KUALA LUMPUR: Eleven years ago, Azura Senawi accepted a teaching position at an independent Chinese school with some trepidation because she had been told that parents could be demanding.
But her keenness to teach helped her overcome her fears and she has never regretted her decision.
Azura teaches Malay at Tsun Jin High School on Jalan Loke Yew and thoroughly enjoys it. She’s full of praise for the way the school is run, the dedication of the teaching staff and the attitudes of the students.
She says most of the students are keen in their studies, many are active in extracurricular activities and there’s hardly any disciplinary problem.
Chinese schools have always had a reputation of giving students too much homework, but Azura claims the pupils in her school seldom complain.
The school uses Google Classroom App to record unfinished work by students. Once they submit the homework, the record is erased. Students who finish their homework on time can get up to 30% of the marks for their final exams.
Students also take turns to keep the school compound clean and they participate in recycling programmes.
The school has a teacher taking charge of discipline between 7.30am and 4.10pm. “In all the years I’ve been teaching here, no student has been caught smoking or loitering around in school,” Azura told FMT.
She claims that teachers in the school don’t miss classes and they check on one another’s work to make sure everything is in order.
She says teachers are kept busy all the time, “which is probably why they are kept away from engaging in office politics”.
“Teachers who teach the same subject have weekly meetings on what they are going to teach and the approach they will use,” she said, adding that these brainstorming sessions, during which teaching approaches would be finetuned, had produced some remarkable results.
Speaking of her work as a language teacher, Azura said she had learned a lot from the external experts the school regularly engages. These experts teach writing and learning techniques, which the teachers pass down to students.
“Our students are aware of the best ways to write passages and how to tackle questions. This has helped them score high marks.”
The school population is almost entirely Chinese, but Azura says the students are exposed to the Malay and Indian cultures practised in Malaysia and most of them can speak Malay and English.
“Those who can’t will get encouragement from teachers until they can speak the two languages.”
She says the canteen in her school, like in many other Chinese schools, serve non-halal food but Muslims don’t find it a problem because they are allowed to eat at the stalls located just outside the school.
During the fasting month, she says, students try to show sensitivity towards Muslim teachers and would normally place their water containers on the floor, ”hoping to keep them away from our view”.
“I often tell them there’s no need to do that. But they will still hide their drinks during the entire fasting month.”
The school hires students for clerical work when they are waiting for exam results or for admission to college. Azura says this benefits the school because teachers are then freed from such work.
She believes parents send their children to the school “not because it is a Chinese school but because it has its priorities right. It instils discipline, hard work and respect for others”.