit I felt the burn of being falsely thought of as a bad teacher but I didn't mind taking the burn for my friend who was sitting with his head bowed & nodding at all his shortcomings being listed down & elaborated extensively to all.

Suddenly, the officer did something that made me lose all respect for him.
As the teachers grew weary of his lamentations, he suddenly called out the name of my colleague who was forced to lift up his head from his imaginary turtle shell.
The entire room was silent. All eyes were on him.
I can only imagine how embarrassing it was for him to have all his flaws exposed & condemned in front of all his peers.

After the officer was done, my friend returned to staring at the floor. Never lifting his head up again.
I was burning with anger & disbelief. You can rightfully condemn bad decisions but to humiliate someone so publicly is an injustice & abuse of power. The officer failed to correct & empower.
He did not do what was fair. It seemed like he was speaking from an ivory tower.

My colleague left his wife & children in Peninsula Malaysia willingly to come all the way into the jungles of Sarawak to serve.
He is a non-optionist who took up the challenge to teach a difficult language to the weakest class without complaint.
He is humble & teachable. He has done everything that is asked of him & he treats his students well.
He didn't deserved to be labelled 'nothing good' & spoken to publicly in such a condescending tone.

As the meeting went on, the mic was passed to the officer a few more times, even when the discussion was not directly related to him. The officer was very eager to speak & he spoke to us with condemnation & threats as if we were deadbeat teachers.
I bit my tongue multiple times to avoid arguments which could have delayed the long-awaited ending of the meeting.

The other teachers felt annoyed at the officer's over the top comments & ridiculous analogies.
Our defensive walls were already erected long before & we had already stopped listening to learn.
Fortunately, not all of the officers conducted themselves like him because the rest were very soft-spoken, straight to the point & balanced in their observations.

At the end, the teachers did something I have never seen them do before.
When the principal called for a photo session, all the teachers stood up, turned their backs & just walked off. I followed suit.

Initially, I wanted to learn from the officers.
But, it was pretty apparent they did not come to help. There was nothing to learn from these officers. In fact, I'm dreading another visit by the Nazir.
I'd still give other Nazir officers the benefit of the doubt. However, the next time I interact with that particular officer, I might not be as polite or cooperative.

Takeaways from the Experience
The first thing I did after the meeting was catch up with my colleague who was the only one to be publicly shamed during that meeting. He hid his eyes while apologising profusely for having embarrassed me.
I assured him that he was doing a great job & the officer's judgement was incredibly biased. I then listed down all the things that he did right. He looked at me for a quiet moment after that & said thank you before looking away again.

Then, I texted all the English teachers & told them to reach out to him immediately & reassure him of his worth.
We banded together to support him & lift him up. A good thing to come out of this was the esprit de corps from having a common bogeyman seared into our memories.


During the days after the meeting, nothing was discussed about how we could do better. People scrutinised the officer & questioned his credibility.
Objectively speaking, he made some good points & meant well. However, if you come to scrutinise, expect those being scrutinised to scrutinise you in return.
His desire to 'sayang' us backfired because of his means.


Did the officers achieve their objectives?
Yes, they successfully assessed our implementation of PT3.
However, because of one person, they made a bad impression, lost our respect & sowed a sense of dread. They did not inspire us to be better teachers.
They can expect to come back next year & see us do better according to their check-list which we now have. But, they can also expect a less than warm reception from the teaching staff.

Dale Carnegie once said "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." It is still true today & very apparent in this situation.
What happened here has given me deep insights into correcting behaviour & leading people.
One can learn from best practices & also worst practices.
Meanwhile, I have a lot to do to improve myself as the Head of the English Panel.

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