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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