Sunday, December 23

PMR 2012: Record-breaking 8 As for English!

This year, many of my colleagues & I worked our socks off for our PMR students. Personally, I have pushed them as far as I could towards excellence in their PMR with my programmes & beliefs, my BI seminar, my weekly motivation sessions & rewarding students for PMR excellence.

Here is a summary of our school's 2012 PMR results:

103 candidates
Pass (You have to pass every subject to pass PMR): 74 candidates or 71.84% (1.5% less than 2011) passed PMR
Average Grade (GPS) (The lower the better) is 2.84 (0.05 more than 2011)
Top Scorers: 3 8A candidates. 2 7A candidates. 3 6A candidates. 4 5A candidates

According to Subject:
25 As
8 As
10 As
12 As
8 As
19 As
14 As
3 As
21 As

When I heard the results.
For the first time ever, 3 of our PMR students achieved 8As while 2 of them achieved 7As. That's like 5 straight As in some urban schools. It was a gargantuan task which I believe every teacher involved worked really hard to push the students towards their potential. The students themselves also worked very hard to get there.
I never doubted that they would be excellent. From the very first week in January, I looked at their track record & set high targets for them during our motivation sessions. I'm glad that most of them have reached their potential. I will probably have a post-mortem session with them during the first week of next year.

Let's talk about something that I am directly involved in. I am very proud to have taught a class which produced 8 As for English!
I wasn't easy, but my students managed to do it. If you remember from a previous post, I set a target of 10 students achieving As. Still, I am proud of them as I know that they did their best.

Let's recap on past achievements.

Prior to 2010, the school had only 1 student EVER who achieved A in PMR English.
In 2010, I taught the best Form 3 class & the class produced 4 students with an A in PMR English. The FIRST ever straight 8A student came from that class too.
In 2011, I did not teach the best class. That class produced 1 student with an A in PMR English.

This year, 2012, I was back in the best class. The class produced 8 students with an A. The 3 8A students & 2 7A students came form that class too.
I attribute this to the teacher factor. It might seem haughty or proud to claim that I made a difference but, mind you, my students do not go to tuition nor do they speak English outside of the classroom.

I did my part in pushing the students towards their goals with individual attention, consistent long-term coaching & monitoring as well as genuine concern &, often times, firm discipline. There is no special sauce. I believe that I have done nothing unique & that any teacher can do the same if not BETTER. It just takes someone with a big heart & a strong spirit.

Looking towards the future. I want to move on to a bigger challenge. If the conditions are right, I will be able to do the same for the SPM students next year. If not, it will be for my brother & a select few SPM students. That will be my elite project.

They have done their best & produced excellent results. Honourably, I will hold up my end of the bargain.
Bye bye, $$$$.
My students did exceptionally well, so I will reward all 103 of them with a simple gift regardless of their final result because even the hopeless ones tried hard. Maybe I'll give them some chocolate.
103 candidates (-8 A students) x RM3.5 = RM332.5

I got this for my students. Hershey's Milk Chocolate for RM20.80 per pack. 6 bars inside so roughly RM3.50 per bar.
Only RM332.5 to bless more than a hundred students who accepted my challenge, listened to me & worked hard.
This is proof that you don't have to bleed money to give your students good gifts. You just have to look at the right place with the right attitude.

During my motivation sessions, I promised every straight A student I'd take them to Kuching for a weekend.
3 candidates x RM500 trip = RM1500

I promised every English A, that I'd take them down to Sibu for a weekend just like I have for every PMR English A student for the past 2 years (2011 & 2012).
8 candidates (-3 straight A candidates) x RM200 trip = RM1000

I will hold a post-mortem meeting with them next year & be RM2800++ poorer.
But, it is an investment in a generation which I believe will spark a change in the local population... An intellectual & cultural revolution.
My wish is that they will become good people & contribute to the sustainable development of their lands & the well-being of the rural Iban people.

Thursday, December 13

Putting My Family First At Last

For most of my teenage life, I really hated my parents. I blamed them for everything bad in my life. Like all those stupid music/language lessons I had to take. I even blamed them for everything that they didn't do for me. Like branded stuff, being handphone-less & unable to go out with my friends. Now that I am older, I realise that they really honestly did what they thought was the best for me. Deceived by emotions & pop culture, I was blind to all the good healthy things they have given me.

Now that I am older, I choose to see them & love them for their good side. Nobody is perfect. Not even ourselves. Everybody has flaws. Especially our parents. Once upon a time, I wanted them to accept me for who I was & not what they wanted me to be. (That's the ultimate desire of every child. To know that your love is unconditional.) I guess now that I know better, instead of pointing fingers, shouldn't I take the lead? I am truly ashamed of the child that I was. Now that I am an adult, I will adopt the ways of an adult & love my parents the way they want to be loved.

