Terima kasih cikgu: Celebrating teachers, honouring their sacrifices on Teachers' Day


Mohd Man Saiful Effendy Surati, a.k.a "Ferdy Cikgu Celebrity", with his students.

KUALA LUMPUR: "We Malaysian teachers pledge and promise to educate and lead the sons and daughters of our nation."

This is the first verse of a song that resonates nationwide every May 16 on Teacher's Day, to honour teachers for their services and sacrifices in building the nation and society.

The song and lyrics, created by the late Hashim Ahmad, a former teacher from Penang, penned in 1988, continue to flourish today, demonstrating a teacher's immense value and high sacrifice in shaping valuable individuals for the future.

The struggle of individuals known as teachers is not trivial, especially in an increasingly modern era where they are faced with various challenges, environments, and the diverse behaviours of their students, in addition to ensuring that the flow of education keeps pace with the nation’s development.

Dedication

While some opt for a career in teaching after failing to get a job in their preferred field, they eventually achieve success through high commitment.

This is the case with Mohd Man Saiful Effendy Surati, 44, who was born and bred in Sabak Bernam, Selangor. After 20 years as an educator, he continues to serve diligently with a sense of pride.

Known on Facebook as "Ferdy Cikgu Celebrity," he shared with Bernama that his ambition was to be a newsreader and broadcast journalist. However, due to difficulties in finding a job in his desired field after graduation, he decided to become a teacher when an opportunity knocked at his door.

"Without any hesitation, I accepted the offer to become a teacher, and from there, my interest grew," said the holder of a Bachelor of Arts from Universiti Malaya (UM).

After graduating from UM, Man Saiful worked as a substitute teacher and hostel warden in January 2004 at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Dato’ Harun, Tanjong Karang, Selangor. From June 2004 to December 2005, he served as an Untrained Assistant Teacher (GSTT) at Sekolah Kebangsaan Bandar Tun Hussein Onn, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.

"In 2006, I was offered the Postgraduate Teacher Training Course (KPLI) in Preschool Studies at Institut Pendidikan Guru Kampus Pendidikan Islam, Bangi, Selangor. I started teaching preschool in 2007 at a school in Kuala Lumpur and premier stream classes.

"I then moved to my hometown to take care of my mother and teach premier stream classes. In 2011, I was transferred to my third school due to service needs to teach preschool according to my original option. I have been a preschool teacher for 14 years since that day,” said Man Saiful, who frequently shares his activities as an educator on Facebook and has 123,000 followers.

Challengers with young students

Teaching young children aged five and six is no mean feat. Every year, there are many challenges and difficulties with students during the first semester of school, primarily emotional outbursts such as silent sobbing, loud crying, screaming for mummies, milk time, etc.

Sharing his recent experience during the first week of school, Man Saiful said he had to deal with a situation when a girl refused to be taught by a male teacher and cried every day without fail.

"The main challenge in teaching is when students won’t accept us as their teacher. However, I took this in a stride.

"I tried several ways to change her perception of strict and stern male teachers. Initially, I used some persuasion and several weeks later, I helped her mingle with friends. From there, I introduced more group activities, injecting fun into learning and physical activities. After a while, she accepted me as her teacher,” he shared.

Currently teaching in a preschool class at a primary school in Sekinchan, Selangor, he said it is common to face challenges with new students from diverse backgrounds at the beginning of the year.

Therefore, he practises a fun and friendly approach to make them comfortable with the teacher.

"Instilling love and practising some rules in school are very important. For me, discipline is the key to success and accomplishments. When a teacher is fair and treats everyone equally, students will feel they are fairly treated and enjoy learning," said Man Saiful, who has the full support of his mother, Jaliah Slamat, 72, family members, friends, and colleagues.

Satisfaction

After two decades in the education world, Man Saiful said nothing was more satisfying as a teacher than seeing students who were struggling with letters, numbers, or writing during their preschool years succeed in their education and even have great careers.

