First Day Stories : Losing Sleep

Our Fellows have a sturdy support system in the form of their Leadership Development Officers (LDO), who are there to provide help and guidance throughout their two-year journey. Today’s post is from one of our LDOs, Shannon Scott, on how she felt in regards to her charges joining the teaching force as a part of the inaugural Teach For Malaysia Fellowship.


I have always loved Sleep, and the feeling is mutual. It is a deep and passionate relationship that has endured many highs and lows for nearly 26 years. The most common cause for trouble in our relationship is the unbalance between work and time. On the 3rd of January 2012, Sleep and I were not on good terms and did not see each other the whole night. This was the night before the 2012 Teach For Malaysia Fellows entered the classroom in their placement schools for the first time. Fifty amazing young leaders were about to enter a new stage of their life, make history and kick off a movement.

For students, the night before the first day of school is a chemistry set full of emotions. You think, “Who will be in my classes? What will the teachers be like? Will the classes be hard? What clubs should I be in? What do I eat in the canteen?” Each an important question that would dictate the entire year.

For a teacher, the night before the first day of school often includes the same questions and emotions, but is far more fear-inducing. As a Teach For Malaysia staff member and a former teacher, I experienced a similar mental and emotional trauma. The memories of my first day teaching, the nervous phone calls, text and Facebook messages from the Fellows, and the sheer excitement for the movement that was about to begin kept pushing Sleep away.

Without Sleep, I arrived early to the office to prepare for a six hour Training Team meeting. The distraction sedated my nerves and kept me relatively calm throughout the day. At the end, I had a full report on the first day of school from the Fellows. Exhausted and worried for day two, most of them crashed as soon as they returned home. I mirrored their exhaustion and worry, but when I returned home Sleep was there waiting for me.