Thursday, April 26, 2012

My world

I have been reminded time and again that my family has to take priority over everything else, especially work. More often than not, I have pushed my family aside during times when my work gets the better of me, when my students seem to need me more than my family does. I have been guilty of spending more time and energy with my students than my own children.
Well, my world is going to experience a major change in about 3 months or so. No more students. No more work (the paying kind of work). No more needy people who sap a lot of energy out of me. On one hand, I know I will miss all these, on the other hand, I know this is the time that I give back to my family this person who is the wife and mother. They will be my world, truly. I know that the initial months will be tough, and I will be very lonely. So it will be a good time to bond with the children, and a good time to learn to lean on my husband instead of being the usually-very-independent woman that everyone thinks I am.
In the meantime, I am struggling with things. Work is one of them. Emotional entanglement with those needy people aforementioned is another. I do not want them to treat my going away as abandonment. But I do not want my presence here a taken-for-granted thing either.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Such a waste

It is such a waste of a life if all you do is look on the negative side, and behave like you're the only person in the world who has problems. Look at yourself! What are you doing with your life? Are you not wasting this life if you cheapen yourself to that level where you would do anything for money? Even if it is for legitimate reasons? And you want me to approve of you? Not to be disappointed in you? What do you think? My heart aches to tell you what to do, and what not to do. But I am no mother of yours. And you're old enough to know what is right and wrong. What is the point when I tell you one thing, then you go and do the opposite thing? I shall ignore you until you come to your senses. I will not be held accountable for the destruction you bring upon yourself.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

MPPH 2012

It was with much pride that I met with and hugged my SPM leavers today. They were back to received recognition for their excellent results during the annual prize-giving ceremony. Some of them have gone on to uni and college. Some have yet to apply to go anywhere. Some are waiting for results of their applications. All are anxious about their future. But I am proud of all of them, for they have indeed grown so much in the last few months. They have become young ladies. They have bloomed and they have a new confidence about them that wasn't there a few months ago.
Every year, a batch of students leave school for tertiary education. Every year, it is hard to see them go, especially those who have bonded with the teachers and have risen above others in the way they gave back to the school. Many have told me it is sad that I will be leaving, but they forgot, they too, leave. More often than not, they are the ones who leave us behind. But it is a good thing. It is good that they leave for better things.
A mother came to me today and gave me such a big hug it surprised me. I think I have ever only met her once before, during SPM result day. She thanked me for being her daughter's teacher. She said she read my note on FB about when they got their SPM results recently. And it brought tears to her eyes. I was amazed that her daughter actually shared that with her. But I am glad she read it, and delved into the heart of a teacher. And I am proud that the daughter said she will want to major in English when she studies in uni, perhaps in part due to the impact her English teachers have had on her. I am proud to have been one of them.
So MPPH is not all about the students only. It's also an affirmation on the work of the teachers. Much as it is said that these students have private tuition outside of school, many of them are where they are because of some teachers and the good work that these teachers have done with them.
I also went on stage today, receiving the prize for top 3 best panels for SPM, for Literature in English. It was not a big deal, really, but it is a public recognition for the work that Sibyl and I have done with the pioneering batches of students. We can truly give ourselves a pat on our backs for the results we have got.
Till the next MPPH, but I will not be there to see what happens.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Appreciation for teachers

  • does not mean getting gifts for us
  • does not mean coming over to hug us
  • does not mean saying sweet nothings which are meaningless
  • does not mean singing / dancing for us on Teacher's Day

But appreciation for what we do means :

  • affirming the work we do with you
  • listening to us and being attentive enough not to require a million repeats
  • having a good rapport with us
  • coming to school because you don't want to miss what we might teach you
  • anticipating the good that you learn while with us

Every so often, we teachers come to a point of just wanting to throw in the towel when those we spend so much time and energy on, turn around and do or say something akin to giving us a slap on the face. I have mentioned several times before, I don't enjoy celebrating Teacher's Day. This is one of the reasons why. Only on this day they "show us how much they appreciate us" with all sorts of thing. Please!!! Cut the fake smile and fake whatever you show to us. Be genuine! On a daily basis, not on that ONE day. Well, this year, I will not be around for that day. I will not need to look at those faces and wonder how many of them are genuine and how many are fake.

