Thursday 29 May 2014

Teacher's Day 2014

This entry is as obvious as its title. To be perfectly honest, there was nothing much to look forward to, for this year's Teacher's Day. Firstly, Nadia would not be around. Secondly, most of our students have already gone on their own holiday, skipping both Sunday and Monday of school. And thirdly, it is organised in a 'skema' manner with very very little elements of fun. Come on, last year we even had 'boling kelapa' - Coconut Bowling!

Anyhow, I had much lesser responsibilities for this year's celebration and only had to come out with a performance from the teachers. Even so, trying to garner participation from my fellow colleagues is like trying to get a cat to come down from a tree... It was ... hard. In the end, one would find it really hard to believe, but while I was in church, the idea just came really strongly onto me - to get my Asli kids involved in that performance. Not entirely sure whether it was a prompting from God but it was definitely an idea I love and a decision with zero regrets!

These kids were a delight to work with. We had so much laughter, I'm sure my fellow English teachers have too fallen in love with them, and despite the HORRIBLE PA SYSTEM on that very day, we had a blast!

I won't even delve into the many things that went wrong and made me cringe on that day, but just focus on the good parts - the parts I want to remember for years to come ;)

Presenting to you .... *drum rolls*...


The girl power~~~

and the lovable kids~~~~ (I promised them to have the pictures printed out for their own keepsake)

and that lil cheeky one with all the dramatic poses... that's Eddy lol.

Oh, here's a more complete group of us - the English teachers who took the stage ~

any guesses what could the theme colour be?
Hmmmm... Such a tough one...

And when they saw us taking pictures on the stage, some of our senior teachers and admin wanted to be included lol~

So yea....

I know some of my teaching peers received a LOT of gifts from their students, with some filling up the whole car boot and whatnot... and my loot was definitely not as much as them. Then again, I have come to accept the lack of giving culture here and just went through the day with little to no expectations...

And I received two really really pleasant surprises.

The first one was so unexpected, hence adding on to how special it was...

An ex-student of mine, asked his sister (who is still studying) to hand me a gift...

Needless to say, I was completely blown away. This boy has always been great artistically and from what I know, he is currently studying graphic design in college... This has easily become one of my most-prized possessions! He even made my nose smaller!!!

Here's the original picture for comparison ;)

So talented!!!

The second surprise was this...

a closer look?

Yup. My first response was actually "WTH! Am I a troublemaker or something??? Hahahahaha"

Turns out, 'HAVOC' means 'GEMPAK' here, or in English, probably best described as 'wow, best, sporting, of that sort lol'. One must agree it means very very different from the English definition :p

So yea,

Teaching has always been a humbling experience, and Teacher's Day or Teacher Appreciation Day or whatever one decides to call it, is a nice way of celebrating a teacher's contribution. While I also know the many backlash from media about teachers being 'syok sendiri', unworthy of the tributes and gifts, and experience grief myself seeing many colleagues of mine 'skipping' the celebration and took their own 'day offs'.....I still want to thank many out there who made me feel validated and acknowledged.

Ego-feeding aside, I really love teaching. It is something I want to keep on doing, for the rest of my life.
And I hope, with age progressing and experiences multiplying, I would not be complacent, but develop and improve until I am proud to call myself, an educator :)

Sunday 18 May 2014

Let's learn Bahasa Temiar :)

This year, I am super duper proud to say that my relationship with my Asli kids .. is... TIGHT.


I simply love them. And they are very easy to love.
Give them empty folders for English, and they...

And their energy is always so high!

Meet my fav boy! At 15 years old, this is Pereexjeex, bright, dependable and extremely hardworking!

oh, and here's Rokeey~~ the gentleman, who's gonna break many girls' hearts lol.

and here are some of my fav gals~~

 their smiles are infectious!

and here's what my 'baby asli' kids have done... They created a really simple storyboard~~

Alright, let's get back to the topic of this particular entry~~~ Let's learn Bahasa Temiar!

When pronouncing, remember that each suku kata is 'baku'~

Baik (Good): mejc
Tak Baik (Bad): la es
Cantik (Beautiful): lawa
Pandai (Clever): na lek
Sayang (love): sayek

Saya sayang awak (I love you): yeak sayek mahak
Saya tak nak awak (I don't want you): yeak ijek mahak

Lelaki (Boy): babe 
<pronounced as bar-ber.. not the way we call our girlies lol>
Perempuan (Girl): babok
Ibu (Mother): amek
Ayah (Father): apak

Lapar (Hungry): cerok
Kenyang (Full): behik
Mengantuk (Sleepy): seled
Tidur (Sleep): seklog
Tunggu (Wait): poijh

Tak faham (Don't understand): tok eleg
Faham (Understand): eleg

Selamat pagi (Good morning): selamat yeh yah
Selamat tengah hari (Good afternoon): selamat es is
Selamat petang (Good evening): selamat leng ar
Selamat malam (Good night): selamat layeg

Hope you learned something ;)


lesson learned

When you learn that it's more important to please God than men, everything just makes sense.

