“My goal is to help my students to conquer knowledge, skills and experience to be par with the students who are living in the urban-city areas,” says Walid Misli. “Teaching the English language was by far the greatest challenge.” For many of the students that Misli teaches in his rural school in Brunei, English is their third or fourth language. But for Misli, teaching English was just the beginning. “Introducing my young students to learning with computers through ICT across curriculums has been incredibly rewarding,” says Misli. “This is because it optimizes my students’ ability to acquire the English language.” Misli’s teaching methods and dedication to innovating secured him a Partners in Learning 2012 Innovative Teacher Award. Here, Misli shares his thoughts on being inventive in rural classrooms that often lack resources, and why support from other teachers is so important.
Tell us a bit about the innovative work you have done in your classroom.
I have loved computers and gadgets since I was young, and I would like to see that grow in my students, too. Using technology innovatively in teaching and learning is something I would really want to happen constantly in my class. When I think of my biggest achievement, it was teaching in a primary school located in one of the rural settlements in Brunei. It was really a challenging place to start my career, even with fewer students than the normal classroom size in Brunei. I was there trying to lift the standard of my learners’ achievements, and to teach innovatively in order for my students to achieve 21st century education and skills.
What has changed as a result of your efforts?
Before I can change the way my students learn, I need to change their attitude and discipline in school. I want them to learn to love studying. Also, getting them motivated to learn really helps me in teaching, too. But the most important thing as a result of this fun and innovative teaching and learning experience is that my students’ performance and achievement increases significantly. Also, many educators have been interested to know more about my work in innovation in education – and it is very overwhelming.
How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?
The most important part of being a teacher is to be honest with ourselves. Do we really want to be a teacher? Do we really care about our young generation’s future? If you have the heart of a teacher, then I assure you anything is possible. I believe any challenge has its solution if you put your mind and heart into it. “Determination” and “never give up” is another way of saying it.
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
I’ve done and tried plenty of it. The latest one is creating a school-based assessment portal online, where my students can answer test questions, complete schoolwork and homework. And this can all be done anywhere and anytime. Marking was done automatically. At the end of the assessment period, all my students’ results are ready to download and publish. Less time on marking students work, too.
What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?
Time and resources are my biggest challenges. Sometimes I feel like I’m running out of time. Sometimes getting the right tools and resources I need is very difficult, as Temburong District where I work is an exclave from the rest of the country. Financial and budget comes third, which often prohibits quality education. However, teamwork in our school often helps to overcome these issues.
What is your country doing right to support education?
My country government through the Ministry of Education provides continuous support, such as training, workshops and resources for teachers. I believe, and I quote, “The Ministry of Education will continue to work with all departments, divisions and units through the Ministry of Education’s strategic management office with their coordinators to ensure that decision-making and planning processes are aligned, coherent, efficient and fully meet the strategic objectives” in fulfilling quality education for all in Brunei.
What conditions must change in your country to better support education?
A better education for our students cannot be the responsibility of the educators only. As once said by Francis Keppel, “Education is too important to be left solely to the educators.” The community and other stakeholders need to join and help educators in supporting 21st century education. I also believe that our country will continue to participate, strengthening relationships and deepening understanding with other educators all over the world. Through this, we can collaborate on work together and create better and greater education through global awareness. Teachers also need to be braver and find opportunities to teach innovatively in their classroom.
What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?
It is important to have rich support from other teachers and the community. Be creative, but also have a reason and purpose behind what you do. And never be afraid of trying something great for education.
What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?
Keep learning, and keep doing amazing things while loving and caring for your students. Don’t forget to make positive changes.
What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?
Thinking skills, independent and personalized learning, and doing collaborative work while using technologies will benefit students. Spoon-feeding our young learners is an old and bad trend.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
Education itself. Having an education is like having a key that opens any door. With it, anything is possible.
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About Walid Misli
ICT and Science Educator at Puni Primary School, Brunei
Birthplace: Brunei Darussalam
Current residence: Temburong District of Brunei Darussalam
Education: Diploma in Primary Education, 2009 (University of Brunei Darussalam)
Websites I check every day: Facebook.com and Twitter
Person who inspires me most: Ms. Juliana Shak (my ex-lecturer at University of Brunei Darussalam, who taught the meaning of education, inspired in me the love of learning and the care of children’s future)
Favorite childhood memory: I was in London, United Kingdom (between 1993-1996) and went to school at International Community School
Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Thinking to revisit Australia and New Zealand for pleasure and maybe visit some friend’s schools. Going to USA and hanging out with Mr. Anthony Salcito would be awesome, for work or leisure.
When was the last time you laughed? Why? I think I laugh every day; funny things always happen in school with young children and teachers.
Favorite book: Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman; My Posse Don’t Do Homework by former U.S. Marine LouAnne Johnson (this book made to the
screen as a movie called “Dangerous Minds”); The Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell and Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had by Brad Cohen co-written with Lisa Wysocky.
Favorite music: Snow Patrol, OneRepublic and Coldplay
Your favorite quote or motto: “Education is too important to be left solely to the educators.” – Francis Keppel