(*Yes I am angry with some of them.)

Monday, April 16, 2012

My heart is heavy

As the time to move gets closer, though it is going to be another 3 months or so, my heart is feeling heavy about it. I love teaching. I love my students. I enjoy what I do, even when I complain. The thought of leaving all of them behind is saddening, and it is with a heavy heart that I have to prepare to leave.
I am not one to reject change but, I just feel sad about leaving all that is familiar to me. A lot of who I am is defined by what I do. And what I do is .... educate. It is not something my family understand. It is not something other people appreciate. Most of my friends feel happy for me, knowing it is a good change. But only a few actually know how hard it is for me. If not for the fact that the timing is just right, that I have become so disillusioned with some of the things and people here, I would not have wanted to leave at all.
But I AM GOING TO LEAVE. I can't change that, nor do I really want to deny that. I just cannot bear it at this time.

My Last Drama

This is taken from a note I wrote in FB just a while ago. I thought I'd just repost it here.

Much as I would like to think that I have more years to go and more dramas to produce, I am being realistic. I know that HOLES was my last one. I will be leaving in a few months. And the likelihood that I will be back in the teaching line is remote.

Producing this drama had been tough. It had been the toughest thing due to many reasons. I almost gave up on the project. I was so close to just shutting down the whole thing. It cost me so much time and energy. It caused me so much anxiety which led to so much heart ache.

Sure, doing a drama is always tiring, physically and emotionally. It takes up a lot of time, it consumes so much energy and a lot of things get neglected as we strive to make it a successful production. I knew that. I knew it would be tougher than last year. I just didn't think it would be THIS tough.

From the start, the whole project was a challenge. First of all, it was not even supposed to be my production. Due to some people's doing, the original person to do it got ... relocated. So this project was either going to be abandoned, or adopted by me. I spoke to the group of students. Everyone agreed to keep going. I told them it was going to take a lot of their time and commitment. They promised they would do their best. Gullible as I usually am, I agreed to adopt the project and make it mine. For me, there is no half way project. It was either all the way or not at all.

So we got going. It was a slow process. Very slow. The script was rewritten at least 5 times. I know i have 5 versions of it. It was hard trying to get them to understand why the scripts had to be changed. I think they felt annoyed that I kept asking them to change this and that and when I could not withstand the pace at which they were doing it, I took over partly and specifically told them WHAT to change and what to cut out and just throw out the window. No one said anything to me, but I sensed the disappointment in a few people. I sensed the unwillingness to do as I asked. I knew why too. I was not their original teacher in charge.

But then I am not who I am by just giving in to my students. Never! Like a stubborn ox, I plodded on. I encountered so many obstacles along the way. Some were caused by those students themselves, some were not.

The date we chose, well, it took us a while to decide on the date. The school has so many activities that it was hard getting a date. And when we did .... we found out later that the staging of PGL was going to be 10 days prior to ours. What that basically meant to us was .... 2 plays in 10 days. Who was going to pay money to watch 2 plays in 10 days? I could foresee that we would not have a crowd. Even if matinee was going to be in the morning and it was a school day.

I was sad but ... there was nothing we could do. Ours was just going to be a small production compared to PGL. No one was going to fight for us, bother about our production. We were on our own.

Then I was told that the production date was no longer a school day. There went the matinee crowd. I was wondering if we would even have an audience.

