Sunday, March 6, 2022
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
I'm starting work at my new workplace. Well, technically I have started work here for a month already - only that classes have been conducted online. I still work from home, but I work for another school now. School G.
School G is 3km away from my former school. Very near, isn't it? People are perplexed as to why I would get myself moved from one school to another when both schools are in close proximity. Of course, it's not the location; I have been searching for a better working environment.
Is this school a greener pasture? I don't know. And even if it isn't, I'm staying put until I retire. This has been my second move in my entire career thus far. The first move, I remembered being very excited and very happy to come home to Kuching. This second move, well, in fact I've been really stressed over the last 9 months - that's how long the process took and it cost me many sleepless nights. I[m just glad it's all over now.
Mom was shocked when I told her I got a transfer. My aunts too, when I told them. How come? Well, I did put in an application, I told them. But of course it was no ordinary transfer. I was offered this opportunity and I took it up. Otherwise, which Education Department would heed my application given that I did not even fulfil the basic requirement of 10 years' service for a transfer between town schools.
But I am definitely blessed to have another chance to start anew. I plan to grow into a dinosaur at this new workplace. Things have been so far so good!
A colleague, D teased me when I met her the other day, "You secretly moved to School G ...."
"Well, I'd been plotting to move since 2019," I replied.
"Good for you," she said. "Where work is concerned, go where it's best for you."
I loved that. I hope this new school will be the best place for me to be.
Monday, September 27, 2021
My knowledge of Mandarin is rather basic. I can converse and people seem to understand what I say. Sometimes I forget a word or two and I substitute the word in English, Malay or even Hokkien. Sometimes, I will code switch to English, especially when I have to talk about more complicated things.
One day, I was speaking to Z. Normally, when we speak to each other, we use a mix of English and Mandarin. During the course of a conversation, it seems natural for us to code switch from one language to another.
Z is a scary person at my workplace. She never minces her words and doesn't stop herself from giving you a piece of her mind if she thinks you deserve it. Because of that, many teachers avoid Z at all costs. But Z is also my friend, and Z sometimes share with me her personal problems and of course, matters related to work.
So we were talking about our grievances at work, and I said I felt very '委屈' at this school. Wow. I was amazed that I used such a profound word. Wasn't I basic in my Mandarin capabilities? Lol.
Z blinked a few times. But the word struck a chord with her. She felt the same way. That was the exact word to describe what we were feeling at the school.
委屈 /wei qu/
There is no single word to describe this feeling in English. You feel slightly hurt. You feel aggrieved. Your morale is at a low, like you are reluctant to give your best. There is a sense of injustice, like you are being shortchanged. You sort of feel sidelined, like you are not part of the school.
Yesterday, during an online meeting ... one of the dinosaurs presented a video that my friend G produced for the committee. But when the dinosaur thanked the members of the committee, it conveniently did not mention G's name. Instead, it thanked C profusedly. Why so, we wondered? What did C do, we asked? Nothing. And yet, C was praised for his non-effort. G was hurt. Of course G could not voice out her disappointment. G could only confide in us. Poor G.
Similar incidents happen repeatedly in many other situations. We should have been used to it. But the fact is that we aren't. How can anyone get used to this unfair treatment? Why are we discriminated against? Are we seen to be rebels? Are we difficult people? Or perhaps are we more critical of them? Because we are more critical, are they trying to make life more difficult for us? Sometimes, we jokingly call ourselves the opposition party.
Jokes aside, however, what we are feeling is very real. When I first arrived at this school 7.5 years ago, I found it strange that everyone seemed to be talking about their retirement. Indeed there were many veteran teachers at that time, and it was their favourite topic for conversation. And I was really happy to get to know many of them well. 'I have 3 years to go, very fast,' W told me. W is now enjoying his life as a retiree. My current group of friends too are counting the years until they can leave the school for good ... 2 years, 4 years, less than 10 years and so on. They are so looking forward to it.
Me? I have more than 10 years to slog. Can I survive that long at this place which seem to have everything against me? Chances are that I won't make it till my retirement at this rate that I'm going. I'd probably die of the stress first. I really do not enjoy my work here at all.
