Sunday, 13 May 2018

Three more days to Persembahan Hari Guru...

"It's okay to make mistakes, just learn from it!"

"In all seriousness, yes it is important to do things right - but in the process, don't forget to have fun!"

As I am sitting here typing this blog post, I am sending these text messages to my students.

I will be performing with a group of students for Teachers' Day celebration, which is in...three days time. We haven't been practicing, at all (we should be, but it didn't happened...We met up once to decide on the song to sing, the students were excited, they ended up selecting a song, then changing it, and changing it, and changing it again and again. So yes, nothing was done), until we this morning ,at 8am (+- 30 minutes, Malaysian timing sigh). Because we had to meet in school at 9am for a full rehearsal. Talk about super last minute.

So the rehearsal came and go, and no surprise it was quite a disaster - we weren't following the tempo, we don't have a background music (because we kept changing songs, and we decided on a song mashup really last minute, which we can't find any track without vocals) etc. etc. Out of nervousness some held their mics too far, or sang too fast (yours truly). Even my student came up to me and said, "Teacher you were going too fast and out of beat" hahahahahaha. Lack of practice, lack of practice.

Yes, teachers get to perform during Teachers' Day without going through audition - but we must deliver some form of quality.

So we made a promise to practice again tomorrow and the day after. And here I am reassuring them, it's alright, let's just practice hard, and don't forget to have fun, because once they all graduate they won't be able to get this opportunity anymore - even though there's a side of me deep down inside, feeling skeptical, and hopeful - hopeful that they will take practices even more seriously, or get rid of their nervousness and shyness in two days times (which, to be frank, would be really hard, given it is the first time for most of them, but I am still keeping my hopes up!)

Thinking back to when I was in high school, I was one of the shyest kid one would ever imagine - I will NEVER EVER perform on stage, give a speech in front of a crowd, or even speak my mind (yes, I am a different person altogether now). Seeing my "band" behaving in a similar way how I used to really get me thinking - how do I empower my students to be more confident, to let go of looking good, to speak up and flaunt their talent? The girls in my "band" can sing - they really do, but they need that strong and bold confident push and reassurance. Without realizing it, their shyness or low self-confidence are clouding their inner talent to flaunt and shine.

I remember feeling a little frustrated when my students texted me and ask if they can have practice on x day, because I thought they could have practiced on their own, without waiting for me.  I was frustrated, because no practice took place at all, even though I pushed them to practice on their own without waiting for me, especially because I stay far from school (15km away) and they all live within stone throw from each other. But thinking about it thoroughly, they might have done this (asking me for practice instead of initiating their own practice) out of courtesy, or they just need an initiator - or someone who taught or guide them to be empowered and take charge of whatever they do. They were used to following instructions, perhaps.

And heck, when I was a student, no way I would initiate things on my own. I would wait for my teachers to give instructions.

Rather than feeling frustrated, I should be guiding them, empower them, and teach them to lead.


How do you empower a student?

Empowering definitely won't happen overnight. It is a process, that takes time and effort (lots of it!).

I am really use to speaking my mind - being really blatant and #nofilter. Sometimes I wonder, whether I am being too straightforward to my students - and does it really benefit them, or it is just bringing them down?

I remember how when you're a student, whenever something goes wrong, you can just seek help from a teacher - they will make things right.

But how about when you're a teacher?


Can we really make the cut, with two more days of practice left?

We have our background music now (thank you BFM for teaching me the basic of Adobe Audition) we finally have all our lines sorted. I pray that it wouldn't be a disaster, and it wouldn't leave a dent on students' confidence, if it will be a disaster. As much as I want to believe that my students can do it, I am still worried. And also their exam which is starting tomorrow isn't helpful at all.

You'd think that TFM Fellows' blog is full of success story but noooo take that. It is a roller coaster journey full of ups and downs.

But on the bright side, we had practice in one of the girl's house this morning, and her parents were really kind to host us and serve us breakfast T_T

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Two Months into Teaching!

A little update & insights into my teaching life before I go into busy mode again. While all these memories and feelings are stored in an orderly manner in my brain, let me organized and lay it down nicely.
Current situation in le brain: still hanging on there
So I've been teaching two different classes English (4P2 and 4T1, two lovely classes, sometimes they might be a little restless but inadvertently they are a cooperative and respectful bunch!) for close to two months now. And I am teaching two other classes, 4K1 and 4K2 Science.

