Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kem Lepasan SPM 2009


Last weekend (Dec25-27), I attended PEMBINA's Kem Lepasan SPM. The camp aims to enlighten school leavers on the various pathways they may want to embark on after SPM.

A dear friend asked me to help out as a facilitator. I have never done this before, so I was a bit apprehensive about joining. Will I be of any help?

But they needed someone to explain about how one may enter into the teaching profession, so I agreed.

Alhamdulillah, that decision turned out to be the right one. Though, I went there to "enlighten" the participants, I ended up being the one enlightened.


The camp had more male participants than female ones. There were around 40 male students while the females numbered at 14. Funny thing is, the number of female facilitators and committee members is 14 too, so the ratio of participant and facilitator is 1:1.

That configuration made bonding so much easier and faster. Everyone got to know everyone else. That first night, the ice was not only broken; it was thawed completely.

We, the facilitators, and our group members slept in the same area. The dormitories contained bunk beds. I had to sleep on the top bed and the whole structure creaked and shook with the slightest move. I had never slept as still as I slept that night. Even an involuntary twitch caused me alarm. I was afraid that the bed might collapse totally and crush the poor girl sleeping underneath. The second night was much better. I overcame my paranoia (partially) and slept more comfortably.

On Saturday, the 'Siri Penerangan Kursus' was held. People from various industries (Engineering, Health Sciences, Accounting, Applied Science, Education & Syariah) talked about their respective field. This session was aimed to give the students accurate and useful input so that they will make well-informed decisions about their future. I took the floor for the slot on education. I think I did okay but in retrospect, I think I should have elaborated more on the work scope of a teacher (the various unrelated-to-teaching tasks), its joys and tribulations - so as to give the participants a clearer and truer picture. Photographs would have helped as well. Maybe I needn't focus so much on the structure of the programme and other technical aspects. What's more important is not 'how to apply for the programme' (because that's easy to find out), but 'whether teaching is the right career for them'. Plus, my voice was a bit high-pitched during the presentation - as it tends to be when I'm nervous and excited.


After Zohor, we trekked the jungle nearby. I thought they were a bit crazy scheduling an outdoor activity at the height of the stifling afternoon heat. But amazingly, once we stepped into the jungle, the air was cool and refreshing. The trek was quite challenging. I wore my trusty sport shoes but I still nearly fell a few times on the slippery slopes. But I loved the experience nonetheless. Living in the city makes you appreciate pristine nature so much more.

That evening, we had a team-building exercise. There were 3 tasks that we had to complete - all of which demanded critical-thinking skills as well as great teamwork. We had to:
1) build a gadget that can protect an egg from extreme demolition measures (courtesy of the juries),
2) build the most solid building, and
3) design and create a uniform for a chef, a soldier and a silat instructor.
We had to accomplish all these using only the limited materials supplied. Progress was a bit slow since many were tired from the trekking but everyone was lively again when the juries started to throw and smash the gadgets with all their might in an attempt to break the egg.

That night, we had our 'Malam Kebudayaan'. The theme given was: 'Remaja dan Gejala Sosial'. There wasn't enough time for practice but the participants did a very good job. I was impressed by their confidence, talent, and creativity. They managed to give entertaining performances and convey meaningful messages all at the same time.

On our last day (Dec 27), the participants were coached on how to excel in interviews for scholarships. They were told the Do's and Don'ts and several people shared their interview experiences. Unfortunately, due to time constraint, a mock interview couldn't be carried out.

The closing ceremony followed afterwards. Prizes were given to the groups as well as the best and most sporting participant. After a group photo, the Zohor prayer and lunch, people started to head home...

X X X

What made the camp so special to me was the great people I met there. I knew a few of them, but the rest were strangers to me. But in just 3 days and 2 nights, we really bonded with each other. I'm grateful and honoured to meet these amazing individuals. I've learnt a lot from them. Their enthusiasm was just infectious. They reminded me of this quote from Hassan Al-Banna:

"We need spirited, energetic and strong young people whose hearts are filled with life, enthusiasm, zeal and dynamism; whose souls are full of ambition, aspiration and vigor and have great goals, rising and aspiring to reach them until they eventually arrive at their destination."

May Allah strengthen and bless this ukhuwwah (bond).

X X X

-It has been a truly great experience. I've learned a lot so I strongly recommend you to get your younger brother/sister/cousin to join the same programme next year.

-More pictures and videos will be uploaded later, inshaAllah.

-Pictures taken from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/46056694@N08/

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Road to Mecca


Last night, I attended a screening of the documentary 'The Road to Mecca'. The title is derived from a very famous book written by the late Muhammad Asad.

Asad, born Leopold Weiss, converted to Islam in 1926, when he was 26 years old. He studied the Quran and the Sunnah passionately and later produced invaluable written works for the Muslim world. Besides 'The Road to Mecca', which basically tells of his "discovery of Islam and of his integration within the Muslim community", he also wrote:

-This Law of Ours And Other Essays (a compilation of his essays which aim to clarify the confusions prevailing in the Muslim Ummah)

-Sahih Al-Bukhari: The Early Years of Islam (an English translation of the most important compilation of the Prophet's Traditions)

-The Message of the Quran (widely regarded as one of the best English translations and commentaries of the Quran. It took Asad 17 years to complete it)

-Islam at the Crossroads (which was written as a plea to the Muslims to avoid a blind imitation of Western social forms and values)

-The Unromantic Orient (a travelogue that tracks the author from Jerusalem to Cairo, Amman, parts of the TransJordan, Palestine, Damascus, and Istanbul, before his conversion)

-The Principles of State and Government in Islam (which is self-explanatory :-p)

Anyway, the said documentary was beautiful, engaging, and at times, funny. It ran for one and a half hours, but I was deeply-engaged throughout.

I like that it tries to convey so many things to the audience: Asad's thoughts, views, character, and life journey and relate them to today's tough issues such as extremism, the general backwardness of the Muslims, religious (in)tolerance, the notion of jihad, and the difference of opinions even amongst the Muslims.

The documentary traces Asad's journey from Austria (where he was born) to Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Pakistan and Spain.

-Asad remains a major figure in Pakistan-

It also features interviews with people who have known Asad personally and those whose lives he has touched through his writings. These people include his stepbrother, his son (Prof. Talal Asad), his Jewish friends, journalists, Palestine pilgrims, and the Arab Bedouins.

