I am an ordinary person with big dreams. I am an ordinary teacher with big hopes.
To be a teacher in one of the best international school in my country, even in the world was one of my dreams – eight years ago. People say, if you have a dream, write your dream so you can read it every day. So I wrote my dream in a piece of paper and sticked it at the door of my cupboard. I read it many times a day, thousands times a month and millions times a year.
This dream perched in my mind was not without reasons.
I was brought up in a small village. I went to a poor elementary school. No electricity. Let alone library. The building itself was dilapidated and dirty.
I always remember clearly how teachers there punished and embarrassed students every time they made mistakes. They asked us to memorise facts that we didn’t understand. They asked us to copy chapters from text books just to make us quiet. Any questions we had were regarded as a protest and a rebellion towards teachers’ dignity. Sad but no choices.
Same things happened when I was in middle and high school. Learning was all about memorizing, taking notes, listening to teachers talking then doing many tests. These conditions created a big wondering in my young mind. I asked to myself, was this education all about? Then why I never felt that I had learned something. I learned every day just to find myself become dumb and dumber:) Then these experiences led me to choose a path of education as my future career.
After graduating from a teacher training institute, I began my career as a teacher. People say teachers will teach they way they had been taught as parents will raise their children they way they had been raised – until he or she has a courage to break the cycle.
I taught in several private schools in East Java. As you can guest, I taught my students in a conventional and traditional ways. I punished them verbally when they made mistakes by giving put down feedback, I killed their dreams by saying that their imagination would never be real, I spot misbehaviour instantly and never gave compliment to any appropriate behaviour:( What was worse, I justified all of these as ways of disciplining my students and “made” them learning.
Did they ever learn something? Were they enjoy their school days? Was I satisfied in teaching? Good questions.
Feeling empty and felt “restless” to be a teacher in “those ways” , one day, life brought me to Jakarta. As an English teacher, I love reading every thing in English to improve my vocabulary. Jakarta Post was one of my favourite newspapers. I looked for any vacancy there but please not teaching in a school where my soul would just feel suffered.
Then I read a small ads posted by a small international pre-school; teachers needed! International? My mind was wondering reading that word. How did it feel like teaching in an international school? Though I never taught younger kids, the word “international” bothered my mind all the time. So I sent an application. I was accepted. A new journey commenced.
There for the first time, I felt extremely amazed about educating students. I observed, I wondered. The teaching methodology, the curriculum, the way they discipline students filled me with awe, impressed and grew to be more curious. I found myself and my country so far away left behind in education.
After several years teaching and learning there (truly I learned a lot from here), a friend informed me that there was a diploma program of ACTFL (Advanced Certificate in Teaching and Learning) held by FEE (Foundation for Excellence in Education) in Jakarta International School (under JIS Academy).
There I was. Be one of the students – again. Many of my friends that joining the program were and until present are principals of good national plus schools, trainers and senior teachers.
The lectures of the program were volunteers and all of them were JIS teachers! All of them were great and inspiring teachers. I don’t remember what they taught me but I do remember clearly who they are. That is what inspiring teachers left in their students mind. The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. True, isn’t it?
I learned a bunch of modern pedagogy. Name them some; Constructivist theory, Unit by Design, Positive Discipline and Restitution, Differentiated Instruction, Brain-based learning, Inquiry-based learning and many others.
The dream to be a teacher in an international school that I wrote before came true, but – inspired by my lecturers, a new dream sprout in my mind. “I want to be a teacher at JIS”. I wrote the dream again and sticked it again, and read it all the times.
Several years later this dream came true. I was accepted at JIS in October 2011. Words were never enough to represent how happy and excited I was. My family and friends congratulated me.
I believe that learning is a never endless journey. Another chapter of a learning journey in a book of my life began. Many awes and wows are happening until now as I am in my third year here at JIS. Another dream, another hope grows strongly from within. A dream that someday Indonesian schools and education will be moving to this stream, where teaching and learning is another joy of living.
I am sure that all of the FEE alumnae have and hold the same dream and hope. Some of them built their own schools, which schools that always have students in waiting list in every new academic year. Some of them continued to be teacher trainers, spread their knowledge and expertise they got to many schools even in some remote areas across this archipelago. Some of them continued their teaching career in some great schools in Jakarta and regions nearby.
FEE program was closed already for some reasons. But one thing I must mention here that precious opportunity would not have happened without JIS.
JIS – people would acknowledge it or not, have given and contributed a lot to Indonesian education journey. As can be seen, nowadays, many and many more Indonesian parents show interest in schools that implement modern pedagogy that evidently boost students confidence and self-esteem.
JIS has a big contribution to gradually spread this modern pedagogy in the host country land. Deeply feel grateful for that.
(To be continued in Part II)