With #JourneyThusFar , Teach For Malaysia wants to capture and acknowledge the reality of our teachers who are placed all over Malaysia, teaching in high-need schools. As the year comes to an end, it seems like the perfect time to reflect on what 2018 has presented us with.
Chee Gee Keat, a 2018 Fellow, was placed in a high-need school in Klang. This is his #JouneyThusFar of his life as a Teach For Malaysia teacher.
Questions at the beginning
“Where am I going to be placed?” “Will I make a difference in the school I am in?” “Is this the right choice for me?”
After countless insect bites, sweaty shirts, and tears from the many failures encountered, here I stand having finished my first year of the Teach For Malaysia Fellowship, with all of these questions resolved.
Before the Fellowship began, my fellow 2018 cohort mate and I were uncertain about teaching in a school deep in Klang. Having heard many stories from the Teach For Malaysia Alumni that have been in said school before, we expected many challenges ahead which include language barriers, student behavioural problems and a different living environment just to name a few. We were in many ways wary about it and had many “why me” moments. As the year passed us by, we found ways to keep ourselves motivated and dedicated to our mission of giving these students the best possible education we could.
Music is my answer
I started to enjoy my time in school more when I began my weekly music classes. Mind you, I am no musical maestro but I have a knack around the guitar and ukulele. My students told me that they have always wanted to learn music but no one from the local community was able to coach them, and that is how I started the music classes. Rounding up a group of interested students who had the resources to get their own musical instruments was a challenge. One of my first disappointments was having to turn down a few students who wanted to learn but couldn’t afford to buy an instrument. But they still came along to watch, strum on my guitar and enjoy the music!
And that was how the unofficial music club in this high-need school was born! It’s unofficial because I give classes after school hours. Most teachers advised me not to make it an actual club as it would be difficult to find another music teacher after I leave the school. That is such a sad reality for me because I feel art, music and culture are integral in the cognitive development of our future leaders. I was a new teacher on the block and these students come from various age groups. They have lived only with their local community and hardly mixed around with anyone from the urban area. Therefore, their understanding of life and exposure to the opportunities available is very limited. It is a disheartening reality.
Onto greener pastures
For the second year of my Fellowship programme, I am hoping for a few things. On a professional level, I want to improve my method and manner of information deliverance to my students. I still have a long way to go as an excellent educator, especially when it is about getting my students to be interested in subjects that seem irrelevant to them. On a more personal level, I look forward to becoming a better musician for myself and my students. During the first year of my Fellowship programme, teaching my students has improved my skills tremendously as constant practice sharpens one’s skills. I hope that someday soon, my students would be able to perform at the Teach For Malaysia National Conference.
Chee Gee Keat is a 2018 Teach For Malaysia Fellow, who graduated with an MEng in Chemical Engineering (Hons) from the University of Bath. He is currently teaching RBT (Reka Bentuk & Teknologi) at a high-need school in Klang.
It is through Fellows like Gee Keat who firmly believe every student is important, that Teach For Malaysia is able to be a change agent. Join us and support our cause of wanting to end education inequity.
#TeachForMalaysia #OurFutureLeaders #ForTheKids