Life, Teaching

Full circle

TC 1
This view always reminds me of Diliman. ūüôā

During a “messy” time in my life and career, my former boss, sir Pascual, once told me, “Yen, take a break from teaching and History for a while. ¬†Try other things and explore other places. ¬†When you think History (and teaching) is really for you, go back to it.”

Fifteen years after he said those wise words — an advice that really helped me a lot — I’ve finally come full circle today, this semester, this school year. ¬†I am no longer teaching in USC but I am back as a graduate student of History and finally with the wholehearted choice that History is for me after so many twists and turns, so many delays, lessons learned and mishaps.

I am back in one of sir P.’s classes again and the first day our class met, his lecture reminded me why I have always loved History. ¬†I went home inspired after that first session.

In my mind, I was already expecting this weekend trip to Tangub to be “challenging” and “hard” given the fact that going to the place via Dipolog City was something I was not quite familiar with. ¬†Somehow I ¬†also knew (subconsciously), I would not be reporting but I had set my heart on coming here. ¬†I wanted to see the place I once fell in love with the first time I set foot on it. A place that held so many precious memories for me. The thought of staying here even crossed my mind back then, well, only for a minute but the lack of coffee shops back then made me think twice. ūüėČ I chose to come in spite of the additional expense it would entail because I felt that it was something I had to see and feel: ¬†coming full circle to a profession, a school and a department I left because of a broken heart.

When I had my first heartbreak fifteen years ago because of someone I met in the university where I first taught, I mistakenly “personalized” the experience and disassociated everything related to him as something to be shunned, forgotten and left off for good. I stayed away from USC for quite a number of years. ¬†And in a sense, I threw away a lot of opportunities in my attempts to forget, move on and make peace with the past. ¬†I heard that he is no longer with the university but even then if he still was it would still have been okay. ¬†I guess forgiving one’s self and the other person makes it okay. ūüėČ

TC 3This year, I knew it would be a different season. ¬†The first time I entered USC TC to process my admission, I no longer felt the familiar twitch of pain that often accompanied every visit I had since 2002. ¬†I walked up to the 4th floor of the AS building and snapped a photo of the cement road from the entrance gate to ISMED and breathed in the fresh air. ¬†Sounds OA I know but I reveled in the fact that I could finally say I’ve moved on. ūüėä

I only remembered the happy memories I once had in Talamban. ¬†Of times spent with students talking with them after classes, of friendships made with co-teachers at the faculty room and of walks I took in TC to the chapel to pray, walks with a “friend” after checking papers at the faculty room and just good old plain memories hanging out in the canteen overlooking the soccer field, of times spent in prayer sitting on the steps leading to the chapel. ¬†That place was quiet and far away from the crowd back then. ¬†It made for a perfect place to pray and read the Bible.

TC 2

It feels good to be back, feeling lighter, a lot happier and no longer haunted by past mistakes.

It feels good to make peace with the past — finally.

As I look to the future with expectation (especially this August), I understand how important it is to study History not to be held back by the trauma and mistakes of the unchangeable past but to be enlightened and strengthened by it. ¬†I think that is how Philippine history should be taught to students. ¬†Not just merely a string of events but a book of lessons and stories, both good and the bad, that makes one a better person, a better nation. ¬†The bad should not be covered up or revised but examined with a different set of glasses and a heart ready to learn from one’s mistakes and stand up again after a fall.

Thanks to this rainy, circuitous trip to Tangub, I have finally come full circle and said goodbye to the ghosts of my past. ¬†The future looks bright and happy. ūüôā

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. ūüôā

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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.