Prosaic soliloquies performed by a quixotic person

Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

A Learning Teacher

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‘And class, that what is of the meaning phrasal verbs is…of…um…means.’

Never cease to amaze me how naturally eloquent I can be at times. Simply amazing.

My first gig as a tutor started last year, and truthfully, I was terrible. Initially, I’d reservations about teaching kids; be it primary- or secondary-schoolers. And simply because, teaching means talking to kids, and I’d never been good with them. Like, really bad. Not Michael Jackson bad, but the other kind. Any sort of communication with the much-younger MTV generation made me feel nervous and very awkward. So naturally, questions that the masses might think silly but I deemed of the utmost importance, kept lingering in my mind: Should I address myself as Ms. Sharifah, or simply Cikgu? How should I react if they get unruly--tell them off (but that’d make me unpopular in class), or act cool and go along with them (this is so middle-aged-men-who-are-fifty-going-on-twenty-one)? How can I make the subject interesting, and would playing hangman or charades be a good idea?

I remember my very first class, and it was English for the upper-secondary level. I was feeling pretty pumped up and nervy at the same time, and this proved to be a bad emotional combo, because what I did and how I portrayed myself in the class was an epic fail. The kids were perplexed by my overly-upbeat persona (imagine: doped-up Bozo the Clown) that they kept glancing nervously at each other probably thinking, ‘Is she for real?’



But oddly enough, they seemed content having me as a tutor and didn’t request for change of class. And there was quite a number of new students enrolled for my classes even. So I supposed I was pretty alright…or perhaps the new kids were just plain intrigued by word-of-mouth anecdotes about a teacher-turned-circus-clown. Personally, I’d like to think the former.

I’m not sure how good a teacher I am now, but it seems the students like me enough. As much as I want to be well-liked and respected by them, I’ve now come to realize that popularity should be treated as a minor variable in the equation. And it’s not about trying  to be ‘one of them’, it’s just about being myself. As banal as it sounds, there’s undeniably some truth to it. The road to engaging with and inspiring students to rise to their full potential can take many twists and turns in a lifetime. Teaching can still be awkward and challenging for me sometimes, even after a year of teaching students. Even though I’ve come a long way since I started teaching, I still have a long way to go. Yes, I’ve got the hang of things now, alḥamdulillāh, but I’m still a work-in-progress. And I don’t mind being a WIP…after all, aren’t we all?

Written by SZA

19 March 2013 at 11:01 PM

Posted in Work

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Oy Vey!

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How does one recover from a relatively-big email faux pas?

Written by SZA

6 November 2012 at 10:40 AM

Posted in Oy Vey, Work

Switch Colours, Someday?

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I’ve definitely been missing school during this term break; although not enough to miss the assignment rushes, the endless presentations, being called out in class especially when I didn’t come prepared, and pulling an all-nighter the day before an exam. It’s the little things that I’ve been missing: walking in the hallways, having a good laugh in the class, seeing the faces of fellow classmates, spending a whole day book-browsing in the library, and all that.

Ofttimes, I wonder why I decided to return to school and relive my life as a student. Mayhap, I wanted to have a wider career options. Or maybe, I just wanted to gain knowledge, and subsequently, prove myself that I could excel intellectually. Or perhaps, I’d succumbed to peer pressure, and chose to further study, like what most of my former school mates did. Or it could be, I just wanted to make my parents proud, as simple as that. I think, most likely, it’s all of the above. I guess. I’m not sure. Oh, I haven’t a clue, really. However, I really hope that along the way of being a student, I’ll be less clueless find the path that will lead me to a better point of my destiny.

At the same time though, I don’t consider having a degree as an advantage over anyone who’s obtained the knowledge another way in any areas. Folks gain knowledge through a plenty of experiences, and college for sure ain’t the only one. It just doesn’t feel right to go around dissing the other team, because it takes all kinds to make the world go round, and we complement each other. It doesn’t matter, book-smart or street-smart (even white-collar job or blue-collar job), I hold a very high respect for any individuals who are truly passionate in what they do and excel in it, and working hard to do an honest work despite what the society thinks. Especially those who are brave enough to break free from the social norms that hold book-smarts/white-collar jobs more respectable than street-smarts/blue-collar jobs, and choose go for what they are believe in, and eventually be happy and successful in their lives. Those folks are whom I wish to be, someday, God willing.

And I don’t mind trading my white collar for blue, if that’s what it takes.

Written by SZA

17 April 2012 at 7:40 AM

Qurʾān 20:25-28

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I want to help my students in the best way possible, so very badly.

The class will start in exactly one hour and eight minutes.

