Medium posts

Reflecting on our first online cohort

By Cheryl Ann Fernando, CEO PEMIMPIN GSL

PPLPS (Phase1) Online Cohort Virtual Graduation

When schools first closed last year, I was preparing to give birth and I remember being hit by a wave of panic. What’s going to happen to all our training and sessions with our school leaders that we planned for this year? How are we going to go to schools and coach them? I thought it would be temporary but there was this nagging feeling that this isn’t a school closure like the one we had because of a heatwave or haze, this was going to be long term.

Throughout last year, we worked with over 100 government schools under our program to share strategies, ideas and best practices on what they can do to ensure student learning. We worked with schools to provide food aid for their students, to reflect on what they can do better, to understand how to use different low tech and high tech solutions and most importantly, to reach out to the students who are struggling to keep up with online learning.

By October 2020, I knew we’re going to be in this for a long time. We set out to launch an ambitious cohort of 75 schools from all over Malaysia, totalling to around 200 school leaders (principals, assistants etc) who will participate in a series of capacity building training for the next 12 months, Our schools varied in terms of achievement and demographics but the one thing in common was that they wanted to innovate and to see what else can they do in this pandemic to ensure student learning is not interrupted.

The first hurdle was to decide on a platform that would be good enough to accommodate 200 teachers with varying levels of internet bandwidth and tech capabilities. We settled with Zoom and after a bit of teething issues, our school leaders slowly picked up and adapted to sitting through three hours of sessions. We took our leaders through 8 virtual workshops and 5 webinar sessions all focused on helping them improve strategic leadership, operational leadership and helping leaders lead with technology.

We worked with schools on setting a personalised vision, one that takes into account student outcomes, online learning and ensuring no child was left behind. They then worked on setting goals and creating an online School Improvement Development Plan (SIDP) to help them understand the greatest needs in their schools and how to systematically work on it. Our findings showed us that 100% of our schools had their personalised vision within 6 months of the program, 84% of schools worked on their SIDP and 60 of our schools made a change in the use of technology to drive a positive impact on their students. According to our school leader from SMK Bandar Rinching, “the SIDP provides a way for me to simplify strategic planning. When I received it, I was very happy. I knew how to deal with issues in different stages. Now, within 20 minutes I am able to form a PSO (Strategic Operation Plan). Now, I know the concept and the way to use it”

But more than all of this, was seeing the dedication of our school leaders who turned up for our sessions every week and were always looking forward to learning more. Many of them struggled to get a strong signal during the sessions, especially our leaders from rural schools, but that did not stop them from trying their best to watch and attend our sessions. At every session, my team and I are often amazed at the inspiring stories we hear from our teachers who go all out to ensure learning continues for the child, despite the circumstances they are in.

Much has been said and discussed about the quality of teaching and learning in Malaysia, especially when it comes to the quality of our teachers. Having spent over four years working with various schools and leaders from all over Malaysia, I’m confident that with the proper support, guidance and capacity building in place, they will be able to steer their schools and improve student outcomes, despite the challenges of the current pandemic.

*The PPLPS Online Cohort of 75 schools is sponsored by Yayasan Hasanah, the Finance Ministry, UBS Optimus Foundation and run in partnership with Pintar Foundation.

“Dream to Dare, Dare to Dream.” Intern Story for Global School Leaders

I am Tony Chih Wei Huang from Taiwan. As a graduate student and teacher in training, I have a deep interest in the field of learning and education, especially in multicultural education and alternative/experimental education. This summer, with my good luck and the help of Teach for Taiwan, I had an opportunity to visit and work with Global School Leaders Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur as a volunteer. It all happened in less than one month before I board on the flight. I still believe this is a miraculous gift from my Goddess until now.

For me, it is the first time of having an international work experience — although it is a volunteer program, I still regard it as work. In three weeks, I have opportunities to prepare for 3-day school leaders empowering workshop and to visit three local schools both in Klang and KL area.

“Excellent Schools begin with excellent school leaders.”

In my perspective, what Global School Leaders(GSL) doing is innovative and influential. It looks like a “Teach For” program for school leaders/principals, while most of them come from the middle ages. Believing in the mission of “one day all children”, Teach For projects go viral globally, recruiting numerous young and promising youth individuals from diverse disciplines to join this gentle revolution of providing all pupils with a good education. Then, if the youth is eager to make a difference, how do we know that the middle generation doesn’t want to change? Thus, the idea of “empowering school leaders to facilitate the impact” became the change theory of Global School Leaders.

GSL provides workshops for the ideas of leadership (and how to distinct leadership with management), growth mindset, digital methods and technological tools and training hand in hand with the comparatively high aged school leaders. It can be surprising to tell that the average age of GSL Malaysia staff partners is less than 30 years old. Sounds strange right? A gang of youngsters is training the elder experienced school leaders? Later did I realize that rather than seeing the project as “training”, it will be more appropriate to understand as “accompanying”. GSL accompanies those school leaders who crave to make in difference in her/his school place to be aware of and solve school /student/ teacher problems. And the school leaders will conduct a hands-on project to plant the seeds of changes.


