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.


  1. Anonymous19/1/15 15:38

    Do u want to be a cook or a chef? I think theres a lot of vacancies in ireland n uk.. u should apply if ur intrstd.

    1. I'm not interested in taking that up myself but I'd love to know more. Perhaps I could get some of my best students involved. Where do I find more info?

  2. Anonymous20/1/15 19:38

    I know how it feels. Mine not even a jungle school. Some head of school are better at demoralising than the other way round.

    1. Oh my, I'm sorry about your situation. I do hope things get better for you. God bless.

  3. Try to play it by ear at times, and you might be able to untangle yourself from the threads of angst.

    1. I don't get what you mean. How does one "play it by ear"?

  4. Anonymous21/1/15 23:50

    - it's a shame that you're feeling this way. After reading so many of your posts, I thought that you are beyond this.

    - how could you blame Sarawak? If you are truly patriotic or "loyal to your state" as you said - i believe you would understand how our education system works between nation and state. We are operating in a very centralized system. Its not that Sarawak as a state government can do anything about it. I suggest you continue to be loyal to your state, despite the urge to be bitter towards the wrong party.

    - "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." - bro, you just did it.

    - At the end of the day, the most important thing is to trust in God. If you have faith, you will make it through these times. Easier said than done, but whoever said easy things are worth getting.

    All the best. If God brings you to it, God will bring you through it. Godspeed.

    1. Yeah, it's a shame. I do wish that I was beyond selfish desires for a better life. I've given the best of my 20s to serve at the jungle school & I think it's about time I started preparing a place in my life for my future wife & children.

      Thanks for reading so many of my posts. I appreciate that you're writing this piece of feedback too. But, I'm not sure if you get it. Why would I write this & risk being ridiculed? The truth is I'd rather be ridiculed & belittled than inauthentic.

      I'm reaching out to teachers who feel the same way. I want them to know that they are not alone. I want them to know that I feel them. I want them to know that I support them. I want them to know that they can still thrive & make a difference despite their feelings.

      To quote you, "whoever said easy things are worth getting". My problem now is teaching here has become very very VERY easy. I'll stay here in my comfort zone for another year while I prepare for live elsewhere next year. I'm looking for my next dragon to slay & you'll read all about it here on my blog.

      Indeed, God will bring me through it. He has great plans for all of us & we're only scratching the surface. Godspeed to you too, buddy!

  5. I feel for you. Keep your eyes open. You're no longer bonded so if you see an opening, jump at it. You know this song?...
    "...I've tried so hard
    And got so far
    But in the end
    It doesn't even matter..."

    1. I agree with your advise on keeping my eyes open. I think that I've reached critical mass. It's time for a new explosion.

      By the way, the song only tells half the story. I've tried so hard & got so far. In the end, it doesn't even matter for me but it DOES to the little ones I've taught. If they are in my class, my commitment is for them to be better on their last day than they were on the first day of class. Better in the wholesome sense. Not just academically.

      I'm sure you've done more than your fair share of making lives better. =)

  6. This part is gold: "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."

    I'm in a similar season myself. Sometime it feels like the emotions and struggles I go through is pointless. Why not take the easy / coward's way out and just quit, without caring who I disappoint or hurt along the way? But when I realise that my experiences have made me a more empathetic, better person, I find a purpose for the struggle.

    Looking forward to where your journey brings you! I'm sure wherever it leads, it will be a good place. Because our experiences are never wasted. :)

    1. Yup, I don't regret any of the years I've spent here. I've gone through so much & done so much. These experiences are invaluable.

      I'm curious about your struggles. You've always been a very deep thinker & positive person. There must be something bothering you. I'll contact you personally.

  7. Anonymous23/1/15 08:52

    Its ok jarod to hav such feeling. Doesnt make u any less dedicated..

    1. Thank you. I'm doing what I can. Just as much as I'm hoping from other teachers. =)

  8. Our blog was posted in a FB page and I came to read about this...

    You're young and you're ambitious. So you don't want to stay on in your comfort zone... Understood. Hey, I'm not a teacher but I am related to teachers and former teachers/educators.

    First and foremost... you are lucky you get this far. My cousin graduated from a university in the US, applied to teach English but was rejected. That despite the fact that his mother was a school pengetua and his father was a pegawai in the education department. One of brothers is teaching in the city up north while his wife was teaching in another town three hours away... They only get to see each other on weekends and holidays provided their schools didn't organise any activities during those time. It was probably 6 - 7 years later than they managed to work in the same city...

    I am a product of former rural teachers. My parents had offers to teach in the city or bigger towns but decided to dedicate their lives to rural students. Now, I am not saying you should follow their footsteps... I know full well the "politics" in schools which can be demotivating. Even my father had fallen to such things as well...

    Being a teacher is challenging... but despite that, I find that it seems to be in my family member's and relatives' blood to be educators and that includes my other brother. He would love to be a teacher but... he lost the opportunity due to certain reason best not mentioned here.

    I can't help you on how best to get a transfer... but I can only emphatise with you based on the experiences of those close to me.

    One thing you will have to accept in this line of profession is that you might not get much recognition from your authority. My father turned down a promotion which would have seen him becoming a pengetua in a remote school (takes 2D1N to reach from the nearest town) in the early 80s and never got any promotion again in his career life. But his reward, and that of my mother's are the gratitude of their students. I met some of their students who spoke highly of them!

    Such would be yours as well. Keep applying. Transfer will come sooner of later. In the mean time, just enjoy life in the jungle. You'll miss it when you're not there anymore... I know I do...

    1. Thanks for sharing the experiences of your family. Indeed, your family has contributed much to the education of generations of our country's youth. Your parents & siblings deserve a lot of respect. I hope to be able to live up to their contributions.

      I have accepted many shortcomings of our system. I have experienced many of them first hand due to being placed at a remote school. However, I have never let any of these shortcomings limit me in any way. If you read more of what I have shared on my blog about what I've done at my school for the past 6+ years, you'll find that, if I do leave, I go knowing that I've made a difference on these wonderful children I've have the privilege of teaching.

      I am also very thankful for all my experiences & everything I have so far. If I could turn back time, I'd gladly come to the jungle again or, even better, go to a school with worse conditions. No doubt, I will find a way to make a difference regardless of where I am placed. Also, I'll inspire a new generation of teachers to take up similar challenges.

      I don't consider myself an excellent teacher but I do consider myself talented & I am willing to serve. For the past 6 years, I have give myself wholly to my service here in the jungles. I must now look towards the future & the life that I want to build. If it is not possible for me to do so within the government service, then I will most definitely muster up the courage & grit to thrive as I did when I was placed in the middle of the jungle.

  9. Anonymous17/8/15 14:02

    A lot of your posts are so whiny, if not self servng. I 'm gonna stop following you.

    1. I think I'm better off without such a "follower". Follow or unfollow, that's up to you. Thanks for dropping by!


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