Written by SZA

13 April 2012 at 5:37 PM

Posted in Islam, Work

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Cheers to First Times!

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  1. My first ever stint as a tutor begins this week, and boy, am I so stoked! I’ve been so excited about it that I splurged a wee bit on stationery supplies and books for my class; now, I’m having this nagging feeling that I should have been more frugal. Oh, well, it wasn’t like I spent on meaningless things, or anything of the sort, right? Um-hm.
  2. Ever since I jumped on the marketing bandwagon, I’ve been out of the office, and on the road for more than sixty percent of my working hours. As much as I enjoy of having the benefit of time flexibility, I feel like I can’t get enough of time. Like the other day, I just bought a take-away, and ate my lunch in the car…while driving. Very dangerous, I know, but I’d no choice. I feel like, the more time I have, the less free I feel.
  3. Officially, this Friday will mark my first day of being an intern for a news media enterprise. But first, there’ll be an online orientation session this Saturday at 1.00 AM (yes, you read that right), and I’m really excited about that. In truth, I’m doing this purely because I don’t want to just focus on one career niche. I want to learn something else, and acquire different skills; it doesn’t matter if I may not be good at it, or like it. When life has so much to offer, why should I settle for being on this path that I stand? Who knows, I may surprise myself by discovering a part of me that’s unknown. That’ll be interesting. Mm-hm.
  4. I was one-hour late for my meeting this evening, and found out that our meeting actually starts at 6.00 PM every week, not 7.00 PM like I’d thought. The leader let me off the hook this time, since this was my first time coming in late to the meeting.

Cheers to first times!

Written by SZA

4 April 2012 at 8:07 PM

A Doubting Thomas, I Am

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‘Can I do this? Should I change direction midstream? Can it work? Will it work? What should I do?’

That’s my thought on school and work.

Doubts can be lethal. They start as an insignificant idea that passes through your mind like the wind. This is when a tiny seed of doubt is planted in your head. Then, it starts to grow. Rapidly. Dangerously. Next thing we know, it evolves into a gigantic stalk of doubts that keeps on growing within your brain and heart until you give in to it. A white flag is raised. You lost. Game over.

I’m doubting myself and I’ve a bad feeling that this is what will happen to me. Naʿūḏubillāh.

Stepping into the second year as a student, I’m starting to wonder if I made the right decision to get a higher academic degree. I even wonder if I should continue going into this direction, career-wise.

You see, being a person who is at high risk for dyslexia (that’s another story to tell) and has a short attention span (I suspect ADD, but for all I know, it may only be--oh, look, a squirrel!), learning and working within an orthodox atmosphere doesn’t come easy. And what more to say of doing them both simultaneously. If it weren’t for the love of knowledge, I’d probably not be here in one piece, intellectually and psychologically. It’s a good thing, too, that I’m a very curious person, by nature. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it’s been a great help to me. However, having a full-time demanding job and being a student at the same time is tough. Oh, I’m a good multi-tasker, believe you me. Still, juggling work and school gives a whole new perspective to multi-tasking--it’s akin to juggling two humongous boulders whilst walking along on a very thin rope. Imagine that. It ain’t easy. Sure, handling work and school at the same time isn’t impossible, but it sure ain’t no walk in the park (for me, at least).

It does seem easy to say, ‘I should stop doubting, and start doing and striving.’ Too bad, talking is more convenient than actually doing. That’s why giving out advices and critics to someone who’s in a predicament feels effortless. And what if the situation were reversed? We’d feel completely clueless and helpless. Theories are easier than practical applications.

Having said that, I’m eternally grateful for my life. Šukrān lillāhi taʾāla.

In case you’re wondering, no, I still don’t have the answers.

Written by SZA

26 February 2012 at 10:11 PM

Words Revisited

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So I’d said, not necessarily verbatim, this to someone some weeks back:

‘I want to lead a varied life. A life full of variety. But at the same time, I don’t want to be a jack-of-all-trades and master of none--I want to be good at something, too.’

After the talk, I didn’t quite archive those words in my mental file cabinet. I re-thought about what I’d said. I analyzed my thoughts thoroughly by breaking the words down and processing them mentally (if this doesn’t indicate that I’m a woman, I don’t know what else does). Then finally, I found out that I do want to be a Johnny Janey do-it-all, afterall. I do want to have a broader range of skills instead of a set of special skills. I do want to be a generalist (generalism, in my newly-amended opinion, is way understated). Ergo, jack-of-all-trades is what I shall be from now on.

Besides, don’t you think this adage holds true?

Jack of all trades, master of none; certainly better than a master of one.

Written by SZA

30 November 2011 at 1:11 PM