In team GSL, I can hardly say that I am a talkative person. As a non-English speaker, at first, I was very quiet. I observed how do team members communicate and collaborate, trying my best to understand every metaphor and punchline of daily conversation here. Although not talkative, I chose to share in another way of expression. Hence I got an idea of making a short rewind video for the 3-day workshop that I attended to at the after-meeting of the second day. Although it is just a very simple 3-min clip, I wish this video can offer as a record of recalling those good and fun memories the principals had experienced in the workshop. And school leaders might share with their peer friends, who might also being school leaders, to facilitate the spread of GSL’s changing theories. At the end of the internship, I was surprised by the comment from Cheryl, country leader of GSL Malaysia, “ I told to my husband that we should train our daughter with these kinds of ‘universal skills’ you have so that she can work anywhere.” Thank you, Cheryl, for the kind compliment.

In the third week, I learned how to be humble as an outcoming observer. For example, when I followed my colleague to visit schools and do classroom observation/walkthrough, we found that a teacher was lecturing her pupils with discipline issues, and the air in the classroom seemed to be frozen filled with embarrassment. I don’t like this kind of situation and very quickly thought of the imbalance of power between teacher-student relationships as what I had learned from the Sociology of Education. I was curious about how my colleague would record this. To my surprise, my colleague said, ”I just write down what I see and what I hear.” and he tried to record the classroom phenomenon in different ways in google form for a short time. It dawned me that the importance of being a humble observer. Instead of making unnecessary inferences or judgment, we should be loyal to our senses. Listen carefully and act consciously because you know or even believe these observations may bring some impacts.


“What is your motto?” asked my colleague.

“I think it would be ‘One day all children’.”

“Oh, sounds very Teach For, right?” my colleague laughs.

“Well, I’ll pick another one.”

Okay, this one: “Dare to dream, dream to dare.

I hope I can be a dreamer and adventurer to explore many possibilities, while at the same time step firmly on the earth to make possibilities come to reality. Yes, I believe in pursuing a good education is pursuing a better future society, both domestically and globally. Yet if we don’t act, a dream will always be a dream. Although we all know that the possibility of the vision can barely be realized, we still believe and work by hands.


Travelling and working in a foreign society can be exciting and challenging. Every day I encounter with new findings and ideas. I am grateful to have this opportunity to more understand the model of Global School Leaders and meet these brilliant team colleagues.

I hope this momentum of change could happen sustainably not only in Malaysia or Taiwan but around the globe. And the distance between us and the vision of good education for everyone can be closer.

NOTE: Thanks to Global School Leaders Malaysia, Teach for Taiwan, and National Chengchi University (Taipei, Taiwan) “Back to Grandma’s Home Project” to make this internship project possible.

Thank you Global School Leaders Malaysia for this beautiful journey.


Tony Huang

5 Ciri-ciri Pemimpin yang Efektif

Pemimpin sekolah memainkan peranan penting dalam memastikan sesebuah organisasi itu berfungsi dengan baik. Dalam nukilan saya yang terdahulu banyak yang saya perkatakan tentang pentingnya seorang pemimpin yang efektif dalam memangkin kemenjadian murid yang berkesan. Sekolah yang hebat dipimpin oleh pemimpin yang hebat. Dalam tugasan harian saya sebagai pembimbing SLT melalui program Global School Leaders Malaysia, banyak yang dapat saya perhatikan tentang ciri-ciri pemimpin sekolah yang efektif. Berikut adalah 5 ciri-ciri asas yang dapat saya rumuskan beserta beberapa contoh:

Membuat keputusan berdasarkan data

Pemimpin yang efektif menggunakan data dengan sebaik mungkin dalam membuat keputusan. Sebarang program yang hendak dijalankan di sekolah adalah berdasarkan keperluan semasa di mana data yang relevan dianalisis dan diteliti terlebih dahulu bagi memastikan keputusan yang diambil adalah bernas dan bukan hanya setakat melepaskan batuk di tangga. Sebagai contoh, Pn. Teo, mantan Pengetua di SMK La Salle PJ menggunakan data yang diperoleh melalui Classroom Walkthrough yang beliau lakukan untuk mengenal pasti kelemahan dan kekuatan guru khususnya di dalam PdPc. Dapatan daripada analisis tersebut kemudian di bentangkan di dalam mesyuarat guru bagi membincangkan langkah-langkah terbaik untuk diambil bagi memastikan sebarang keperluan guru dapat dipenuhi.

Meletakkan pelajar sebagai fokus utama

Di SK Kg. Idaman (Klang), Guru Besar, Cikgu Hamidi menekankan tentang pentingnya keperluan setiap pelajar itu dipenuhi melangkaui aspek akademik, di mana fokus utama guru dan pentadbir sekolah adalah untuk memastikan setiap pelajar — terutama pelajar yang lemah dapat meningkatkan kemahiran mereka melalui bimbingan yang berterusan. Pencapaian akademik yang gah bukanlah menjadi fokus utama di SK Kg. Idaman, tetapi peningkatan pencapaian murid berbanding keputusan terdahulu mereka merupakan indikator penting bagi memastikan peranan sesebuah institusi pendidikan itu berjaya.