Two days ago, marked the National celebration of Teacher's Day. 16th May 2014 for me was a really low key affair, since it falls on a Friday, which is our weekend here in Kelantan. As expected, social media was buzzing with heart-warming dedications, pictures of gifts and events in the schools.... It was definitely a 'feel-good' day for teachers.

It brought me back to my first Teacher's Day here in Gua Musang, back in year 2011... which.. was unfortunately non-existent. Sad as it was, we didn't get to celebrate Teacher's Day but instead were assigned to use the funds and resources for our then-principal's farewell @_@

Then came 2012, and still... no Teacher's Day for me... We had a 'state-level' Teacher's Day held in our school instead where principals and Assistant principals from all the schools in Kelantan were celebrated while we had to do all the donkey work since our school was the host @_@

And finally in 2013, I had my first taste of Teacher's Day, which was organised by Nadia (as the president of KIB). But, both of us were the ones mainly handling most of the behind-the-scenes work... While it was a really successful event, it was also maybe a little disappointing to realise the lack of gifting culture among our students... We are humans after all. Though we do not expect our students to spoil us with gifts, but it still feels nice to be appreciated. In fact, it still saddens me that our students easily ask teachers to 'belanjo', to give them 'satu ya' and even proudly declare they find no shame in 'minta sedekah'.... It's a culture that shocked me fours years back, and still frustrates me till this day... :'(

They are always, I repeat, always, wanting to be at the receiving end. They have no concept of giving... and they want to be rewarded for basically everything.

Imagine, they demand for any form of reward just because they handed in their homework.
Yes, we are talking about homework. Something they should complete out of obligation and responsibility...
Worse still, when they demand for reward just for passing English with 'E'.

As much as I try to be positive in my classes, mentality of this sort from them breaks me. Sometimes I just could not comprehend how is it possible for them to be so shameless... One of my worst outburst happened when a student took my pen without my permission, and when I asked for it, that student yelled that since I am a teacher earning thousands I should not be so stingy with my stuff and that I should just go buy a new one!!!!!

Total disbelief.

I just could not bring my mind to comprehend that form of logic. Even when I was a student, I don't remember any friend of mine with such guts and lack of manners, especially when talking to teachers!!!!

So I started to develop favourites, and dreaded certain classes (2 to be exact). In fact it was apparent in the amount of effort I put in towards different lessons with different classes. Deep inside I knew I shouldn't be so, but it's easier to be nicer towards those who appreciates your effort than those who couldn't be bothered....

Then, I remembered what my dad always told me... "Please God, not men."

I took a really deep breath, stared at my messy table full of books and all sorts of resources, picked up a book called William's Dragons, a stack of plain papers, my 'Learning Tools Box' and walked into 'that' class.

It was still a rather rough battle. As usual these kids were late, some were playing truant, some decided to come in 20 minutes late, some sneaked out, one kept running out from the back door and back from the front door and repeating that stupid action, some belting out in songs, some throwing their bags from one end to another, one for no reason went around kicking people, some blantantly told me  they wanted to go out for a smoke, some screamed out of nowhere..... It doesn't matter how many times you scolded them, slammed the table, showed your displeasure... They can be just plain impossible. And they themselves will happily tell you that they are 'kureng' - mentally ill or retarded. I HAD NEVER, EVER, HAD SUCH A DIFFICULT CLASS OF STUDENTS BEFORE.

Still, with no idea how I managed it, I read them that book, and got 'some of them' to repeat after me, phrases to phrases. At the end of the book, they gave me a round of applause lol. I proceeded in giving them a piece of paper each, and told them that instead of William's dragons, they will draw their own dragon... Not surprisingly their first reaction was that they can't do it. Even with much coaxing, some of them refused to do the task and even wasted the paper I gave them... However, there were still some who told me they can't draw but will give it a try... I actually thanked them and gave them full use of my stationery... It was then I realised, they really can't draw.

