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Showing posts from August, 2010

Of chins and Ramadhan

It is now past the 10 day mark of the fasting month.

I take stock of what Ramadhan has meant to me so far.

So far, I am on my 5th Juz of the Quran, which makes my progress slow compared to what my parents are doing, which I'm sure is more than 1 juz a day. Note to self - need to spend time to read more Quran.

Alhamdulillah, I think I am lucky to be able to pray 2 raka'ats of tahajjud before Subuh, and 2 raka'ats of Taubah after Subuh almost every day. I know it isn't much compared to what so many of my brothers and sisters in Islam are doing to show their devotion to God, but I am doing what is manageable to me, and InshaAllah, God willing, I will be able to step up my 'amal more and more as we progress further. A very wise person once told me that the best way to achieve overall spirituality is not a heaped dose of 'amal, which fades as time goes by simply because it is difficult to maintain. The best way is to do what you can, and making sure you are comfortabl…

Once a teacher always a teacher - Part 2

I step into the classroom.

I see four students looking up at me, a little puzzled, and perhaps a little apprehensive. I wouldn't blame them of course because that was the first time they saw me, and they would have had no idea what to expect.

But I took it all in stride, as an experienced teacher should. I smiled and greeted everyone. It was nice to see them smiling back. I knew that I was going to like them immediately.

For me, the first lesson is always the most important to build unit cohesion. Simply put, this is the ideal time to make them like you and trust you with their learning. And it is also the best time you get to know them as individuals.

There were four in the class.

Bronwyn mentioned that winter was a hard season for the centre, because the enrolment numbers usually dropped.

The first student was a Japanese man in his late 30s or early 40s. His name was Norifumi, and he was a full-time guardian to his daughter in NZ. I wasn't quite sure what he was trying to sa…

Once a teacher always a teacher?

I don't know whether it was meant to be, or if it was fate, or divine intervention.

Initially, I thought that I could focus a hundred percent on my PhD and not having to do anything anything else, but it soon became clearer and clearer that I was running out of options. My bank account was bleeding to death, and I knew I would soon follow if the situation were not remedied.

I tried a few things - tried to get marking jobs for lecturers, or to teach part-time in any university subjects.. any job at the university would have done.. but it just wasn't meant to be.
I was like a fish out of water. They didn't have TESL-related disciplines here, otherwise I could have done well.. In the College of Education they had art-related disciplines, of which I barely have any experience. Even the Drama in Education that I taught in UTM were language-based, and not arts-based. I couldn't teach English.. well.. because it's an English speaking-country! Or so I thought...

Answer to …

To Sir with love


That's what my students would call me.

A strange title in an English speaking country as it would mean I would be nobility, but in Malaysia, it is a title usually reserved for male English teachers.

I recently saw something which put a lump in my throat a few days ago - it was a song from Glee. Yes, I watch Glee, and no, it is not pathetic. Those of you who don't or better yet haven't, I suggest giving it a try and see what happens.

Anyway, the song was a remake of an old song sung by Lulu - 'To Sir with Love'. I saw that movie when I was a small kid, and I even though I could understand what the movie was about, I could not fully appreciate it.

Add twenty years and a teaching career down the line, and try revisit the movie.. Or just happen to watch the song on Glee... and you remember what teaching is all about.

It's not about you.

It's about the students.

Because in the end, they make you.

As I watched the video, a huge lump started to form in my t…