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Something to Share   3 comments

I was asked to write a summary module for Beluran district last time round – heres to share with you teachers out there if any of you people need it. Might be a bit too late for this year’s PMR candidate, but I’m sure it’ll be useful next year.

Do check them out and tell me what do you think. some feedback is always appreciated.

Posted September 30, 2011 by Nigel in Uncategorized

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Preparing the kids for PMR   2 comments

what i have been doing to help me often ungrateful kids as they prepare their PMR.

work on sections in the exam that can actually help them score – PAPER 2

  • Summary: identify structure and copy the right sentences, and then add in sequence connectors.
  • Literature: Do some forecasting work based on past year questions, and then drill the kids on each possible questions – I’m              looking at character, plot and moral values.

Grandpa talk to them about the importance of passing English – passing English is a step to the right direction to pass SPM English, and that means they’ll pass SPM (in reflection of the new directives)

I would like to see at least 10 passes from my super weak-as 3 not-so-Inovatif. Please make this work.

Posted September 21, 2011 by Nigel in Uncategorized

Its out! Its out!   5 comments

Sometime in March, I wrote a little piece about my life in SMK Terusan Sugut to InStep magazine, a quarterly publication of Teachers’ Christian Fellowship Malaysia. and guess what, it got published!

check this out.

I love teaching but hate the paperwork.   Leave a comment

you heard me.

Posted July 3, 2011 by Nigel in Uncategorized

The Pedalaman 3 pay – its doesnt look as good as the figures do .   2 comments

I have recently participated in two graduation, one in Auckland and another in Kuala Lumpur. Seeing the old peeps again is such a good feeling, especially when we chat about life at the new place, discussing about world affairs, how are we coping with the pressures of schools and all. Of course, of all that, the talk about money creeps in, and i found myself being the center of attention.

It is all because of the fact that I receive an extra RM 1500 a month from the government for teaching in a rural school. Coupled up with the fact that i too receive extra pay because Im from semenanjung and teaching in Sabah, i made quite a figure at the end of each month. Some are happy for me, some are envious, and some are just downright dissatisfied with me.

peeps, the 1500 a month is not as easy to earn as it seems. seriously.


some of the pain i have to go through to earn that 1500:

– be in school for at least 28 days in the month to receive it. if i go out berkursus for more than 3 days, there goes my allowance.

– live in  place without pipe water. all we do there is to store rainwater in big tanks. when it doesnt rain for weeks, we’ll run out of water, and probably have problems to even shower.

– live in a place with 20 hours of power a day only.  when the village generator runs out of fuel, the whole village gets no power for days. I have to fork out extra to buy petrol to keep our own little generator running suring those trying times.

– live in isolation from the world. Terusan is 300 km northeast from the nearest township, Sandakan. traveling to Sandakan form my place involves 2 hours of boat ride along the Sulu sea to Beluran(along with the risk of running into pirates), and 2 hours of car ride to Sandakan. travelling is a hassle, seriously. have sea sickness? welcome to the nightmare.

– live in a place without cellphone coverage. the only place you can get cellphone coverage is at the police comm towers, and that takes quite an effort too. not to mention lack of privacy when you make calls as others are using their phone too.

– live in a place where laundry is an issue. As Terusan peeps use rainwater, the clothes washed with it tend to smell one kind too, esp after you sweat on it. not even expensive detergent/washing powders can be of much help. a good laundry involves going out into Sandakan and wash you stuff there.

a place without church. Terusan is 99.9999% muslim, and therefore theres no church in the village. the best i can do now is to attend St. Mary’s Sandakan once a fortnight.


all of that for RM1500? think again. not as easy as it some of you might have thought. the government calls it ‘Elaun Kesusahan Hidup” for a reason.


To those who think they can do it, think again. there are people who asked for transfer, and new teachers run away from the place because they cant handle the ‘heat’ of being in Pedalaman 3. If you think you are ready for it, do take the plunge like me, and youll discover new things thatll make you more complete as a person.


*if you want more info on how its like being in pedalaman 3, do leave a comment, and ill see what i can do for ya.

