Communication, Life, Technology

Things we leave behind

(This was originally written as a free writing exercise during the Write Shop organized by the Cebu Literary Festival which was held last Saturday at the Museo Sugbo)

 

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Image from Kim S. Ly (taken from the Unsplash.com website) — https://unsplash.com/photos/_yUBGie4RFI

 

I run out of the house and get into my Grab car.  The first thing I do after I close the door is to check my phone.  The battery is down to 50%.  Thank God the roads are not congested.  I check my watch from time to time.  Well, almost like every five minutes.  I’m running late for my class.

I’m halfway to school when I realize I left something important.  An everyday, ubiquitous object but something important to me.  I left my mobile phone charger.  I left it at home, in my haste, and now I feel helpless and incapacitated.

I left my mobile phone charger. 

In my haste, I had forgotten to put it inside my bag.  I feel helpless and incapacitated without it.

My mind goes into an overdrive mode thinking about all the crazy things that could happen without my charger.  Oh no, I have a dinner with good friends later.  That is bound to need a phone to document the evening.  How am I supposed to snap every moment, the food and the place, and oh yes, the company, if my phone dies out on me?

My professor is scheduled to send me his comments about my abstract through Messenger.  How am I supposed to check them if I have no battery, no charger?  I realize how many of my tasks are dependent on my phone.  My schedule and to-do list are in my phone.  I book a ride through my phone.  I communicate with my students through Messenger and Facebook Groups.

The Grab driver suddenly steps on the brake and I am jolted – physically and figuratively.  It’s not the end of the world.  My overthinking has led me to believe that leaving the house without a charger is a “catastrophe”.  A modern lie and phenomenon that reflects the age I belong to but a lie nonetheless.

My mind has led me to believe that my life and my day depend on my phone.  I get off from the car and turn the brightness down to several shades dimmer.

Evening came and photos were taken, life stories swapped and as nostalgia hit us, we snapped moments and froze moments digitally.  I look down and check my phone.  I’m down to 18%.  I prioritize taking pictures of me and my friends instead of snapping the mundane away.  No food and resto pics for me tonight.  And maybe a photo or two of me and my friends is indeed the more important thing than all the food photos combined.

I book an Uber this time to go home and wait for the driver.  He’s 6 minutes away.  I adjust the brightness a shade dimmer.  It’s very dim this time.  I get into the car, get home and thank God for extending my phone’s battery life.  It’s at 6% and I plug it into the charger.  I heave a sigh of relief.  Suddenly, everything feels better.

It’s a different type of survival — technological survival.

 

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Life, Teaching

Learning curve

I saw it on their faces.  It was something I  often “wore” on my face at times when I really want something so bad.  Some call it hunger.  Others call it passion.  Still, some call it drive.  I saw it on my Grade 11s’ faces one afternoon during one of those cheer dance practice sessions.

I do not know what drives them to do well during practices but I have been proud of this fact and I tell them this that during their practices I am happy to note that most of them cooperate, follow our choreographer’s instructions and even think of ways to improve our dance.  If they could only see what I see from the bleachers or from the back when they practice.

As someone who believes that nothing should be done half-hearted, I was fascinated by that passionate look on their faces.  I have always believed that an individual’s actions, choices and decisions should be driven by passion.  A passion to see change, a passion for excellence, a passion for God and to know Him more, a passion to serve others.

The grade 11s do not know this but every time I watch them practice, they – unknowingly – teach me.  This afternoon I was struck by several of them who said something very simple and probably random to them but for me spoke volumes.  They – in different versions – told me “Miss, you got to always speak positively or build us up because we need it.”

These kids (they will always be kids to an adviser) are very creative, talented, thoughtful, smart and witty but like any other young person or perhaps any adult, need positive, kind, encouraging words to show them that they have what it takes to go out there and win it.

This afternoon I learned that we can never be positive or encouraging enough.  We have to constantly say it out loud and over their lives.  Young people need to hear it and hear it often.  They need to hear that they are good and great and are loved in spite of their frailties, quirks and mistakes.  JUST LIKE US, TEACHERS.

I think the looming end of school year (EOSY) season is making me maudlin these days because it has made me look back to the vision I made back in June when classes first started and I wrote a class vision for myself and for my class.  I started with the end in mind.  Unfortunately, I got so caught up with my personal issues, ambition, a desire to do something greater and beyond what I have right now that I forgot what I was called to do.  God called me NOT ONLY TO TEACH BUT, FIRST AND FOREMOST, TO LOVE.

As I always say, “to teach is to love”.  My grade 11s and my 7th graders taught me how it is to be given second chances when one messes up, to be forgiven in spite of our faults and they have constantly reminded me of God’s love.

This afternoon these 16/17 year olds again reminded me about something I momentarily lost this school year because of the daily grind, paper work and all my other issues and that is passion and hunger.  I lost a bit of my joy and passion along the way but thank God He restored it bit by bit this time.

So to my grade 11s, go out there and give it your all.  No half-hearted moves.  Only 101% not only on the dance floor but in everything that you do.  To me, you will always be the best team this Saturday. 🙂

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Life, Teaching

Happy teacher

I reread all my entries last year and I thought to myself, “I’ve come a long way.  I’m now happy.  The once stressed and exhausted teacher is now a happy one.”  Happy even though I’m not in my “dream place” – my dream profession which is that of a public school teacher and a policy maker at the Department of Education.  Sometimes my natural mind cannot comprehend it.  That this is the happiest teaching stint in all my teaching journeys combined.  Last year, I thought that getting my prayers answered and teaching in the public school would make me happy.

I am wiser now.  Joy is not being in the middle of our “dream place/job” but it is being found at the center of God’s plan for our life.  And most of the times, I have learned, it is far different from our original plan.  Growing up, teaching in PCGS would be the last thing to enter my mind since I have always seen it as a strict and very conservative institution.  As a teenager, there were a lot of times that I did not want to conform to the school’s culture.  That’s why I find it ironic that the very thing I promised to myself (which is not to go back to PCGS) has become one of the reasons for my happiness at this point of my teaching career.

I’ve been through all the levels.  I have completed all five:  preschool, elementary, Junior High School, College and now the new Senior High School level.  I have taught in a private school, in a public school, in a university, a college, big and small schools. I’ve taught in a school where only the richest kids study and handled the last, poorest and most disadvantaged class in a public school.  Yes, teaching extremely different types of learners.  I never expected though that I would find happiness in a very conservative environment.

Of course the teaching load can be exhausting during some days but I am amazed that seeing the kids’ faces and hearing their voices and greetings is always enough to snap me out of my tired reverie.  I would say that it’s the kids who make teaching fun, who make you happy even when some can be noisy and create ruckus in the class but I would not trade these kids for anything in this world.  Yes, I still feel a bit of restlessness within me at times like that desire to pursue my graduate studies in Manila but then again I remember my promise to Dr. P to wait for this first ever Senior High School batch to graduate in 2018 and I tell myself to wait for one more year.

I am grateful.  Happy and content.  It’s not a walk in the park but this is the happiest I’ve been as a teacher and for that I will always be grateful for God’s second chances, grace and mercy in my life and my career.  Thank you, Jesus, for each and every young person in my care in my Grade 11 and Grade 7 classes.

The students make teaching worth it.