Friday, January 16

How It Feels Like To Yearn For A Transfer

To be honest, I do feel like this sometimes.
When I started teaching, I was excited to go into the jungle & serve my country. I didn't care where I was posted. I wrote on my posting form "dimana saya diperlukan dan kebolehan saya dimanfaatkan". I was willing to go to the highest mountains, the deepest jungles, the furthest islands, or the worst urban schools. I understood very early on that WHERE I was didn't matter. WHO I was mattered more. I wanted to make a difference & I think I have achieved all that in my 6 full years at my jungle school.

During my first 2 years at school, I really enjoyed myself at the jungle school, I never really understood the feelings of someone who really wanted a transfer. Mainly because I had a good leader who made the teaching experience purposeful. Also, I felt a deep sense of accomplishment & satisfaction with my work. I had decided to root myself at the school & commit myself to 5 years there.

Then came the darkest 2 years in my career. Despite being my most productive years, those were also my hardest years of being abandoned & persecuted because I wanted to do more. As Chief Warden, I did a lot of programmes despite working without support from above. I had a spineless leader who let land crocodiles take bites at me. I learned to be independent, to be resourceful & to be relentless. I wrestled crocodiles & galvanised support from the ground up. Now, I fear nothing & I have a self-confidence forged from the fires of hell. To me, nothing is impossible because of what I've been through.

After those 2 years, something changed in me. I started to see everything that I built disappear & everything I love about my school slowly disintegrate one by one. I was getting deeply discouraged & unsettled. That was when I first applied for transfer. But, God was not done with me yet. The next two years were years of recognition & collaboration. Just when I was about to collapse in exhaustion, God sent angels to volunteer at my school. I spoke at conferences & delivered workshops for teachers. I was featured in newspapers & magazines.

Entering into my 7th year, I have to admit. The longing to be transferred has only gotten stronger year after year. Now, I understand what it feels like to yearn for a transfer. Now, I can empathise with my colleagues all over Malaysia who want to move. Experiencing this feeling is essential for me to understand where teachers are coming from & the circumstances they are working in. This will make me a better leader.

If you're a new teacher or if you're happy with where you are, perhaps you'll be interested in finding out how it feels like to yearn for a transfer:
-Travelling to school fills you with a deep sense of grief & defeat.
-You dread waking up in the morning to go to school.
-You drag your feet when attending classes, meetings, and even 'happy' functions like dinners.
-You look forward to your weekends & holidays with extra fervour.
-You feel sad when younger teachers from your school or neighbouring schools get their transfers.
-You fill in your transfer application on the first day it is available.
-You're extremely dejected when the transfer application is denied.
-You want to vent your feelings on social media but don't because you want to avoid untactful comments from people who want to 'motivate' you. They fail to see that they are essentially addressing symptoms instead of curing the disease. I was one of them before. Now I can speak from both sides.

These are my feelings & those of many other teachers nationwide. We swallow hard & do our duty despite of our feelings every day. I don't expect anyone to understand. Also, I'm not looking for advice. This post is written so that people can finally understand what we are going through & why our performance is affected.
What else would you expect when you cage an animal? They'll definitely deteriorate over time. The best thing to do is to set them free. Until then, they suffer in silence as they bleed unseen on the inside.

Nonetheless, I am bound to my duty as an educator. Despite my desire for a transfer, my dismal feelings & the awareness that an outstanding performance will only discourage administrators from letting me go, I still strive to give my best to my students & to create the best programmes to cater to their needs year after year. So long as I am your teacher, I will honour your trust & faith in me.

However, I am fully aware that I am not getting any younger. Also, I have a desire to do bigger things & make a bigger impact. All this cannot be done from isolation. I need a more central location. For the past few years, I have turned down offers from the private sector & stayed as loyal as I could to Sarawak (by turning down offers to work at other states). The need here is great. I'd rather use my talents & skills to develop my home than be a soldier of fortune elsewhere. But, I am no saint. I do have my limits.

If (education) Sarawak does not recognise my worth & intends on forgetting me in the jungle, I will go to another place where I am needed & my more advanced skills are justified. If I don't get a transfer this year, I will either leave Sarawak (transfer to another state) or leave the ministry altogether, following the advice I wrote many years ago. I'm sorry; but, I'm turning 30 this year. I have to think about my future.

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