Dearest Teachers, A Video For You By SMK Tabuan Jaya

Happy Teachers Day! Enjoy this video:

If you're a teacher, "Dearest Teachers" by SMK Tabuan Jaya is made especially for you, with words that your students want to say to you. It's guaranteed to make you laugh &, if you'll let it, tear, just like I am tearing right now while watching the final product play. You'll see several students who have spoken English on video for the first time.

Here's why I'm shedding tears of joy after publishing this video:

1. Collecting submissions required a significant amount of hustle.

Despite my best efforts, almost all of my students have disengaged from my online lessons during the MCO. After asking for some advice on social media, I decided to take up the suggestion of making lessons & assignments have more real-world value. Since Teachers Day would be celebrated in Malaysia today, I decided to assign as a project 2 weeks ago, a 1-minute video tribute to the teacher of their choosing.

To buck the trend of inactivity, I knew I had to hustle so that more students would participate. I made a poster. I wrote detailed instructions in English & made voice recordings in BM for those who might need it. I reminded them constantly. I offered a reward for completing this assignment, 3 tickets to a lucky draw for 12 top-ups worth RM10. I posted constant updates. Even made a teaser video a few days before the deadline to encourage more students to participate. I PMed & left voice messages to students individually. I got a big surprise on deadline day.

This project poster was shared in the WhatsApp groups for each of my classes.

Students received written instructions in English & a voice message in BM.

On the morning of deadline, I was alarmed to receive only 2 submissions! I immediately scrambled! I PMed & left voice messages with students who signed up & also those who would be able to do it fairly easily but didn't sign up. I reminded. I begged. I challenged. I even called a few students. Even students I expected to participate ignored me. I had to use what little I knew about teen psychology to engage them. I failed most of the time. But at least, by the next day, I received a total of 15 submissions, the highest level of participation I've had from my classes since MCO was announced. Usually, only 3-5 students would participate.

One of my best students decided not to participate. Initially ignored me until I wrote the last sentence.

2. Steep learning curve & long nights


Prior to this, I've only ever used Adobe Premier for video editing. However, they've moved to a subscription-based service costing RM100/month. That's steep. I'm not even making money from this, so I decided to seek out some free options. I spent days reading & watching video reviews.

At first, I tried DaVinci Resolve 16, but my 5-year old Dell Vostro laptop struggled to even load it, let alone edit video files with it. Thus, I researched options for old computers & gave VSDC Free Video Editor a try. It was light and ran very smoothly on my old laptop. With plenty help from YouTube tutorials, I was able to make this fun video about what it was like to be a student in my online lessons:

However, when it came to this project, the software was too limited for what I wanted to do. I needed software that could create the opening scene that I had envisioned. After watching even more review videos, I decided to try HitFilm Express. It was exactly what I needed for this project! Certainly a better user experience than VSDC. However, it stuttered on my old laptop as the project got bigger.

I really need to get a new computer. And some sleep...

3. It's just so damp beautiful!

Have you watched the video? How was it? Good, right?

Also, the message really moved me & encouraged me to keep soldiering on. I hope it did the same for you. Teaching is tough enough in a physical classroom; online teaching is a whole new ballgame, especially if your students weren't that attentive prior to the MCO. We need all the encouragement we can get, so...

Thank you, teachers, for all you do!

Also, thank you to all the students who contributed to this project! You did great! I've shared your videos with your teachers!
P/s: Happy birthday, Andy!

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Salam Aidilfitri