Wednesday, June 19

Stop Calling Our Cultural Attire "Costumes"

Our past colonizers left us a wonderful gift in the form of the English language, but neglected to also include an understanding of the nuances that permeate their language. After reading this headline, "Traditional costumes can be office outfits", about the laudable move to allow civil servants in Sabah to dress in cultural wear on Thursdays, I cringed at our continual use of "costume" to describe the clothing from our culture.

I'm sure you're thinking...
What's your problem? You're too sensitive! We've been saying that since the good ol' days.
Actually, the words we use really matters quite a bit. I.e., describing the same student as "problematic" or "challenging" matters, because it reveals our underlying beliefs & attitudes towards the subject.
We learned English from the white man & little did we know that we've mimicked their underlying beliefs & attitudes as well.
Therefore, ladies & gentlemen, it's time to decolonize...

Saturday, June 1

Soalan: PdPk Mate/Sains Dalam Bahasa Inggeris Di Sarawak

Bukan setiap hari ada celebriti berkomen dalam page saya! 🤩
Tengok cara dia menyoal. Matang. Menggunakan intelek, tanpa unsur perkauman / politik. Inilah yang menjadikannya seorang netizen yang saya kagumi.

Tuesday, May 28

Gawai: Child's Education vs Mabuk Ngirup

This Gawai, I want to highlight an issue that has plagued our people in Sarawak for decades.

Recently, a principal at a rural school in Sarawak told me of a toxic social media encounter she experienced when she questioned the need for parents to spend money, that should be put towards their children's EDUCATION, on DRINKING to a stupor during the Gawai celebrations.

Instead of thoughtfully considering her rhetoric, trolls began questioning her loyalty to her race, her knowledge of her culture, her use of English, & her right to question as she's just a teacher.

As a principal who encounters parents who complain about not having enough money for their children's education while spending excessively on alcohol during the festivities, I think her points speak for themselves. Have a read.

Thursday, May 16

Stuff You Don’t Wanna Miss For #HariGuruMcD 2019

We often get so caught up in the grind & rush for deadlines, that we forget those who are most important to us, our family & friends. Take them out this weekend!
**Disclaimer this post is sponsored by McDonald’s Malaysia**

#TerimaKasihCikgu! Happy Teacher’s Day!

Thanks to Wesak Day, we have a long weekend! Remember to make your way to the nearest McD from today until 20 May 2019 to redeem a free meal with your voucher!

For those of you who have to travel long distances to get to a McD, there are 2-for-1 promos on the McD app that you can take advantage of to make your trip worthwhile. Bring the entire family! Use this time to put away your smartphones & cherish the people you love the most, your family & friends.

Tuesday, May 14

Recipients of the Anugerah Guru Inspirasi McDonald’s 2019

McDonald’s Malaysia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, awarded 25 teachers the Anugerah Guru Inspirasi McDonald’s 2019 during the National Teachers’ Day celebration on 13 May.
**Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by McDonald’s Malaysia.**

Congratulations to the 25 inspirational teachers awarded Anugerah Guru Inspirasi McDonald’s 2019! I can’t wait to read your stories here:

This award is about them, so let's name them first. They are Mr Muhammad Nazmi Bin Rosli (Sarawak), Madam Chung Sze Meang (Sarawak), Mr Arman Bin Ab Sani (Sabah), Mr Lee Chiong Tee (Sabah), Mr Mohd Fadli Bin Salleh (Selangor), Mr Soonufat A/L Supramaniam (Kedah), Ms Koh Bee Ching (Perlis), Mr Saifulnizan Bin Che Ismail (Kelantan), Madam Nor Azimah Ismail (Terengganu), YM Tengku Rahimah bt Mahamod (Pahang), Madam Zanariah bt Mohd. Zudin (Pahang), Mr Ahmad Mustaqim Bin Khairuddin (Pahang), Madam Lim Cheng Imm (Kedah), Dr Haji Joohari Bin Ariffin (Kedah), Mr Narizan Bin Hj Baserah (Perak), Ms Nor Faridah (Perak), Mr Kamal Khairi Bin Ghuslan @ Ruslan (Perak), Mr Mohd Eirwan Bin Halim (Melaka), Ms Padmavathy Velayadhan (N Sembilan), Mr Mohd Izranuddin Bin Jelani (Johor), Madam Hilyanti Nordin (Penang), Mr Shaiful Redwan Bin Abdul Karim (Selangor), Madam Nam Wai Ling (Selangor), Madam Wong Sok Peng (KL), & Mr Mohd Farez Bin Atan (KL)!