One thing I do realise is that they are getting older. Raising & educating 6 children is by no means an easy task. 1 is difficult enough, talk about 6! (Personally, I'm only having 2.) They are very stable financially but they are also well over 50, their bodies are getting weaker & my father has heart issues. After so many decades of pushing so many children to do their best, I'm sure they are also very tired. Yet their job is not yet finished, they have 2 more teenage children in Form 4 & Form 3. It is a steep uphill climb to ensure that the 2 remaining children are well prepared for an uncertain future.

When I started teaching 4 years ago, I had 4 siblings (out of 5) who were still in school. (Yes, there is a big age gap between us.) Since then, 1 sibling has done average while another 1 did relatively well. They have since moved on to tertiary studies. In all that time, I have been busy pouring out my heart & soul into a forgotten people whom their own people (who are educated) couldn't be bothered about. However, every time I go home for the holidays, I feel a deep sense of guilt & shame. I can't help but think: If I took my siblings under my wing, they would have done better. In my heart, I knew this was true & it eats me inside. I carry this burden until this day & I feel like I've let my 2 siblings down.

My parents are ageing & are not as forceful or persuasive as they were with me. They've been really soft with my younger siblings & I do feel that my siblings are taking advantage of my parents. (Yup, wake up parents. Your kids are still milking you long after they've stopped nursing. This might help.) I feel that it is my responsibility as the eldest child (who happens to also be a teacher for crying out loud) to play a larger part in the lives of my siblings. I hate feeling extremely inadequate when my father comes to me with a question about our education system or a request & I am unable to do anything because I am sooooooo freaking isolated & uninformed in my jungle school.

Especially now that my youngest brother is really struggling in school even with all the support, technology, camps & tuition money can buy. Next year is his Form 5 & if he continues on his current path, it will not bid well for him. SPM is the single most important exam in a Malaysian's life. You can judge the worth of a person by looking at his/her SPM results. (Degrees are overrated. Truly.) I plan to bring him with me into the jungle school & give him the best of all that I have in my personal capacity & my network of great teachers in my jungle school. In my 4 years, I have done so much & learned even more. I shall use that for him. I will create something unprecedented for the Form 5 next year. Watch me.

At the end of the day, you can bring the horse to the water but you cannot make it drink. My brother is a human being & should be treated with respect & love. I am really happy that he has accepted this exotic adventure & is willing to follow me to my jungle school. No tantrums. No arguments. In fact, he is embracing it. I believe these are the first signs of his maturity. My hope is that he will work his arse off next year & get the best possible results. I believe that he is meant for great things. That is why I am investing in him & giving to him my best. Therefore, I expect nothing but the best from him.

After 4 years of working my arse off for other people's children, I think it's about time I put my family first.

Saturday, November 24

My Beliefs In Developing Students For High-Stakes Exams

When I look back upon the year, I'd stay that beyond my duties as a chief warden, I played a very large part in shaping this year's PMR students. Close inspection of my methods reveals my underlying beliefs in developing these students to face high-stakes examinations.

Méthode #1: Year-long Brainwashing

Need I say more?
Many administrators & teachers think that one hit wonders like Motivation Camps or Guru Pakar Lectures are good enough to motivate or push students to do better. These programmes are great & they do provide a short-term injection of enthusiasm. However, I do feel like an ongoing programme throughout the year would be more effective. It's human nature to procrastinate & this is especially rampant in today's microwave generationHumans need reminders & constant engagement to stay focused. With so many subjects & so much to cover, the preparation should actually begin from Day 1, if not earlier.

That is what I did with my Weekly Motivation Sessions. Every week without fail until the last week of PMR (See... I'm so proud of this fact. haha~~), I'd meet with my PMR students & I'd remind them of their goals. For those who needed encouragement, I'd remind them of how great they were. For those who needed to be put in their place, I'd put fourth my thoughts candidly. I was with them from the beginning of the year & I monitored their progress throughout to tailor my message to their individual / seasonal needs. I made sure they left every session with something to think about.

Méthode #2: Regular Exercise

Preparation for the rat race.
Many teachers brush off anything beyond the classroom or their office hours as 'none of their business' even though it is an opportunity at the extraordinary. I have read that nutrition & general health plays a powerful role in cognitive function. Better health = better cognitive function = better focus + better retention + better processing = better academic performance.

I was unable to dictate what they ate every day so I gave them advice on nutrition. What I was able to do was improve their general health through physical exercise. I did this during my Weekly Motivation Sessions. I took them jogging with me & watched as their stamina & self-esteem improved. They also enjoyed themselves = stress relief. That in itself is a good enough reward & boost to their preparations.

