Radio Nyawa Sarawak Interview (In BM): A Message For Teachers, Parents, & Students

I was recently interviewed by Radio Nyawa Sarawak (previously Radio Free Sarawak) & the interview was conducted in BM! I listened to it &, thankfully, I didn't embarrass myself so that's my I don't mind sharing it with you! Siapa nak dengar BM pelik saya, rebutlah peluang ini! LOL!!!

I recorded a message from my heart for teachers, parents, & students. I got so emotional talking about my pride for my students, I even cried during recording. I talked about the challenges at pedalaman schools. I also left some practical tips for rural parents who have to work far away from home. Education is a massive wicked problem & we need all hands on deck to work on it.

Listen to the radio program here:
My segment begins at 17:30.

Radio Nyawa Sarawak has been essential in exposing corruption, land-grabs, encroachment on forest reserves, & other abuses against Sarawak's rural communities. Let's support the…

Teacher Was Cyberbullied Because Of Their English

UPDATE: After communicating with the parent, I found that I HAVE NOT BEEN FAIR TO THE PARENT in this post. Therefore, I have made several amendments in light of new information & will post about the parent's experience as well as a serious call to action. Still, I am interested in hearing the teacher's side of the story to balance things out.

What did the teacher do to deserve this? To be publicly shamed on so many websites (World of Buzz, Mashable SEA, Says, AsiaOne, RedChilli21 MY, Mothership SG, etc) & to be on the receiving end of toxic comments on social media?

Is it because the teacher has lower English proficiency than all of you? I'm sure you realize that English proficiency is a marker of privilege & not one of intelligence, right? Do you know the teacher's background? How do you know that the teacher & the others you're shaming in the comments aren't working hard to improve their English? What have you done to help this teacher do bett…

2019 TEDx Kenyalang: The Best Speech In My Life

Guess: How much time did I have to prepare for my TEDx opportunity?
a) 1 month          b) 3 months          c) 1 week          d) 3 weeks

TEDxKenyalang is held on 17th November every year. I got an invitation email on 30th October, barely 3 weeks before the biggest speaking opportunity of my life. I almost said no.

When I got the email, I was fully occupied with supporting my Form 5 students for their SPM English paper on the 5th. After that, there were a bunch of documents I had to compile or "create" for my annual keberhasilan evaluation & I had to complete numerous online data entry nonsense that Guru Tingkatans can relate to. Then, I had to run a workshop about the new Form 4 curriculum for 2020 on the 15th for the English panel at my school. Also, I was drafting proposals & writing letters to get the funds to send a good student from my school to an academic excellence workshop in KL so that this kid can share what he learned with his peers next year to help m…

2019 TJ Comics: Monthly English Comics

When I found out that the students at my school: (1) read at levels several years below their current age, (2) don’t read in English, & (3) don’t have English language reading materials easily available. I decided to print essays from students for students every month & have them pasted in every class.

What if I have students who can barely read due to years of academic neglect & literacy drought? My students hail from all over Sarawak, including rural areas and low-income communities. Unlike SMS/MRSM/Kolej, our sports school does not turn away students who perform poorly in their studies. We have accepted and kept students with straight Es as long as they have good discipline & they show commitment to their sport. Where they come from does not determine where they will be in the future. I believe my students have the ability to face their fears, improve, and win.

What kind of reading material would such students be able to comprehend & benefit from? After …

What To Do When Your Unifi Service Suddenly Drops

After finally putting my kid to sleep, I was about to settle into the couch with my wife & stream a movie, when my Unifi fiber optic internet connection suddenly dropped. When it didn't come back after 1 hour, I realized that I had to do something. Considering that I pay my bills promptly every month, it must be a technical issue. Here's what I did to fix the problem. It look me less than 20 minutes.

1. First, I checked my modem (the white machine). I checked the lights on the modem. When the modem is functioning properly, lights will be on for POWER, PON, LAN1 & TEL1. If the red light for LOS lights up, call 100 to resolve the issue. Also, I made sure that all the wire connections were tight.

2. Next, I checked my router (the black machine). Again, I checked the lights. When the router is functioning properly, lights will be on for POWER, GLOBE, WIFI, LAN1. My POWER light was blinking, so that means that there was no internet connection. Again, I made sure that all th…

2019 TJ Writes: Monthly English Bulletin

As a teacher, what do you do when you find that the students at your school: (1) read at levels several years below their current age, (2) don’t read in English, & (3) don’t have English language reading materials easily available.

After some consideration, I decided on a monthly English bulletin with contributions from the student population. These contributions come in the form of essays of any topic of any length. The bulletin will be printed & posted in each classroom.

Why? Besides addressing the problems described in the first paragraph, I wanted students to (1) have both short & long model essays easily available to the students, (2) see their peers write in English & think that it's possible for them too, (3) celebrate students' writing in English, (4) flood the school with English, & (5) provide an avenue for the critical & creative use of English. [I was so happy when Jessie Abbygil submitted the only critical essay of the year expressing her …

2019 Pen-Pals From Sarawak With Love (And One Nightmare!)

As a teacher, what would you do when you find out that a staggering majority of your students lack basic writing skills & would rather copy from their friends who have copied some random essay in the textbook? Do you, (1) call them names & blame them/their circumstances/their grandfathers, or (2) figure out how to make writing more relevant to their lives? The answer is kind of obvious, right?

In this day & age, what kind of long-form writing do people still perform? For most people, it’s emails. I could do an email exchange program for my students, but I don’t like how I’m unable to vet every reply to ensure that (1) respect was shown to the recipient, (2) effort was put into the reply, and (3) content is appropriate. The best equivalent to emails is snail mail letters. Since this was my first year at the school, I did a pilot program to see how pen-pal exchanges would work in my current context, since it worked spectacularly for my previous school in rural Sarawak.