The K classes are challenging a little challenging at times - the 4K2s need more guidance in studies, and can be really noisy at times (well, actually, most of the time). The 4K1s are stronger academically, but there are a few students in that class who can be disruptive.

I resorted to using a "stricter" teacher persona in both of these classes.

4K2 - I think they don't really like me. The first thing I do when I enter their class is make sure they all sit at their place and I'll order the students who are not from their class to get out. I keep track of who did not bring their Science Process Skill book in a name list, and I threatened to report them to the discipline teacher if they did not bring their books more than three times (to cancel off the "consequence", they have to bring their book more than three classes in a row). Thankfully, I have not sent anyone to the discipline teacher....yet. I make sure they are quiet before I teach, I change their seating if they are being disruptive and so on. I shout out names of students who are talking in class (rather than doing positive narration, "I see xxx is sitting down being quiet" etc.).

Basically, I am a tyranny teacher in that class. That class clearly don't like me - I don't bother making them stand up and greet me when I enter nor exit the class because I feel like it is a waste of time (getting them to settle down takes a while already), and there is no point forcing a bunch of 16/17 years old to "respect" someone who they don't respect. I know that a few Chinese students in that class can't understand Malay nor English at all. Hence, they talk among themselves in class sometimes as they don't understand what is going on. Initially I tried using a little bit of mandarin in that class but I reflected on that and decided it wasn't fair for the other students so I resorted to just sticking to one language in class. I try to translate what I taught to the class to the bunch of Chinese during independent practice or when they are copying notes but let's be frank this isn't a sustainable way of teaching them - the exams won't be in Mandarin and this will only develop a further dependency on me to translate - they might not even put in effort to listen or try to understand what I am teaching in class because they know that I will translate it for them.

At the end of the lesson, I will try to talk to them one-on-one, explaining to them why I changed their seats, why I was being fierce and strict and so on. Some of them look "insaf" after I talk to them but not much have changed in class. I can tell that they are now "getting used to" my style (some students will ask their classmates to keep quiet when I am about to teach).

A few of the students wouldn't even bother trying to understand what is being taught, and just sleep through the lesson. I usually won't let that happen.

Most of the time, I walk out of 4K2 feeling that I have only taught a few students. (And those are the students that would personally thank me for teaching them at the end of the lesson, which is really enough for me).

The first thing my principal told us when we entered school was to have good classroom control - I understood the importance of good classroom control after I started teaching the K classes. Without good classroom control, it is hard for learning to take place. Students who want to learn in the class will find it hard to focus when their classmates are being disruptive and noisy.

4K1 on the other hand, they are a unique bunch. I am not as "tyranny" as I am with 4K2 with them, but rest assured, there are lots of shouting and table banging with them too. And it is always because of the same few students.... I made them sit back at their assigned seating rather than sitting anywhere at their own will. But thankfully for this class, they are a few responsible students that always help me keep the class under control.

I know a few students in that class probably hates me with a passion too but the class must go on - and the classroom has to be under control. And I don't know how to do it other than threats and scoldings.

Initially, I tried doing a "classroom reward system", where if the students are well-behaved in class and improve their Science grade, I will treat them to pizza but clearly that is not working out because the disruptive students don't really care (and some of them even said "Cikgu tipu lah cakap saja" translation: teacher you're lying you're just making empty promises!). Yes I will prove you all wrong. Bye bye money again but let me prove you wrong.

On one of our school replacement class on Saturday where the attendance of 4K1 and 4K2 was only 4/5 out of 30, I managed to talk to the students and understand what they are thinking much better.

A few 4K1 told me they understand what I was teaching (thank the lord!!), but they admitted that initially it was hard for them as it was an abrupt change to the teaching style from their previous teacher's. They told me that a lot of teacher don't like their class because they are a noisy bunch. Some teacher would just scold them when they enter their class, without any particular reason at all, probably just to instill fear, and now the whole class hates those teacher. They would be quiet and follow their instruction, but just for the sake of following her instruction. I wouldn't want to follow their footsteps...

They are many students, who I can tell, genuinely want to learn in those classes, and I don't want to let them down. I don't want the whole lesson being disrupted just because I can't control the class well.