Méthode #3: Exam Drills

A predicted outcome of our school system.
At the end of the day, students are evaluated with their exam results. I agree that exams are simplistic evaluations which do not do justice to our talented students & their multiple intelligences. However, that is our reality at this moment & we have to do our best to portray our students in the best light. Even though a certain Swede called this cheating, I advocate exam drills & believe wholeheartedly that it makes a difference in a students performance in the actual exams.

Every year after the mid-year holidays, I'd tell the Form 3 English teachers to perform exam drills in classes. The teachers would conduct an actual exam of a full English paper during class time to get students used to having the exams (esp the time frame & the pressure). We would use 5 periods for this & 5 periods to discuss the exam paper. During discussions, emphasis was given to best practices & how they can present their answers better.

Méthode #4: Best Practices

The straight & narrow.
Examiners mark according to a schema. This means that they look for certain things & overlook other things when contemplating the marks to award a particular answer. Naturally, different questions require different kinds of answers. Examiners are humans too. I please them to get more marks from them. I do this by making their jobs easier. I make their jobs easier by making it easier for them to find what they are looking for in my students' answers.

Thus, I train my students in the best practices for the exam early on. So that the other Form 3 students are not left out, I gave up half of my August holidays to stay in school & give the students a seminar on best practices.

Why didn't I enlist the help of Guru Pakars? Well, they were too shy to risk their lives getting on a skimpy wooden boat & traversing crocodile-ly waters to my school. I do it on a weekly basis. BOOYA!

Méthode #5: Personal Touch

Yes, we were posing.
At one stage, the benefits of preaching to the masses reaches a plateau. This year, I tried to breakthrough the glass ceiling with individual coaching. My hypothesis is that personal touch & individual attention makes a difference. It also humanises us & shows them that we care for them. Love & attention. Something that all humans crave but are too shy/proud to admit.

I dedicated a whole weekend (Friday afternoon - Sunday night) to give personal time to each student from my Form 3 classes. I went through an essay assignment I gave them & discussed with them how they could improve & what they should look out for. I also highlighted grammar errs & lexical mismatches. I decided to focus on essays because that was where most of the marks & potential improvements were.

Unfortunately, I did not have the time to quantify the benefits of such a taxing exercise but feedback was very encouraging. Students reported that they remembered my advice from these sessions & it motivated them to study harder. I might expand on this next year & meet individual students a few times over the year instead of having it crammed into one weekend.

Méthode #6: Being There

I didn't ask. I knew they needed it & I gave it to them freely.
This year, I wasn't called up to invigilate the PMR examinations. Since I had a lot of free time, I decided to spend it with the PMR students during their examinations. I started the year taking care of them so I might as well finish well & see them through the last of their exams.

I'd be there during their self-study time. I'd go down earlier every morning to pray with them & give them a little motivation speech. I'd line them up, wish them well & give them a high five as they leave the study hall for the examination rooms. I'd wait for them when they finished & ask them how they did. I comforted those who needed comfort. I reminded them to focus on the next paper instead of worrying about the one they just had. I did all that for EVERY exam.

I believe that children need more quantity time than quality time. Just being around for them is good enough to encourage them or remind them of their goals. Too often we push them away & then wonder why they do not want to spend time with us.


These are some of the programmes I developed exclusively for the PMR students. They may not be the best but I am still learning, innovating & cooking up a storm. Feel free to adapt any of the above & do share your experiences! Also, I feel that my methods & beliefs are strongly linked to my personality & my talents so keep that in mind when adopting any method. Make it an extension of yourself instead of a copycat of someone else.

I'm sure all of you have your own unique & awesome ideas on how to develop your students but you may not have the courage to put it into action or the confidence to believe in your ability to pull it off. Honestly, I struggle with the same doubts... but I say f**k it & do it anyway. Often times, fortune favours the bold.

Wednesday, November 14

Panduan Ringkas Pengurusan Peperiksaan STPM (A Concise Guide To Invigilating STPM)

STPM 2013 Semester 1 exams were over last week & now the STPM 2012 exams are coming up next week.
Basically, the new STPM students (with their first intake this year) will have 1 STPM exam every semester. Previously, under the old STPM (which will run for the last time this year) had students sit for 1 heavy exam at the end of 3 semesters.

As a Head Invigilator, I had to instruct my invigilators on what to do & what to say. All of this is really high stakes & protocol heavy as any slip up might end up in complaints or complications. Instead of just yapping & yapping away at my invigilators, I decided to come up with a guide & a step-by-step script of what to say.

I developed a guide by compiling key points taken from a Head Invigilator's meeting I attended in Miri recently, the 2 guide books I was given & my prior experiences invigilating PMR & SPM.

