Teaching

Move those Letters

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My class had a challenging time sequencing the letters of the alphabet in the first month.  I would ask them to sing the alphabet song and they’d get it right but when I asked them to write the letters, they’d exchange the different letters.

That was one factor.  Another factor we faced as a class was that most of them were very active and were easily bored.  I noticed during the times we had activities where they were literally hands-on with the task, they were not as disruptive as usual.  I also wanted to look for a way where they could work as a group as well.  I thought about these meta-card letters and asked them to sequence them in 5 minutes.  It worked!  They were very engaged, worked as a group and showed me which groups needed more help with the letters.
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The group that won the 5-minute contest was also a group that showed teamwork and cooperation and I mentioned this to the class telling them that these qualities were very important when we want to achieve a goal.

When I saw that this worked, I then used the meta cards for another activity:  spelling after we learned the sounds of letters M, A, S and I.

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Teaching

C for Clay

spellingIn my previous posts here, I have already shared how most of my students are non-readers.  So it is a given that most of them find it hard to spell words.  Aside from being unable to read, most of them are kinesthetic learners and are very active to say the least.

One activity that worked for them and something they really liked was spelling words using clay.  Since I wanted them to know the sounds of the different letters of the alphabet since half of them still mix up the letter sounds, I asked them to bring clay.
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On the day we used the clay, I would give them a letter and they would create figures that start with the letter I gave.  Some of them made figures while some of them used the clay to spell words.  It was such a wonderful time to see them so engaged and into the activity.  This activity is good for non-readers and active learners.  The more senses are engaged the better the chances of lesson retention.clay

Teaching

An Epiphany

Of all days to have an epiphany…I got one in the middle of my long obs(ervation) and my manager (Programming and Training Manager), Miss Val was seated at the back observing my class.  I was almost in tears.  Teary-eyed as God touched my heart.

Compassion.  That was the catch word and the epiphany.

I later told Miss Val that for a month I have been quite challenged with this class (which is actually an understatement).

But yesterday while I was going around the classroom checking on my students’ work, I was struck with a new emotion:  compassion.  A compassion that enabled me to look at my students with a new pair of eyes.

My topic for my first long obs was on Nouns.  I asked the students to go around the classroom and look at what they could see in the room and classify them as tawo, butang, hayop and lugar (people, things, animals and places).  Most of them asked, “‘cher, di mi kibalo mo spell” (‘cher, we don’t know how to spell”).  “It’s okay.  You can draw them if you don’t know how to spell.”
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Some were working on the floor in front of the class copying the graphic organizer.  A few of them went to the poster on the side and copied the animals on the Richard Scarry poster I had posted.  One looked up on the alphabet border and copied the examples there perfectly classifying them.  He was my most disruptive kid.  That one kid as we call them at TFP.  I was so surprised.
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A student tugged on me and showed me, “Teacher, in-ani pag spell ug cell phone?” (“Teacher, is this how you spell cell phone?”) “ssalppphn”.  Another student approached me and showed me his work with eyes that were waiting for my approval.  He handed me his paper and I saw how he had blindly copied the poster I had stuck on the wall.  He could not read any single word so he copied every single one of them.

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My eyes teared up.  I felt something deep down within me.  I saw them from where they were.  Not from where I was.

My students had tried.  It was not for lack of trying.  Yesterday, I looked at them from a new pair of eyes.  From more compassionate eyes instead of the judgmental pair of glasses I kept on after being bombarded with all the opinions of people about these kids.

Love.  That’s why the call is to love and not merely teach.champion

Teaching

A teacher’s adventure

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I dare say that teaching in a public school is an adventure altogether.  It’s not the easiest of jobs and it is NOT definitely a job.  As my principal, Ma’am Sol, told me today, it’s “missionary work.”  You spend for your IMs (instructional materials), storybooks, students’ photocopied learning materials, sometimes, snacks for those who have no snacks, and other class paraphernalia.  Yes, this is definitely NOT a JOB but a missionary field.

I decided to start this blog on my first month of teaching.  Today marks my first month.  I started last June 8, a week late from the official start of class as I was given a new section.  A pull-outs section where all the non-readers and most of the disruptive kids were placed.
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It has not been a walk in the park.  I’ve cried, asked God what my sin was when I was a student why I have been given these kids, have gotten sick with stress, lost my voice, informed my manager that I was really having a hard and challenging time adjusting to my kids to say the least. I remember the shock on my first day when I saw my kids climbing on the desks, jumping from the seats, running all around the classroom, some doing somersaults.  It was both hilarious and a shock at the same time.

I have gotten more than what I signed up for.  But then again, maybe this was what I really signed up for.  To serve this kind of kids.  I am going to have to do more than what I signed up for. To go beyond teaching lessons and love these kids. It made me ask myself: “Am I a teacher only for those who can read, understand, learn fast and obey me?”

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My classes have not been perfect.  I have stumbled and fell, made a lot of mistakes just a lot like my students.  Today, I asked myself, “Am I like my students in more ways than one?”

Yes, every day is exhausting.  It saps all the energy in me and gets very challenging but at the end of the day, when I see my students (especially the “sipat” and the unruly) raise their hands because they want to stay after class because they want to LEARN HOW TO READ, my kids who like cleaning my classroom after class and this one kid who likes staying after class to help me put down the materials, talk to me, likes to go home along with me since we live in the same community, I say that maybe God has placed me here for a reason.  And that reason, probably, is to simply love these kids, show them how much God values and loves them and that God has a great plan in store for them.  Definitely not easy but God’s grace is sufficient.