Looking ahead, he hopes to see more male preschool teachers and elevate the status of preschool teachers in Malaysia to that of other professional careers.

"My advice for those who are keen on teaching is that they should have an interest in the profession, with positive personality traits, neat appearance, friendly persona, a sense of humour and creative ideas.

"This career is not just about teaching but also educating in various aspects involving physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and social (JERIS). Teaching also demands a high degree of patience as we face many students with different emotions daily at school,” he said.

At the same time, teachers must ensure the objectives of the teaching and facilitation sessions (PdPc) are achieved.

The most important criterion for becoming an educator, he said, is interest because this career is not only for a year or two.

"They should be passionate in educating; they should put their heart and soul into the profession which will go a long way in achieving the PdPc objectives both within and outside the classroom.

"Teachers should also add moral value to teaching to ensure a conducive and seamless operation at school,” he said.

Like a friends

For Mohd Norazizi Samsudain, 33, it has been his ambition to be a teacher since primary school. His dream came true five years ago, and he has since taught at a full boarding school in Kedah and a higher learning institution (IPT) in Selangor.

Holding a Bachelor of Applied Language Studies (Malay Language for Professional Communication) from UiTM (2015), he initially ventured into journalism as a reporter for Utusan Malaysia.

However, his desire to become a teacher grew stronger and he decided to pursue his childhood dream after receiving a Master’s Degree in Malay Studies (Malay Language) from Universiti Malaya in 2017. In 2022, he earned a Postgraduate Diploma in Education from UNITAR International University.

Currently teaching Form Four and Five students at a secondary school in Tangkak, Johor, he believes a new approach should be adopted to win over this age group.

"This approach I use is RCR, which stands for Rapat-Cungkil-Rungkai (Close-Dig-Explore). For me, a teacher must be close to the students so that we can uncover their interests, problems, and challenges and then explore ways to help them as much as possible.

"I never differentiate between their race, class, or background in teaching. Education is for everyone who desires it. However, the approach to teaching lower and upper secondary students is different. You need to play the game carefully. You can't be too nice or too strict, but you need firmness and boundaries," said the former media practitioner.

To ensure comfort and ease between the teacher and students, Norazizi uses a friendly approach.

"It is not easy to teach secondary school students, as they come with their own challenges, and the influence of cyberspace is significant. However, he acknowledges that technology is essential for today's teenagers.

"The informal nature of social media communication - a conversational tone, often blurring the lines between spoken and written language - has significantly influenced students, making the learning process difficult. Therefore, I use this challenge as an opportunity to draw them into learning. Towards this end, I have created a TikTok account to teach Malay subjects in a more relaxed manner.

"Alhamdulillah (Praise to Allah), they have embraced this approach. Additionally, I use technology in many class activities, such as projectors, speakers, and game-based learning. This is because I don’t want to deny their right to live in a country progressing towards a developed status,” said Norazizi, who actively exposes students to communication skills and language arts through participation in poetry, public speaking and forums.

Don't make it the last choice

Norazizi advises that those who wish to pursue a career in teaching should not regard it as their last choice or as just a stable source of monthly income.

"Teaching is a noble profession and not everyone can deliver. We have to wear many hats besides being a teacher. There are times we have to play the role of motivational experts, police officers and second parents to the children at school,” he said.

Noting the great contributions of teachers, Norazizi, however, expressed regret over social media posts by some quarters that said teachers do not deserve to receive civil servant benefits, as announced by the government recently.

Commenting on the teaching sector then and now, Norazizi said it has evolved dramatically in classroom teaching methods, including online Learning and Teaching (PdP).

"Of course, it's different from the past, but teachers must always give their best to their organisation. Teachers are respected in the community, which is their primary clientele.

"As such, everything an educator does, including communication, social interactions, and their behaviour on social media and in real life, will be observed by the community," said the father of one, who strives to give his best to the profession and improve his performance at work.- Bernama

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