I piloted this during the STPM 2013 Semester 1 exams last week & improved on it. I will use it again for next week's STPM 2012 exams.
The guide is written in BM. I apologise if I made any errors. I would really appreciate it if you would inform me of any grammatical errors or factual inconsistencies.

Go ahead, download & print. Use this during your meeting with your invigilators & let them use it during the exams. They don't have to remember anything. All they need to say or remember is on this piece of paper which they can fold up & keep in their wallets!
Feel free to add to it or modify it as you wish.

I decided to share this guide over the internet to make it easier for other Head Invigilators. Do let me know if any of the information in the guide is confidential. I will have it removed immediately.
Otherwise, feel free to use it &, remember, sharing is caring! =)

You can find the guides here:

Head Invigilators for PMR, SPM & STPM (maybe even UPSR) may download & modify all of the above for your personal use.
Oh, and if you do, please share them with your friends! =)

Saturday, November 10

My Transfer Appeal Letter


Dengan segala hormatnya, perkara di atas dirujuk. Tujuan surat ini bukanlah untuk bercerita tentang keinginan saya untuk menjaga orang-orang tua saya ataupun mengikut jejak isteri dan anak saya. Saya tidak akan berkongsi tentang kesukaran yang saya hadapi di sekolah pedalaman dan betapa lama saya telah berkhidmat di sana. Semua itu adalah sebahagian daripada cabaran saya sebagai seorang pendidik.

2.  Bagi pengetahuan tuan/puan, saya merupakan seorang guru opsyen Bahasa Inggeris yang boleh ditempatkan dimana-mana sekolah. Maka, saya mengharapkan bantuan daripada pihak tuan/puan, seorang pemimpin dalam JPN yang nampak gambaran besar untuk mengurniakan  saya  cabaran yang baharu.

3.  Saya hanya meminta untuk diberikan satu matlamat di mana-mana sekolah negeri ini, dan sokongan penuh dari pihak tuan/puan untuk melaksanakan misi ini. Saya hanya berharap untuk berkhidmat dibawah seorang pemimpin yang berwibawa. Saya ingin berjasa untuk ibu pertiwiku dan saya percaya bahawa saya boleh mencapai keajaiban di mana-mana sahaja. Bak kata pepatah “benih yang baik kalau di campak ke darat menjadi gunung dan jika dicampak ke laut menjadi pulau”.

4.  Pada mulanya, saya telah memohon ke Sibu, daerah yang terunggul di Sarawak, kerana saya ingin belajar dari guru-guru yang terbaik, meningkatan diri dari segi profesional dan menguasai kelemahan saya seperti dalam bahagian kertas kerja. Walau bagaimanapun, permohonan saya telah ditolak dan kini saya mengharapkan sesuatu yang lebih baik daripada kebijaksanaan tuan/puan.

Segala perhatian, pertimbangan dan tindakan tuan/puan didahulukan dengan ucapan ribuan terima kasih. Sekian, terima kasih.

Updated: 17 November 2012. I've decided to only include the Malay version of my letter because it has been heavily modified based on valuable comments from my readers & major help from a past student of mine. Thanks so much! The letter is definitely so much better now!

Saturday, November 3

Repair Squad: Redeeming At-Risk Students

I have always had a heart for at-risk students. I have many friends who were at-risk students at school &, sadly, they were often misunderstood or falsely accused thanks to preconceived notions. The more that they were falsely labelled, the more that they stopped bothering to prove otherwise. In the end, they embraced & labelled themselves as they have been labelled by a harsh & restrictive education system. That's why so many of them became tough nuts to crack & they lashed out at people trying to 'help' them.

At my school, the students are so malleable & respectful of teachers. Still, there are students who have less than desirable behaviours. Instead of punishing them all the time or expelling them from school, I decided to put myself out there & experiment with a new way to reach out to them.

I'm no expert, but I think some fundamentals in human behaviour are:
- guys socialise via activity. we cant sit down & talk all day like women.
- guys like to feel important
- everybody wants to belong
- everybody needs to be proud of something

With all of the above in mind, I started the Repair Squad this year with a small group of hand-picked at-risk Form 5 students. I would personally lead them on simple repair projects in the hostels or around the school.
I wanted to give them an avenue to contribute positively to the school after so many years of vandalism or apathy. I also want to give them a sense of belonging at school & do not feel as detached from the school as they would after being punished again & again for so many years.
I also wanted to get to know them so I could influence them. Let them know that I care for them & they have the potential for great things.
I rewarded them with free t-shirts & public praise / recognition. You can see them happier & walking taller than before.

Although I did take part in a Kem Jati Diri this year, I do not believe that such one touch efforts can bring about any kind of significant change in a person. Expecting it to do so is a folly that many make because we'd rather be rubbing shoulders with the cream than digging dirt down in the ditches. Something gradual & ongoing would be even more effective. That's how I've designed the Repair Squad activities.