At the same time, I don't want to always be the "fierce" and "tyranny" teacher that scold students for no reason at all. When I was a student, I hated it when teachers scolded us for no reason at all.

I wonder, maybe I am misunderstanding them? Or maybe I started off with the wrong foot? So many questions circulating in my mind.

"Teacher, I saw you in the K classes....I saw your face, I heard your voice....Cikgu boleh sangat garang ah," <- what my P and T students told me, because I never ever scolded the P and T classes lol.

Also, I do acknowledge that Science can be a rather dry and chalk-and-talk subject. I try bringing my students to the lab at least once a week for experiment, or bringing props to class so that they understand better (I brought a frying pan to school once, and aluminium foil, to explain about the properties of metal - good conductor of heat and malleable) but other than that my lessons are a lot of chalk-and-talk, which requires them to be silent and listen. And this is probably the reason why they are so restless.

And it is not like I have a lot of time to think and come out with activities for them all the time....Sometimes I try starting the lesson with a video, or some quiz just to get them warmed up. But yeah halfway through the lesson they would be restless again.

Yeah being a teacher is tough. I stayed back at school one day and was talking to a bunch of students who were practicing diabolo and they told me the same thing too - being a teacher is really tough. Some girls in K1 and K2 told me the same too - leave after my contract ends, teaching is a tough job.

Knowing that some students are rooting on my side now gives me the strength to teach, the energy to try my best despite being hated with a passion by others.

I do feel bad at time, for not being able to offer what other teacher can offer, good classroom control, super organized lesson content and useful SPM tips, just because I am a new teacher who can be a blur sotong at times (yes, students can tell when you're blur or nervous). I wish if I can offer more to my students. I often ask for advice from my students about the characteristic of a good teacher and so on, and I realize I am really far from it.


Done with the negative, off to the positive! So my birthday was two weeks ago and I received a care package from my students of 4P2!

And also birthday song from 4T1 too! Really touched at all these gestures T_T And they purposely bought sandwich for me as I told them it was my favourite food before.

Was tasked to lead a drama crew for English week launch and these jokers did a really good job ! + Emcee who wasn't in the picture!

 Trip to Desaru beach during Labour's Day!
 Beer Pong again lol
 Ika was in Johor!!
Had the opportunity to go home for a weekend and met up with Hong Jin and Kula, both Sejarah fellows at Central!

Last but not least, look what my housemates got me for my birthday lol.

That's all for now. Now I got to figure out what to teach my K classes tomorrow, and reflect on my teaching style, how can I improve and fine-tune it.

Planning a lesson for the K classes is an arduous task, knowing that probably a few students will achieve the lesson objectives, knowing that I have to be strict and firm (and an angry teacher), is really tiring.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

It's all about the money, money, money

Today, I went out with two of my students to watch Avengers.

I paid for everyone's tickets first, and my students tried to pay me back the ticket cost (RM15 each).

I had this scene role-played in my head many times before I went out with them - just accept the money from them, I am not a charity organiztion, I am a teacher, who have not received any salary at all since March....accept the money Jia Qi....just accept it.

But nooooooo in reality that did not happen AT ALL.

Yes, this "kind" teacher decided to give her students a treat. Bye bye money.

After the movie I dropped by a night market nearby, and I bumped into one of my student from my school, who is working with his friend at a stall. AND GUESS WHO SPENT MORE MONEY?


I am not too sure how to feel about this at all - being in Johor, away from most of my friends in Central, and also being a busy fellow, I don't hang out with friends as much as I used to (okay I do go out for socials much more compared to most of the other fellows here though). Hence, the "savings" I reserved for socials can be spent on students instead, right?

When I was in high school and when my teacher treated me to something, anything at all, be it something small like a snack from the canteen, or a Starbucks at a mall (yep, a teacher bought us Starbucks after joining some competition!), I remember that felt really good - I was literally over the moon, and I really want to provide a similar feeling and experience to my students. At the same time, gosh how many students do I have?!!! I am aware that I can give this same feeling to every single one of my students.