But the biggest problem I faced was commitment issues among the team members. Not staying back to practise, not staying back to make props, to help. I would probably have felt better if they showed some regret and remorse, but there was none. I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry. I berated myself for taking on this project which was crumbling before my eyes. I regretted agreeing to do this. I could not face the fact that a project I was in charge of was going to be an utter failure and I was going to leave SA a failure.

Yes it was my pride talking. I felt hurt. My pride was hurt. Every day leading to D-Day, I sighed and worried. I wished I could have a bit more time to get the girls better prepared. At the same time, I felt like throwing in the towel and que sera sera. I was alone. I felt so alone then.

It wasn't that my friends didn't help. They were themselves swamped with work. My friend who has been relocated offered to come back a bit and helped. She saw how I was drowning. There was no way I could do everything on my own. I could not be at different places at the same time.

Last few days, I still encountered problems. Not minor ones, mind you. Seriously, I had never ever done a project with so many problems. It was almost as if it was doomed from the start. It was as if someone was bent on making sure it failed.

Several times I was on the verge of tears and I was just holding it in. If I did break down in tears, I knew, the rest would follow and we would probably have abandoned it. So we kept at it. I screamed at them. I pushed. I bullied. I threatened. I took them on a guilt trip. I became a mad woman on a mission to keep the production afloat even if we were sinking and using tiny pails to bail out the water. A few times, I felt my chest tighten. I knew I was stressed and I was not going to do myself or anyone any favour if I collapsed. So I made sure I took care of my health. Just a few more days. I had to do it.

D-Day arrived. One would have thought the problems should have all been settled and no more spanners would be thrown into the works. How wrong I was! That was when I was so close to tears that I could have just driven off. All my anger and disappointment threatened to erupt there and then. Thankfully someone was there to just be the balm I needed to keep going. It was the last lap. What else could I do?

So we went on. The matinee went on with a few hiccups. But it was better than I had dared to hope. The crowd, as expected, was no crowd. It did not matter. What was important was what we had prepared to do on stage. By the night show, everyone improved and it was a success. A few minor hiccups did occur. But those were easily eclipsed by the fact that the girls did it, in spite of all the problems. In spite of the fact that we had no internal support proper, we showed that we could make it happen.

So the show is now over. No more practices. No more staying back every day to do this and that. No more any of those. My life can go on again. I will miss this. I have but one hope. And that is that the team members have learned what it means to work as a team, to commit themselves to the work they have promised to do, and rise above the problems and obstacles thrown their way. Someone asked me why I even bothered. Afterall, who gets the praises and what not. Well, I have never taken up a project because of the head, or the name of the school. It has always been because of the students. Always. Another person asked me if it was worth it. It is ALWAYS worth it, if it is for the students.

I hope indeed that my students .... will learn to be resilient and to have that never-say-die ATTITUDE. When I leave them, I hope they will not look on my departure as abandoning them, but they will take that as an opportunity to prove to everyone else that they can do it.

To my students who have been wondering why I never wanted to hug them nor let them hug me all those months, it was definitely not because I did not love them. They will one day find out that it was because I do love them, that I have kept them at arm's length.

So there it is. My last drama. I wish it wasn't.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Short sighted or blind, or just plain uncaring

I have given notice of my impending leave since January. I have told them verbally that I will only stay until 31 July and after that, I will be leaving the country. The administration on the school has plenty of time to plan for the void I will be leaving, unlike the void left by someone else ... and THAT cannot be filled.
But it is now April, and we are moving nearer and nearer to end of July. So far, no real concrete plans have been made for those positions I am currently holding, which will be without teachers in charge. No one has been identified to replace me as the advisor for D*starz. This is foremost on my list of worries as the girls need someone who care about them and will commit herself to what the team does. I am slowly taking a step back, but I can't .... for these few weeks I have been so busy that I have not cared for them as much as I would have loved to. And one of the results of that is the injuries that seem to be plaguing the girls.
The Lit class will also be without a teacher. K has agreed to help them revise the form 4 work. But other than that, we don't even know who will mark their trial papers, aside from K who will mark the form 4 portion. The poor girls will be on their own. Well, the admin will just have to do something, or else .... face the peril of grades that might go down.
My English classes will also be without a teacher. My form 3 and 5 classes. I aim to finish all I need to cover by end of July. But no one will be in charge of them, their classes etc. Unless the admin makes some changes soon.
I am in state of perplexity as I cannot fathom a team of admin that sits on their hands and just leave things be. All they do is ask me if I have identified replacements. That is NOT my job. I will not be around to ensure that my replacements do their job. I will not be around to check on things.
I don't know what to say of them. Short-sighted, blind or just uncaring.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Move

