Lazy Man's Chair

on Thursday, 27 May 2010
The best thing about being a teacher is....

After a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong semester...

... you'll have a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong HOLIDAY!!!

3 weeks baby!

See you in 3 weeks!

Happy Holidays!!!

p/s: if you're not a teacher, BITE ME!

Cutting little holes

on Tuesday, 25 May 2010
Haven't been blogging for awhile... as usual... busy busy...

and Mabul Mabul.. hehehe... check my FB profile for insane pictures.

Well, marking exam papers ain't that difficult. Especially if you're teaching weak classes where students sometimes hand in blank papers...

... so far, students have been answering as expected from their level of competency.

Anyway, that's not the reason why I'm blogging here today.

Lets check the Schedule for Giving Out Exam Slips

21st June 2010: Subject teachers give marks to the class teacher
22nd June 2010: Class teachers compile results
23rd June 2010: Teachers hand in the results to the office to be signed by the Principal
24th June 2010: Teachers take the results from the Principal.
25th June 2010: Parent Teacher Conference

Seriously... does it take a genius or semi-experienced teacher to notice the schedule is completely bollocks?

Poor teachers with classes of up to 50 students.

Poor Principal only given less than 12 hours to sign all 1000+ exam slips.

Good luck and happy holidays

They follow the pattern of the wind you see.

on Sunday, 16 May 2010
I think what our Education Minister highlighted in his Teachers' Day speech was indeed interesting. He mentioned 7 things that were going to change to improve the lifestyle of teachers in school. They are:

1. to reduce the number of positions and bureaus in schools.
2. to reduce the number of internal exams.
3. change or revamp the clerk system in schools.
4. to standardise important courses.
5. to give promotions to certain positions and grades.
6. to reward teachers who improve school results
7. to allow teachers in rural areas to transfer to town areas (under observation still).

These items definitely have received thunderous applause from some especially when there are important keywords like reduce, promote, reward and  transfer.

Mind you, I'm all for those things mentioned. I just have a few queries related to those things mentioned.

1. Reduce the number of bureaus in schools = are there any bureaus in schools now that are not needed or irrelevant? If yes, why were they established in the first place? If he did not mention this, would the bureaus in schools remain?

2. To change the clerking system? What is wrong with it? Is it because there is abuse? Do teachers feel like they're being dog-pounded by a very abuse prone system? Are teachers RIGHT NOW suffering from the current system? Has it reached a breaking point that there HAS TO BE some sort of change or there'll be serious repurcussions?

3. RM1800 for teachers who improve school exam levels? How is this going to be given? Raise in the basic salary? Annually? Monthly? Why aren't teachers in the current system being rewarded for good performances? If they are, why is it not enough? What is the current lapse within the system that does NOT recognise teachers' contributions?

4. Transfer transfer transfer. Isn't there a system now that monitors a fair exchange system? Aren't GURU CEMERLANGs supposed to be sent to rural areas because they get higher salaries? Isn't there a grace period where new teachers are supposed to replace old teachers in these areas so that teachers don't remain in those places involuntarily for too long? Is that system not working?

I find it troubling when these questions arise.

Me? Mock Daddy?

on Wednesday, 12 May 2010
So, being a teacher means you go into class eh?

Lesson plans, eh?

Sports day, eh?

Going out bringing students for competitions, eh?

Going for courses, eh?

How about bringing kids out to the doctors? Sitting in the waiting room waiting like an anxious father-to-be?


Believe me. You'll have to play daddy or mummy while the kids are in school. Especially if they are young small kids.

WTF is THAT?!?!

on Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Teaching a poor proficiency class is really challenging. It's challenging not because it is difficult to come up with a level which suits them. It's not challenging in terms of coming up with materials or exercises. It becomes difficult because you know that there is 1 kid that does not fall in the same category as them.

One of my form 3 class consists of very, very slow learners. It isn't their fault and it's really nothing to do with attitude entirely. I feel that these kids just lack direction and are of course a little bit slower in terms of their mental capacity. They aren't special ed kids but I would say they aren't too far away from that level. It really is very difficult for them to catch simple concepts and remember them. Drilling becomes a very popular choice here and to me, it is kind of effective for them.

That isn't the underlying problem in my class. I find it most disturbing that there is this one kid who is a clear level ahead of the rest of them. In fact, he is a good 5-6 levels ahead of the class in terms of English competency and mental capacity. I don't mind him being smart at all, the only thing I could wish for is for my kids to be as bright as they can be; the slower classmates become overshadowed completely by his ability to keep up with the materials that I present to the rest of them. 

Telling him to cool it and let others have a chance isn't helping him either. Being the active and exuberant kid that he is, he finds it very demotivating to be told to cool down and let others try to answer questions or solve problems that he could demonstrate very easily. At a student's perspective, I can understand how unsatisfying that learning process can become.

Having said that, I told the other teachers about this one kid who should be shifted to a class where he would benefit more from - at least in his English. Many other teachers concurred that he was a clear cut above the rest and some even said that his Mathematics belonged to the 1st class and was very hampered during these classes. I told the class teacher who also identified this issue and brought it forward to the administration. Here is the following excuse:

We cannot transfer him because he registered late in the school. He also has low marks for one subject (if I'm not mistaken, KH) and therefore cannot be shifted to a better class. More importantly, we cannot transfer him to a better class because of his late registration in the school.