They had difficulties drawing simple shapes, little to no confidence in whatever they are doing, especially when you have the ones who couldn't even try, going around mocking their drawings... I really could not stand that 'bullying' mentality! Very quickly, I went to their defense and sternly rebuked those naughty boys that they had NO RIGHT to criticise people when they themselves couldn't even produce their work. I made it clear that I never look down on those who are weak, but I have NO RESPECT for those who couldn't even try. Soon after, I saw them picking up a paper and started doodling... Though their drawings were rather ugly (probably worse than kindergarten kids), at least they were trying.

Come to think of it, I regretted for not taking any pictures of their drawings. I wanted to but they were too ashamed of their work for me to snap pictures of it.

Anyway, while they were busy drawing for their lives, I was just chatting with this boy who is often bullied in the class. I was shocked to learn that he lives in Kuala Betis and had to take a 2-hour ride to school every day, departing at 5am in order to arrive at school by 7, in a small, crowded school van. He is definitely one of the weakest in the class, could hardly copy correctly, and possibly very low IQ. But this boy, albeit being very shy at first, thanked me for reading them the story... He said he had never been read a story...

That was exactly what this job is all about.

It finally made sense.

I was stupid for dwelling on my own negativity to the extent that I had limited myself on what I could do for my students...

When my class ended, this very same boy helped me to rearrange my Learning Tool Box and carried the box for me to the staffroom, without me asking.

And on our way to the staffroom, I too found out that he had two stepmothers, five step siblings, and though he hates getting bullied in school, he finds it better to be here rather than staying at home. He even apologised to me for being stupid and so weak in English, but tells me he likes my class...

Though I know he would never come across my blog or even understand what I had written,
to that boy,
thanks for reminding me that I am a teacher,
thanks for being my student.

Sunday 11 May 2014

New Obsession

Truly and deeply, I have always believed that we are our biggest enemy, and everything boils down to 'ATTITUDE.'

It's just not a secret that when your attitude changes, everything else changes for the better.

Looking at my situation,

I thought I could rejoin my husband for good, but it was short-lived and I have to come back to Malaysia...
And on the sideline, there were so many challenges, misunderstanding, discouragement and confusion, caused by people who matter...

But by the end of the day, my husband and I knew that this was the right decision, for me to be back for now.

So, how does one deal with been woken up from a beautiful three months of experiencing togetherness with your husband (after 5 years of LDR and you thought it would be over), been thrown back to a school that had kinda given you a send off, and been allocated all 'weak classes'...

Mopping definitely would get me no where.

Thus, I chose to make the best out of my situation... and wouldn't have wanted it any other way...

Never would I have imagined the huge contrast between my teaching life now, and three years back. I mean, I am still teaching in the same school, with the same colleagues, so how different could it be?

For starters, I am not focusing on teaching upper forms anymore (which was what I had been doing for the past few years - preparing students for SPM).. They only gave me one Form 5 class in which I became the class teacher too...

Second, I am teaching 4 lower form classes which are involved in PBS (which I had no clue at all).

Third, I am teaching 2 classes of Asli students - as in two classes of only Asli students.

There was just no time for self-pity or doubt, it was all about diving in, and making sure it was a strong dive. And soon, I find myself doing something I should have been doing for the past 3 years - falling in love with teaching.

Don't get me wrong, I have always loved teaching and it IS my first choice. And although I do conduct creative projects and lessons for my students, I also stumbled with the balance of getting them to pass and actually teaching them the language. But this year, because I was given classes with 'low expectations to pass', I was able to focus on motivating them to learn this scary, foreign language - which is a situation I find myself very blessed to be in!

And as I look for ways to get extra resources for my students, I was hugely encouraged and inspired by so many generous givers out there. Many of whom I have lost contact with, be it relatives, friends, and also acquaintances from all over the world. It really cheers me up knowing that there are many people who cares about education and are willing to be a part of your effort - no matter how big or small they are.

Wonders from social media (if put to good use), I get so many packages delivered to me in my school that it gets so much interest lol.

so much so that I have more than enough stuff for my Asli kids (there are even more not shown in the pictures above) that I started distributing these awesome goodies to other students I deem deserving or needed that extra boost of encouragement.

To all you wonderful people, no amount of thanks is enough, but you have my word that I will make sure these go to the right kids for the right reasons :)

Oh yeah,

My title of the blog is about new obsession...

So what am I currently obsessed about?

Bahasa Temiar!

Yup, you read it right. Bahasa Temiar!

My little teachers, (mark the 's') have been very patient and excited about teaching me their language. I would probably be generous and teach you guys some of it on my next entry ;)

Till then,