This is the third year that McDonald’s Malaysia has run this award for teachers & it has only gotten bigger, from 1,000 nominations in its first year to more than 7,500 this year. I am sure it wasn’t easy picking 25 out of the thousands of amazing teachers who were nominated. I agree with Melati Abdul Hai, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of McDonald’s Malaysia, when she said, “the increase in nominations was an unmistakable sign that Malaysia has an immense pool of exceptional teachers that are willing to go the extra mile.”

Monday, May 13

Watch This Global Music Video Featuring Malaysia's Students!

Celebrating these 18 brave souls who took at shot at this even though several of them weren't fluent in English.
Their faces, representing our academically-improving sports school, will forever be immortalized in the video.
"Aku ninga dik pandei belagu. Dik ka belagu enggau kitak?" (I hear you sing well. Want to sing with us?)
"Lagu nama cikgu?" (What song, teacher?)
"Ada lah. Am." (You'll see. Come.)
"Enda nemu aku. Lagu inggeris..." **while running away** (I can't do it. English songs...)

Not too long ago I wrote about the challenges I faced recruiting students for a public speaking competition in English. While I was training students for the competition, an opportunity for the students at my school to participate in an international music video production by Global Malaysian Network materialized & I pounced on it like a hungry cougar. I knew that my students could sing very well & I was desperate to use their interest in singing & their desire to be instafamous to spark a non-existent culture of English at school. (I know this because I just finished conducting the HIP survey at my school.) I wanted my students to see their peers singing in English in a cool music video that was produced overseas & think that speaking English isn't so bad after all.

Then, I remembered all of the other schools in Malaysia that would also benefit from this opportunity & negotiated successfully for a nationwide call for submissions rather than a invitation-only production. Then, regular teachers like ourselves & adiwiras like Cikgu Yasmin, Cikgu Korea, Cikgu Hailmi, GB Firdauz, & Cikgu Nazmi generously donated social media influence to help promote the initiative, especially to states & territories that have not signed up. In the end, 77 primary & secondary schools from across Malaysia signed up!

I thought that my students would relish the opportunity to sing & be part of an international music video. Little did I know that they would literally run away from an attractive teacher at the slightest notion of having to use the horrible language, "Engl*sh". Ladies & gentlemen, the fear is REAL. Nonetheless, I was able to either sweet talk or twist the arms of 18 brave souls. They practiced with me every morning at 6.45am & spent the entire Labor Day morning doing both the video & audio recording with me. I am so thankful for these 18 students & I believe they will find a lot of pride & joy with their appearance in the final video production (beginning at 1:50).

Sunday, May 12

Please Don’t Forget Our Rural Teachers For #HariGuruMcD

I got my voucher last Friday! 😍😋
I sent this to McD:

Dear McDonald’s Malaysia,

My name is Jarod Yong and I am an English teacher at a government school in Sarawak.

Firstly, on behalf of all government school teachers, I’d like to thank you for remembering & appreciating all of us this year with the #HariGuruMcD campaign & the much appreciated complimentary meal voucher. You have put in the effort to have more than 400k vouchers printed, packed into boxes according to the respective PPDs, & sent to the farthest corners of Malaysia, not to mention the bureaucratic hula hoops you’ve had to jump through to get this campaign approved & endorsed by our Ministry of Education. We appreciate this massive undertaking &, personally, I can’t wait to have my first McD meal in 4 years. The anticipation has brought a smile to my face, even right now.

I am writing in to request a 1-month extension form the expiry date of the complimentary meal vouchers. Currently, teachers have only 5 days to redeem the vouchers, as they are only valid on 16-20 May 2019. This doesn’t pose a problem for teachers serving in urban areas and “Luar Bandar” schools, as the nearest McD would be a drive away. However, teachers who serve in “Pedalaman” schools might not even receive the vouchers in time, let alone find the time to travel all the way to the nearest city for a McD meal. I know that this is of concern to you, because you have shown your sincerity in the way you’ve run your campaign & I’m hoping that you’ll help ensure that no “Cikgu” is left out in the cold.

Thursday, May 9

Free McD Coming Your Way, Teachers!

Guess what’s in these boxes?
At the moment, these boxes are on the way to PPDs all over Malaysia (most of them have already reached PPD offices). In each of them is a meal voucher that will make every teacher in Malaysia extremely… happy.
**Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by McDonald’s Malaysia.**

Selamat Hari Guru McD to all my fellow teachers!