Here are some of our projects this year:

transporting fertiliser provided by the District Agriculture Dept for use in our hostel gardens
preparing & installing noticeboards for the new hostel blocks
planting new trees around the school
installing new colourful English language hostel room labels
recycling damaged beds into tables
managing pests / infestations
You can view all the pictures of the Repair Squad activities on my FB Page here.

Sunday, October 28

2012 School Activity Photos

Hey guys, I won't be writing anything much this weekend except to inform you that I am currently in the process of uploading to my FB Page photos of all the school activities I was involved in this year.
After that, I will upload photos from past years in the order of 2011, 2010 & 2009.

MY MISSION: Finish the 2012 activity photos by this weekend! YOSH!!!
Do check them out here or!

If you see something you like, do feel free to LIKE.
If you see yourself or your friends, do feel free to TAG.
If you see something that causes you to think, do share in the COMMENTS.

Check it! =)

Saturday, October 13

Making Friends As A Young Adult

I remember when I was young I made friends with everyone and anyone. I was genuinely colour/status/religious/socio-economic/pecking order blind.
I rarely saw the flaws in other people & could see a lot of good in everybody. I worked on clicking with other people & doing things that we could enjoy together.
I just genuinely enjoyed the company of other people & enjoyed learning about different perspectives.

I guess during that time, everyone was in school & everyone had something in common: bad teachers, good teachers, hot school girls, hot teachers, bloody exams, favourite subjects, confusing subjects, music, movies, computer games, sports, football & so on.
We were probably less reserved back then & were more willing to share anything about ourselves with people we barely knew.
We also had more time to spend with each other & just hangout.

best buddies from uni
Fast forward to university & everything was still good. It was the same old study assignment exam routine albeit higher stakes & higher fees.
Everybody at that stage still had a lot in common although they may be studying for different fields: bad lecturers, awesome ones, hot uni girls, hot tutors, hot lecturers, gay ones, bloody assignments, bloody exams, awesome courses, boring courses, music, movies, computer games, sports, football & so on.

However, that was also a time when I started to sense that things were different than from back in school. People studying different degrees carried themselves differently, dressed differently & they were definitely treated differently.
I was regarded & treated different according to what I was studying & where I was studying.
I did not give it much thought. I carried on enjoying the company of people & genuinely wanted to reach out to as many as I could. I made a lot of friends during my school & university years.

watch out. she may smell sweet & sound like butterflies but let your guard down & she'll change you.
I don't know how things changed but I'd say it probably started when I dated a hot yet introverted girl.
As with any boy-girl relationship, there will be times when you fight/argue. During one of those highly emotional & intense moments, she questioned my choice of friends & certain people I respected.
You see, prior to that, I respected & loved all my friends without prejudice.
She changed that. She made me see that not all friends were created equal. She made me see that certain people were bad & disgusting. That moment changed my life forever. There's nothing like a woman to screw you over.

That was the beginning of a more reserved me. That was when I stopped trying to make friends with everybody. That was when I started to be selective about who I let into my heart.
When we broke up, my world fell apart. The hurt I felt from losing her made it even harder for me to restore the original me, the me I was before her.
I became a shadow of my former self. I was really really lost. I started pushing people away. I became very selective. I guess I got a taste of what it was like to be an adult.

best buddies from junior high
Adults are way more complicated & divided than children or students are. They are expected to conform to the tome of political correctness & society's code of conduct. Those who do not are expected to be ostracised by 'normal' adults.
Unless you're close, many adults will rarely talk about what matters to them or what they really think. They wall up their hearts & fence up their emotions because deep inside we are all imperfect & politically incorrect.
They look at you funny if you have different skin/clothes/car/profession. Also, sometimes certain areas of a city are only for certain types of people.

put on a pair of glasses, hire a cameraman & students will gather around you like a moth to the flame
When I started teaching, I struggled between sharing a professional relationship or a friendship relationship with my students. Initially, I picked the former. I tried to keep that professional distance between my clients & me but it didn't feel right.
These were children. They loved me freely & only wanted to be loved in return. They did not understand the cold relationships adults have with one another.

Now, I'm taking the middle ground. I'll love them & care about them but, at the same time, I will not let them get too close. I will be honest & explain the situation to them whenever they overstep their boundaries. I guess this might help prepare them for what is to come.

