Last week of Institute

Sorry for the complete lack of updates, the past few weeks have been overwhelmingly crazy! Institute is coming to an end and I’m feeling all kinds of feelings now 🙁 Anyway this is going to be quite a long post on what I’ve been up to to make up for my lack of updates!

Let’s backtrack all the way to where I stopped. Three weeks ago, Kem Skorlah ended very ceremoniously. It was a very exciting but draining week because we were putting in everything we had to make sure the kids got the best out of coming to holiday school, and we slept an average of 3-4 hours every single night. We all had a big goal, 30% improvement in English and Math, and the kids all knew and truly worked hard for it as well.

In Institute, we learned a great deal about investment. Our students have to be invested first before they can achieve success, and we have various strategies on how to make sure the kids know they can, want and will achieve. I think that’s really what’s missing in our schools. Teachers tell us to do well so we can get a good job yadda yadda, but there’s absolutely nothing beyond that. For kids who have families who care about education, you’re all set. But what about the many others who are not as lucky? They get left behind. Nobody tells them that they too can do it, so that’s why investing these kids is so important before we can even begin to change their life trajectories.

A secret trick to get them invested – give them food! Hahaha well not really lah, but making learning fun is definitely a good investment strategy.

Or you could get Deborah Henry to give them certificates! Haha.

To encourage them to speak more, I had an inter-class debate the other day. I gave the kids less than 24 hours to prepare and bear in mind that these are kids who NEVER ever speak English. They took the debate very seriously and all went back to prepare for it. Coincidentally, the media came over that day so they took lots and lots of pictures! The kids were so thrilled and excited to be in the limelight!

After the debate, we had a sharing session and my kids told me that they were really upset because they didn’t think they did well. I was just SO happy that they tried and were so into it despite not knowing how to speak at all, and I practically forced them to speak in front of a huge crowd with reporters and journalists and people from the ministry! Even I would pee in my pants.

We lost and they were disappointed but I was still so very very proud of them *tear. Thank god on that very same day I had to break the news to them, Deborah Henry was observing my class so I got her to give the certificates out. They were starstruck that they got to shake hands with our former Miss Malaysia and forgot all about their loss hehehe

I made a poster on the importance of punctuation! Found the idea online

The big day!!! We gave them a diagnostic on the first day and a final test on the last day to see how much they had improved. Remember, our goal was 30% improvement each.

We didn’t sleep the day before the last day of class cause we were up writing personal letters to all our kids. We want them to know that they can succeed after Kem Skorlah if they remain confident and if they continue believing in themselves.

Revealing the results! 31% increase for Math and 21% for English!!!!!!! We were all extremely proud of them, although they were clearly disappointed that they didn’t get the 30% increase for English. I told them that the 30% is our big ambitious goal and we purposely wanted them to aim high so even if they fall, they wouldn’t fall too far behind.

21% improvement in just 4 weeks, imagine what they can do if they had a year!

I was ecstatic for them! I had 3 kids who got more than 40% improvement, they went from a 40% to 80% in 4 weeks!!! From barely passing to an A!

When I broke the news to them individually, Fadzlan, my cheeky student who got the highest improvement in class was on the brink of tears. He couldn’t believe that he had improved, much less improve that much!!! When I told him that I wanted to call his mother to tell her that I’m extremely proud of his achievement, he couldn’t believe his ears. Seeing the look of pure unadulterated joy on his face made me want to cry so bad as well. He was so happy because he never thought he could do it at first, but when I asked him how he think he did, he was so confident that he did improve because he worked hard for it himself.

This is why I chose to teach, because kids like Fadzlan should be given the opportunity to experience such intense happiness from his own hard work.

We had a class full of crying kids that day. All of them had improved and they couldn’t believe it at all! “Cikgu, saya tak pernah improve langsung! Happy teramat amat lah! Tak pernah rasa saya boleh dapat penaikkan markah!”

It was such an emotional day, seeing their happiness and tears, bidding farewell to them, giving last minute parting advice. We told them that they had gone through enough negativity in their lives. Many people had told them that they cannot do it, that they cannot succeed, but today they really proved everyone wrong. They proved to the rest that if they worked hard and believed in themselves, they CAN achieve, and there’s no such thing as being born smart.