I remember once a senior treated my friends and I to dinner and he told us this: "Once you all started working and can afford to pay for your meals, treat your friends/students who can't. My senior taught me this." This left a really strong impression on me, and I really wanted to do the same now that I am working (Despite, earning a meager salary). When I was interning in BFM, our higher-ups would always take turn treating us to lunch at least once a week. Same goes when I was in GE, sometimes they would treat us to a drink or meal.

When I told my dad I don't collect printing money from my students, he reminded me that I am not a charity organization. Hence, I started collecting monies from my English classes. Even my students were "lecturing" me, telling me I should have done it earlier.

I really do need to detach my emotions and attachment from my students, perhaps. Hoping to get my salary soon....

Saturday, 28 April 2018

A teacher's rant

A teacher needs to be at the school before 7.10am, and can only leave after 2.15pm (if there are no meetings after school) in my school, which means our official working hour is 7 hours.

On paper, I have 26 periods (ie 13 hours of lesson), one hour of extra-curricular activity, 1.5 hours for meetings per week.

However, on top of that, we get relief classes, so on average, I get about 8-10 periods per day (4-5 hours).

And during my "free" period I usually spent it helping other students in their studies, or preparing for my next lessons.

After school, I usually stay back for an additional hour or two (or sometimes three or four) to give students extra classes (free extra classes ok).

So on average, I spend about 8-9 hours in school per day - and no I don't get much room to breathe. 

Work doesn't end after school - there is lesson planning, admin duties and paper work, and attending to students messages and queries. And sometimes additional initiatives duties that I took on voluntarily, and also compulsory TFM duties too. And oh, did I mention about our crazy stack pile of assignments for DPLI?

During most weekends, we have to attend DPLI classes which is from 8am-6pm, for both Fridays and Saturdays. 

During our free weekend, we have to attend compulsory school event on Saturdays.

And on top of that, we have our lives too - we have our social lives and we want to have fun, meet our friends and go out for dinner too. FYI we have our families as well too.

Why do people assume that teachers are always free? 

I get really triggered when students take me for granted and assume that I am always free to answer their questions, or demand immediate answers. Or when some parents try to push me to have extra classes even though I clearly state I am very busy that week due to assignments. Like everyone else in this world, we have a life too you know.

We need our rest, and we get tired too. We are humans.

I was stunned, at the same time rather touched when a student asked me " you not have many friends here? Why are you so free to bring us out of school?". Well stunned because of the level of maturity, and touched because SOMEONE UNDERSTANDS. It is not that we don't have many friends, but rather our friends (TFM Fellows) are mostly busy. And I do still go out pretty often even though our hands are rather tied (Jia Qi really need her socials). 

[Update 5am 29 April]
Received an Insta direct message from one of my KemSkorlah student and his friend, thanking me for teaching them. They were conveying their dreams to further study in the UK. T_T

Sunday, 22 April 2018


Most of you who follows me on Instagram would know this - my laptop has been giving me a lot of troubles recently. It auto-restarts out of nowhere, and it takes almost forever to reboot. (Okay I'm clearly exaggerating, but you know how we are so used to technology being at the tip of our finger tip, having no access to technology feels like forever?). 

Today is the longest time frame my laptop has been "dead". I can't start up my laptop SINCE 6AM THIS MORNING. So bye-bye lesson plans, my pre-prepared slides and so on. Just goreng lah for the whole day.

I was complaining about my laptop to one of my trusted student, and I (half-serious) asked him if I could borrow his laptop because I AM DYING I NEED A LAPTOP TO LESSON PLAN AND COMPLETE MY ASSIGNMENT.

He said yes. He went home after school, took his laptop, and walked back to school to pass the laptop to me.

And yes, I am currently typing from his laptop. 


I am amalgamation of happiness, gratefulness, guilt and apprehension. Happy because...well I get to do work. Grateful to have a student that trusts me so much, that he is willing to lend me his laptop. Guilt because I am not sure if taking his laptop away from him will cause inconvenience to him (he reassured that he rarely uses his laptop, but really who knows), and also because he came back to school just to pass his laptop to me and ask me to teach him one maths question. I had to ask my collab, Sophie, to teach him as I was guiding another student in English language at that time and I find it hard to multitask. Apprehension because....I am holding on to an expensive asset.

I wonder, if I am a student, and a teacher asks me to borrow her my laptop, would I budge? 