I find that I'm not the only one evaluating who I should spend time with. People do it to me too.
As adults, everybody has a job & very limited time outside of it to spend liberally. It is understandable for people to be selective.
I don't know how many times I've randomly met old school friends who would give me 1 word answers to questions about him/her & life & then shut right up. It was a major hint of not wanting anything else to do with me. Sad sad moments.

best buddies from high school
I want to go back to the good old days but I realise that as I age, relationships with adults & as an adult will only get more & more complicated.
It is just sad to know that with new people or some people that I used to know, it will not be as easy to  build a friendship anymore. They will have to classed as colleagues / contacts / associates / acquaintances / business partners / suppliers / clients / stakeholders instead of plainly friends.

Well, at least in my profession I can still relive a moment of pure honest friendship with teenagers. A gulp of fresh air before submerging into a deep superficial world of adult relationships.

Sunday, October 7

Muhhibah Visit From SMK Song

A month ago, the only other Secondary School in our district, SMK Song, paid us a Muhhibah visit. 50+ teachers from SMK Song came in boats & motorcycles to play a few sports games against our teachers. Unfortunately, that was a weekend where a large majority of our 40+ teachers including our principal were not around. In fact, there were only 10-15 teachers around. Still, it didn't hinder us from having a good time.

In the morning, we arranged for Netball & Volleyball. Most of the teachers played volleyball. We gave every teacher a chance to play & supported them regardless of their abilities.
I played a few games too. I'm not very good but I did have a good time.

We have around 10 female teachers in our school but, during that weekend, none of them stayed back. So we arranged for the students to play netball against the female teachers from SMK Song. Unfortunately, only 4 female teachers came from SMK Song so we mixed the teams up with both males & females.
I joined in too in the second half. I played GK & nobody could score against me with my height, speed, strength & my long strong arms. hahaha~~

After the games, the teachers from SMK Song went to bathe in the river. Apparently, they encountered a gigantic swarm of bees at the riverbed which forced all of them into the water. It was like a giant black ball of buzzing death. Some of them still had their cellphones in their pockets.
hahaha~~ Hilarious!

In the afternoon, we played Football. It was the highlight of the day.
Our team trained for 1 month before this game. We played weekly friendlies with the students & had futsal games every day.

I played for 75 min in the 90 min game. I played mostly in the right back position.
Earlier on we were very defensive as the other team tried to break us again & again to no avail. Then, we started scoring. Before we knew it, it was 2-0 after the first half. As our opponent grew tired, we became bolder & started to push up higher. In the end, we won the game 4-1.
I love playing full field football; much more than futsal. However, as I age, I find fewer & fewer friends willing to exert themselves this way. They're either getting fatter or lazier or hindered by injuries. I really cherish rare moments like these.

We're having another friendly on the 17 of October. This time it will be in Song on their home turf.
I wonder how we will do. It's in 2 weeks & we haven't started training yet.
I hope we'll do well. I'm probably going to organise a game this afternoon. Hopefully, it doesn't rain.

Meanwhile, check out all the pictures here on my FB Page.

Sunday, September 30

'Tis The Season To Be Transfered

During this transfer season, I am constantly reminded of a story by the Brothers Grimm: The Golden Goose. This is a funny story about a simple man who was generous to an old man & was given a golden goose. When people saw the goose, they wanted to take a piece of it but was stuck to the goose instead. They wouldn't let go even though others laughed at how funny they looked.

Once in a while, a school will receive golden geese in the form of teachers who are head & shoulders above the others. Every school administrator loves to welcome such teachers & they naturally want more of them. On the other hand, they should also be prepared for that one day when goose will want to go.
How many principals would refuse to let go of the golden goose? I have heard of too many & sometimes it's the District Education Officers who get stuck to the golden goose.

They held onto the goose because it was golden but little did they know that greed & selfishness reaps what it sows. How many times have I seen a golden goose turn into a molten goose burning everything in it's path to get that coveted transfer?
They cause enough nuisance so that the administrator will be relieved to see them go. In the process, they lose themselves & our country loses a great asset because they will probably repeat from step 1 when they face difficulties at their new school.

What about the other geese in the pen? When they see how the golden goose is treated, will those who want that elusive transfer want to be golden geese themselves?
I believe this sets a horrible precedent for the profession: If you don't want to be in that school, cause trouble until you get to the school you want. Someone once told me "if you are too good, they won't let you go so don't be". It is a very practical advice but it is very bad for our profession & esp for the students.

To administrators, I say let them go. A teacher whose heart is not at your school would NOT make a good teacher anyway. They'll distract themselves with other stuff (tuition, Avon, etc) to fill that hole in their heart. Even when they fail to get the transfer, they will know that you are on their side & will be better able to continue working with you.
Dear principals, remember where golden geese come from. Great teachers are MADE not BORN. YOU are the leader of the school. YOU are responsible for making golden geese.
I'm sorry to be so critically honest with you but that is what I would expect from you too. You should take proactive steps to turn every one of your teachers into golden geese or you have failed as a leader. You should not be dependent on handouts or luck. Leadership is a conscious choice to do things a certain way to inspire loyalty & excellence. You have been empowered by the ministry. Now, lead the way. If you are not willing to lead, please step down.