The rumours are true! In an unprecedented move, McDonald’s Malaysia is giving away a free meal to more than 420,000 teachers at national schools and government-aided schools in conjunction with Teachers’ Day this month!

Saturday, May 4

Adakah Exam English Good = Teacher Good?

After reading unflattering comments from urban parents/teachers with obviously excellent English proficiency (C1 & above) in response to the news that some teachers have to take the MUET test, I realize that people are overlooking the effort & struggle of English teachers with average language proficiency (B2-B1).

Although I may be ostracizing my audience here (you're probably a CEFR C2 if you can comprehend my musings 🤓), I am compelled to speak the truth from my experience as someone who was a Head English teacher in both rural & urban Sarawak. Do hear me out. I'm going to be highlighting some systemic issues here. I'm also very open to criticism & correction. So, feel free to engage me in intellectual deliberation.

I agree that we need to gauge the language proficiency of our English teachers with proficiency tests, like MUET. Especially, if we want to figure out how to up-skill our human resources. I just have a problem with the ministry making teachers pay for these tests as they will have to keep on paying (both literally & figuratively) if they fail to achieve a high score. At the very least, the cost of these tests should be covered. What is the ministry going to do if teachers don't take those tests? Suspend them? Force them to teach other subjects when we have a shortage of thousands of English teachers? So, dear KPM, please don't make teachers pay for MUET.

Wednesday, May 1

Eco Public Speaking Competition @ SMK St Joseph, Kuching

My heroes! 😍😍😍

Celebrating these students who represented SMK Tabuan Jaya to the Eco Public Speaking Competition organized by SMK St Joseph for Kuching district! They were the first in a long long time. It's not typical for the students at my school to participate in ENGLISH language competitions.

Words cannot describe how frustrating it was to get just SIX students to participate in a 3-minute public speaking competition out of almost FOUR HUNDRED students at my school.

Saturday, April 20

A Teacher Who Shaped My Life: Cikgu Anis Abdullah

My Form 5 class photo with Cikgu Anis, our class teacher since Form 4. 😎
I know it’s a little blurry, but can you find me? Also, guess the year!

**Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by McDonald’s Malaysia. Their Anugerah Guru Inspirasi is one of very few initiatives ever to appreciate & recognise teachers like you & me at a national scale. In conjunction with Teachers’ Day, the 2019 award recipients will be officially announced on 13 May! I’m hoping that my nomination gets selected!**

As the old cliché goes, “monkey see, monkey do.” It is not uncommon for a teacher to recreate the experiences they’ve had as students. All that theory we learned at university is great. But, only when we’ve experienced something for ourselves, can we attempt to reverse engineer it in our classrooms. That is not to say that a teacher with abysmal experiences as a student would make a abysmal teacher. I’m just saying that I have had many great teachers in my life who made my transition into teacher-hood so much more easier. One of my most treasured teachers in secondary school was Cikgu Anis Abdullah, my class teacher & English teacher.

At Form 4, my English language proficiency was way beyond what was necessary to ace the SPM test. By then I was winning essay competitions, reading elaborate novels for pleasure, singing English songs in a rock band, & transcribing pop songs on the radio by ear. Transferring from a Chinese independent school to a Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan, I didn’t do too well in PMR, so I was streamed into a mid-tier class, where the English development needs of my classmates were very different from mine. As I wasn’t being challenged in her English language classroom, Cikgu Anis allowed me to work on subjects I was struggling with during her class periods, but only after I’ve completed her assignments. On occasion, she’d use me as a resource during her lessons.
Unfortunately, teachers rarely get remembered for what they do in their classrooms. 2-3 hours of contact per week is surely not enough time to really get to know someone. I remember Cikgu Anis for her confidence in responding to my parents’ anxieties & especially for her role in producing the school’s play for the interschool competition.

Saturday, April 13

Introducing Amory Yong

I'm proud to introduce Amory! The first-born of a new generation of Yongsters has arrived! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

As a 21st century dad, I'm very cognizant of images, captions & descriptions that could come back to haunt my child in the future. That's why it took me a while to figure out whether I should announce Amory's existence outside of closed circles. Well, I can't keep him under a tin foil hat all his life. Therefore, I will make an effort to avoid posting intimate pictures or embarrassing stories of him. I hope that my friends & family will do the same. However, I will share my pictures & my embarrassing moments. There have been plenty of those. Believe me. #FirstTimeDad 🙋🏽‍♂️

