Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Things I'm Grateful For (Happy New Year 2017!)


It's the second week of 2017...and I hope it's still not too late to wish everyone a happy new year. So, any new year resolutions? I aim to make 2017 a better year by giving myself more time to read for pleasure, to travel for pleasure and to write for pleasure :)

Under 'write for pleasure' is doing this blog...so I aim to blog more often than last year. I realised that 2016 had not been very productive for Beyond Chalk & Talk - only two posts published for the whole year. So 2017 is the year to do more blogging. So, this is my first blog post in 2017, and I want to start by counting my blessings.

2016 was tumultuous, filled with ups and downs - but overall it had been a great year. Here's a list of the things that I'm grateful for:


Friends and family - near and far

I don't think I have the words to describe how grateful I am for my beloved family and for all the wonderful friends that I have in my life. 2016 had not been a very good year for me health wise. I was in and out of the hospital a dozen times. I had been unwell, I had been depressed - during those times I could be horrible and it wasn't easy to be around me, I know. But my dear family and friends were never far from me. They might not be close to me physically but they were always there for me and with me. I'm beyond blessed. Oh, and I have to mention this: God had blessed my brother and his wife with a baby girl. My beautiful niece Jordan Nicole was born on the 9th of September last year, and I'm officially a #proudaunty.

Christmas with family, 2016

I didn't actually want to post this at first (I look super terrible), but I need to give credit to that crazy lady who took this wefie. She's Shoba Macintyre, my good friend, an SISC+ from PPD Papar. She postponed her trip back to Sabah just so she could be with me when I was admitted to the hospital at Seremban.

Shoba, you're crazy. Love ya.

The opportunities to learn new things and work with great people

This would be my second year working in PPD Kota Kinabalu as district English language officer. It had been an interesting year, a year filled with learning experiences. Early last year I had written a post about how much I missed my classroom and my kids - but after one year here's what I can say: I'm a teacher, and I always will be no matter where you put me. This new responsibility has given me the chance to gain new perspectives, but it doesn't in any way affect my passion for teaching. If anything, it only makes me love being a teacher even more. I had the opportunities to see many schools, meet many teachers and spoken to quite a number of great leaders in this field. I had been inspired, I had been rejuvenated. I had learned a lot. A LOT.

And as far as learning is concerned, I would have to say that I'm so grateful for the opportunity to embark upon my postgraduate study in 2016. My academic supervisor and mentor, AP Dr. Lee Kean Wah is the greatest ever and I'm so blessed to have the opportunity to learn from him.

Work trip to Sepanggar Island:




Great leaders - Ms Julia Jock (former Excellent Principal of SM La Salle), Ms Gertrude Jock (Director of IPGM Kampus Gaya), Ms Juliana Johari (Head of English Unit, IPGM Kampus Gaya)


With my 'Going Digital' team
With my MELTA KK family - Ease, Shuba, Aishah, Nigel and Ian. With Dr Sivabala Naidu from University of Nottingham, KL

With awesome KK teachers

With awesome educators and scholars: Associate Professor Dr Lee Kean Wah and Associate Professor Dr Tan  Choon Keong (Universiti Malaysia Sabah) in Miri, Sarawak


With my super cool Head of Academic Unit at PPD KK - Ms Doreen Peter


More opportunities to share

I love sharing with other teachers, and being the English language officer has given me more opportunities to do that. Since I'm no longer attached to any school, I'm free to go to around - within my district and beyond - to help my fellow teachers. I ran workshops, sharing sessions and seminars (most memorable was a two-day workshop with English teachers in Beaufort and a one-and-a-half day PLC-based sharing session with English teachers and students in Kota Marudu). My favourite was the Ed-Camps for UPSR teachers that I organised with my SISC+ colleagues in Kota Kinabalu. Another great one is when I collaborated with Universiti Malaysia Sabah for a PLC-based project to promote technology integration among 'digital immigrant' English language teachers in my district. And we finally set up a MELTA chapter for Kota Kinabalu! And organised the first-ever symposium specifically for Sabah English teachers! Looking back, I find it hard to believe that I was able to do all these in a single year. More on this in my next post.

Some snapshots from last year's MELTA KK Symposium:



'Sharing Your Research' Seminar at SM St. Francis Convent, Kota Kinabalu
Sharing session with UMS TESL students

Sharing session with English Unit of PPD Seremban:






I still teach!

That's right! Like I said, I haven't left teaching, and it's true! I no longer have a classroom and students I can call my own, of course. But I can still meet students on quite regular basis and conduct some lessons. I went to Tawau to visit my good friend Rukiya Saidali and she let me conduct a few lessons with her students at SK Melodi. SK Kunak 2, my former beloved school invited me to spend time with my former students for two days and one night. I did a writing workshop at SK Kuala Papar with my good friend Soumie Ahmin and her lovely, lovely students. I got to visit beautiful SK Lohan in Ranau and conduct a one-day workshop with students from three schools - thanks to my friend Rujarlynce Mapanggil. My most unforgettable one would be the trip to SK Jabang, a lovely little school in rural Beaufort. And of course there was the programme sponsored by YaPEIM, where I had the chance to meet 300 students from all over Kota Kinabalu at the auditorium in Mini Putrajaya. We talked, we did story-telling, we learned, we sang songs, we had fun. It was amazing.

Story-telling and singing session with students in SK Kunak 2:



Trip to SK Jabang, Beaufort:




Story-writing workshop at SK Kuala Papar


The opportunities to travel

Despite my health issues, I'm grateful to God that I was still able to travel to a few wonderful places in 2016. I went to Ipoh for the annual MELTA international conference. I went to Seremban for HIP colloquium, though I need to say I only managed to participate in the opening - I got sick on the first day and had to spend the rest of the week on a hospital bed at Hospital Tuanku Jaafar, Seremban. What drama! The sickness wasn't nice at all, but the experience (albeit traumatic) and the encounters with the people there were something worth sharing :D (in future post maybe?) I went to Johor Bahru with the UMS e-Learning team for International University Carnival on e-Learning (IUCEL), to Miri Sarawak for International Conference on Education (ICE). And saving the best for last: to Birmingham, United Kingdom for International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) conference! I won a sponsored trip to attend the conference under Cambridge University Press Teacher Research Programme. I did my first IATEFL presentation. Nerve-wracking, but nice (I wish I could do it again). And I met David Crystal! And bought his autographed book! And then lost it at the airport :( :( :(

I'm sharing here my album of IATEFL photos:





Birmingham:



UMS team at IUCEL 2016

My workshop at MELTA conference in Ipoh
My friend Jen Renita Mappah won the Basil Wijasuriya Gold Award at MELTA 2016. Congratulations buddy!



The opportunities to do the things I love

Although this blog had been quite silent, 2016 had been quite a productive year in terms of writing. I had published four books - two work books for Primary 6 and two general reference books for schools. I had written three radio scripts for BTPN's school offline radio programme (to be published this year). I had written three blog posts for Cambridge Conversation. My final report on creating digital story prompts had been published on Cambridge University Press' website. I had my first journal article published in International Journal of e-Learning Practices (IJELP). One of the teaching guides that I've written for Scholastics Asia had been published in their November catalogue, two more will be published some time this year. It didn't seem like a lot when I was doing all these last year, but listing them down like this makes me want to give myself a pat on the back.

The two work books published last year:






There are so many more things that I'm grateful for - it's just impossible to list them all down in a single blog post. As for 2017, I don't want to aim for a lot. I just want to continue doing the things that make me happy and make those around me happy as well :)

All the best, people!
-ccj



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