Dear teachers, remember why you became a teacher.
If you are looking for money, sorry, wrong profession. Please RESIGN.
Go into business. I think the local curry puff seller is making even more than I am. You wouldn't want to be one of those corrupt officials siphoning money off the school now, would you? Or do you?

If you are looking for an easy job with half-day work & lots of holidays, sorry, wrong profession. Please RESIGN.
Good luck finding a job like that. Even get rich quick schemes make you work & beggars have to beg too.

If you only want to teach in rosy grass is greener schools, sorry, I apologise to the world for conditional teachers like you. You bring shame to our name.
Every student given to you is an honour. From the dumbest to the smartest. Poorest to the richest. From deep in the jungle to up in Gangnam street. You should treat them with the same love & work for them the way you'd work for your most favourite students/school. Anything less makes you unworthy of your name, Cikgu.

Dear teachers, where you are shouldn't be a hindrance to you being the BEST teacher that you can be.
Whether you get the transfer or not, you will still have students looking to you to lead them. Are you willing to sacrifice them on your vendetta against a Napoleon administration? Is it ethical?
They deserve nothing but your best. You are paid to give them a good education. Just like your own children, they should be in the centre of every decision you make as a teacher.
If you are not willing to bite the bullet & be a teacher at the school you are placed in, please RESIGN.

Anyway, all the best! May you get your transfer & still be better nonetheless!

Sunday, September 23

I Brought Gangnam Style To The Jungle

I did the Gangnam Style in the jungle!
I did it yesterday morning during the Uniform Bodies Camp at SMK Katibas. When I was put in-charge of the morning exercises, I thought to myself... why not?

After 1 week of practising every day to downloaded youtube tutorials in front of mirrors smaller than my belly, I made it happen.
Believe me when I say, this dance is harder than it looks. Bloody hard. I'm not the most natural of dancers. So if I can do it, so can you.

It wasn't a perfect rendition of the dance but I enjoyed it &, most importantly, the students enjoyed it.
This was probably the first time most of them heard the song. Some of them even started shuffling at the horse-riding part!
**snicker** So outdated!

I've got Psy glasses!
Now, where can I find cowboy attire?
I embedded bits of aerobics to parts of the dance & simplified it to make it easier for the students to follow. Of course, I did not tamper with the signature horse-riding part: the best part of the dance.

Honestly, I find K-Pop in general totally unpalatable mainly due to the Korean pride in man-made beauty & their over-reliance in beats & mixes in the songs.
But, I really like Gangnam Style. I feel that it's fun & it doesn't take itself too seriously. A far cry from the overly stylised & sexual themes of the typical K-Pop. Still, I can't understand neither.
There is an excellent translation of Gangnam Style here.

Basically, Gangnam is a classy & affluent part of South Korea where the people are apparently mature & civilised during the day & yet crazy during parties at night.
The song is about the search of a man who is has the Gangnam personality (civilised by day & crazy by night) for a woman who is similar to him.

Check out more pictures on my FB page.
Sorry, no video. I wouldn't want to embarrass myself to the whole world now, would I?

Sunday, September 9

Sustainable Philanthropy of a Common Teacher

When you love something you don't mind spending your hard-earned money on it.
That's why men are willing to part with ridiculous amounts of money for a ring with an enormous stone & then splash even more cash on elaborate preparations & celebrations.
Also, it's the reason why women are willing to purchase tons of merchandise bearing the images of pop artists although they do not understand a word they say in their catchy songs.

It also works the other way around.
The more you invest time/effort/money into something, the more you pay attention to it.
At the end of the day, you invest because you love it & then you cant let it go because you've put in too much. It could be a vicious cycle or it could be a wonderful synergy of motivation, passion & purpose.
I say 'invest' because putting time/effort/money into something you love is never a waste. You will always gain something from it that feeds your spirit.

Similarly, if you're a teacher & you love what you do, you will usually spend your own money on your activities or on your students.
Plainly because you don't mind parting with a little bit of money to make things better for others.
Then again, little things have a way of becoming really big.

By the end of 2012, I will have spent RM6240:

Birthday Cupcakes
450 students x RM2
Exam Rewards
30 students x 4 classes x 4 exams x RM0.5
3 top scorers x 4 classes x 4exams x RM2.5
Staff Appreciation
1 kitchen staff x 10 months x RM10
1 guards x 10 months x RM10
4 labourers  x 10 months x RM10
9 wardens x 2 semesters x RM10
PMR Rewards
5 English A students x RM200
2 PMR 7A students x RM500
SPM Rewards
1 BI A student x RM500
1 SPM 7A student x RM500
12 months x RM100


That's almost equivalent to 2 months of my salary.
I love doing what I do. Even though I do not make much compared to many of my high flying friends, working here to give purpose to young people & train them towards a better life is something that feeds my spirit. I feel there is a greater purpose in what I'm doing.
Men were never meant to work for money. We were meant to work for ideals.
This is my ideal: to see change in the impoverished Iban people of the Katibas region.

