Sunday, 19 June 2011

Teacher Talk (19): Things will be better...

I received this email recently. Your comments/advice are welcome to help this teacher in the hope that we can contribute in making ELT a happier vocation :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 2:03 AM
Assalamualaikum Cikgu,

May you be blessed by Allah. I'm currently teaching in ***. I've been an avid reader of your blog for some months. Yes it's true as claimed by some, your blog is informative. I have been teaching English for the past 11 years but I haven't done much. The truth is, my Head and I are not on the same wavelength. It took me years to realise this until recently when a senior colleague broke a news that was quite a blow. It seems to her (my Head) that I'm always digging out her weaknesses as the Head and I'm doing it publicly i.e. during panel meetings. FYI, I consider myself a vocal and creative type. I like being innovative and trying out new ideas. She, on the other hand, prefers things to be done the way they have always been. So, when I keep being the one who proposes new ideas, questions how things are done or suggests how they could have been done better, I have without my realising it challenged her capability as the Head. She thinks I'm personally attacking her. Never I have any intention to intimidate her role as my Head, let alone to do it publicly.

My husband's advice- just lay low, keep your innovative ideas to yourself and your students.

What say you? I have no one to talk to in school. I can't possibly share this with the Head of Language Dept. nor GPK Akademik as my Head has poured out everything to them both.

My Response

sorry i took so long to reply. was in kl for a week. thanks for visiting my blog. i hope it's useful. sorry to hear of ur predicament. i'm not an expert but here's my advice:

1. sounds like a classic east meets west case..even if it's so, you should still be able to do things within your circle of influence e.g.s your classes, english society, your given responsibilities. covey (7 habits of successful people) talks about making an impact in your circle of influence and not waste time on things you can't influence (of course, after trying hard)  it's very rare to find people who agree with us..if that's the case, we would not improve as everybody agrees with us, don't u think?  besides, it takes all sorts to make this world :)

2. you can always talk to her and see if she sees ur point of view. although sometimes it doesn't work the way you want it to, at least she knows that you feel that way. however, sometimes it's not worth it (something i've experienced personally) because the KP was dogmatic in her ways. people are afraid of changes- they are too comfortable in their ways that creative people are a threat to their comfort. u have to decide if this is the option u want to take.

3. do not let this affect ur enthusiasm and innovative ideas. get up and move! the japanese proverb says. "fall down seven times, stand up eight". of course it's not easy to get people to see what we see especially if they are cookie cutters. don't let this stop u from trying out new ideas. hey, i've been accused of all sort of things as well- that i never listen to other people's opinions, that 'i don't know how things are done here' (verbatim), that i am 'too hard'. well, if i were to brood on these, i will never get on with my work.  the truth is, there are many who will find fault with u even with your best intentions! don't sweat the small stuff! do what you can in your circle of influence (recommended reading). make the best of the responsibilities given to u ok? all the best.

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