Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Back to school errr...teachers!

No, not students but you, yes you! Teachers! Ready for school tomorrow? Going back to school after the long holidays can be exciting, nerve racking and hectic depending on the situation. It can turn out to be the most critical and the most stressful. For a senior teacher like me , I will probably tweak a few things and make small adjustments to my teaching but the younger teachers may revamp their approach totally. It doesn't matter who you are. Some sort of transitioning is in order in the new academic term. Probably these tips will help:

  • Reflect on the past
Experience is the best teacher. There were times I needed to just throw out those lofty ideas that didn't work and opt for more practical and impactful ones. Never be afraid to try a new approach but remember that sometimes you need to tweak it to suit your students. Good and bad experiences are needed to guide us as teachers. Your teaching experience begins in the first five years of your teaching career not in university! Someone may argue with me on this but universities or teacher-training colleges prepare you with much of the theory. It is in a real school that you're posted to will you experience it firsthand what it means to be a teacher. It is in school that you marry the theory and the practice!

  • 2014 is a new year
Don't come to school with preconceived notions. No labeling of students from their past behaviour is necessary. Your students deserve a clean slate.  Remember that every student is unique and deserves our attention. Teachers should avoid making judgements on their students and worse to share that information with another teacher who will be handling the class.

  • Set your goals
Every teacher should have a set of expectations or goals that they want their students to reach. Goals are something both teachers and students can work towards. You can also set the goals with your students. Having a shared set of goals will push both teacher and students to work harder to obtain those goals.And remember that these goals can change as you progress, which is natural. I remember a former teacher in my secondary years saying "I have high expectations of you." That made me feel good! I felt the teacher had confidence in me and the remark motivated me to study.

  • Set the tone
If you want your students to respect you, you must first set the tone for the entire school year. And the most important thing is respect is often won or lost in those few days of school. A teacher must seize the opportunity to establish a rapport with his students but at the same time show them who is in charge. A teacher who hopes for all of his students to like him is not being realistic. Use the first few weeks of school to drill your students with class procedures, classroom instructional language, expectations and goals. There is nothing wrong starting out as a disciplinarian and then slowly easing off throughout the year.  Remember that education is a marathon not a sprint!

  •  Be prepared
Teachers must always be prepared. They must allocate time for lesson-planning. I have seen many who simply pick the coursebook and go to class everyday. Young teachers need more preparation time than veteran teachers simply because veteran teachers have the experience. Therefore take time to prepare that handout or to change teaching materials if the need arises. Teaching is essentially not a 7.30 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. job. It takes a lot of time to prepare before a teacher can really launch off!

  • Declutter your table!
Whoever said a messy table shows you're a creative person must be nuts! Logically speaking, it is hard to find that stapler or notes if your table is cluttered! Surely there are better ways to measure creativity. I work well with a clear table and space. I need acres and acres of table because space allows me to think clearly- as simple as that.

  • Love children
Always love children! If you don't have this quality or ability then you shouldn't be a teacher. Teaching can be easy if you don't want to care so much about your students. By giving them that handout or doing an activity, teachers may feel they have done a good job but our students need more than that. They need that personal touch from us.

Teaching is a special job. It requires special people to do the job! You are special!

The Thinking Teacher

Do we need new year resolutions?

It's that restless feeling you have when the new year ushers in right? I have the same feeling too despite that fact that Maal Hijrah was when I formed my resolutions. Do we need resolutions really? That's a resounding YESSS for someone like me although I forget the resolutions somewhere in the middle of the year :) I think I will print them and paste them somewhere visible so I'm reminded of them everyday :) Lets' see, this new year I'd like to....

If I can't commit to caring for myself, what good am I to my loved ones or my career? I will go back to the gym people, yes back to the gym! I will also make small changes to my lifestyle like taking the stairs when about (my son will laugh at me for saying this), and park my car slightly further away from the intended stop. Eating well? Makes sense this. Meng Huat watsapped (is there such a term) me just now with this message "Eat less and exercise more!" How apt! Yes, I need to replace comfort foods with healthy snacks and meals. I do get hungry often though...

