Ms Norashikin binti Zainull Abdin
From SK Minden Height
Nominated by Mohamad Faiz bin Mohamad Shakri
In our continuous professional development as a teacher, we never realise how much we learn from each other. If there is one thing that I have learnt from being a teacher over the years, it is that we need other teachers to be inspired in order to inspire our students to learn. In 2018, I went to an English language teaching conference in Johor Bahru that brought together brilliant minds and passionate hearts. Of all the inspiring teachers that I have met there, Miss Ash stood out. We were there to present our work in a creative teacher showcase. A small group of teachers including Miss Ash and I bonded over our efforts in bringing changes in education. Since then, we have been following each other’s work and keep lifting each other up. Being in the group allows me to learn from people with best teaching practices, adopt a new perspective on how to benefit from the exchange of ideas, and examine its relevance to my teaching career in a school accommodating indigenous children. Despite being young, Miss Ash brought with her a solid training in pedagogical methods, along with great energy and enthusiasm. She introduced many new projects with her students. One of the projects is the grammar-telling project. She does storytelling with grammar monthly in her classroom. Due to its success, there have been schools and other education personnel that came all the way to see its implementation and replicate the idea. She would dress up as a character from the stories, put on some costumes, tell stories, and inspire her students. If that is not pure dedication, then I do not know what is. One of the most important job descriptions of a teacher is promoting and instilling values in their students. She spreads kindness throughout the school by also conducting kindness projects. One of them is a 20-day challenge to share the love from their family members to every member in school. This project has later inspired me to start my own challenge with my children at my school as part of my kindness projects that I have been working on for so long. I have seen its impacts in my classroom and how it has contributed in creating a positive culture at my school. Last year, Miss Ash organised a Highly Immersive Programme (HIP) Literacy Camp which was as an intervention plan because they had so many children who did not pass Band 3 for classroom assessment. She involved 6 neighbouring schools with the same problem. They got together to get these weak students in her school and just let them play with others. They did pre-test and post-test for the camp and their post-test showed so much improvement. She also allowed her Year 6 students to help with the camp as they wanted to. In the end, it became a camp conducted by the kids for other kids. As a result, with all their social projects, her school won the best HIP practice at state level. For the presentation, she trained her younger students to present. Other than that, Miss Ash demonstrated a willingness to modify her teaching methods based on her students’ needs and personalities. Teaching children in a small town is quite different compared to urban children because their needs are different. The main reason for her in-class projects is to cultivate relationships among the kids. They need to feel like there is someone they can talk to and support them even if they are not doing that good. Most of them are quite proficient but they do not know how to share, support or even find the right platform. That is where she comes in, bringing out the best in her children. Currently, she is working on a podcast project with her students to get them to talk about the world in general from their perspectives. It is another platform for them to express themselves. On top of that, Miss Ash is an extraordinary teacher, doing wonders by not just affecting the lives of her children, but also helping other teachers and their students as well. If you google ‘Ash the Teacher’, you would find her amazing blog that has helped thousands of teachers with unlimited teaching resources. She also created a Telegram group with over 30,000 teachers following her to provide them with the teaching resources that she has developed on her own. Some of them are writing modules, reading comprehension modules, flashcards, and other materials that I have been using in my classroom. Miss Ash inspires me to be the best educator that my students deserve. Not only has she inspired me to continuously improve my teaching practices, but she has also inspired me to really care for my students. She takes some time to ask how her colleagues are doing and if she can help in anyway. As I am struggling at my new school, she is one of the teachers that helps me as a support system. I am using my own money to fund a project to build my children an Orang Asli-themed classroom from scratch. She donated and gifted my children some books, stationeries, and craft materials which are perfect additions to my learning hut. Her attitude is contagious and spreads to both students and teachers. Her genuine gesture of enabling quality education for her students and all students of other teachers who are using her materials is inspirational and empowering. I would say that not all teachers are able to do what she is doing and expect nothing in return. For that, she deserves the award.