Berkomunikasi secara baik dan berkesan

Pemimpin yang efektif mempunyai kemahiran berkomunikasi secara berkesan, di mana beliau mampu mempengaruhi individu lain agar dapat bekerjasama dengan pemimpin bagi mencapai matlamat yang diinginkan. Oleh yang demikian, proses komunikasi yang berkesan oleh seorang pemimpin dapat menjadi titik tolak kepada usaha penyatupaduan dan proses pencapaian matlamat serta visi sekolah. Tambahan itu, komunikasi yang baik seorang pemimpin dapat memberikan motivasi kepada orang bawahan dan sekaligus dapat mempengaruhi mereka untuk menjalankan tugas yang baik dan secara sukarela.

Mempunyai visi serta meletakkan jangkaan tinggi terhadap setiap warga sekolah

Pemimpin sekolah mestilah tahu tentang hala tuju mereka iaitu di mana mereka berada, ke mana mereka hendak pergi, dan bagaimana untuk sampai ke sana. Komunikasi yang berterusan tentang visi dan misi sekolah sentiasa disampaikan kepada setiap lapisan individu, baik guru, staf, mahupun pelajar. Melalui kaedah ini, pemimpin dapat meletakkan jangkaan tinggi terhadap peranan setiap individu. Setiap warga sekolah mempunyai akauntabiliti bagi menjalankan tugas masing-masing sebaik mungkin tanpa pengawasan berterusan daripada pihak atas.

Peka terhadap kehendak pelajar, guru serta warga sekolah

Salah satu elemen jelas yang dapat saya perhatikan ialah seorang pemimpin yang hebat sentiasa bergerak secara proaktif dengan memastikan iklim sekolah sentiasa terjaga, kebajikan guru terpelihara, keperluan pelajar dipenuhi dengan meletakkan pembelajaran dan pengajaran yang cemerlang sebagai tonggak utama dalam mengukur kejayaan sesebuah sekolah. Selain itu, pemimpin sekolah yang efektif perlulah sentiasa bersikap bersiap siaga dalam memastikan sebarang keperluan guru, terutama dari aspek peningkatan PdPc yang berkesan dipenuhi dengan menyediakan latihan pembangungan profesional yang relevan.


Pengetua dan Guru besar sebagai pemimpin sekolah memainkan peranan yang amat penting dalam menentukan keberkesanan sekolah. Pemimpin sekolah yang berkesan memastikan mereka membuat keputusan yang tepat berdasarkan data yang relevan, meletakkan keperluan pelajar dan guru sebagai salah satu aspek utama dalam memimpin insan, serta memastikan jangkaan yang tinggi diletakkan sebagai aras pengukur kejayaan setiap individu di sekolah melalui medium komunikasi yang berkesan. Di GSL Malaysia, kami sentiasa percaya bahawa ‘Excellent Schools Begin with Excellent Leaders’.

Our hopes for School Leaders in 2019

Our group picture from the last workshop in 2018

On January last year, we embarked on a mission to provide leadership development training for school leaders from our local schools. We launched our program together with the Education Minister of Malaysia and immediately embarked on providing workshops and coaching for our 50 odd school leaders. As I look back on the year that was, I am certainly proud of how far the team has come and how much we were able to influence our school leaders to start making a difference in their schools. Here are some of my favourite stories from the year:-

a) Ms. Tan, our school leader from SMK Kepong Baru, tried out a new method of lesson observation and provided feedback and coaching for her teacher. According to her, it was a bit strange to ask questions (instead of immediately pointing out a teacher’s flaws). Nonetheless, she excelled at it and the teacher was pleased to have the opportunity to reflect on her lesson.

b) We hosted two Mega Workshops where our 50 school leaders gathered for a day to share ideas and discuss what can be done to improve their schools.

c) Puan Alina, one of our top school leaders, carried out 100 over lesson observations using the method taught to her by the GSLM team.

d) En Sukardi, one of our school leaders who started the program feeling completely pessimistic, managed to turn things around in his school by setting agreements, observing lessons and carrying out workshops for his teachers.

e) Encik Rahman, our school leader from Klang, told the team (and we got it recorded in video) that in his 31 years of service as a teacher, he has never been to a program like GSLM that empowers him to think, question and change the way he leads his school.

f) Puan Yasmin, a teacher from SMK La Salle PJ, sent us a text message to tell us about the changes she has seen in her principal since she became part of GSLM. Her principal is now more willing to listen and is more open to changes.

g) We introduced the Google Form to our teachers as a way to help our school leaders keep track of what is going on in the classroom. All our schools enjoyed using this method and collectively, they have recorded over 700 quick observations on Google Form.

These changes might be small, but it still serves as a reminder that our school leaders are able to do amazing things in their school, given the right support, knowledge, skills and motivation to succeed. We are proud of how far they’ve come and more importantly, how willing they are to make a difference in their school. For the upcoming year, we look forward to strengthening what they’ve learned in the first year and ensuring the changes are sustainable and will impact student outcomes. Happy New Year from all of us at GSL Malaysia.