Just the other night in the wee hours of the morning, during my night shift. I stared intensely at him as he slept soundly in his cot after being fed. I didn't know if it was the sleep deprivation (honestly, I haven't had a full night's sleep in a loooooong while) or whether it was my paternal hormones kicking in, but I broke down into tears at how beautiful he was to me & how much love I felt for him. Anybody else experience this before, or am I just an emotional wreck? 😢

Fatherhood is a beautiful thing. I hope that I'll be a good father to you, Amory. I'm by no means a wealthy man, but I'll do my best to give you what you need to thrive in this brave new world.
Love, dad. 👨‍👦

Monday, April 8

Lyrics for "Our Home Our Dream" by Global Malaysian Network

Verse 1
Anak Malaysia
Menjejak Kaki
Ke Seluruh Dunia
Tak Kira Dimana
Hati Terikat
Tanah Air Kita

Chorus 1
For We Are One
No Matter Where We Are
Our Hearts Unite
No Matter Near Or Far
As We Are One
We Lift Heads Up To The Sky
Proud To Call You As Our Home

Verse 2
Anak Malaysia
Gigih Berani
Menempuhi Cabaran
Bangga Mengibarkan
Jalur Gemilang
Di Pentas Dunia

Chorus 2
For We Are One
No Matter Where We Are
Our Hearts Unite
No Matter Near Or Far
As We Are One
We Lift Heads Up To The Sky
Proud To Call You As Our Home

Berdiri Teguh Bersama
Jiwa Kita Membara
Memikul Nama Negara
Menjunjung Nama Bangsa

Tidak Kira Apa Jua Masa
Kita Rakyat Satu Keluarga
Tidak Kira Di Mana Ku Berada
Demi Negara Tercinta

Sunday, April 7

Project Anak Malaysia by Global Malaysian Network

Sign your school up here:
Disclaimer: I'm affiliated to Global Malaysian Network, a social network for Malaysians who are residing / have resided abroad, as a member of the admin team. However, I cannot take credit for this project as it involves a whole village of volunteers. I'm only in-charge of getting the word out to teachers!

Would you like to see your school's name shared across the world, as part of an international music video project? What about seeing the same with the positive image & beautiful voices of your students?

This project is brought to you by the same people who brought you this:

After collecting lyric submissions from global Malaysians, GMN is working with international Malaysian composers on a new bilingual song, "Our Home Our Dream", calling for unity & expressing the love of global Malaysians for Tanah Airku. As the future of our nation, we would like to invite your students (in Malaysia) to consider themselves as global citizens & participate in our Project Anak Malaysia. There's no better way to achieve your HIP & MBMMBI KPIs than this!

Project Anak Malaysia will produce 2 music videos. The first one will feature STUDENTS IN MALAYSIA (open to all primary, secondary and tertiary institutions). This student version will be released on 13 May 2019, which is GMN's 1st anniversary. It's about time we remember that harrowing date for something positive, rather than it's current manipulative use. Meanwhile, the second video will be a gift to Malaysia by Malaysians around the world just like in our 2018 "Sejahtera Malaysia" music video.

With your help, it will be a truly 100% Malaysian production, from lyrics writing, song composing, singing, videoing, to end product editing, where all Malaysians, both local & overseas, will be able to express our love for our nation together!

Dear teachers in Malaysia, do invite your students to participate in this meaningful international project!

Sign up here:

Here is a copy of the "Our Home Our Dream" song:
Demo =
Minus one =
Lyrics =

You can comment below if you have any questions! Looking forward to receiving your submissions!

===Project Guidelines===

Sunday, March 24

The Indomitable Spirit of Cikgu Hafika

Cikgu Hafika Bt Ab Karim was a recepient of Anugerah Guru Inspirasi in 2018.
Read her story here:
Do you know a teacher who deserves kudos for their efforts?
It’ll only take 10 minutes to nominate them for the 2019 Anugerah Guru Inspirasi!
Nominate at BEFORE 31 March.
If your nominee wins the award, you get an RM200 gift certificate!
**Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by McDonald’s Malaysia**

As I was reading through the stories all 31 past recipients of Anugerah Guru Inspirasi, I was struck by Cikgu Hafika’s story. I paused as I reflected on the life-shattering horrors that she faced again and again within the scope of one year. Despite being bombarded by one tragic circumstance after another, she continued her efforts in helping her students excel in PT3, through various initiatives like giving extra classes and purchasing workbooks for her students. She embodies the steadfastness & grit we want in our students. I’d like to share her story with you in hopes that it will inspire you to follow her exemple &, also, take some time out to nominate an teacher whom you think deserves some recognition.