-An Arab Bedouin engrossed in reading 'The Road to Mecca'. He later asked, "Is this the only copy you've got?"-

I love that all these people speak in different languages and come from different cultures, yet their lives were decidedly influenced/affected by this one man.

It really illustrates how "the ink of a scholar is more sacred than the blood of a martyr".

The documentary is packed with really good quotes.

One that really struck me was when a journalist said:

"If Muhammad Asad was alive today, he would still have fallen in love with Islam. But he would distrust the Muslims. Muslims today do not deserve this beautiful religion"

Another one was by Asad himself:

"We are the stupidest community. We have the greatest guidance in the Quran. And we have the greatest teacher/model in Muhammad (peace be upon him), yet we are now the lowest of the low".

[Sorry, these quotations might not be verbatim since I'm only relying on my poor memory. But they contain the essence that I'd grasped]

Both the quotations were a big wake-up call for me.

I was just so affected by the documentary that I wish I could buy the DVD and get other people to see it too. Thankfully, the Islamic Book Trust (IBT) is given the distribution rights to the documentary. It is slated for release in March 2010.

Till then, enjoy the trailer:



Credits:
-All the pictures are taken from: Mischief Film (the production house of the documentary)
-More information on the books can be obtained from the Islamic Book Trust site. You can also purchase the books online.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tips for beginning teachers

I'm hardly the most competent of new teachers but I would like to share what I've learned throughout my first-year of teaching with my cohort 3 juniors.

1) Teaching is not at all like practicum

We all loved our practicum days. Sure, we were sleep-deprived and we tortured our brains to come up with interesting lesson plans+teaching aids.

But in the end, we loved the experience. We were loved by the students and we made learning FUN! What an achievement that is.

It would be great if you could maintain that standard but truth be told, you won't have the luxury to do so.

Instead of teaching only 2 classes, you will now teach 5.
Instead of 10 periods a week, you will now handle 25 (or more).
To top it all off, you will be assigned various duties that require mountains of paperwork.

The teaching & learning process will sadly be relegated to the near-bottom of your priorities :-(

But, try to maintain that standard nonetheless. Keep all your lesson plans and teaching aids from your practicum days. They will be extremely useful!

Maybe you won't be able to conduct fun lessons every day, but try to do so once a week or once a fortnightly.

2) Brush up on your classroom management

This has been my Achilles heel. Your personality will dictate your teaching style. And try as I might, I cannot seem to be garang or make my voice louder. These shortcomings proved to be disastrous. I cannot seem to get the class under control and hence not much learning can take place, regardless of how well the lesson is planned.

So, moral of the story: toughen yourself up to face these teenagers. They have claws.

3) Get organised

In Selangor, you are supposed to go through an orientation period. For 2 to 3 weeks, your school is supposed to acclimatise you to the school's culture, acquaint you with the "important" people in the organisation, and detail your job specifications, etc.

But rarely do schools have time to do this. So you need to do all these things on your own. Seek out a friendly face and ask that person for any assistance/guidance.

You need to know what you are expected to do:

-Besides teaching, you need to administer oral tests twice a year and fill in the related forms.

-You have to set exam questions. Find out when's your turn to do this.

-For extra-curricular activities, your have to clock-in the required contact hours before the students are busy with their academic pursuit in the second half of the year.

-You have to hand in the students' books for inspection periodically. So identify students who actually do their work because chances are there are not many of them!

-Keep track of all the work that your students have submitted. Usually, for the mid-year and the end-of-year exam, there is a 10% allocation for homework.

-And do work out the logistics early on. You will need to finish the syllabus by October. So distribute the contents of the syllabus evenly throughout the academic calender.

4) You will hear this often: "New broom sweeps clean"

Some will use that as an excuse to pile more work on your plate. Most of the times, you will feel victimised by the unfairness of it all.

But take heart. Do the work to the best of your abilities. Persevere, though you feel as if you might just buckle under the pressure or be buried under all those paperwork. Look up to those teachers who do more work than you, not less. Emulate the dedicated ones.

And it's absolutely essential to learn to say 'No' (something that I, myself, am still learning to do)

5) Stop complaining

It's so easy and tempting to complain incessantly about how you are overwork and underpaid but complaining never made anyone attractive.

Remember that the grass is NOT greener on the other side.

You may have problematic students but you have great colleagues (or the other way around).
Your school may have excellent infrastructure and facilities but the canteen food is horrible.
The location may be convenient but you don't really like the administrators.

So, just be thankful with what you have.

"...it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good" (4:19)

6) Have a support system

Keep in touch with your IPBA buddies. They will be there for you when you are feeling down. They can empathise with the problems that your are facing and will offer you invaluable words of support. It's amazing how simple words like "hang in there k" or a virtual hug can brighten up your day :-)

Blog about your experience, share your joys and challenges of teaching. Know that you are not alone.

7) Have a distraction

Teaching can be an all-consuming job. You will realise that you talk very little else outside the realm of school.

So, take up a hobby if you haven't already got one. You NEED the distractions!

8) Play all your roles effectively

Remember that a teacher's job is not just to teach. To quote Frank McCourt in Teacher Man:

"I was more than a teacher. And less. In the high school classroom you are the drill sergeant, a rabbi [an ustazah in this case... haha], a shoulder to cry on, a disciplinarian, a singer, a low-level scholar, a clerk, a referee, a clown, a counselor, a dress-code enforcer, a conductor, an apologist, a philosopher, a collaborator, a tap dancer, a politician, a therapist, a fool, a traffic cop, a priest, a mother-father-brother-sister-uncle-aunt, a bookkeeper, a critic, a psychologist..."

Oh, he forgot the janitor!

The tap dancing role may be called upon once in a lifetime but the 3 roles (besides teaching) that you have to take seriously are: enforcing discipline, building rapport with the students and inculcating good moral values in them.

9) Create a positive workplace culture

Respect your colleagues, the administrators, the clerks, the bookshop attendant, the guards, the lab assistants, the cleaners, the gardeners, etc.

Treat them well. A good turn deserves another.

10) Manage your finances well

Receiving your very first payslip is a wonderful feeling. The thin piece of paper symbolises financial independence and adulthood. It also gives you an immense sense of achievement.

But after setting aside money for your parents, the car, charity, savings and other obligations, your disposable income does not amount to much. So do not splurge as soon as you get your wage. Fulfill your obligations first and if you happen to have some thing extra at the end of the month, spend it (guilt-free) then.