Tuesday, 17 April 2018


"How's my teaching in your class? Am I teaching too fast or too slow? Can you understand what I am teaching?"

"Teacher are you not confident about what you are teaching?"


"No....teacher really need feedback because if you don't tell me how I am doing, how can I improve and give the best to you all?" month into teaching, I'd say I am...somewhat floating.

The insecurities after each class keep building up - did my students understand what I taught? Was I speaking way too fast? My classroom control was way off in that class - will the students hate me for not controlling the class well? Did the students actually learn something in my class? Yadda yadda.

I am getting more apprehensive as the mid-terms loom closer. The teachers that were teaching my classes prior to me taking over are all quite capable - what if I can't meet their standard and cause the students' result to slip?

The school assigned me to classes where there are more Chinese students because of my ability to speak Chinese. I do translate some terms into mandarin in class (and sometimes, a whole sentence), especially in my Science classes. This is becoming a concern to me as I am worried that it might be seen as favoritism to other races. At the same time, I feel that translating the terms might assist some of the students to remember and understand what they are studying. So this remains as a conflict that I am not sure how to resolve.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

The Happier Side of Things

"Teacher LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, are you relieving our class later?"


"Alaaaaaaaaaa, nak tanya Cikgu tentang soalan Fizik!"

*heart melts, do the victory watermelon dance internally*

On the outside: *Acts cool* Next time round okay? Or you can message me your questions, or meet me after school, I'll try to help.

Despite my kinda sorta maybe okay fine it is negative blogpost, there were quite a few positive things that happened throughout my first month of school which really kept my spirit high and rising. I relieved our school's one and only Form Four Pure Science class a few times and I really do love relieving their class! I expressed my love for additional mathematics & physics to them, and now I am their to-go Physics & Add-Maths teacher. I really enjoy teaching them Physics & Add Maths - one, because these were my favourite subjects in high school and two, they have a positive attitude to learn :)
Relieved the last class of Form 5...and a kid greeted me with a fake cockroach -_- Not really the most effective way of scaring me, as I have slept through the night with X number of cockroaches (house was vacant for too long, and one or two or maybe three? cockroach nest just hatched). The class then told me that the kid who tried to scare me wasn't even their classmate, he was just a troublemaker in school.

School teachers in my school told me that the students in this class have no motivation at all to study. But after talking to them I realize the problem is they really are nice kids, just that they are really far behind their studies and most teachers gave up on them....which is really sad. But they are really good and respectful kids who just deserve to be given a chance!

Whenever I bump into them or relief their class, they'd ask me if I am taking over their English class. I really do want to do so, but first, I have to find my footing in school first!

On an unrelated note, some of the students branded me as the "cockroach breeder" because of that incident -_-. Whenever someone misbehave, I'd (jokingly) say I'll bring a cockroach for them.

Out of school, I had the opportunity to take part in a few 2017s fellow initiative :D
The Young Journalist interview workshop!
Was given the opportunity by the 2017s to be an interviewee for the kids to practice their practical! Thank you Bernard, Ivanka and Norlin for the opportunity :)


Last weekend was one of Teach For Malaysia's amazing staff, Rizal's last weekend here :(  
Dim Sum at Johor Jaya!

And bowling straight after that! 
Our final scores!
Us recording a song cover for Rizal's farewell. Thanks to DPLI for giving us the opportunity to allow our creative juice to flow freely.
Also met up with my KemSkorlah kids for a inter-school fellows & students badminton tournament! They are now in Form Five and have grew taller and looked more matured now! I swear, I almost couldn't recognize them.

I went all the way to Scientex (it is a 30 minute detour!) just to pick them up from their school in Scientex, as a few of them didn't have transport. And when they found out I actually live just 10 minutes away from the badminton court, they were like "Teacher! Why didn't you tell us! We could have find another way to get here!" *heart melts*

"Lain kali kita belanjar cikgu makan!", my kids said, before they left.

I felt really bad for them as my badminton skills are beyond awful (I kid you not, I don't even know the rules...I just look at my kid whenever someone scores and he'll tell me where to stand, and which direction I should swing my racket. OH AND I don't even have a racket I had to borrow from my kid)). I apologized to my kid for causing our lost (trust me.....I kept missing the shuttlecock or serve notoriously...) and my kid replied "Chill la teacher, datang sini main jer!" (Chill, we're here to have fun!)
Dinner at 22 Fried Chicken Factory!
Beer Pong lol (Hoping none of my students read this)

The Local Focal Project photo exhibition!

