NILAM – Reading Session
Each school session (Morning and afternoon groups) begins with NILAM. This is a literacy session. All students and session staff assemble in the hall for 15 minutes of quiet reading. It is the responsibility of Student Council members to ensure that all students are assembled in the hall before 6.45 am. Students may read books in English or Malay. Teachers also sit and read with the students to reinforce the importance of reading. This reflects the emphasis we have on reading in Tallangatta, but we take a class by class approach rather than the whole school reading together.
Students Council (MPP) Orientation and Activities with Sabaria Andi Ahmat , Irene Lung and Students Council
The members of the Student Council welcomed me and gave an explanation of their role within the school. The Council was formed in 2003. Prefects were previously part of the Council, but were separated in 2007. The Student Council operates under the student welfare administration, whereas the prefects now operate under the school’s disciplinary unit. School Council members wear a green uniform so that they are easily recognised by other students. Prefects also wear a different uniform.
The question and answer session after their presentation covered topics such as differences in timetables and the role of the SRC at Tallangatta, do your teachers offer extra classes before the exams, the obviously topical “are your students allowed to have mobile phones at school?” to “What is the mission of Tallangatta Secondary College?”
After the formalities, students performed a local Kadazan dance and also taught me the basic steps, culminating in all members of the Student Council and their supervising teachers joining in to welcome me to the school – a moving experience with some outstanding future leaders of their community.
Counselling Orientation and Activities with counselors Fadley, Imelda Stephen and Zawani Mamat.
I spent a session with Mohd Fauzi and Nainey discussing programs held by the Counselling staff throughout the school. Their program begins with a transition activities program of one week with their incoming Form 1 students incorporating activities such as school familiarisation and team building. Across the school they operate programs such as Drug prevention programs, Health issues and career counselling and education. They operate on a whole class and small group basis, depending on the nature of issues and individual student needs.
The counselling team also operate as a drop in centre for students with concerns, either personal or academic, and offer students individual support to maintain their academic standards. They also deal with a range of student concerns for students from the interior who must live away from home. Fauzi is also a warden in the boys’ hostel.
Many of the programs offered by the counsellors are carried out as part of the Health and PE program for all students in Victorian schools.
State Sports School Discussion with Medi Marau, Ruhenny Mokuja and Chong Swee Lee
Although we had first targeted this as an area for possible projects, it may not be as easy to link as first envisaged. The school is a state sport school with a major niche area of track and field, but also includes hockey, netball, badminton and archery in its program. About 90 students are part of the sports program and must live at the hostel. They begin each day with 2 hours of training before they start their academic studies. The school has a gymnasium and a stadium is under construction – all this has come to a halt at present. Students have to use other facilities in the area for their daily training. We had considered sharing fitness programs between schools and students following these programs to improve personal fitness – and eventually a friendly sports contest when we develop student visits to our respective schools. The potential for this will be subject to financial restraints but can be investigated further in the future.
11.00 am Class visit – Form 5 Chemistry with Yeo Peck Cheng
Mr Yeo is an excellent teacher with 20 years’ experience in Senior Chemistry classes. He sets high goals for his students and uses a lot of different strategies, including creating demonstrations using ICT resources which students can use for revision purposes. Form 5 is a critical year for students in the examination system. Instruction is Science is currently delivered in English, although it is proposed to change this to Bahasa Melayu by 2012.
The Form 5 Chemistry class had 42 students. They were carrying out a prac related to different metals and oxidisation. Mr Yeo had access to basic equipment and was able to improvise for other pieces of equipment so that all students were able to participate in the prac. Students were engaged and focussed on the activity for the whole session.
Mahligai Seri Saloon Orientation and Activities with Sabaria Andi Ahmat (MPV subject)
The school has a program at Form 4 and 5 which gives students the opportunity to undertake a Beauty and Hair dressing skills course. Class size is a maximum of 25 students. In some respects the course offered is similar to a VET course or pre-apprenticeship course in Victoria. The school has its own saloon for students to put their theoretical studies into practice. The course ensures that the girls leave the school with employable skills and a real chance to obtain employment in the area after school.
A relaxing facial at the end of the session, brought a busy day to an end.
Homestay with Lim Hong Chu
Lim teaches Chinese at SMKDPM. Lim took me to her home, then on a tour of a range of local features, including a nearby waterfall with spectacular views. Unfortunately due to the recent rain the river was churned up and muddy.
Lim treated me to her home-cooked bird's nest soup - the geniune version made from the nest of the swiflet birds which create their nests from saliva. Lim's husband has a business which harvests the nests from purpose built 'houses', cleans the nests and markets them. The bird's nest soup is prized for its medicinal qualities.
We also visited Sutera Harbour, enjoyed a delicious meal with Lim's family at a Chinese restaurant and visited other areas of Kota Kinabalu. Thanks Lim for your hospitality and showing mw another aspect of the SMKDPM community!