11) Fly under the radar

It's tough to dodge/refuse the many sales in the staff room (Kuih Raya, tupperware, kain baju kurung, insurance policy, etc). So the best strategy is to avoid sales pitches altogether.

Also beware of (well-meaning) insistent match makers. If you don't have "someone" already, invent one!

12) Maintain your idealism

I don't mean to point out all the bad things about being a teacher. This is just meant to prepare you for the realities of teaching. Yes, it is easy to get disillusioned, frustrated, and burn-out from your job, but remind yourself daily why you are a teacher. Constantly review your niat (intentions).

13) "Verily, with every difficulty, there is relief"

It is inevitable that you struggle+sink+lose weight & voice at first.

But it'll get better in time.

To quote the article from The Star by P.K. Toh:

"The student-teacher bond can be fraught with heartache, but for those who persevere to the end, the rewards far outweigh the sacrifices"

Just remember: At the end of these crazy/gruelling academic sessions is a 5-week holiday that few jobs could rival :-)

X X X

Cohort 2 friends, do add in your own advice based on your experience...

Aini has written hers.

I hope that our experience will be of use to others.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

off with a bang

that was it!
Last Friday (20th Nov) was the last school day of 2009.

It was a bit chaotic with teachers running around, rushing to complete the many, many things that had to be handed in:
-Rekod Kerja
-Register
-Pelan Taktikal 2010
-Library books
-Fail Meja
-etc

Some teachers managed to clean a year's worth of clutter (handouts, exam questions, students' workbooks, and what-not) on their desk, while others decided to let the clutter accumulate for yet another year.

There were not many students that day; only a handful of Fourth-Formers and those who take the EST (English for Science and Technology) paper for SPM. The Form Three students were already off on their end-of-year break, which started a week earlier.

My last day was special because a teacher at my school was retiring. Knowing that that day's attendance would be dismal, his retirement ceremony was held last week. But his sending-off was held that day.

And what a sending-off it was!

Originally, the plan was that he'd be sent-off on a big motorcycle.

But that morning, rumours had it that he'd be off on a helicopter!

It was supposed to be a surprise but by mid-morning, the staff room was already abuzz with the news. Teachers never can keep secrets... haha

At around 12pm, everyone gathered at the field for the helicopter landing. Dr. John signed-out at the office for the last time and proceeded to walk to the helicopter.

Students lined-up from the office to the field to shake his hands and say good-bye.

He was stopped for a while by the boys from 4S who serenaded him with their cover version of 'Don't worry, Be Happy', accompanied by a ukulele. It was a very nice gesture/performance.


Finally, it was time for Dr. John to board the helicopter and fly off.


The helicopter circled the school a few times before finally heading to Subang.

Then, the clock struck 12.30pm.

School's over for the year.

I survived my first year of teaching!!!

And what an event to end it with :-)

X X X

This note below was pasted on the teachers' bulletin board the day before SPM. Coming from a reputably "difficult" class, it was rather sweet :-)

Another sweet thing that a student did was give me a wrapped chocolate for my birthday. Thing is, she forgot to take off the price tag!

X X X

Fellow teachers, have a great break. For those invigilating SPM, hang in there. It'll be over soon enough!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Better Muslim


I'm currently reading 'Three Cups of Tea' by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

The book chronicles the challenges that Greg Mortensen faced when he tried to build a school in Korphe, an isolated and impoverished village in Pakistan. Below is the blurb on the back of the book:

"In 1933 a mountaineer named Greg Mortenson drifted into an impoverished Pakistan village in the Karakoram mountains after a failed attempt to climb K2. Moved by the inhabitants' kindness, he promised to return and build a school. Tree Cups of Tea is the story of that promise and its extraordinary outcome. Over the next decade Mortenson build not just one but fifty-five schools - especially for girls - in the forbidding terrain that gave birth to the Taliban. His story is at once a riveting adventure and a testament to the power of the humanitarian spirit."

At first, I nearly put the book aside after plowing through the first chapter. The prose just didn't manage to engage my interest. But I'm glad I persevered because the book does get better.

I just read a particularly touching chapter which I felt compelled to share.

While building the school one day, the villagers were startled by the intrusion of Haji Mehdi and his henchmen. Haji Mehdi is the nurmadhar (village head) of Askole (a bigger, neighbouring village).

[Excerpts from the book are in italics]

"I have heard that an infidel has come to poison Muslim children, boys as well as girls, with his teachings," Haji Mehdi barked. "Allah forbids the education of girls. And I forbid the construction of this school."

"We will finish our school," Haji Ali [Korphe's nurmadhar] said evenly. "Whether you forbid it or not."

Enraged by this answer, Haji Mehdi replied:

"Do you worship Allah? Or this kafir?"

To this, Haji Ali remarked:

"No one else has ever come here to help my people. I've paid you money every year but you have done nothing for my village. This man is a better Muslim than you. He deserves my devotion more than you do."

Haji Mehdi then gave an ultimatum: if they insisted on having the school, they would need to pay him 12 of their largest rams.

Haji Ali complied with this outrageous demand.

Mortenson who witnessed the whole proceeding noted:

"Haji Ali had just handed over half of the wealth of the village to that crook, but he was smiling like he'd just won a lottery."

He later addressed his people:

"Don't be sad. Long after all those rams are dead and eaten this school will still stand. Haji Mehdi has food today. Now our children have education forever."

That night, Haji Ali confided in Mortenson:

"Do you see how beautiful this Koran is?" Haji Ali asked.

"Yes."

"I can't read it," he said. "I can't read anything. This is the greatest sadness in my life. I'll do anything so the children of my village never have to know this feeling. I'll pay any price so they have the education that they deserve."

X X X

This story reminds me of Laskar Pelangi. How we take literacy and education for granted.

I wish I could drum this very important lesson to each and every one of my reluctant student.

And it's good to ponder on Haji Ali's remark: "This man is a better Muslim than you."

What makes one a good Muslim? This question reminded me of what Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi wrote in his book: Let Us Be Muslims:

"Can a person be a Muslim by virtue of his birth? Is a person a Muslim simply because he is the son or grandson of a Muslim?

Your answer to these questions will surely be: No. A Muslim does not become truly a Muslim simply because he is born a Muslim. A Muslim is not a Muslim because he belongs to any particular race; he is a Muslim because he follows Islam. If he renounces Islam, he ceases to be a Muslim."