 Happy to see some of my students' photos here!
And....our last night with Rizal sobs.

Students correcting my mandarin lol.

Going back a little in time....

Had the opportunity to be a short-term intern and helper for Dragons' Den 2018!

Joined a two days Arduino training on our third official day of school!

Survived 6 days straight of DPLI (Diploma Pendidikan Lepas Ijazah / Postgrad Diploma in Education) classes! 
Kacang Pool during one of our DPLI lunch break
Le very random karaoke night at the office one day before the school holidays end....
Parents visited so my tummy was happy and I get to go on a short trip to Singapore :D 
& we are now part of The Local Focal minions!
This felt so long ago but Pesta Layang-Layang 2018 at Pasir Gudang! Can't believe this was one week before placement because after we received our placement, time just seems to fly!

Slowly finding my footing in my English class...still trying to understand my students and what teaching style would be the best for them. Slowly building relationship with them. :) Will be starting to teach Science next week so...wish me luck!

That's all for now, DPLI tomorrow = no weekends.

Even so, every day feels like a holiday, despite the heavy workload, because I am having fun every day (and okay I got to admit there are days where I go cukoo though).

Monday, 2 April 2018

Students fought in my class today

I'm currently teaching two different Form Four classes English - one class is the more obedient type that is very used to following instruction and won't respond much when I throw a question, and the other class is more pro-active but talkative in class. The students' proficiency in English from the obedient class is okay, not super weak but they do struggle in understanding some concept and make a significant number of grammatical error - but they're a lovely bunch. The more pro-active class' students have a slightly weaker grasps in English mastery, but they are a cooperative and enthusiastic bunch.

I really enjoy being in the pro-active class (let's call them class B) - because I don't feel like I am talking to myself (I really feel like I am talking to myself in the obedient class (let's call them class A), but nevertheless, I still love class A! Just that I wasn't too sure whether I am perceived well in their class because it feels one-sided at times).

So today, I decided to give them a group presentation work about "Complaints You Have About This School". The objective of this presentation is just to let the students have fun, rant a little while practicing English, and in the next lesson, reuse their points and make them write a formal letter to their principal to address these complaints :D

Things were going on fine - class was abuzz with discussion, students were asking questions and so on. One group of boys finished early, so I asked them to present first and they gladly went to the front of the class, brimming with confidence.

All was well - until one of the boys (the ketua tingkatan, let's call him B) brought up about a complain about one of their classmate - their penolong ketua tingkatan (assistant class monitor).

They called her a "show-off" and "arrogant" person.

And the assistant class monitor, let's call her H, burst into tears and scream, threw some stuff, banged the white board, and stormed out of the classroom.

I tried to console her at that time but her emotions were clearly unstable, so I asked her friends to accompany her to the toilet.

Back in class, students were upset - some of them were upset because they feel that the students shouldn't be so blunt.

"Teacher is not going to scold you all, you all are adults already. Teacher just want you to think about what you have done....and why she (the girl that stormed out) is upset."

"But teacher, we really don't like her!"

"Think about it, if someone, or a teacher, scolded you or made a remark to you in class like this will you like it?"


"Teacher really want you to think about what can we do to make the situation better? She is upset and hurt."

*More Silence*

"When teacher asked for respect, I am not just asking you all to respect me. I want to respect you all too, and I want you all to respect each other."

Then the girl came back from the toilet.

"Teacher let's just move on with the lesson!" some students suggested.

So I went on asking them, what did the group of boys did well, yes they were honest, they introduced themselves, they spoke loudly etc. etc. And someone mentioned something, that triggered H and H started crying and shouting in class again.

Then B stood up, and shouted "CAN YOU PLEASE RESPECT TEACHER, SHE IS STANDING HERE IN CLASS" (Bolding this because he was really shouting at the top of his lungs)

"That's enough, B. It's alright already."

Then H shouted something and stormed out of the classroom. Sent the girls to console her again. Typing this rather monotonously because I don't know what to feel at that time.

