SMK Engkilili For The Win

Photo with the principal, teachers, & SPM Students of SMK Engkilili
Earlier this year, I published an offer to rural Sarawakian secondary schools; If you have students who struggle in English, inexperienced teachers, & have not had an SPM speaker because of your geographical location, I WILL COME TO YOU. I'm pretty bogged down with all sorts of "amanah" at school so this would be my sole SPM Talk for the year. I thought that I'd be inundated with requests, but... *crickets*. The only school that responded to my offer... was none other than SMK Engkilili in Engkilili, Sarawak, 5 hours drive away from Kuching on the Pain Borneo Highway. I gladly accepted & arranged for the talk to happen during the SPM trials at my school so my teaching hours wouldn't be disrupted.

I made the offer because, as a teacher who started his teaching career at a rural school, I was hungry for mentorship & guidance but had none to turn to because all of the English teachers at my former school were new. There was also a peculiar lack of collaboration/outreach between expertise that's usually concentrated in urban areas with their hungry & passionate peers in more rural areas. Everybody seems to be working in silos & more than happy with the status quo, a perpetual cycle of the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. Well, I say NO! This is the bloody 21st century & Sarawak needs to wake up & catch up with the rest of the nation lest we desire to be a vassal state!

= SPM Talk For Students =

Students were seated in neat rows with plenty of space between each other when I arrived.
As I was setting up, I realized many would be too far away to be able to see the screen, so I decided to move bodies & furniture. Pack everyone as close as possible to the greatness I was exuding. Immediately broke the ice.
Engkilili is so small, it doesn't even have an inn. But, their students, oh, delightful! They were so bright & so full of hope! They responded to my questions, participated enthusiastically in my activities, & were more than willing to learn from the only SPM speaker they've ever had for any subject. This was truly a privilege. I hope that I'll be the first of many to contribute expertise to your efforts in improving the educational outcomes of your students.

I will remember SMK Engkilili fondly for the rest of my life. You remind me so much of my beloved children in Katibas. Your English may not compare to big city kids', but your kindness & your positive attitude will see you through to success. You have so much potential. I want you to succeed. I want you to find sustainable ways to improve Engkilili. Make your hometown shine!

I delivered a 4-hour SPM Workshop to all of their 160+ Form 5 students. SMK Engkilili is actually a big school nested on top of a hill with more than 1200+ students. That's it for this year! No more SPM workshops until next year!

= SPM Workshop For Teachers =

The upper form English language teachers had a workshop with me for almost 4 hours!

What a privilege to work with teachers who are willing to learn &, also, willing to stay for an unheard of EXTRA 1.5 HOURS after the workshop was supposed to end!! Usually, teachers would rush out of the room. I know because I'm one of those who do that. 😅

Most of the upper form BI teachers at SMK Engkilili have less than 5 years of teaching experience, so I believe the workshop that I did with them will help them to advise their students better. Also, the teachers with more than 5 years of experience used the session to confirm/refresh what they already know.

We went through the marking scheme for SPM 1119, & used their newfound understanding of the rubrics to grade essays written by their own students. It was a lot of work & it was clearly tiring for the teachers, but I admire their dedication & thoughtful questions. We also talked about how to help our worst students to pass & the best students to score.

Remember my challenge to share what you've learned with SMK Lubok Antu & may your good work be blessed & multiplied. Also, don't forget to join the Sarawak English Educators group on Facebook!

*Special thanks to Cikgu Vanessa of SMK Hajjah Laila Taib & Cikgu Then of SMK Sg Tapang for providing the model answers used.

Thank you for having me, SMK Engkilili!

Special thanks to this brilliant team of teachers for making my visit to SMK Engkilili so memorable!
Thanks, Cikgu Siti for engaging me; Cikgu Davis, Head of English, for making the arrangements; Cikgu Dickson, Principal of SMK Engkilili, for approving my visit; the PIBG for funding it; & Cikgu Edward, my principal, for allowing me to go.

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Salam Aidilfitri