Being a Muslim is not by mere verbal profession; you need to acquire knowledge and display it through your actions.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

cutest response

Form 1 English Paper 2
Section C

Q:The following are the short stories studied in the literature component in English Language:

1. Of Bunga Telur and Bally Shoes by Che Husna Azhari
2. The Pencil by Ali Majod
3. How Dalat Got Its Name by Heidi Munan

Choose any one of the short stories that you have enjoyed reading. Write why you would recommend this short story to a friend.

A: I would recommend Of Bunga Telur and Bally Shoes from Che Husna Azhari to my friend because he loves love story to read. he loves love story because when he grow up he want to love someone. He also loves love stories because he likes happy people and he loves love stories sure he will love this book because it is about a love story.


X X X

Isn't that the cutest response you've ever read? :-)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

No Way Through

I was deeply affected by the following video.

It tells of the severe mobility restrictions in the West Bank.

X X X

Around Jerusalem the average ambulance journey time for a Palestinian is now almost 2 hours, compared to 10 minutes in 2001.

In the West Bank alone there are more than 600 internal military checkpoints and road blocks.

At these checkpoints, Palestinians in need of immediate medical attention are:
-routinely refused passage
-denied medical help
-forced to give birth
-injured and even shot dead

Friday, October 09, 2009

PMR 2009

That morning, on the first day of the PMR examination, the traffic was heavier than usual. Parents probably took the day off to give moral support (and chauffeuring service) to their kids.

In light of the H1N1 virus, several health-related precautionary measures were taken:

1) Each student's body temperature was taken. They will be quarantined if their temperature is above 37.5 degrees Celsius.

a student's body temperature was taken using the infra-red thermometer

2) Face masks were distributed and students had to wear them before going into the exam hall.

They told me, "Cikgu tak nampak, tapi kami tengah senyum ni!"

3) Hand sanitisers were also deployed.

Some teachers even brought raisins. The students swallowed them like they are some kind of magic pills (!).

Despite yesterday's briefing, some students still came late, and around 36 students forgot to bring their IC or examination slip. Thus, the school had to produce Surat Akuan to certify that they are indeed students from this school.

Besides the health checks and Surat Akuans, the students also received some last minute tips from the subject teachers. The informal assembly ended with the recitation of the doa. Several visibly-anxious parents looked out from afar, taking all the goings-on in.

not everyone was attentive when the subject teacher dished out some last-minute tips

People cope with pressure differently. Thus, some students looked cuak, some tired and sleep-deprived, some way too cheerful, some excited and some indifferent.

note the different expressions
dia kata dia pening tapi nampak sihat dan ceria je...
he fell from his bike the day before, hence the wounds. he looks so innocent! (but you know what they say about judging a book by its cover...)
3M and 3N boys who cause me so much grief in the classroom (but admittedly, they selalu menghiburkan hati jugak)
3K boys (who says budak kelas depan2 senang sikit nak handle? it's pure myth! they give you a fair share of headaches too)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Raya musings

Last Thursday was the last day of school before the long Raya break. The end-of-school bell was greeted by loud explosives of mercun. I was curious about the type of mercun the students were using because they were LOUD. Extremely loud! Like what you would hear in a battlefield. Something that could cause a person with a weak heart to have a heart attack.

The sound of the mercuns has been going on for more than a week. Despite repeated warnings (delivered through the PA system) of automatic expulsion, the perpetrators were bold enough to lit more mercuns and evade capture.

But on Thursday, nothing could sour the mood of both teachers and students. The teachers went about their business cheerfully and even the students who sat for the Ala PMR 2 exam looked happy. Everybody is in their Raya mood already.

At 12.30pm, the office was crowded with people clocking-out and embracing one another, asking for forgiveness. Mutual enquiries on "Bila balik kampung?" and "Kampung kat mana?" were carried out.

It was amusing to hear how grown-ups too get excited about balik kampung. There was one teacher who had finished packing her bags and her children's 4 days in advance! Another had even planned to leave at exactly 12.50pm on Thursday. Her husband would be waiting outside of the school gate with their kids and bags in tow. They would leave directly for kampung without making any detour.

All these elaborate plannings are quite alien to me. I don't have a "proper" kampung. My grandmother resides only 15 minutes away. So, there's not much to plan for.

I remember how I wished I had a kampung when I was a kid. I have this mental picture of an idyllic countryside; of a stately wooden kampung house overlooking paddy fields; of fruit orchards and a running creek...

Now I know that most kampung do not fit into my mental picture. And as I grow older, I begin to appreciate celebrating Raya in the city - where one does not have to endure long journeys and be stuck in nightmarish traffic jams.

People who are used to it, don't mind it at all. They have the stamina for it. But I don't. When travelling for more than 3 hours, I will get restless and start to fidget, asking periodically "Are we there yet?"

When I was a kid, I remember KL being a ghost town during long Raya breaks. They say the same thing now, but I can tell you that it's different. Now, there are more people who call KL their hometown, so the city is not as empty as it used to be when Raya comes. Back then, the streets in KL were almost completely deserted.

This year's Raya will be different because I will no longer receive duit Raya. Instead, it will be my turn to give them out. I've just finished putting the notes in green packets. I've only started working for 9 months, so I couldn't afford to give a lot. So, I've joined forces with my sister so that the sum in each packet would not seem so pitiable... hahaha

Oh, Abewan and family will be celebrating Raya in Muar. That means, I will not have my nieces and nephew with me on the first day of Raya. That will surely make the day less ceria.

Irfan & Damia

But I can always count on sembahyang Raya to lift my spirits. It's my favourite part of Hari Raya - where you find everyone congregating in the masjid wearing their best attire, looking very cheerful. And after the solat and khutbah, when people shake hands and embrace each other. That always brings a lump in my throat.

This entry hasn't really got a point. Just Raya musings that I want to have written down.

Selamat Hari Raya everyone.

Eid Mubarak!

Hopefully, we all can istiqamah/be consistent with our Ramadan routine outside of Ramadan (with regards to our congregational prayers, recitation of the Quran, eating less, waking up before dawn, qiamullail, etc)

Takabballahu minna wa minkum [May Allah accept (the good deeds) from me and you]

I think this card is cute!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

damage control

I knew it would come to this. I knew that I would procrastinate marking my students' trial papers until it was too late.

Thus, I had worked out a PLAN: I would finish marking the objective questions first. That's the easy part - a bit tedious, but relatively easy and pain-free.

Then, I would move on the the structured questions in the Moral papers. This requires a slightly more effort but still, quite tolerable.