This is why I am very willing to spend my own money on my students & my activities.
As the years go by, my spending has increased with my responsibilities (from an English language teacher to Data Teacher to English Panel Head to Chief Warden).
Just by looking at the amount I'd spend this year, even a donkey would know that it is not sustainable.

Currently, I am unmarried & I have no girlfriend.
I have no financial commitments except towards my parents & life insurance. I don't have to pay for a car or a house.
I have plenty of disposable income & I invest it back into my work at school.
However, I do not plan to stay like this until retirement.

In the next few years, I plan to find a special woman, get married & start building a family together.
By then, whatever disposable income I have would have to be kept for a rainy day. I would not be able to do what I am doing today.
I would have to put an end to most of the 'carrots' I use to motivate/appreciate the people who work with me & the incentive-distracted students whom I put through the pressure cooker every day.
I feel that my work has become even more effective with these self-sponsored initiatives. It also gives me credibility when I advice students/staff because I put my money where my mouth is & give something to them at my own expense.

I need to find a way to make it sustainable.
No, I am not willing to cheat, steal or beg.
No, I am not willing to make money off my poor students or my co-workers who labour tirelessly with me.
No, it must not distract me from my work at school. It is why I'm doing this in the first place.
I have a few ideas & time will tell if they materialise. You'll be sure to read about it on my blog.

Anyway, do you spend your own money on school too?
What do you do to make it sustainable?
Do share!

Monday, September 3

2012 Merdeka Countdown Celebration @ SMK Katibas

When I was told I got the Malam Ambang Kemerdekaan assignment during the staff meeting early this year, I was apprehensive because I already had a packed year with an Asrama activity planned for every month.
Why wasn't something like this given to another less burdened department or individual? Why was I named personally for this task when they knew that I'd be busy with my own activities as Chief Warden?
It's even stranger that Bulan Kemerdekaan was under the Humanities Department. Why was this small event under Bulan Kemerdekaan specially given to me? Interesting.

Anyway, I gave my admin the benefit of the doubt. They probably had good reasons for this & I accepted the assignment without a word. It was something new & I simply included it into my list of Asrama activities. Also, I had a trick up my sleeve to make this event a memorable one.
Don't worry. I didn't do Oppa Gangnam Style. Although, I'd rock it. I did something even better & more awesome.

As per usual, my focus was on an event from the students for the students. I got my key students into the AJK & they had to lead other students into preparing for the event. This time around, they did a better job than they did for Malam Kerlipan Bintang. I wanted a simple event focused on the students. Let them self-study first & then start the event at 10pm.
But I received request from teachers to make it a barbecue/jamuan starting at 7pm. But what will the students do for the 5 hours from 7pm until 12am? That was up to me. WTH. Sorry, I'm doing this for the students, not for teachers.
Teachers should come out of a desire to spend time with students. NOT for a jamuan. I'd rather not have those kind of teachers but rather teachers who genuinely care like those who did attend anyway. Kudos to them. You know who you are!

The event started with a patriotic songs karaoke.
Including favourites such as Wawasan 2020, Jalur Gemilang, Tanggal 31 & Keranamu as well as lesser known ones like Perajurit Tanah Air, Muhhibah, Malaysia Baru & Berjaya.
There was an entertaining Police vs Communists sketch by the Police Cadets.
There was a patriotic poems recital also by the Police Cadets.
A big thanks to Cikgu Hayazi for supervising the Police Cadet performances.
I gave a talk to the students about the importance of knowing your own country
& learning from good examples to uplift themselves & their people out of poverty.
Also, I rock in a Baju Melayu!
Students & teachers prepared lanterns where they wrote their prayers/wishes for the country.
A speech by the principal followed by a countdown to 12am & a declaration of Merdeka 7 times.
The grand finale: Lanterns filled the night sky!
The students really enjoyed themselves & loved to watch the lanterns magically float away. They'd just stand there, sigh, point their fingers & stare up into the sky. It was truly a sight to behold.
I bought those lanterns in bulk during CNY & the investment paid off handsomely.
There you have it! The 2012 Merdeka Countdown Celebration at SMK Katibas which is part of an even bigger Bulan Kemerdekaan programme by an awesome & responsible Cikgu Lya.
So, what did you do at your school?

Check out more pictures on my FB page.

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