Small goals, big thinking.   2 comments

As i have written last time on teaching English at Terusan Sugut, my strategy of doing a lot of word discussion is beginning to bore my students. dictionary is taking too much time, as some students are using it as a way to kill time off my lesson. Some even just waited and copied the meanings from their friends.

my response? i try to figure out lessons with very simple objectives, some so simple that i cant believe i can actually spend 2 periods trying to achieve it. I was in fact asked by my colleagues if theyre too simple. but hey, this is terusan, and for them to be willing to engage with English is already an achievement you see.

heres some of my new tricks:

1. very short text with less than 10 words to be discussed if im doing reading (youre talking about UPSR level here), rather than making them write (impossible), I make them fill in the blanks (MCQ wont work cos some will just tikam), or binary questions (true or false). their answers needs to be justified too. i usually made them write down where they found their answer.

2. jigsaw reading for literature was done with lots of pictures, and selected words are given Malay translations. they are in form 3, but they have no idea about ‘How Dalat got it’s name’, or even ‘The Pencil’. I wonder what did their old teachers did, or its just the simple case of ‘Mencurah air ke daun keladi’ – an overquoted line from teachers here.

3. games, video clips, songs – anything that i can and make a lesson out of is used. has so far made a lesson on my bungee jumping video, boys like girls’ Love Drunk and all that. not to mention bringing in virus of  ‘lagu-lagu orang putih’ (white mens songs). the whole school is not humming I’m Yours – Mraz and Dont Worry be Happy – Bob Marley.

these lessons are often very simple, itll take me 5 periods to achieve objectives that will take my VI boys 2 periods. but hey, they got there right? small goals, big thinking, thats my mantra right now.

am still looking for more of these small goal lesson plans. whos keen for a little swap-swap?

Posted April 17, 2011 by Nigel in Uncategorized

the KBSM History Syllabus   2 comments

Aside from teaching English here at SMKTS, I have been teaching history to my kids too,  as I requested the school to give me a few periods. Teaching only English will be boring as. Plus, I love history, and I would like to share my passion with my students, and change their mindset that history is boring and meaningless.

However, as I teach the syllabus, the more discontent I found with it. I realized i was not alone when i pounced on to this link from  friend on Facebook (cheers Jarod)

Much as the article says, the textbook has too much focus on the Islamic civilization, and totally ignored others. plus, the textbook places too much emphasis on one particular ethnic group, and insertion of some terms that I found very offensive and racist in nature. I was trying to teach my kids about a particular political party when I found myself having to teach them a very politically incorrect term, and I was disgusted with myself after that. I have been made a tool to brainwash these innocent kids!

had a chat on Facebook with a friend who agrees with me, and he asked me what would i like to see changed? so heres my answer:

– more LOCAL contents. Malay kingdoms, colonial periods (straits settlements, confederated Malay states and the affairs), and PRE-ISLAMIC Malay kingdoms. Empires like Srivijaya and Majapahit deserve more coverage.

– perhaps a chapter each on continental history, Europe, East Asia, Middle East, India and the New World. The kids deserved to learn about Napoleon, Simon Bolivar, Abraham Lincoln, Peter the Great, Salah-al-Din, Richard the Lion-Hearted, Kang Xi, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, Shah Jehan, and more about Parameswara, yes Parameswara.

– a less judgemental syllabus. phrases such as “pandangan Orientalis Barat adalah salah dan blabla…” should be omitted. The kids should be allowed to form their own judgements about historical events, and its the teacher’s job to provide them with enough information to do that. I would prefer to read an essay that discusses a historical event from various perspectives and not just one – its just plain boring.

– a more ethnically balanced syllabus, perhaps there should be a chapter that details the arrival of the Chinese and Indians into the country, their lifestyle, and how have they suited themselves in Malaya. there is also a need to highlight the fact that instead of just wanting to go back to their homeland, they stayed on and fought the Japs, Commies and die doing so – despite not even promised citizenship.

– a syllabus that indirectly introduces the concept of constitutional monarchy, and why it should always be preseved in Malaysia. a syllabus that plants the idea of political awareness and responsibility in all students, such as the idea the voting is a right that should always be exercised whenever theres a chance.

– lastly, a more honest syllabus. there is a need to accept the past, and be honest with it.

sounded impossible, but I do hope one day, I could, or somebody could do something about the text books. The kids are losing out as some people refused to do something about this.



Posted April 10, 2011 by Nigel in Uncategorized