After all the easier parts have been completed, only then would I mark the dreaded essays. I have 136 scripts to mark. It's very much lesser than the 200+ I had to mark when I taught the afternoon session. But these 136 scripts also happen to be much, much longer! (unfortunately, they took me way too seriously when I told them to write beyond the expected 120words)

Even after I've separated the question papers from the answer scripts, the pile still looked insurmountable.

But I've worked out a plan for that too. I would mark around 20 papers per day. The school break would be 10 days' long so, I would dedicate the first three days doing the easy bits, and the rest doing the essays.

See. My PLAN is workable, and failure-proof.

*cue for laughter*

But fast forward to today - with only 3 days left before school reopens - the PLAN obviously didn't work.

I haven't started marking the essays and the Moral papers.

Apparently, buoyed by my success with completing the objective questions, I stopped adhering to the PLAN. Figured I needed a break. Only the break lasted a little too long.

So, now that I'm jolted back to reality, I've come up with another PLAN.

Hahaha (Don't you dare laugh. Only I'm allowed to laugh at my own misery)

I'm going to concentrate on the 3 classes I teach on Tuesday first. Since I can already anticipate their "Did I get an A?"/"What did I get for English, Teacher?" questions.

Hopefully, by Tuesday, I will finished marking their papers and hand in their score sheets to their respective class teacher. Because, even if you're NOT efficient, you have to look as if you are... hahaha

Then, I will clock-in how many OT it takes to complete the rest of the marking.

X X X

Do you think the plan will work?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Petua Berhenti Merokok

The Ministry of Health has given out posters on '12 Petua Berhenti Merokok' to schools.

Anticipating the students' backlash, the PK HEM warned the students not to tear the posters which will be put up in each classroom.

The announcement was made in the weekly assembly. Less than half an hour later, I went into 3H for Moral. The said poster was already up.

It was still intact. However, there are a few alterations which completely distort the original message:

1) Instead of 'Jom Berhenti Merokok', the poster now reads: 'Jom Merokok'

2) 'Bebas Daripada Rokok' became 'Bebas Dari Ada Pokok'

3) 'Petua Mengatasi Keinginan Merokok' ---> 'Tua Mengata Ingin Merokok' (!)

I know that I have to assume the role of the disapproving adult, but I cannot help but marvel at the students' creativity and be amused by their sense of humour.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Moral Quandary

I had a rather horrible past few days. There were many incidents which convinced me that today's kids are horrible. I dreaded going to school and making my way to class when the bell rang. And once in class, time seemed to pass very s l o w l y...

I truly felt for the first time that I might just hate my job.

My theory is that the academic calender shouldn't stretch more than 4 weeks long. This current stretch has been in session since 15th June! 7 weeks down, 3 weeks to go. 10 weeks in all! Adoi... There should be little breaks in between for the sake of the teachers' sanity.

Alhamdulillah, that dark phase had past. With only 3 weeks to go, I'm beginning to see the faint light at the end of the very long and dark tunnel... hahaha

Anyway, marking the Moral papers for the first time provided me with some comic reliefs. Marking is generally a very tedious job. But there are bound to be a few scripts out of the whole pile that will set you off laughing out loud.

Example A:

There are bound to be students who will leave a personal message, expressing guilt or appealing for compassion.

Example B:

You will encounter numerous spelling errors. Some of these errors will inadvertently distort the points that the candidates wanted to convey.
Keluhuran Perlembagaan means Keagungan/Kemuliaan/Kebesaran Perlembagaan.

But KeLURUHan Perlembagaan means the disintegration of the constitution (!)

Other distortions of Keluhuran:
-Keseluruhan,
-Kehuluran
Example C:

The question asks the students' opinion about someone who opted to forgo a higher-paying job overseas in order to serve and contribute to her own country's growth.

The expected answer should run along the lines of:
-Cinta akan negara: mempunyai perasaan sayang dan ingin memajukan negara.
-Sanggup berkorban untuk negara: rela pulang ke tanah air demi berkhidmat ke arah pertumbuhan negara.

Most of the students wrote something similar to the above answer. Except for one. He answered:

Unfortunately, I couldn't award marks for politically-incorrect answers, no matter how honest they are.

-----------------------------------------------------

Based on my first experience of marking the Moral papers, I think that we need to do away with such tests all together since they are invalid.

If I remember my EDUC265 correctly, a test is valid if it measures what it is supposed to measure.

For example, if you have a test which requires the students to write everything they know about WW2 in 5 minutes and then proceeded to mark the students' papers based on the number of words the students had written, and not their content, then your test is invalid.

It might be valid test to measure speed-writing but not a valid test to measure the students' understanding of WW2.

Similarly, the Moral tests are not measuring anything worthwhile. Why then should we continue administering them?

I'm not proposing to do away with the Moral subject all together. The syllabus does contain important issues for the students to be acquainted with. But how do we make sure the students internalise the theoretical knowledge found in the textbook? Is it even possible for teachers to inculcate the listed values in the students simply by spouting their importance 160mins a week in class?

There has got to be a better way of doing things...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

TIMES Warehouse Sale


I've abstained from buying books for a few months now. I vowed to finish reading the titles that I have already before buying yet another book.

My reading list and my 'books read' list are embarrassingly disproportionate.

Yet, today I felt like breaking my vow. I just have to buy some new books. Not just a new book, but some.

So I headed down to CapSquare to take advantage of TIMES' warehouse sale. It felt so good to peruse all the books, with all the nice covers and inviting titles.

One title made me laugh out loud: Portrait of a burger as a young calf.

And the venue's nice too. It's well-lighted and airy.

The crowd wasn't too big, so I took my own sweet time to check out the books systematically, row by row :-)

After an hour or so, I have 5 books in my hand. Chucked one out and proceeded to buy the other 4. They are:
-Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri,
-The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler,
-Teacher Man by Frank McCourt, and
-The Hapless Teacher's Handbook by Phil Ball (I just love the title!)

All 4 books cost RM77.75


I bought the first 2 books because I love Jhumpa Lahiri's writing and anything that has got to do with Jane Austen.

I bought the last 2 books because... well it's pretty obvious isn't it?

I said in my last entry that my students live in an insulated world. I'm now convinced that so am I. I've written little else apart from teaching ever since I've started working.

Like now, even though the entry is supposed to be about the books I've just bought, I'm going to tie it to teaching.

In today's and yesterday's newspapers, I happened to read articles criticising teachers. I couldn't help but take the affront personally.