Of course, we are not asking the dinosaurs for adulation or to worship on the grounds that we walk on. We just demand a little bit of appreciation for our contributions. But in our hearts, we know that will happen when cows fly.
Sunday, September 26, 2021
In my school, T-Rex is the one in charge of students' movements in and out of the school. Any change in the movement, and the first thing that T-Rex should do is to inform the committee handling data - specifically, the students' exit needs to be recorded in the official APDM system and now that attendance for online classes is keyed in online as well, the teacher managing the sPDPR system needs to be informed as well.
At least, that is what I will do if I am in T-Rex's position. It will be my job to notify so that my enrolment is up-to-date.
T-Rex, however, does not bother to inform the data people. Or perhaps T-Rex thinks that this job is too lowly for it. Instead, T-Rex instructs us teachers to do it.
I had students who left school for other institutions. And so, I had to text the APDM manager and the sPDPR manager to remove these students from the system. The APDM manager acknowledged my text message and proceeded to do the removal.
The sPDPR manager also acknowledged my text message, removed the students, and took a photo of the newly-updated system and sent the photo back to me as evidence that it had been done.
It felt a bit funny. The sPDPR manager did not have to prove himself to me. Who was I anyway? I was a mere minion, an underling. Who was I to accuse him of not doing his job? Even if he did not do his job, who was I to care? I was not his superior, anyway.
It would be different if it was T-Rex who had instructed him to get it done in the first place. If it was T-Rex who had asked, then yes, the sPDPR manager would have to send T-Rex that photo to say that he had done the job promptly. Because that photo would have sent the message to T-Rex that it had a prompt and efficient worker there.
Such is the environment of my workplace. People are motivated by fear. People fear that the dinosaurs do not know that they are doing their work. Hence, they have to try very hard to prove themselves to those dinosaurs. Many of the times, people are not interested in many of the work. But they do it because it is forced upon them. They are not in the position to turn down the dinosaurs. Otherwise, they will be accused of being a rebel or being difficult or being lazy. They do it not because they want to, but because they fear the all-powerful dinosaurs.
Stegosaurus in particular has a very negative way of insinuating this idea, that if one wants to be promoted, one has better do his or her job well. Recently, Stegosaurus wanted some of us to volunteer to become judges for the state-wide co-academic competitions. So Stegosaurus wrote a message to 'those who are due for promotion in 2022 and are in desperate need of something to write as a contribution to their jobs'.
I got upset reading it. I was due for my time-based promotion next year. But if I did not volunteer for this task, did it mean that I was not good enough for promotion? Did I have to do it just to please Stegosaurus, because it had a say in whether or not I would receive my promotion next year? And what if I was not due for promotion, did it mean that I need not volunteer myself? What logic was Stegosaurus thinking? Was it even professional to suggest that people volunteer because they needed it for their promotions?
With the likes of T-Rex and Stegosaurus, my joy for my work had slowly but surely diminished. But thankfully, that is all over now. I have escaped their claws.
Saturday, September 25, 2021
I worked with Triceratops as soon as I reported for duty at work at this institution . I was unofficially appointed as the secretary for the group. As a secretary, I prepared many letters. And all the letters were signed by Triceratops.
I felt that it was not right, because I thought that only the personnel with authority - the Principal or the Senior Assistants - could sign letters bearing the school and the official government logo; and not Triceratops who was just an ordinary teacher. But it seemed that it was standard practice for Triceratops to sign all letters related to the group activities. Triceratops had done it for years apparently.
So even though I felt that it was not right, I maintained the status quo. As per Triceratops' wishes, I wrote its name in every official letter that I prepared. Triceratops signed every single one of them before sending them off. The Principal knew about it, I supposed, but never put a stop to it. That meant that the Principal was ok with others in the school signing the official school letters? Or did Triceratops only do it because the Principal did not want to sign them? Because I know that the Principal did not support the group nor its activities. One time, when I was still pretty new in the institution, I asked the Principal to sign a letter for the group, because at that time, he was the only person of authority around. The Principal made it clear to me that I was not to ask for his signature for such letters in the future.
