We’re shining a light and getting personal with the awesome individuals that make Dwi Emas the environment to grow future trailblazers.
To kick things off, we sat down with both Teacher Hannah and Teacher Ashley to talk a little bit about their background and teaching career.
Tell us a little about yourselves.
Hannah: I majored in psychology and currently teaching English and Social Studies for Year 1 – 3, and A-Levels psychology.
Ashley: I studied Mass Communication, majoring in public relations. Now, I’m teaching English for Year 4 – 8 and Social Skills for Year 7 and 8.
What were some big challenges you’ve faced in your teaching career?
Hannah: I think when I started out, it was a little daunting because I started out with secondary kids and then the following year, I dived straight in to teaching Year 1. That big age gap was a challenge for me because you can’t possibly approach students in Year 1 the same way you approach those in Year 7. Currently however, I am teaching Year 1’s and A-Levels so the gap has grown further apart so I have had to learn how to switch my approach and my perspective in terms of my classroom management, how I conduct the class and even how I speak to my kids.
Ashley: I think what was difficult was adjusting to how the kids could be so open. The kids here like to question everyone. These students are like, “Hi, teacher! Are you our new teacher?” And then they will start a whole “interview” process. Now, I enjoy going through the process. I would have to agree with Hannah on how it was a challenge to go from Year 4’s and then having a class with the Year 7’s right after. I was always worried about if I was going too fast for the younger ones but now I can definitely say that I have adjusted myself well to be able to switch between each level.
Hannah: Yeah! And they want to know everything about you. They want to tell you about their lives and they want to know everything about your life. I think we have come to find it very endearing. Personality-wise, we are both introverted, well I am an introvert that behaves like an extrovert. We both need our quiet time and our own space. I can’t speak for Ashley but I am able to adjust quite quickly to different environments.
Ashley: Yeah, for me, when I meet people, I don’t go “Hi, How are you? Where are you from?” I just go “Hi.” It takes me a little longer to warm up to people. But these kids are just “BAM” in your face. I am not sure about other teachers but I was just taken aback at first. Now, I am quite used to it!
So what made you want to become a teacher?
Hannah: I tell you what, in all honesty, I never thought I would ever want to become a teacher. That was definitely the last thing I ever wanted to do.
Ashley: Me too!
Hannah: It was the last thing I ever thought I would be because when I was in school I was such a difficult student in the sense that I was so outspoken and opinionated that it got me into trouble more often than not. I used to question and challenge my teachers all the time! Ashley and I actually went to school together. We’ve known each other since we were 13 years old and we were the type of students that used to ask all the questions and terrorize our teachers with the constant “Why’s” But see when we were in school, the teachers were so rigid and they would always respond to our questions with ,”Oh, Don’t ask questions. It’s in the textbook.” That used to annoy me so much! After Uni, I was actually working as a Behavioural Therapist with Special Needs children. About a year being back in Malaysia, my mom kept going on and on about how Teacher Anne had started a school and that I should go and check it out and that she wanted to speak to me. I didn’t take it seriously at first but I decided to catch up with Teacher Anne over coffee and she invited my mom and I to the school. My mom had visited the school prior to that and she was telling me how awesome the school is so I decided to tell Ashley about it and asked her to come along to check it out.
Ashley: You went first and then we went together.
Hannah: Yes! We were blown away by the students during out visit. We were walking down the hallway and the kids shouted out “Hello!!” You don’t see that kind of behaviour much in Malaysian schools. We were amazed by the enthusiasm. When I was in ACE that was the one thing we looked forward to because in school everything was so rigid, we never had the freedom to be ourselves. So I told Ashley about it and we both went over to see the school.
Ashley: Actually, when she told that she was going to see Teacher Anne, I was in the midst of deciding between other job offers so I said I’ll just follow her. It was supposed to be a meet, but suddenly I was getting interviewed and the next thing you know, I’m working here! And I am glad I made that decision to follow Hannah because I like being a teacher. It’s very rewarding!
Hannah: I honestly never thought I would say that I love and enjoy being a teacher. The kids know how to push our buttons but at the same time hey really make you feel loved and that feeling is very fulfilling.
Ashley: Especially on the days you really need it. They do something or say something nice!
Hannah: And they do say the sweetest things.
Would you say that the kids are what inspires you to continue teaching?
Hannah: Yeah! Definitely the kids. Seeing how they have changed and watching them grow, knowing that you are and have been a part of that process is very rewarding. I have had students whom I taught in Year 7 and have now graduated. When they see me around, they still come up to me enthusiastically to tell me what their scored for the Chemistry exams (I used to teach Chemistry). I haven’t taught them in over four years but they still keep in contact with me. It makes me feel very good and it makes me feel like I was able to make an impact on their lives somewhere along the way, even though it may have been very small, the fact that they still remember me and speak to me makes me feel very grateful to be a teacher. So, yeah! I can definitely say that the kids do inspire me. How about you Ashley?
Ashley: Yes they really inspire me! It’s great when you see them realise things on their own without you needing to step in to intervene. And to be able to see them grow. Some of them come into Year 7 being very shy and to see them blossom into outspoken and confident individuals at the end is simply moving.
It sounds like the both of you have been working here for quite a while now. So, what do you think makes a good teacher?
Ashley: A teacher who listens.
Hannah: That’s true; a teacher who listens. Actually, a teacher who cares. I don’t think many of our teachers listened or genuinely cared for us. I feel bad for saying this.
Ashley: Not all but some did care.
Hannah: Yeah. We had a few who were genuine and they were the ones we connected with. That’s why I think the kids enjoy being here so much because the teachers really care for them and are willing to lend an ear. When the kids have an issue, we don’t judge them or get upset with them immediately. Even if they make a mistake, majority of them are open to admitting to their mistakes, because they know we are willing to listen and help them out. It’s not “You made a mistake! Time for punishment!” it’s always “Okay, you made a mistake. Now let’s see how we can fix it.” So, the kids are willing to open up.
Thank you very much for you time, Teachers Hannah and Ashley!
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