I really hate it when people say that those who took to teaching did it because it was their "last resort"

In my case, and in many, many other teachers, it's NOT.

And to those who think that teaching is such an easy job, read this extract from an interview with Frank McCourt:

Interviewer: You describe teaching as the 'downstairs maid of professions'. Why do you think that many parents, pupils and social commentators have so little respect for it?

Frank McCourt: People in general look down on teachers the way they regard members of their own family: they think they know what teaching is all about when the fact is they don't have a clue, any more than they know what surgery is all about. Also, many people think teaching is easy. Oh, you simply walk into a classroom and blather and the kids sit and listen. Hell, no.

X X X

Hear Hear!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wanita Insan Istimewa

The above title is actually Topic 25 in the Form 3 Pendidikan Moral textbook.

To get the students to recognise the many achievements/contributions by women around the world, I asked them to list as many famous women as they can according to these categories:
-leaders/politicians
-athletes
-authors
-scientists
-corporate figures
-NGO workers

I was appalled by their lack of knowledge on general issues.

Most of them could only name Nicol David in the athletes' category. When pressed to name other female athletes, they went blank.

They were clueless about the other categories (excluding celebrities) as well.

Here are snippets of what happened:

Student A: Teacher, I don't know what to put for politicians.
Me: Well, who's the Minister for Women Affairs in Malaysia?
Student A: *blank*
Me: Er... Minister of Tourism?
Student A: I don't know la Teacher...
Me: Okay, she doesn't have to be a Malaysian... Who ran against Obama in the Democratic Presidential Election?
Student A: McCain!
Me: No, before that. Obama went against...?
Student A: I don't know la Teacher... I only know Obama
Me: *pressing on* She's very famous. Her husband used to be the former president. Before George Bush.
Student A: Really? Before Bush?
Me: Yes. Have you heard of Bill Clinton?
Student A: Ooo
Me: What's his wife's name?
Student A: *exasperated+trying to get me to back off* Megan Fox!

Yes, people. Megan Fox ran for presidency (!).

They students couldn't name/didn't know: Dato' Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, Dato' Sri Ng Yen Yen, Marie Curie (one student exclaimed: "hey, it rhymes!"), Tan Sri Dato' Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, J.K. Rowling, Aung Suu Kyi, etc

And they didn't know what NGO stands for. And when I gave MERCY as an example of an NGO, they said they had never heard of it....

I think today's students live in such an insulated world of school, tuition centres and the latest Hollywood movies.

I don't think they read the newspapers or keep in touch with what's going on in the world. Which is a pity since life is so much bigger than their PMR, SPM and Megan Fox.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Howard Gardner

How many times have you quoted/cited/referred to Howard Gardner when doing your EDUC assignments?

Today, there's an article about him in The Star newspaper. You can read the online version here.

Here are my favourite bits of the interview:

“I want my children to understand the world, but not just because the world is fascinating and the human mind is curious. I want them to understand it so that they will be positioned to make it a better place. Knowledge is not the same as morality, but we need to understand if we are to avoid past mistakes and move in productive directions.”

"...if you are trying to change somebody’s mind, try to listen and understand the other person. That is an important way to change their mind... But there are instances when it is difficult to move the other person. This may be because they have been holding a certain point of view for a long time, they have an emotional connection about it and they have spoken publicly about it. So if you are a leader, you try to convince those who are sitting on the fence, rather than the extreme." <--- This quote reminded me of the unending PPSMI debate

“A person may be intelligent in various aspects, but have poor people skills. Today, this is known as emotional intelligence. There are other forms of intelligences; linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily kinesthetic and so on. This means there is more than one way to teach, just as there are many ways to learn.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

melentur buluh biarlah dari rebungnya

A huge fight broke up in my school yesterday. A group of Form 5 students fought with a group of Form 3 students. The situation got out of control so the police had to be called in. All the other students got excited and they rushed out of class to watch the spectacle from the balcony. We teachers had a hard time shooing them back into the class and keeping them seated at their place.

It was a total chaos.

Until today, it was the only topic discussed when teachers get together in the staff room, the canteen, the corridors, etc. Information concerning what started the fight and who were involved was gathered and shared. Teachers who happen to teach these students would then share what they know about them.

Amidst all these goings-on, one teacher's comment caught my attention. She said:
"Ada budak yang nakal, tapi hati dia lembut lagi... you can still reach out to them. Tapi ada budak yang nakal dan hati diaorang memang evil... and there's nothing you can do about it."

That gave me food for thought. I agree with what the teacher had said. I've encountered many problematic students, and you can sense whether the students are "reform-able" or not.

And when I've experienced teaching in both the morning and the afternoon sessions, I can certainly say that younger students are easier to mould. They are more impressionable and they actually listen to what you have to say. Thus, it's easier to put sense into their head, teach them right from wrong, and inculcate good values in them.

But once they are older, it's much more difficult to do so.

So I think that teachers should grab the chance to reach out to their students before the window of opportunity closes. Identifying the "potentially" problematic students is not really difficult, is it?

If we can "reform" them when they are still young, then, we'll save ourselves a lot of trouble later on.

When I think about today's kids in general (and the students in my school specifically), I shudder at the kind of people we're letting out into society.

For two days in a row now, after the last bell has rung and my students have left the class, I would stay back, slumped over my desk, feeling utterly defeated.

But I guess the moral of the story is to not give up on your students (even though their actions may at times cause you to have murderous thoughts about them). Try your best to reach out to them, to love them, to think well of them and to pray for their well-being. Avoid hurting them with your menyampah glance, comments and actions.

Remember:
"In all situations, it is [your] response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated; and a child humanized or dehumanized" -Haim Ginott-

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

immuned to noisy, misbehaving students

I taught Pendidikan Moral for the first time today. I was so unprepared. I was basically clueless on how to teach the subject.

The class was a disaster. Most of the students did their own work. Only several boys at the front participated in the discussions I initiated.

Then, one boy, after repeated warnings to his noisy classmates, exploded. He told off his friends for not paying attention and being disrespectful to me.

Then a verbal match ensued between him and this particularly noisy group of girls.

I just tried to get everybody to calm down.

I didn't even scold the students.

Yup, I told you that I have the most atrocious classroom management skills. It's not that I don't scold my students at all. But I understand how the students perceive Pendidikan Moral. It's hardly an engrossing subject is it? And it was my fault that I didn't prepare well for my first class with them. I should have shown them some relevant videos, brought mahjung papers for group work, given out some interesting reading materials to complement the textbook, etc.

