Melissa Tanya Gomes is one of many Malaysians who switched to a career in education through the Teach For Malaysia Fellowship. She graduated with a Bachelor of Economics in Natural Resources from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, and previously worked in consulting. She became a Teach For Malaysia Fellow in 2013, and is currently a fifth-year teacher at a high-need school in Jelutong, Penang.
1. What were you working as before you switched careers and joined the Teach For Malaysia Fellowship?
I was a management consultant before becoming a teacher under the purview of the Ministry of Education. While I was working in Kuala Lumpur, I would travel weekly to Melaka to teach a group of kids in church. It was then when I decided to quit my job in the corporate sector and be a teacher via the Teach For Malaysia Fellowship. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of students every day.
2. As a teacher, how have you impacted your students, your school or even the education system?
In my second year of teaching, I co-founded a school transformation programme where I played a key role in conceptualising the initiative. It focuses on under-performing schools where the majority of the students are from poor families or communities with poor social demographics, as well as students who do not have the opportunity to access or engage with the outside world. The goal is to improve students’ learning outcomes by empowering teachers to lead and drive transformation in their respective schools.
Some of the change teachers driving transformation in their respective schools
The programme is a three-year initiative which started in June 2015 and is currently implemented in 5 schools across Penang and Perak, in collaboration with different education organisations. It is now in its final year and we have seen a tremendous change in the teachers and students. Here are some of our key achievements at my school in Penang (based on second-year observation reports):
– Teaching skills of Form 1 & 2 teachers have increased by 38.75%
– Classroom environment recorded an improvement of 35.59%
– Students’ participation in the classroom increased by 28.75%
– Teachers were rated 3 (the highest rating) for conducting Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) consistently and effectively
– From 2015 – 2016, Form 1 students recorded a 1% increase and Form 2 students recorded a 3% increase in attendance
I believe that despite the adversities they face, our kids will have the opportunity to attain world-class education in our national schools.
3. What advice would you give to someone who might be considering switching to a career in teaching?
Be committed, humble and THINK BIG. Teach For Malaysia Fellows should start thinking of making systemic impact, not just impacting their classes. In light of that, Fellows should build positive rapport with their teachers and school leadership in order to create a collaborative environment.
Melissa received the ‘Excellent Service Award’ from the Ministry of Education last year to recognise her contribution to her school and district in pedagogy & co-curricular development
Teach For Malaysia recruits, trains and supports Fellows to teach in high-need schools across the nation. Beyond the Fellowship, our Alumni continue to champion education in different ways. To date, we’ve impacted over 44,000 students, working with the Ministry of Education and other partners.
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