Sunday, March 17

Insights from Past Winners of Anugerah Guru Inspirasi McDonald’s

Has a teacher made a difference in your life or your child's life?
Recognize the efforts of the teacher by nominating them for Anugerah Guru Inspirasi McDonald’s!
It’ll only take 10 minutes!
Nominate at BEFORE 31 March.
If your nominee wins the award, you get an RM200 gift certificate!

**Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by McDonald’s Malaysia**

How many of you read the nomination stories for the past winners of the Anugerah Guru Inspirasi McDonald's? Well, I’m so glad that I did. I started with the stories of the 6 winners in 2017 & ended up in tears after just reading only 3 of them. They were deeply moving testimonies written by the students of these inspiring teachers, usually many years later. Kind of like Chicken Soup for the Teacher’s Soul. It was also very interesting to note how students remembered their teachers.

After reading about all 31 winners from 2017-2018, I found that several teachers were remembered for going above & beyond to superhuman levels. Hats off to these teachers. Intriguingly, most of the stories revealed that students actually remember us for the smallest things that we did in their lives. As a wise saying goes, “a little bit a little bit, long long become hill”.

Here are the 6 insights I gained from the past winners of Anugerah Guru Inspirasi McDonald’s:

Tuesday, March 12

Anugerah Guru Inspirasi McDonald's 2019: Remember A Forgotten Teacher

Nominate a teacher:
**Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by McDonald’s Malaysia**

Officiated by Dr Maszlee Malik, Anugerah Guru Inspirasi is a collaboration between the Ministry of Education & McDonald’s Malaysia. Usually when it comes to awards like these, people think of the “famous” teachers like Cikgu Yasmin, Sirhajwan Idek, Cikgu Hailmi, & Cikgu Fadli. I’m not saying that famous teachers don’t deserve the award nor am I belittling their contributions to the nation. I’m just appealing to everyone reading this (including myself) to dig deeper & look beyond the spotlight.

Think of a teacher you know who quietly goes above & beyond the call of duty without even a word of praise on the school’s WhatsApp group. Ladies & gentlemen, these are the majority of teachers in Malaysia & they deserve to be included too. We want teachers to include all of their students across the introvert-extrovert scale. Shouldn’t we do the same for them too?

Saturday, February 16

Dear Rural Secondary Schools in Sarawak, Need A Volunteer SPM BI Speaker?

Dear rural Secondary Schools in Sarawak, do you need an SPM speaker to deliver tips for the BI paper?

I may not be a guru pakar or guru cemerlang, but I have some experience working with rural students & helping them to do better in SPM. Also, I'm willing to COME to you. When I was a teacher at SMK Katibas, it was really difficult for me to find guru pakar/cemerlang/JU/etc who were willing to go all the way into the jungle to deliver talks for my students. If this is also the reality at your school, keep reading. I want to speak at your school!

Monday, January 14

Perlu Ke Pembantu Mengajar Untuk Cikgu Sekolah Menengah?

Perlu Ke Pembantu Mengajar Untuk Cikgu Sekolah Menengah?
Do Secondary School Teachers Really Need Teaching Assistants?

Para guru sekolah menengah di seluruh Malaysia sekalian,

Baru-baru ini, Jawatankuasa Kajian Dasar (JKD) telah membuka ruang untuk orang awam memberi cadangan. Teringin juga untuk saya mengemukakan beberapa cadangan, tetapi memandangkan saya seorang guru tanpa anugerah apa-apa dan hanya bergred DG41, mungkin cadangan saya akan diketawakan dan tidak dipeduli.

Jadi, demi menguatkan cadangan saya, maklum balas anda (para guru sekolah menengah seluruh Malaysia) untuk menjawab sebuah kajian selidik amatlah dihargai.

Bolehlah isi sambil tunggu kopi/teh minum pagi ataupun waktu bersantai dalam t***. Pautan kajian selidik ini adalah :-

Kalau boleh, luangkan sedikit masa untuk membaca ulasan saya tentang hal ini

Wednesday, January 2

"Saya Memang Selalu Sindir Cikgu..."

Credit: Olaf Meyer

Hari ini hari pertama persekolahan tahun 2019. Saya Guru Tingkatan kelas Tingkatan 5 yang paling hujung. Kelas itu semua pelajar lelaki. Tahun lepas saya mengajar mereka BI & mereka merupakan kelas yang paling mencabar untuk saya.

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