I mean, I have to teach Rukun Negara in 70 minutes.

The five principles of Rukun Negara. You can do that in 15 minutes! Just how long can you drag the session and sustain the students' interest?

So, yeah, basically, I didn't scold the noisy students because I felt that it was largely my fault for not being well-prepared.

Some time later, another boy who sits in front asked, "Teacher, how can you be so calm?"

That's a bit hard to answer.

At times, I do wish that my threshold for patience is a bit lower. And that I have a louder voice like some teachers who can address the whole assembly without using a mike (in contrast, I could hardly make myself heard to those seating at the back of my classroom!).

I prefer to maintain my calm rather than blow my top because I'm afraid of saying things I might regret later. It happened once and I felt just awful afterwards.

Besides, you are going to see the students 5 days a week until the end of the year. If you hold grudges, sakit hati, dan seumpamanya, you will drag your feet to come to work everyday. And I do not want that.

So, this is how I manage my classroom in a nutshell:

-If the class is noisy, I raise my voice.
-If the students comply with my orders to quiet down, I thank them. If not, I gave the main culprits "The Look" or gave the whole class the silent treatment.
-I patrol the class intermittently to check on the students' work and to shush the noisy students.
-If the students are really pushing it, like what happened in my Pendidkan Moral class, I will just teach those who are paying attention and ignore the rest.

Granted, my "just ignore them" tactics would no be approved by a lot of people. It's hardly the kind of assertive discipline lecturers in teacher training colleges espouse. But hey, different people cope differently right? Besides, there are a lot things teacher training colleges do not teach you/prepare you for.

I do want to be more garang - I'm not trying to win any popularity contest here - but I just don't know how.

Tips anyone?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

lesson learnt

I gave my students this essay question for exam practise:

You have studied the novel 'Phantom of the Opera' by Gaston Leroux in the literature component in English Language.

From the above novel, write about a lesson you have learnt.

Support your answer with evidence from the text.

Your response should be:
-in not less than 50 words
-in continuous writing

I like this particular work. It's written in a matter-of-fact way, which made me laugh out loud. I especially like the last sentence - You tell them Aiman!

"We can't judge people by their looks. Example like community, community looked down to Erik because of his face. Of course his face looks ugly but he is intelligent, clever, talented, and determined person. It is of no use to have a beautiful face but don't know anything"

The lesson I have learnt: We should never underestimate the wisdom of today's youth :p

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Graduation

The day before

I was supposed to register anytime between 9am-12.30pm. But I reached IPBA at 12.40pm. I came straight from school after settling a few errands and closing the register for the month of May (calculating the month's attendance percentage, hitung panjang kehadiran, hitung panjang pelajar and whatnot). The registration people have started to pack things when I reached their counter. I managed to register but the counter for collecting the robes and mortar board was already closed.

The briefing would start at 2.30pm. I couldn't reach Fa and Nada. I also didn't bump into any Cohort 2 people (except for Nina and Aimi). Where is everyone? This wasn't the "reunion" I had imagined.

After Zohor, I finally met familiar faces again. I bumped into Dayah Z and Fatin at the surau. We then went together to DKB for the rehearsal briefing. Only then, I saw all the others: Nisha, Mass, Syafiq, Rubini, Wan Lynn, Peri, Aini, etc.

As the briefing progressed, more people trickled in, and each new arrival incited fresh excitement and furious waving. Syahir, with his new looks, created the loudest buzz.

We then adjourned to Bilik Kesuri to practise the procession-in. But first, I had to make a quick dash to Level 2 to collect my robes and mortar board.

The rehearsal was a big yawn. There were many kinks to be ironed out (with regards to the Negaraku recording, the VIP arrival, the backdrop, etc) that we just sat there, doing nothing for the large part of the rehearsal.

Finally, after the rehearsal ended, I got to see and have that long catch-up session with my dearest friends (we were seated far apart from each other in the hall).

Ainur, Hassanah, Jaime, Fa, Nada and I went for an early dinner because we were all famished. Like what Ainur said, "Ni bukan lapar lagi, ni dah lapaq".

We had a good, relaxing dinner and then it was time to go home. That night, my family was supposed to take a studio photo to mark my graduation/graduating.

While driving home, I had a sinking feeling that my brothers forgot about it as I didn't remind them of it that morning. Further, the plan to get the photo was only "tentative". But the photo shoot couldn't be done at a later time as I had to return the robes tomorrow.

Being the last child, my graduation was not really a big deal as everyone in the family had already "been there, done that". So, there's nothing to get excited about. While others bring their parents, siblings, grandparents, significant others to the graduation, I will only bring my parents. And I'm okay with that. Tak kecik hati whatsoever.

OK, maybe only a teeny, weeny bit.

As expected, my two brothers forgot about it. Abewan promised to come (despite having to change his plans) but Abafan said that he was really sorry he couldn't make it.

We reached the studio at 9pm. Perhaps Kakak felt sorry for me - I didn't know what she said to Abafan that made him changed his mind. Abafan said that he'd be there in 30 minutes' time.

I didn't have the Macquarie green-and-gold hood with me, so my robes looked bare. Further, my sis-in-law, niece and nephew would not be in the picture (she is eight-month pregnant while Damia and Irfan were in their pyjamas).

The picture was ready the next day and it didn't look too bad considering everything.

Afterwards, we all ate Satay Kajang for supper and that made me feel much better.

The Day

I didn't wake up thinking, "Hey, it's my graduation day!". No, I woke up groggily thinking, "Thank God it's the school holidays!". It took me around 2 minutes to realise the day's significance.

I quickly performed Subuh, got ready, had breakfast and left for IPBA (my parents would be coming later). The place was already a hive of activity when I reached it. Everyone seemed to be in their robes already yet I still haven't collected my hood. So I had to run to Level 2, in heels(!), and collect it.

They were about to start the procession when I rejoined the group. Big thanks to Tasha for calming me down and helping me pin my hood and mortar board in place. I owe you one Tasha!

I think the ceremony went smoothly. I especially love the choir performance and Anne's heartfelt speech. I was also overjoyed to see Jean and Rod (my favourite lecturers) in the Macquarie contingent together with Pamela and Sue.

After the ceremony, I went to search for my parents and was relieved to find out that they weren't too late as to be refused admittance/miss my turn to get the scroll. We took pictures together and they took their leave. They figured I would want to spend more time with my friends.