I know...

You're going "HUh!??"

I'm going WTF is THAT?!!

Common Grounds

on Sunday, 9 May 2010
I guess it's just normal for someone who has been put out of place to seek refuge within their own walls of solitude. It's not really reflective of that person's personality and I personally don't think it has anything to do with insecurities as well.

Some like to give names to these conditions i.e. inferiority complexes or superiority complexes. Sometimes, names can get even more foul as the titles and nicknames that surface become more crude and unrefined. I think it's just normal for the people to lash out at something they find not fitting to their own norms before analysing the situation or individual past skin deep.

I would say that people just need to seek common grounds. It just takes one person, one situation or one topic of conversation to break the metaphorical walls surrounding that person. I also feel that in a working environment, there is more than just colleagues-at-the-office relationships. It is only human that people tend to develop more solid relationships surpassing work-related-professional-emotionless-hi-goodbye standards.

We're all in this together
                                 -High School Musical-

Being someone completely inept in EQ or SQ situations or discussions, it is quite intriguing to observe how people are so influenced by these qualities till it affects their life tremendously. Rationally, an adult would be more independent and equipped to deal with these emotions because of life's experiences but I commonly see the opposite of it. It isn't quite understandable from my observation as to why simple emotional issues could have been dealt with more maturely - or even better, shared.

It isn't really about seeking counseling or seeking help from professional psychiatric/social doctors. We just need some time off to rethink and reevaluate the situation. Time will definitely be tinkered for different individuals. However, time does not become an issue here, what is is neglect and denial. When someone is trying not to solve that quotient problem, then it isn't about when will the problem be solved, it becomes a choice about dealing with it, or running away.

To most people, running away becomes standard-operating-procedure.

I feel that in some people as much as I feel that it applies to me as well. Being a teacher in a different place calls for alterations and possibly complete flips in lifestyle. It's not wrong and it ain't something drastic too. Dealing with it seems like a more arduous choice but that makes someone stronger instead of a runaway.

In the end,

we're just fitting in, eh?

Snatched Saturdays

on Friday, 7 May 2010
This Saturday, my school is having a Latihan Dalam Perkhidmatan (LDP) which basically means a course that teachers have to go through to improve their services in school. Great right? It's really great that the system is trying to take some initiative to improve the quality of its members.

The course we're about to take is stress management.

Stress Management

Seriously... stress management? Stress management?

On a Saturday? Dragging teachers out from their weekends to go to school for the ENTIRE afternoon to go for a stress management course? Dragging teachers from the only time they can let out all the stocked up pressure and workload back to school is supposed to be less stressful?

Say it with me...

You cannot be serious man!!! You cannot be serious!!!
                                           -John McEnroe- 

Speaking of tennis, yours truly was supposed to go for a tennis tournament this Saturday WHICH IS mind you, the BEST way he releases all the stress. How would that person feel if he is supposed to not go to that tournament and instead join a stress management programme in school?

On a SATURDAY mind you...

When he was able to go to a tournament just last week, he came back to school with such a big smile on his face and students all painted smiles on their faces as they basked in the shine of the teacher's glorious bright face. Isn't that good? Nothing beats the expressions of a teacher who has managed to get some time off from his regular routine to do what he loves. He comes back with more vigour and stamina to run the miles and hike the hills of the ever landsliding hills of PnP.



p/s: just love the text size changes. Should use it more often.


Journey to the Centre of the Earth

on Wednesday, 5 May 2010
Students love watching the movie Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Even though some of them have watched the movie, only now they really pay attention to the details of the movie. They draw conclusions and make deeper analyses and comparisons that they wouldn't normally do when watching the movie.

All thanks to the graphic novel in the new literature component.

Jules Verne's book of the same name really is an interesting and easy-to-read book that really brings a lot of excitement into my classroom. Although I was supposed to do the short story Flipping Fantastic with them first, the healthy response from the students prompted me to start of teaching them the novel first. In no time, they grasped the characters and plot of the story because of the uber effective pictures and short texts in the novel.

Really easy novel, very easy graphical cues, very effective word association with the pictures, very simple language use, and tons of possibilities in terms of activity-creation. I found teaching this novel to be as simple as going into the classroom and just giving them activities to do. I highly recommend teaching this novel if you feel that your classroom seems rather passive and unresponsive at first. It's a good way to jump start their learning braincells.

Thumbs up to the novel.

Oh, probably Brendan Fraser helped too.

Making English Friends

Although I already did informal letter writing with the students, I thought that it would be wise to repeat the class one more time. This time, I told them to write to a pen-pal that they didn't know. The letter would be introductory and that someone in the class would be the recipient. They should take NO initiative to try to find out who they are and must try their very best to keep each others' identity a secret.

They really like that concept. I told them that since they don't have friends that they converse entirely in English, this is a good chance to mail each other letters in English. They sort of get an English Writing friend.

As a reward, if these mail system goes smooth sailing, I told them that I would try to get them real pen-pals from overseas. After researching for pen-pals online, I realised most of them are emailing each other instead of writing letters.

I think that should be fine. I can get my students to mail them personally and hopefully, responding to each other would be really good. I hope to get my whole class to make at least 1 foreign friend and mail each other letters till they are form 5. That would be really interesting.