My first group of students, what a sweet memory.

Yay!

Ok I’m done talking about Kem Skorlah but there’s still so much stuff to talk about! Now you can see why I’ve been so busy. The only free time I have these days is spent either sleeping, eating or shitting. Sometimes cannot shit also T__T

This is from Inner Child Night! We spent an entire night playing and relieving all our childhood memories doing face painting, playing Twister, singing and dancing to Backstreet Boys, blowing bubbles!

Playing Pepsi Cola!

Childhood snacks! We even dressed up super kiddishly in our pajamas and were clutching our soft toys all night.

We work extremely hard and play hard as well whenever we could.

We celebrated Christmas yesterday! It was mainly dedicated to our TFM trainers from the states and the UK because they have to spend Xmas away from home this year. I super love my TFM family 🙂

Institute is coming to an end in 3 days, and everyone has been feeling extra melancholic these days because we’ve really bonded and have treated each other like family after 2 whole months of seeing and being with each other 24/7. We’ve seen each other’s smiles, tears, blood (yes) and sweat, we’ve held each other’s hands in challenging times, we’ve pushed each other and supported one another emotionally, and we’ve learned about everyone’s quirks and interests.

We came alone to change the world, and we’re leaving with an incredible network of 49 other similarly idealistic teachers.

I didn’t blog about this cause I was emotionally drained, but I broke down the day before the last day of Kem Skorlah. I didn’t think that I’ve been doing a great job, I thought I didn’t prepare my kids well enough, I thought I had completely wasted their time blabla but I had amazing people to support me and to hold my hand when I cried. I couldn’t have done this without them so thinking about being separated after this really saddens me 🙁

But I know I can do it because I really want all my kids next year to experience the same joy Fadzlan and my kids at Kem Skorlah experienced.

Gotta run now, thanks for reading!

286 comments

  1. Natasha says:

    You got me in tears, Teacher Suet. I really admire you for choosing this as your profession.

    I’m currently a degree college student now, and I’m a bit unsure of what I should do in the future. I’ve never really thought about being a teacher (only when i was in primary school cos thats just some of the jobs that i knew of lol) but this post really made me consider.

    Good luck when you classes start this January! I wish you all the best 🙂 and be sure to keep us updated!

  2. Miguel says:

    Suet, you are inspirational. Do not think that you are not doing a great job or guided the kids well enough. You know they appreciated your effort and you left good deep impression that could last their lives. You sacrify yourself to teach the world next generation and that alone makes you better than most of us. I too had dream to become a teacher when I’m young but I got influenced from it but you managed to keep to it. It makes me proud being one of those who reads your blog and able to share it to other occasionally. Do keep up with what you are doing and we know the society and next generation needs you.

  3. rara says:

    Wuuu.. reading this entry made me cry! Was touched to see your dedication to ensure the kids’ success.

    You’ll start teaching on this 4th Jan issit? Good luck! You can do it Teacher Suet!!!

  4. dalila says:

    i’m proud of you suet lee. never thought someone with high profile like you would choose such profession. please continue what you are doing now. alot of people out there is supporting and praying for you. all the best!

  5. Felicia~ says:

    i find myself constantly getting ideas and inspirations from you and your very dedicated team for my classes 😉

    After knowing that our well-respected lecturers, Dr Boon and Dr Lawrence gave you guys a session too, I am even more psyched about what you guys could do for the community.

    It takes only one to change lives of many. And you are definitely on the right path!

    All the best 🙂

  6. yee ling says:

    Omg, I really like your punctuation poster! The grandma looks very funny hahah like a clown lol.

    You definitely did a great job in teaching the kids and I’m pretty sure that the kids know that you have put in a lot of effort in preparing them for the classes too.

    “Eh? I never knew learning could be so much fun!”, “I’ll remember this teacher for the rest of my life!”, I’m sure these thoughts came across the kids’ minds during your time there. Don’t worry, you did well and you have made an impact on these kids 🙂

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