Looks like everything is going to go quite fast from now on .... where the move is concerned. I have received news that authorisation for the move has been given and we can finally get moving (pun intended) with all the plans we have.
What does this mean? Well, it means that I can finally apply for places in the school I have identified. It means we have to start all the procedure related to the move. We can start getting our papers done. We can start getting visas done. Once various decisions have been made, we can actually plan our trip to Shanghai again in May-June. We can get ready for assessment to be done for Jon. We can start packing - well, putting aside things we will bring to Shanghai.
Much as I had been anxious about getting the authorisation as quickly as possible so that we could get going with things, I am now perplexed about what I need to do. Hubby and I really have to sit down and plan our next move. Problem is - he will be away soon, and I might end up either having to make decisions by myself, or wait till he comes back and delay making decisions.
Next week is going to be a crazy week for me .... and he will be away. So I really have to stay sane in order to not end up being crazy myself.
Seriously, a few things we really have to think about :
  • what to do with the dog and python
  • what to do with the car - sell? to whom?
  • how to settle my housing loan
  • communicating with the income tax dept if necessary
  • medical check up and immunisations
  • my maid - leaving ... and when
  • my mum - how to handle things so that she doesn't end up totally alone
  • what to bring
  • what not to bring
  • etc (too many to really sort out in my head

These are just the major ones that we have to see to. There are numerous other things to consider and do. I am seriously worried .... because that is just me. And the reality has hit me that I will be a very lonely person there, when hubby is away and kids are at school. I am going to miss all that I am used to here. I am going to miss my friends, especially. I am going to miss going to work, even .... just because I will be thinking about my students.

I will be worried about home - here in Malaysia. I will worry about mum, and her well-being. I will worry a lot, I know.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Not going to be titled properly

Not in the mood to blog really but ... I am just feeling down and want to let off a bit of steam. I am disappointed in the girls .... not all of them but some. I am already sacrificing my weekend and holiday to come and practise with them, and yet I have those who don't seem to know that they are not the only ones who have commitments. They waste our time when they don't come. They waste our energy when everyone else who comes does what they are supposed to do but these absentees do not.
I have told them from the beginning, if they want to do this, they have to be committed. Yes I know they are also involved in other projects / programmes in school. But now that nothing else is on, they are still behaving like they have a whole month to get things going. HELLO! The performance is next week. They have not given be a 100% attendance since the beginning. When is it going to happen? What disappoints me the most is some who seem to want to sabotage it so that we cancel the whole thing, when they are the ones who insisted they wanted to stage it. So how now?
I am tired. I don't know what I am doing trying to do this. Perhaps I should have just insisted that I could not take over the production from the beginning. Would have saved me lots of headache and heartache. I keep holding on, hoping that things will be better. It has not. We shall see what happens on Sunday ... Easter Sunday and I am going to be in school for practice. My poor sons have been missing me lots and they don't even know why. And here I have this bunch of girls who are unappreciative of the rest of us who do spend time and effort to make sure this goes on.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Little bird

Is there a little bird whispering sweet nothings into the ears of the powers that be? I am sure there are several such little birds who are ever ready to do the needful to promote their own causes by stepping on others. I am also sure these little birds will not even bat an eye (lid?) as they do their little task of being little minions of the power-hungry.