Discover the inspiring journey of Cikgu Noor Halini, an educator dedicated to making a difference and exemplifying how small actions can have a big impact.

Cikgu Halini center stage at TeachersCop 2023 in Dubai. Photo provided by Cikgu Halini.

In the bustling corridors of Kampung Tengah Primary School in Kluang, Johor, one educator stands out as a beacon of passion and innovation. Meet Cikgu Noor Halini, an experienced educator of nearly two decades, renowned for her steadfast commitment to expanding the worldview of students and empowering them to make a difference in their community. A prime example is the 'Small Acts Create Huge Impact' project she co-led with students. 

Together, they initiated a transformative program focused on mangrove conservation and environmental awareness. Emphasising the importance of mangrove forests as one of Earth's most biologically diverse ecosystems, they collaborated with two mangrove parks—the Tanjung Piai Johor National Park and Langkawi UNESCO Global Geopark. Through this project, students not only had the chance to conduct research and distribute informative flyers advocating for the importance of these vital ecological systems but also gained hands-on experience planting over 100 mangrove trees. This inspiring effort impacted 600 individuals, sparking a lasting wave of environmental consciousness within their school community and beyond. 

Most significantly, the project also instilled in students a belief that their actions, no matter how small, can make a meaningful difference. A belief closely aligned with our Here to Make a Difference value, emphasizing the importance of empowering students with the ability to make a difference to the world around them. And so we were truly honored to support the school's participation in showcasing the project at the 'I CAN Children's Global Summit' in India, dedicated to highlighting the work of students driving positive change around the world. Equally thrilling was the project's selection among hundreds of submissions worldwide to be presented at the prestigious TeachersCOP in Dubai last year.

Cikgu Halini (first from left) and her students at the 'ICAN' Children’s Global Summit in India. Photo provided by Cikgu Halini.


In this special feature, join us as we go beyond the accolades to delve into the purpose, passion, and heart behind the pedagogy and approach of this inspiring educator.

1. Have you always wanted to become a teacher?

Initially, I aspired to be a lawyer due to my involvement in Malay language debates and public speaking. However, fate intervened when I accompanied a friend to a teaching school assessment and ended up taking the exam myself. To my surprise, I received an offer to become an English teacher. Initially, I wasn't too keen on teaching English as it wasn’t my first language. I gradually realised that teaching English might be my calling, particularly to help students in rural areas who may struggle with the language, much like I did initially.

2. And now, you’re winning global awards. Did you ever imagine your teaching journey to look like this?

When I submitted the mangrove planting project to TeacherCOP, I did so without expectations, driven solely by a desire to share my work. The journey took an unexpected turn when I found myself in Dubai, presenting the project. As the only Malaysian among the Top 5 finalists, doubts lingered, but the project's unexpected victory was a pleasant surprise. I always find myself asking, 'Is this for real?' But you know, sometimes the smallest acts, like planting trees with students, can have a big impact!

3. What drives your dedication to providing your students with enriching learning experiences that extend beyond the classroom?

It’s because we always think of our students. And so we're constantly striving to give them every opportunity to thrive. We can't predict what challenges they'll face in the future, so it's important to provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to tackle whatever comes their way. And I want to expose them to different environments and experiences. For instance, my students who participated in the Summit in India had the chance to connect with peers from around the globe. For some, it was also their first time flying on a plane. Witnessing their growth and excitement is incredibly rewarding, and it is what motivates me to seek sponsorships for similar opportunities. And so even during my downtime, I’m always finding ways I can help my students and that could look like hosting additional classes to help strengthen their language skills or sewing tablecloths to decorate the classroom. I’m always thinking about what’s best for my students and school!

4. How do other teachers respond to your unconventional approaches?

I remember this one time when I took my students to plant trees in our school garden. That really got other teachers curious about what I was doing and the subject the activity was for. Similarly, when I encouraged my students to bring items from home for our lessons, their energy and excitement enlivened the classroom atmosphere, drawing the attention of other teachers as well. I hope that seeing these actions and the joy students experience will inspire my peers to explore unconventional teaching methods as well.

5. Have you faced challenges and if yes, how do you overcome them?

I've faced my fair share of challenges, especially in previous schools where some school leaders weren't always on board with certain ideas, like planting trees. But I've always held onto my belief that one should never give up. It's about staying resilient, even when things get tough. 

6. Reflecting on your career, what advice would you give to other educators?

My advice would be to just trust your instincts and do what feels right. Regardless of whether we receive awards, every action, no matter how small, carries an impact. Nothing is ever wasted. Your efforts can make a significant difference in shaping the lives of your students. So go for it!

Cikgu Halini (first from left) and her students at the 'ICAN' Children’s Global Summit in India. Photo provided by Cikgu Halini.



As we conclude this enlightening interview, Cikgu Noor Halini's unwavering dedication to fostering positive change, both within her classroom and beyond, serves as a powerful reminder of the potential we each have to positively impact the world around us. Take the first step towards nurturing changemakers in your classroom like Cikgu Noor Halini by checking out Session H of our HEART Course to discover valuable insights and resources for educators.

Bonus Segment: Halini's Must-Haves


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