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.