A Day in the Life of a Fellow: Nadzmi


Ever wondered what life is like as a Teach For Malaysia Fellow? 2013 Fellow, Nadzmi gives us a glimpse into a regular day in his life as a Fellow, teacher and leader.

Muhamad Nadzmi Dzulkifli, TFM 2013 Fellow

6am: I get up to carry out Subuh prayers and shower. Self-discipline allows me to begin the day with a peaceful mind and relaxed body. I know that I am a morning person, and that I retain knowledge better at this time. I then go through my lessons for the day; I teach Bahasa Melayu and Pendidikan Seni Visual.

10am: I arrive at school well ahead of time to manage extra-curricular matters. I meet with my school-based mentor for extra advice on lesson plans. My pedagogical skills need work. I’m good at BM, but it is difficult to deliver what I know. The different BM dialects and accents make effective teaching of the language difficult.

11am: I head to the library to help out students with literacy issues. It’s not part of my job scope, but I know that some of these students just need a little extra push. My biggest triumph is to help them realize the importance of education and work extra hard in achieving their big goals. In taking this extra step, I am also leading by example.

At 12pm, I have lunch with my colleagues at school. We discuss a wide range of topics, not limited to classroom issues. It’s important to build a strong rapport with them.

Before classes begin, I direct the students to the hall for prayers.

Lessons begin at 1.45pm. I try to be alert to changes in students’ behavior during class. When requests for bathroom breaks and noise breakouts become more frequent, I know it’s time to adjust the lesson. I create a “teka-teki” (riddle) or puzzle. As a more subtle method of crowd control, I use the kid’s names in examples that illustrate my lesson, which always makes them sit up. When they split up for group activities, I appoint the most disruptive kids as group leaders, knowing that they’ll have to assume responsibility in order for the group to earn points and evade penalties.

Because of the way I have to adapt to student behavior, every one of my lessons turns out differently. However, I always end the same way: wrapped up with an evaluation and a reflection to help retention.

5.30pm: I patrol the school to make sure that all students are in their classes and not playing truant. When the final bell goes, I stand by the school gate to see the students out. At last, the school day is over. My day isn’t over yet, however.

6pm: Recognizing that I still have a long way to go as an educator, I seek advice from experienced teachers for the best learning experience as I go about preparing for tomorrow’s lessons. However, I bear in mind that the best lesson plan won’t work if I don’t adapt to student behavior and culture. Doing so is one of my greatest challenges. I think did well today, but there’s always room for improvement.

8pm: After prayers and a quick dinner bought from his regular stall, I continue reflecting with my housemates, who are also TFM Fellows. We learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses, but more importantly, they also function as a good support base which I can go to in times of need. After all, who better understands the struggle of combating education inequity?