Over the long weekend, we received a comment on our blog from Mack Will, a teacher who had some strong opinions on Teach For Malaysia and its Fellows. We’re always looking for ways to improve, and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank Mack for the comment, as it helped us see some of the issues we need to address. Reproduced below are both Mack’s comment and our reply; please do read and comment if there’s anything else you’d like to know!
From Mack Will:
‘Teachers nowadays mostly just teach to earn their monthly income.’
Please do not generalize. I am a Teacher chosen by the government. I strive to give my best to my students even though I’m bogged down by 26 periods of class and other work such as classroom management-attendance,fees…,school meetings, paper work, kursus, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…………
Where else, you TFM fellows go to school just to educate students and maybe with much lesser teaching periods. You might even be involved in one or two societies. That’s all…
Shouldn’t we teachers be given this same opportunity as well? And I wonder why isn’t the government doing anything to us (not TFM fellows) especially in easing us from all these unnecessary burden. It’s because of all these extra work that we teachers cannot spend more quality time educating students..
It’s no doubt, TFM fellows are doing a great and fantastic job at schools. But it gets a little frustrating to see the big difference between your scope of work and ours. You have only been trained for a few months. We were trained for a few years. Because of your presence in the school, some teachers had to give up their subjects just for you…and they probably have to teach other subjects which is not in their option. This is true…
It’s sad to know the Education System is in a mess. There are always changes in this system. Despite of all this frustration, there are many teachers who have dedicated their lives in serving the country…some for more than 20 years. Are your fellows willing to work longer than 2 years?
We apologise for the delay in replying; we wanted to give your comment the consideration it deserves and really address the issues you’ve brought up.
First of all, Teach For Malaysia has the utmost respect for teachers and the amount of effort and dedication they put into educating our youth. We would never knowingly seek to offend in any way, and if ever we happen to do so, we apologise wholeheartedly. However, we would like to address some misconceptions in your comment, so as to provide a better understanding of the way Teach For Malaysia works.
Misconception #1: Teach For Malaysia Fellows have a smaller workload than regular teachers:
While the exact number of periods a Teach For Malaysia Fellow receives varies from school to school based on its needs, we can assure you that we have advised all schools to provide similar teaching workloads to Fellows as they would to any other beginner-level teachers. Fellows also receive the same salary and benefits as other beginner-level teachers.
Misconception #2: Teach For Malaysia are trained for a few months, whereas regular teachers receive years of training.
The theory and methodologies that Teach For Malaysia’s training programme utilises is no different from other initial teacher training programme. Where it differs is in its approach, as we merge leadership principles with on-the-job training to provide the skills necessary for Fellows to succeed in high-need communities; research has shown that retention increases when theoretical knowledge can be applied in a practical context. While the training period may appear short, the training itself, conducted by highly skilled local and global trainers, is intensive. Fellows also attend in-service teaching accreditation courses and continuous professional development opportunities over the two-year Fellowship to meet our goal of ending education inequity.
At the same time, we know our Fellows have much to learn from experienced teachers who have themselves faced the challenges of education inequity head-on. That’s why each of our Fellows is paired with a mentor in their placement schools, to ensure they receive the guidance they need to truly make a difference in the classroom.
Misconception #3: Existing teachers are forced to give up their preferred subjects due to the presence of Teach For Malaysia Fellows in their schools.
Together with the Ministry of Education, Teach For Malaysia engaged a wide spectrum of stakeholders, from BPSH, JPNs, and PPDs to school principals, to determine placement options for our Fellows. Through comprehensive analysis and syndication with these stakeholders, we determined our school partners based on a range of factors that included their academic performance and income levels of students’ families. We consulted the Ministry and schools every step of the way to during this process, in order to minimise the impact to existing teachers. If, however, any of your friends or colleagues were impacted negatively by this, we would appreciate the opportunity to speak to them and to learn from their experience in order for us to avoid similar scenarios in the future.