Moved on with the lesson giving them a talk about mistakes, and how we're human, and how we all make mistakes it is okay, just learn from your mistakes. See how monotonous this paragraph is.

And it is the end of school. *Even more monotonous sentence*

Students left. Asked B to stay a while. Wanted to understand what was going through his head. B said he no longer wants to be the class monitor. Couldn't talk to him longer because he had to catch his transport home, but his two friends offered to explain their class' situation to me. They explained their side of their story, telling me why they don't like H.

"If you don't like a particular behavior, then don't learn it. Let's say if your friend always scolds you, do you like it? No right, so don't do it back on him!"

"But teacher.....*goes on telling me what H has done*"

"Teacher is really sad. Teacher just want you all to have fun today and learn English, but you all ended up fighting."

"Nooo teacher! We love you, but we don't love her"

"Okay never mind, just go home and think about it all are adults now and I believe you all will make responsible decision."

Felt rather drained for the rest of the afternoon - conducted extra classes for a form 4 student and a form 5 student after that, felt bad as I feel like I couldn't give my 100% because of my mood.

B's friend texted me and apologized for their behavior in class after that. I told them (again) I am not upset or angry, but I just want them to respect each other and also listen when I teach and he replied:

"Teacher we respect you...but we don't respect her."

Entering their class tomorrow, I wonder if it is better to just leave it, or address it. One thing for sure I'll try to talk to B and H personally (and separately). Hope it will go well....

Saturday, 31 March 2018


Wednesday 28 March 2018
Today, I feel drained.

A student in my school shared a glimpse of his life . I knew that a lot of the students from our school have complicated background, but I couldn't help but to feel helpless and disturbed after listening to his story.

Ah Wong* is a 17 year old boy, studying in the last class of form 4 in my school. He has been out of school for more than 2 years. He worked with his father during that period of time, before deciding to return to school, with the aim of getting his SPM cert.

The school principal placed him in the last class, perhaps because he missed two years of schooling and the principal thought that he might be behind in his studies. His English is okay, he managed to pass his test, but he failed in BM and Sejarah paper.

His father is hospitalized, his mother has mental illness and is staying in a mental hospital, and he has been staying alone since Chinese New Year, and living off the money his relative gave.

How much can us teacher do for a student like this? This might just be one out of plenty of students who have complicated background.

How much time can we spare? When we have so many students to take care off, on top of paper work to settle, co-curricular activities, our other teachers duties.

Classroom hours? One subject typically have six period in a week, and a one period lesson is 30 minutes, 5-10 minutes is lost if your class is right after an assembly, or when the students are coming from science labs/the school field. Sometimes assembly might overrun so there goes your class. Sometimes students are out of class for extra-curricular activities and they miss out on more than one lesson.

How much can we help the students, financially? When we have to pay for our stationary, pay for our printing, and we need to live - there are bills we need to pay, our food to settle and we have our family and loved one we wish to treat occasionally.

I offered free extra classes for this particular student after school hours, but I honestly not sure if I can commit to this as my DPLI (Diploma Pendidikan Lepas Ijazah ie Postgrad Diploma in Education) coursework might start piling up soon and I foresee more responsibility and workload from school as I settle in. I do hope I can at least help him in achieving his dream to obtain his SPM certificate, but right now with his level of proficiency in Malay, a lot of work must be done, a lot of hours must be poured in.

How can I achieve minimax outcome to help my students?

Friday, 9 March 2018

And So It Begins...

"Cikgu kena tegas dan garang ya, jangan senyum di kelas."

"Be strict and firm, don't smile. Be fierce."


Advices from teachers I've gotten, on the first day of school as a new teacher.


The wait for us Teach For Malaysia (TFM) 2018 cohort has finally come to an end, after 2+ months of waiting, we finally received our placement and are now in schools! 

In an unexpected twist of fate, I have a colab (a TFM term for any TFM teachers in your school), who is coincidentally one of my close friend and housemate, Sophie!

Us with our placement letter on lapor diri day (7 March 2018)
The placement news came rather sudden - it was a fine, normal morning, well actually rather a pleasant morning. Woke up at 7am, weather was lovely so I went jogging, had a good breakfast (Jia's standard peanut butter and banana toastie) yadaa yadaa yadaa typical morning of an unemployed Jia Qi. I remember I was preparing to go to school (was volunteering in a school with the 2017s fellow, Sui Yang and Chiew Teng for 1.5 weeks) and a wave of Telegram messages started crashing in. We were informed to travel back to our respective regions immediately, as we are expected to lapor diri (report for duty) in less than 24 hours.