Alleviating stress is an important agenda and my timetable and responsibilities next year are just perfect (I hope I'm not speaking too soon). It is as if Allah knows that I need to pay more attention to my health. Since I have cervical spondylosis aka neck athritis, health is my first priority. If this means rejecting extra projects, then I will do so. The fortnightly physio must continue and medications must be taken in the right doses.

We are pulled in many directions and rarely stop to recharge. This is so true isn't it? Planning ahead will be wise to redress the balance. I plan to spend more time with family and to take long walks (more like long drives- I do a lot of thinking in the car mind you) and perhaps carve out one day a week just for me-time!

  •   TRAVEL
My next travel destination is Turkey in sya Allah. Hoping to save enough to travel annually :) My previous trip to Spain and Morocco was simply unforgettable! It doesn't have to be faraway places as long as I can visit castles, historical buildings, parks...

May I realise that dream to do social work in 2014! For a start I have signed up with Islamic Relief Malaysia

But my most important wish of all is to be a better Muslim. Ya Rabb grant me patience and understanding in dealing with my daily life. Grant me a big heart to forgive and forget. Grant me the discipline to uphold my night prayers as I once did. You have shown me that You listened to my night virgil prayers when I was successful in my Special Grade C application. But I'm beginning to be indisciplined now...Grant me the strength to wake up at 3.00 a.m. once again to kneel before you and ask for Your mercy and love.

 Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions) said, “The best prayer after the obligatory prayers is the night prayer.” [Muslim] 

The Thinking Teacher

Friday, 27 December 2013

Feeling upbeat about 2014 academic year!

Center: The Principal, En Mohd Noh Mohd Yusof flanked by our new PK HEM (Cik Noraazizah) and PK Koko (En Mazlan)

Funny how some meetings are conducted. Our second meeting today only required me to listen, listen and listen :) The day before yesterday, we had our first meeting and tomorrow will be the Curriculum Meeting . More listening strategies will be adopted I guess. Someone said to me once, having too many meetings is "the recipe for failure" based on the Germans' experience of losing the world war. I wonder if there is any truth in this...

I look forward to 2014 and teaching! I want to do a better job than I did last year especially with the PBS classes and I pray for better health.

A note on PMR 2013:
  • SASEM's PMR: GPS 1.13 
  • English Language: GPS 1.23 
  • Anugerah Cemerlang Sekolah Yang Mencapai ETR
  • Anugerah Emas (Kehadiran Pelajar)
Congrats to SASEM and all English teachers. This is what Allah has decided for so Alhamdulillah!

The Thinking Teacher

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Johor English Teachers (JET)

Hi all,
I'm inviting you to join this group in facebook. All welcome! Just find us on fb and join the group :)


The Thinking Teacher

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Dinner Treat for Perfect Score Club, Prime city Hotel, Kluang

Top scorers from Form 3 and 5 were feted with a sumptious spread in Prime City Hotel, Kluang last night. The food was great but I missed the 'cendol'! Later, I ferried Hidir, Din, Sulaiman and Ummu back to school for another do- Tuanku Hisamudin's House dinner. Ummu unexpectedly vomitted in the car so I drove her straight to her hostel to get a change of clothes. Poor girl! Rain messed things up a little- the tables and chairs at Dataran Kristal were all wet. However, well-done to the Form 4's for organising this for the seniors. Good job! I had a teriible headache and didn't stay long.I heard the beriani was good.

The Thinking Teacher

Are You Game? Language Games in the ESL Classroom

It's good to be back blogging! After a month's hiatus here's another story I'd like to share. In the recent 5th JELTA conference,  I shared some practical, no-fuss, no-preparation language games using mainly the whiteboard with participants. Mind you, this was my first workshop (1 hour). Lazy me always preferred papers (30 minutes :)) From the picts., I think you can conclude that we had a great time and it was a full house too. Thanks so much for coming to my session! Befriended many young teachers such as Kasmayuhanis from JB. There were quite a few from public schools too. What is knowledge if not shared :) Alhamdulillah...

sporting participants having a go!

