How To Galvanise Support From Senior Teachers

I've been wanting to write this little bit of humble advice from an ageing man who is still hot but finding it increasingly challenging to keep his belly from bulging. This revelation came to me while having dinner with a lecturer from IPG Batu Lintang (you rock) but I can't remember her name (I suck) during a CPD course (of which I have already written a blog post but will probably publish it next week). I asked her a question & she gave me an amazing 50 carat gem of an answer. Simple but powerful. Just the way I like it. I've applied it this year & will apply it for the rest of my career. Be it in teaching or marriage or business. And the best part is, I'm going to share it with you right here. Even if you are not a teacher, this will still be helpful to you.

Let's say, your an excellent teacher. You've descended from the heavens with an IQ of 1 million. Your students love you & they work hard in your classes. They improve their grades (& you get a pay raise? NOT). You come up with the most amazing plans & programmes. They run smoothly, make an impact & produce the desired results. Your lesson planning skills & paper museum curating skills are off the charts. (I HATE YOU.) You have shoes which are US size 99. You make a big wave in the school, have proven your worth & have done more in 1 year than most have done in 10. You're on top of your game. If there was a Nobel Prize for teaching, you'd probably win it every year. BUT, there is something missing...

YOU may be top of YOUR game. YOU can probably run the entire school by YOURself. BUT, that's not how it's meant to be. That's not even humanly possible. Well, unless you're someone like me who lives at school 300 days in a year, blogs about it & has no life. If you work alone, you will eventually hit a ceiling. Perhaps it's your health. Perhaps you want to scale some effective programmes but you can't do it alone. Perhaps you want to see other teachers experience the same level of success you're having. Eventually, YOU will need to bring in other teachers to help you.

It's easy with new teachers, isn't it? As I have lamented when I was a freshie (OMG) 4 years ago, as a senior, you can practically dump your work on your juniors & they will have to either suck it up & do it or give up & still do it.
What if your school is one of those fancy urban schools with something called roads & more KFC outlets nearby than my fingers can count? I bet you wouldn't have a plentiful supply of fresh meat to put under you in the pecking order.

What do you do when you need to galvanise support from your SENIORS. Some of which are actually great to work with & open to your ideas. (You lucky basket!) Some might not desire to do as much as you do. Some will probably be really occupied with family, tuition, Avon or Amway. Some are probably threatened by you. (Read up on the inferiority complex.) Why would they want to lift a finger to help you?

Remembering the dinner, I was given a very simple gem: "Before you ask older teachers to work for you, you need to involve them in the decision making process. Ask their opinions. Older teachers want their experience to be valued." Sometimes, it's in the way we ask & the pre-asking work that we need to do. Kinda like asking a really hot chick to be my girlfriend, no?

Stephen Covey had a great metaphor for this: an emotional bank account (EBA). We need to make deposits into the EBA of our seniors before we can withdraw from it. Withdrawing will be asking for favours or help or support. Therefore, before you ask your seniors to do something for you, perhaps you should deposit into their EBA. Fortunately, there are also plenty of ways to deposit.

I'm no expert but here are some ways I am going to deposit into the EBA of my seniors:
  1. Asking my administrators what they from me this year.
  2. Asking opinions on programmes that I want to run. Appreciate experience.
  3. When asking for help, explain how it will help THEM. Not me.
  4. Showing interest & helping out in their programmes.
  5. Noticing great work/effort.
  6. Remembering birthdays.
Do you have other suggestions? I'd love to see them in the comments section!!

Every junior's wet dream: A senior who looks like this guy
& tells you every day, "look into my eyes... and tell me, how can I help you?"


  1. I would say it is not what you ask but how you ask it...and it is a fact that there are individuals who are not willing to share, for some reason or other...and some even coming back from courses and briefings and keeping everything to themselves. Ah well, it takes all kinds to make the world!

    1. You are one of the most positive seniors I know. I don't think it will be difficult to enlist someone like you for a good cause. Those challenging colleagues that you talked about though... God help us.

  2. Now, where did my earlier comment disappear to? Tsk! Tsk! I was asking if you're talking about me: " ageing man who is still hot but finding it increasingly challenging to keep his belly from bulging..." and my birthday's on 2nd December - remember that! :D

    1. I was talking about myself! lol!!
      What? Whose birthday? When?

  3. Anonymous11/1/14 23:42

    Hmmm, indeed something useful for my future. Thanks for sharing! And may I ask, who was the lecturer? (Oh ya, you can't remember the name.) How does she look like?

    1. She's a Malay woman who wears a tudung. Bubbly, petite, chubby. Don't know if that description helps at all! lol!!

    2. Could it be Madam Alyza Bawi or Miss Yusmariza? They are both lecturers from the English department and both have excellent command of English and lots and lots of good advice for their students. =) I happen to be one of the trainees from IPBL and I have benefited a lot from them! Oh, and of course they are both bubbly as well =D

    3. I'm sorry, Min. I just can't recall. But, I'm really glad that they are working together in producing top teachers at IPG BL.
      I have always been very impressed with the trainees from BL. I look forward to having you & your course-mate in Malaysian classrooms.

  4. Asking for their opinions does help. Thanks for the tips. I'm still finding ways to deal with those lazy bums who are only good at talking. In the future, once I become a senior teacher, I'll let the youngsters to take over. I mean, there's nothing to lose right? I can just sit and drink coffee. If it's way too risky (or burdensome), of course I'll provide alternatives in a subtle manner.

    1. If you're talking about this with me, I doubt that you'll ever become one of those lazy bums who do even less than a crocodile floating in a river.
      Don't give up reaching out to those seniors, when you do, they win. Also, don't forget to be tactful & don't lose yourself. I have lost myself plenty of times when I deal with those people & I am not proud of it.
      All the best to you, bro. And also to me. We'll need it.

  5. Ya. kata kunci nya jangan sombong.

    1. Huh? Siapa berani sombong dgn Cikgu Aini? Siapa?!!! Jahanam!!!


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