One day, Student A came to me and showed me the letter she would send to McDonald's to ask for sponsorship. It was a letter written using the school and the official government logo, and it was signed by Student A herself. I was aghast. Not only that, I was put off by the broken language she used in the letter. So as a teacher-advisor to her project, I edited the letter for her.
I edited her sentences. I took out the logos and set the letter on a plain piece of paper. As a student, Student A would be sending a 'surat melalui' ... that meant that she had her own details at the top as the writer of the letter, with a verification by the Principal or a Senior Assistant's right below it. The Principal or the Senior Assistant would just annotate the letter to acknowledge it.
The letter done, Student A went to see T-Rex to get its verification signature on her letter. However, T-Rex made a fuss of the letter. T-Rex refused to sign it. Then, T-Rex wrote a long message in the school's official messenger group, stating that the letter was a disgrace and would portray a bad image of the school to the public. T-Rex even asked rhetorically how was it expected that it sign such a bad letter.
Poor Student A. She was caught between T-Rex and myself. Student A came back and asked whether she needed to revert to the first unedited draft of her letter. I insisted that the format of the first letter was wrong and her language was off-putting. I also told her in no uncertain terms that I refused to change my stand - because I knew for certain that Student A should not be using the official letterhead because she was just a student.
Duh. Was it standard practice in this school that anyone and everyone could sign on letters bearing the official letterhead? Didn't they know that they did not have that authority to use the letterhead it in the first place? Wouldn't the public laugh at us for allowing a student to sign on an official letter from the school? So in the end, did Student A rewrite the letter according to the wishes of T-Rex, I had no idea.
I was angry because T-Rex came between me and Student A. I thought I was the teacher-advisor, and not T-Rex. If T-Rex wanted badly to advise students, T-Rex should be assigned a group of students like the rest of us. And if T-Rex thought I did wrong in advising Student A, T-Rex should have come talk to me. Not that I would have changed my stand anyway - I would have insisted that it was wrong of Student A to use the school letterhead, and as a teacher, it was my duty to advise her on the right way of doing things. It was also VERY APPARENT that T-Rex did not know the protocols of letter-writing. And T-Rex was just getting angry at people for doing the right thing - making so much noise out over something that was not even right in the first place. Duh.
I refer to this website :
Hanya orang yang mendapat kuasa sahaja boleh menandatangani surat rasmi kerajaan. Orang yang memiliki kuasa itu ialah ketua sesuatu kementerian, bahagian, jabatan dan sebagainya. Misalnya, di sekolah, pemilik kuasa itu ialah guru besar (GB) atau pengetua.Seorang atau beberapa orang pegawai kanan dalam sesebuah organisasi kerajaan boleh menandatangani surat rasmi. Antara contoh pegawai kanan dalam organisasi kerajaan ialah penolong kanan di sekolah. Pegawai kanan ini mendapat kebenaran untuk menandatangani surat rasmi kerajaan yang berkaitan dengan bidang tugas mereka sahaja. Mereka menandatangani surat rasmi bagi pihak (b.p.) ketua organisasi yang berkenaan.
Saya pernah menerima beberapa banyak surat yang melanggar kuasa untuk menandatangani surat rasmi. Orang yang menandatangani surat itu ialah guru biasa di sekolah.
... surat keluar melalui saluran dalaman. Sebagai contoh pertama, katakan Lasimbang ialah pelajar Institut Pendidikan Guru (IPG) A. Apabila Lasimbang menulis surat kepada pihak luar, surat itu mesti melalui tutornya dan Pengarah IPG A. Sebagai contoh kedua, katakan Cikgu Jumain ialah guru sebuah sekolah rendah. Apabila Cikgu Jumain menulis surat kepada Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), suratnya itu perlu melalui GB sekolahnya dan PPD.
I have been in the school system for years, and I do know a little about letter-writing protocols. I would have probably written more letters than T-Rex. T-Rex did not know everything. T-Rex should have just read up or found out more. But T-Rex was either too lazy or too proud to do so. I guess it was easier for T-Rex to lash out. T-Rex after all, had to show us minions that it was in charge.
Friday, September 24, 2021
Thursday, September 23, 2021
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