Monday, 29 November 2010

Reading Club 8: Self-leadership and the one minute manager (Ken Blanchard)

What I've learned from this book:

Empowerment is something someone gives you. Self-leadership is what you
do to make it work. Sounds good but this is exactly what's missing. People give me work but they don't give me the empowerment to see it through. Somehow control and power are two things closely related. If you are so used to having power ('position power' according to Ken), I suppose it's difficult to let go. How can I develop professionally  if I have self-leadership but no empowerment and trust to make decisions? Yes I can use my 'knowledge power', 'personal power','relationship power'  and 'task power' as suggested in the book but unfortunately in schools, EVERYTHING is  'position power' and long live the system!. Power is what people want and enjoy but I'm the dreamy one who still hopes for empowerment and flexibility :) Having said all that, I'm thankful am a Gc without position power because it can lead to abuse if you are not careful.

Diagnose Yourself - love this one! I learned to diagnose myself using the 'development continuum'.  There are four levels

    D1: Enthusiastic beginner (low competence, high commitment)
    D2: Disillusioned Learner (low to some competence, low commitment)
    D3: Capable but Cautions Performer (moderate to high competence
           variable commitment)
    D4: High Achiever (high competence, high commitment)
I don't have to be a D4 in all situations. It can be a mix but  what it teaches me is to evaluate my strengths and weaknesses and to do something about them. To quote Ken, "When your competence is low, you need direction: when your commitment is low, you need support.'

Assumed Constraints and Elephant Thinking     
I never thought of this one! An assumed constraint is a believe you have, based on past experience,    that limits you current and future experiences. Hmmm... I have too many of these I think. What  I need to do is challenge assumed constraints. I need to convince myself that 'position power' is not the only power that works.

I will share what I learn from the next book am reading now later...ta

    Friday, 26 November 2010

    English for pakcik?

    I was working out at the gym from 8-9.45 a.m. this morning. As I was having a drink, I saw the Australian guy (whom I've met twice ) talking casually with an Indian man. They obviously do not know each other, like most of us who frequent the gym.We normally get on with our business and then leave as soon as we think we've reached our target for the day. It's amazing how we live our lives sometimes...we are always rushing and there isn't time to have a casual conversation apart from the smiles. Anyway, as I was watching  the two of them talking, (I had nothing better to do while waiting for the stepper to be free) I imagined a pakcik actually having a conversation with the Mat Salleh, a picture I don't see often. Language is a barrier for a pakcik to speak to a foreigner in English. Will there be a time when there are many pakciks who can speak English and converse with foreigners at the market, supermarket, stores etc.? In Singapore this is a common sight. I look forward to the day when many pakciks can hold a conversation in English with visitors from outside. I'm sure they have a lot to tell! 

    It feels good to sweat out the toxins and I sleep better after exercising. Some older women were there to try all kinds of machines and were pumping away. They are the regulars and how they put me to shame hehe...They look good!!! Well, that's motivation for me to keep go regularly and to watch my food.

    Wednesday, 24 November 2010

    There's Been a Death in the Opposite House-SPM 2010

    Finally, 'There's Been a Death in the Opposite House' was tested in the English SPM paper after 10 years despite the subject matter it deals with- death. SPM2010 has created history! The view that because it deals with such a dark and gloomy subject therefore it should not be tested for fear of  putting certain students at a disadvantage is nonsensical. It passed the selection process remember? Well, a point sorely missed is that literature deals with universal themes such as life and death. Literature IS about life and death! Hence, it's rather myopic to say a text can or cannot be tested simply because a text deals with death. I'm glad someone up there has decided to test this poem albeit the final year of this cycle of texts. What is literature if not to tickle the minds of our young? Let them discuss death as a natural phenomenon and let them see how every day people deal with this subject. TV images fool us everyday- we only view those touched by death- the bereaved, undertakers, morticians...not the images of death. We remove these images to insulate ourselves from the discomfort. 

    So let the text live even if it deals with death so our young may be wiser!

    Monday, 22 November 2010

    Time to catch up with my reading...

    Popular is having a sale so I got myself quite a few books to read today. I hope I can read them all this hols!

    Friday, 19 November 2010

    And so farewell...Mawarni & Fazreena

    Front row from left: Sarojini, me, Mawarni, Mdm Tan (former principal).
    Back row from left: Dr Rekha, Anand, Chong, Fazreena and Puran

    May you always have walls for the winds,
    a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
    laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
    and all your heart might desire.

    ~Irish Blessing~

    *** Many thanks to Mawarni for all the great work you did for the District English Panel.

    Monday, 15 November 2010

    Make SMCC Proud!

    Date: 15 Nov 2010 (Monday)
    Majlis Restu

    All the best to SMCC 2010 SPM candidates in the coming SPM examination.
    To 5S1 and 5RC students:  Keep the good memories!