The Thinking Teacher

All the best Sasem's first batch of SPM candidates!

All the best to 189 candidates in our very first SPM! Despite the problems and upsets, we have faith in you. Make us proud Sasemians! And may I add make me proud 5 Bukhari and 5 Syafie!

Such nice thoughts from their juniours :) Brilliant idea!

The Thinking Teacher

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Poem: Are You Still Playing Your Flute

This poem is pretty abstract and there are many different interpretations especially about the flautist being the person's lover. For the poet's own interpretation, click the link below:

Are you still playing your flute

flute photo: Flute flute.jpg

The Thinking Teacher

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Thanks to JELTA 2013!

Alhamdulillah...recipients of the Excellent Teachers Award in the on-going 5th JELTA conference in M-Suites Johor Bahru. From left: Mr Vincent D' Silva (Organising Chairman), Datuk Mary Yap Kain Chin (Deputy Education Minister 1), Wan Rozana, Mr Ang Tauk Khoon, Mr Kanagalingam, Pn Adibah Khalid and yours truly :)

Read my earlier posting:


The Thinking Teacher

ICELL 2013 Language Conference

 Here's a new conference for all English teachers. Click on the link for further details.


The Thinking Teacher

Saturday, 14 September 2013

'Solat Hajat' Programme in SASEM

Date: 13th September 2013
Venue: Sasem, Kluang

Thanks to the committee members for a successful programme and to parents for making time for this programme. May Allah bless all our efforts and bless SASEM's first PMR and SPM candidates. I promised Afiq that I will post their pict so there you go! Enjoy your weekend boys :)

Solat Hajat Programme...top right, jejaka jejaka hensem sasem lols!! From left: Afiq, Ikhwan and Azam

The Thinking Teacher

Teacher's Award- JELTA 2013, M Suites Johor Bahru

Meeting Dato Mary Yap after so many years was indescribable! I thought she would not recognise me but as I went up the stage she said. "We have met haven't we?" She was with us in MTDP (Malaysian Trainer Development Programme) years ago. MTDP was the second biggest break in my career. The first was writing Teaching Files for the Class Reader Programme with Schools Division under Tn Hj Ali Ghani ( the officer in charge at the time) twice in 1994 and 1995. MTDP trained me TOT and we became Master Trainers. The Johor team consisted of Mr Senevahsan Naidu (first English GC in Johor), Pn Yah Awang Nik (lecturer MPTI), Pn Melina Wong (Principal, retired) and me. We trained hundreds of teachers in the state and it was an enriching experience. Pn Ruhani (Bahagian Pendidikan Guru), the then desk officer was the brainchild of this programme. 30 of us all over the nation (15 from teacher training colleges and 15 from schools) were shortlisted to further our studies (Masters Degree) in British Top Universities in 1997 and I was sent to the University of Birmingham. I enjoyed the one year stint so much that I completed my dissertation by August and returned home to be with my daughter who was then sitting for the UPSR! Dr Susan Hunston (my supervisor) wrote a wonderful report and that year I was awarded the SSB. Alhamdulillah...

Coming back to JELTA, Dato was a star in the conference. Protocol aside, she displayed no airs and warmly accepted personal photos with her. She exuded genuine warmth and humility and I believe this is due to her teaching background. Although the MC forgot to announce my name (phew!), a committee member saved the situation :) I'd like to thank JELTA, particularly the organising chairman, Mr Vincent D Silva for remembering us teachers who have contributed to the state. And congrats to my friends and fellow recipients: Mr Ang Tauk Khoon (former English Resource Personnel/JU and currently principal), Rozana (Resource Personnel/JU), Mr Kanalingam (Language Officer, PPD Segamat) and Pn Adibah (now Headmaster). We have indeed come a long way!

My workshop entitled "Are You Game?: Injecting Fun in the English Classroom" is scheduled at 12.15-1.45p.m. on Monday (that's right, Malaysia Day) See you there!

The Thinking Teacher