I milled around, took photos with friends, had brief chats with them. It was fun but hardly the long, catch-up session I had imagined. Everyone was a bit preoccupied that day, I guess.

It was a bittersweet, fleeting reunion. It was great to meet my friends (the newly-married, the about-to-be-married, the pregnant mums-to-be, and everyone else) but it's sad to comprehend that we may never cross path again. :-(

So that was that.

My graduation day.

Was rather fun to be celebrated like that.

Can't wait to begin and finish my Master's to experience it all over again :-p

X X X

P.S. A special shout-out to Majidah, who couldn't make it to the graduation: You were sorely-missed!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

updates

Exam week

My school is currently having its mid-year examination. Yeay!
It occurred to me how students fret during exams and teachers relax. Why? Well, the school is way quieter for a start. And we don't have to do lesson plans + reflections throughout the exam period. And it's kind of satisfying to see the students gelabah... hahaha (I'm sounding a bit sadistic aren't I?)

It was my turn to do the exam paper for English. I had to compile the questions, hand it over for riso, staple the pages together (525 sets!) and wrap them all nicely according to classes. Thank God it's all over and done with!


Now the fun is about to end. While the students enjoy their school holidays, the teachers will be stuck with marking their exam papers. The previous 2 monthly tests weren't so bad since they only involved Paper 1 (i.e. objective questions). This time round, I have to mark 200+ exam scripts. Based on my preliminary readings, I might lose my sanity due to the:
1) repetitious stories
2) incomprehensible writing AND handwriting
3) (unintentional) humour contained in the students' work

So watch this space to see whether I'll make it through the hols in one piece ;-)

Graduating ceremony

meet Rupert

This Saturday (30-5-09) will be my graduating ceremony. Apparently, it's not called a graduation ceremony since most of us have technically graduated. Not many of us attended our actual graduation at our respective unis, so this event on Saturday will be a ceremony to mark that occasion.

I can't wait to see my hard-earned degree on paper. The one which cost me many sleepless nights, anxieties, panic attacks, self-doubt, etc.
Ah... student's life seems such a long time ago, isn't it?


Can't wait also to see my friends, many of whom I haven't seen since Dec 6, 2008. I can bet you that there will be a lot of hugging, kissing, squealing involved when we meet each other for the rehearsal this Friday.

2-week school break


Although I'll probably spend most of my time marking papers, I'll no doubt set aside time to meet with fellow teachers: Fa from Pitas, Nada from Cyberjaya, Dayah from SEGAR, and other IPBA teachers who'll be in KL.

Morning session

After the semester break, I'll be teaching in the morning session (again). When I first reported to the school, I was assigned three Form 3 classes. I taught them for 3 weeks before being transferred to the afternoon session. The Form 3 students are taking the PMR so I guess they needed somebody with more experience to teach the students.

Since Feb 2 until now (for 4 months), I've been teaching the Form One and Two students. Now, I'm being moved again. I'm replacing another teacher who will be on leave from June until December.

At first, I was a bit despondent by the news. I mean, I've gotten to know my students, built some kind of a rapport with them. Now, I have to start all over again.

But my sister said, "Bukan tiap2 tahun, Adik akan tukar students ke?" (read: it's unreasonable to be too attached to them)

betul jugak.

So, now that I'm resigned to the fact that I'll be changing my schedule+desk+students +colleagues again, I'm actually looking forward to it due to these reasons:
-sesi pagi taklah panas sangat.
-I'm forced to wake up early, so no more late sleep-in for me
-Older students are probably less boisterous/hyperactive. I'm not saying they are not challenging to deal with but they certainly have less features of ADHD - meaning that I don't have to strain my voice so much now. I'm saved from permanent damage to my vocal chords!

A slight digression: This one class, 1T, reduced me to tears, not once, but twice! Punya la bising. I held the boys back after class to reprimand them but quickly let them off because I could sense that I was tearing up.

On both occasion, on the next day, the boy who sits in front would ask, "Cikgu menangis ye semalam?"

And of course, I would reply with all the bravado that I could muster, "Mana ada"

Hahaha

I wonder why the students are not terrified of me. I mean my class would keep quiet when certain teachers just walk past the class. But with me, they would be noisy even when it's exam time! Hish *tak puas hati* I just have the most atrocious classroom management skills!

When I broke the news of my transfer to my students, I received a lot of funny reactions.

One boy said with all solemnity, "Saya akan merindui Cikgu".

Because he was so serious, I had to suppress my laughter/smile.

Another conteng his answer sheet in the just-concluded English exam:
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By the way, I have the perfect mug to drink from once I start working in the morning session:

the mug says it all, doesn't it?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

like having a 2nd birthday


Teachers' Day was a blast. Here's all about it:

My Favourite SMS

Without TEACHERS--
days are
sadday,
moanday,
tearsday,
wasteday,
thirstday,
fightday,
shatterday.
So, HAPPY TEACHERS' DAY

Favourite Card

A tie between Khaidir & Lukman. They both wrote such sweet (and funny) messages.

------------------

Most Perplexing Gift

What is it and what it's for?

Hadiah misteri

Most 'Sebak' Moment

When they read the dua before the start of the celebration: "Ya Allah, berikanlah guru2 kami keikhlasan bagi menjalankan tugas yang berat ini..."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Meknot

My cat of 12 years died yesterday (13-5-09). We think she was hit by a car because there was blood spatter on the road in front of our house. She must have staggered to the sidewalk after the collision and laid herself there because that was where we found her.

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-Years ago, Meknot was a skinny stray cat who picked our house as a place for her to settle down.

-I don't know why we called her Meknot. Our family has a knack for giving odd names to our cats.

-Meknot was most attached to Papa. She would follow Papa to sleep, to the bathroom, the TV room, etc.

-We have another cat: Aeschylus (or AC for short). But only Meknot is given "special access" to stay in the house. AC has to be put outside after her meals because she's too noisy.

-Meknot liked to accompany me when I had to stay up to finish my assignments (back when I was a student). She would be awake until I turned in myself.

-Meknot liked to sleep in the most unlikely places. She's not skinny anymore but somehow she managed to twist and curl herself into confined spaces.

Meknot sleeping in a flowerpot

-At other times, she liked to sleep while in full stretch. She always adopted the most comical positions.

-Meknot was passionate about grooming. She looked immaculate most of the time.

-She likes to be the centre of attention. So, if you were reading the news, or typing on the computer, you could be sure that Meknot will land exactly on the newspaper or the keyboard.

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We love you Meknot!