    En Mohd Nazri abd Rahman- PPD Liason Officer giving his speech

    Me representing all Form 5 teachers

    sheau cian, jia en, bao yee, me, chiu ling, evadne, yue ming...all the best in your SPM girls!

    my six mentees under the Islamic society- all the best!

    do your best in the spm! 5rc girls...

    Sunday, 14 November 2010

    Show me the teaching

    The school term is almost coming to an end and what do teachers normally do? Complete endless reports? (don't forget your SKT!)  Clear the clutter on the table and in the drawers? Well, I've been reflecting  a lot on my teaching in 2010. This in a sense is more important  to me than the yearly appraisal that we need to hand in- some critical reflection that will help me become a better teacher. I've been wondering a lot about the materials I've been utilising in the classroom. It's no joke that I spend a lot of time choosing the materials to be used in the classroom on a week-to-week basis and photocopying. Some teachers are smarter because they rely heavily on the textbook! The only reservation I have on the textbook is the language level that is too high for my students. Yes, I'm guilty of not using the textbook...I use a lot of materials  from other sources like the internet and books. But wait a minute...what do we need materials for?

    • Can we not have teaching materials and teach as effectively? 
    • Are the worksheets, textbooks, workbooks and other teaching aids doing the teaching for us? 
    • Where is the point in say, a 40-minute class that we are teaching? 
    • What if for the sake of argument you are not allowed to bring any teaching materials into the classroom? Yes, just you, your students, the blackboard and some furniture..
    • Will you be able to teach?
    • Will teachers be handicapped?

    Seriously, where is the part that the teacher is teaching? Teachers  claim to have the pedagogical knowledge and skills and on top of that they have been trained to teach. Aren't we too dependent on teaching materials sometimes that the materials are doing the teaching for us? Well, I'm not sure if I have all the answers to the questions but I think it's food for thought for all those in the English fraternity. This could even result in the birth of a paper for MELTA next year :) Who knows?

    Friday, 5 November 2010

    Passion for teaching?

    Today, I received an interesting comment from one of the teachers who attended the recent State Level Action Research Seminar in Kulai. Let me share the comments with you:

    hi pn rahmah!...ive been teaching for almost 1 and a half year now n dat seminar was really an eye-opener for me who sometimes lacks the passion in teaching n sometimes, feeling burnout.. i was totally moved by ur presentation and INSPIRED! i pray dat i cud be just like u, a teacher who seems to have so much passion in herself thus inspiring students to excel too :) thanks for inspiring me n permit me for sharing ur blog with others k? :)

    Thanks to xxx for such encouraging comments and I certainly hope she is not burnt out because she is still a 'baby' in teaching!! We need you in the ever challenging ELT world!

    My point of discussion in this posting is about passion in teaching- a word we so often use in the teaching field. As a matter of fact, just the other day, an inspectorate complimented  me on having a passion for teaching and asked me for the translation of the word passion in BM. I responded with 'ghairah'. Ghairah?  "But 'ghairah' seems to have a sexual connotation to it!", he quipped. Well, for want of a better word ...although I think this is the correct word. This word also reminds me of a stint back in 2002 when I presented a paper in the Southern Regional ELT Seminar organised by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Johor. I think it was my second presentation at the seminar. That particular year saw presenters from Indonesia and Singapore as well. I was this small teacher who was eager to share my journal writing project with the audience. Taking a seat next to a lady after my presentation, she congratulated me and said, " You must be a really passionate teacher." That was so motivating I thought...

    So what does it mean to have a passion for teaching really? Well, if I may offer my tuppence worth, I believe to have a passion for teaching means:
    • to love children despite their background, age, race and creed - show them that you are genuinely interested in them and their learning. If you don't have a love for children, you cannot touch their hearts. You will just be a routine teacher (my expression) who teaches without feelings and attachment (although granted that too much attachment can be overwhelming sometimes)
    • to be enthusiastic in your teaching - you show this through your energy in class. Show that zest as you enter the class and not drag your feet
    • to be patient as you deal with different DNA's and moods- be understanding and tolerant with your students' mistakes. I always tell my students, "If you are all good at English, then I don't have a job!!" This is so comforting to them for you're showing them that you understand their problems in learning English and you are willing to give them that time and space to learn.
    • to be committed in your purpose-make sure you see projects to the end. Passionate teachers begin and end things they undertake. Teaching is not just a job...
    • to have fun, to experience pleasure and intrinsic rewards- like seeing your students' eyes sparkle when you read a short story in class (because they don't read so well!) or when they go up the stage to receive a prize
    • to be generous with your time- give your time to your students (although you must learn to set boundaries to your time just so you will not be overworked)
    • to surround yourself with equally passionate and positive people- that collegial atmosphere  that is so important to keep you motivated but is sometimes missing!
    The list goes on...I would like to think that I chose teaching as much as teaching chose me. 

    Thursday, 4 November 2010

    New Literature Component 2011 Modules

    For those who are looking for materials on the 2011 Literature Component, please find the modules for the new literature component for 2011 on the left on the top bar (courtesy of CDC, Ministry of Education).