As I was already in my region (Johor) since 19 February (was interning at TFM office for a week, then I was in school supporting 2017 fellows as a teaching assistant), I wasn't affected much (other than the shock of having to enter MY ACTUAL SCHOOL the next day), I still went to school as a teaching assistant as usual, whereas my friends who were out of the regions had to just drop whatever they were doing and travel back to Johor. Some were working when the news came in, and most were out of the state (Selangor/KL/Pahang/Kedah etc.).

Our cohort is spited into three regions: Central (Selangor/KL), South (Pasir Gudang district) and East (Semporna). Those who are placed in Semporna had to go through the most trouble to travel back to their respective region, as they are all not from Semporna, and air travel was the fastest and more viable option to them (& also the more expensive option). Luckily, they were given a few days extra to report for duty and they have already secured a place to stay prior to this.

(Note: we all had prior knowledge about our respective regions way before this)

Most of us that are placed in the South (12 out of 14 of us) managed to report for duty on the stipulated date (7 March 2018, 8.30am). Had a briefing session with PPD (Pejabat Pendidikan Daerah/District Education Office) Pasir Gudang, was presented our official placement letter, and off we go, whisked to our respective schools.

How have things been so far? 

We only officially started our duty as a teacher yesterday (Thursday, 8 March 2018), and Fridays & Saturdays are rest days in Johor, so that marks one day of me being a teacher! As the school wasn't expecting any new teachers, Sophie & I are now assigned as reliefs teachers, and were given a challenge by the school principal to try to teach the kids something in class, rather than asking them to buat kerja sendiri (do your own work).

The school principal, teachers and staffs were really warm and welcoming in the school, and that's something I am really grateful about. A teacher bought Sophie and I some sandwiches as a welcome gift, and an English teacher invited us to observe her lesson so that we can get a "feel" on how things work here.

Howeverrrrrrr (notice how a good story always ties with a "however" at the end), they warned us about the students' behavior & disciplinary issues.

"Be fierce, don't smile in class."


The principal placed both Sophie & I in the morning session for now where the students are more well-behaved (relative to the morning session, gulp), before they decide what to do with us & which classes/subjects we are supposed to teach (other than English, which is our main option). Scaffolding us to handle students, perhaps.

On my first day, I was given two-hours of relief classes for three different classes. I made up my mind to just do a simple introduction and make the students ask questions based on the KWL (Know, Wonder, Learn) chart, for all three relief classes.

First relief class, okay, things seems to be okay. (Notice the excessive use of okay(s). Just me telling myself it is going to be OK). English proficiency of students: A lot NEEDS to be done. I basically conducted the whole class in Mandarin and Malay language. Students were tad mischievous, but not as bad as I imagined it would be. The students themselves in that class admitted, that they are not problematic students, but they really struggle in their studies.

Second class, one-hour relief. Okay, Jia Qi, you can do this.

The moment I set foot into that classroom, a tingling sense tells me that I have to be firm, and maintain a strong teachers' presence.

After my relief class incident at one of a back class, I knew I had to be firm. Students were rowdy, and some dared to talk back. 

There was a point where I stumbled over words and a few students started laughing and hurling rude remark, so I had to put on a stern front and asked them "is it funny? What's wrong with making a mistake? Everyone makes mistakes." and the class immediately fell silent. 

Towards the end of the one-hour class, I was really exhausted. Somehow smiling is such an autopilot mechanism for me, so being conscious of NOT SMILING really do take a lot of effort. 
Thank goodness my third relief class was a dream class. Phewwwwwwww. Students were lovely and cooperative. #Goals.

And that, is my summary of my first day in school.

Still figuring out what type of teacher personality will I approach. I personally wouldn't want to be the fierce teacher - it really goes against my nature. I grew up attending Chinese primary school, where discipline was tight, strict (insert whatever adjectives relating to strictness). I grew up fearing schools, fearing authority, and afraid of making mistake - I wish not to replicate my experience in the classes I am teaching.

Oh, students.  
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