Teaching

Maki-Uson din ako

I don’t know where to start. All I know is that my Facebook news feed is flooded with posts against the appointment of the blogger Mocha Uson to a government post.

What has become of us? But then again, is this a manifestation of postmodernism in our society today wherein the grand narrative of needing Civil Service eligibility, proper and extensive training in writing and communications can be done away with because the powers-that-be have written off the usual qualifications for this one?

Does this mean that I have to study the provisions for political appointees in the first place and stand corrected if, technically, the President is indeed entitled to appointing whoever he wishes to. Key words are “entitled” and “wish to”.

If that is the case then, I go to the issue of morality and propriety. Is is proper and fitting for a Mocha Uson to be appointed to a government for the simple reason that she is rabidly loyal and very pro-Duterte in her writings and stance? As the president pointed out, he appointed her out of “utang na loob” which, to me, is actually a detrimental Filipino cultural trait. In the name of “utang na loob” hundreds (if not thousands) of unqualified candidates have been given government posts or jobs because of it. The one who appoints owes them something — a debt of gratitude that cannot be paid in cash and must be paid only through a favor.

This and other questions run through my mind. Is this my UP arrogance (as some would contend) speaking when I call her out as unfit for the role of an Assistant Secretary simply because she does not look, talk, write or think like it? I still think that government leaders must have a modicum of propriety and proper training when appointed to office. But then again, if you look at many of our politicians today that seems to be a rare thing in politics these days.

TV shows would pale in comparison to Philippine politics today. Our politics and the politicians resemble that of a circus, a comedy of errors (to borrow from Shakespeare’s title) and a wrestling match. It’s both a sad and an amusing reality and way of life. But hey this is the Philippines where anything goes and nothing is impossible.

Just look at Mocha Uson and her being an Assistant Secretary.

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Teaching

Catharsis

Someone once asked me if I write.  I told him I write whenever I’m happy (very happy), sad and mad.  Today, I feel the latter emotion.  Mad and infuriated is more like it.  I had a very good day today at work — reading my journal articles and discussing history and life with a workmate — until I got on Facebook and saw all the posts about Sen. Sotto.  I was already disappointed and kind of mad knowing that Sec. Gina Lopez’ appointment was not approved by the Commission on Appointments.  And like adding salt to a wound, came Tito Sotto’s remarks about DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo’s civil status.

I wanted to lash out at him, at his supporters and even his family.  I wanted to tweet and post something vitriolic and harsh but something caught me.  It allowed me to think twice and see all these from the lens of history and from a social scientist.  What does it say about us as a society?

A thought just crossed my mind about how the Senator got into Congress.  He was elected by the masa (masses).  And so I thought about how his remark caused a furor on social media TODAY but tomorrow and in the years to come, will the masa learn from this incident or will they revert back to their short-term memory?  Just like how we treated the Marcoses, welcoming them back to power simply BECAUSE WE FORGAVE.  Will this incident be among those that will be chalked up as something “forgivable” instead of something to really THINK DEEPLY ABOUT and cause us to examine issues?

Yes, I wanted to post something harsh and bitter but then again what we are seeing right now is simply a mere reflection of us.  I might not have voted for him but the majority did seeing as he is part of the Senate right now.  It makes me think what I, as a History teacher, keep lamenting against:  that most of the Filipino DO NOT REALLY THINK DEEP AND HARD about Philippine politics, social issues and Philippine History.  What we care more are personalities and yes, money.  I sound harsh, cynical and bitter but this is the truth without its sugar coating.

Call me an intellectual snob and I am indeed one but this is precisely the reason why I chose to teach Philippine History when I was younger.  I dreamt that — someday — the masa would eventually learn to study History, think hard about politics and choose politicians who are full of integrity, wisdom, intelligence and a fear of God.  Sigh.

And while that remains a dream, I will keep talking about this in the classroom and calling on young people to think and study Philippine History as if their lives (and the future of the country) depend on it.

======================================================================

Sen. Sotto’s conversation with the DSWD Secretary

Sen. Sotto: On a lighter note, Secretary.  We’ve been looking at your personal information and found out that you have two children? Daughters ba or sons?

Sec. Taguiwalo: Yes, two daughters.

Sen. Sotto: But you’re single? (This question drew laughter from the room.)

Sec. Taguiwalo: I’ve never had a ‘normal’ family, if that’s how you call it, growing up.  But it’s a non-issue.

Sen. Sotto: Ah kasi sa amin, if you have kids, tapos wala kang asawa ang tawag diyan ‘na-ano lang’. (Drawing more laughter from the room.)

Sec. Taguiwalo: Senator, I teach women’s studies in UP.  The definition of a family also includes solo parents.  Thank you.

Teaching

Social Studies Files

Hi LET Reviewees,

These are the files on General Ed. Social Studies.  You’re welcome to download them.  I will upload the PDF versions in a while.

A link to the Google Form docs for practice test will be “live” hopefully by the end of this week which is Friday.  Thank you for your patience!

God bless you as you prepare and take the LET! Will be praying for you guys!

Yen Cano

Phil History _ Part 2

PHIL HISTORY

Rizal’s world

Phil Constitution_final

State and Government

Agrarian Reform & Taxation

Economics

Maslow and Alderfer theories

Social Inequality

2Q.1_Socialization

CULTURE_

Assimilation Diffusion

Society

 

PDF versions of these files

PDF_Agrarian Reform & Taxation

PDF_Economics

PDF_Phil Constitution_final

PDF_State and Government

PDF_PHIL HISTORY 1

PDF_Rizal’s world

PDF_Phil History _ Part 2

PDF_CULTURE_Assimilation & Diffusion

PDF_Maslow and Alderfer theories

PDF_Social Inequality

PDF_Society

Lacking pdf version of Socialization and Types of Families but the powerpoint version is available – Check the ppt versions in the first part of this post.

 

Teaching

Part 3: Refined in the Waiting

WARNING:  The waiting period is very challenging.  And in the waiting, God refines you and teaches you to just really surrender and trust Him.

I learned that on the day the September 2016 LET results came out.

It was our school librarian, Miss Bea, who called me up and told me that the LET results had already been released and our conversation went like this.

Bea:  “Miss, the LET results are out.”

Me:  “Oh my, really miss?  I’m scared.”

Bea:  “Do you want me to check the results for you?”

Me:  “Yes, please, if it’s okay with you, miss.”  (I put down the phone, praying and telling the Lord, “Ikaw na bahala, Lord, if I don’t make it.)

She calls after a minute or more.

Bea:  “Miss, you passed!”

Me:  “Huh? Bitaw, miss?  Basin naay laing O_____ C____.”

Bea:  “Di ba you’re middle name is P___?”

Me:  “Yes, miss.”

Bea:  “You passed, miss. Congratulations!”

I was still a bit nervous that time but it was no longer anxiety that I felt.  It was like a more settled feeling that pass or fail, God had my future in His hands. 🙂

Upon learning that I passed, I was so elated that I went out of the faculty office wanting to shout at the top of my lungs “Thank You, Lord!”  Of course, I did not shout.  I was in school.  The students in the hallway who had seen the funny expression on my face asked what had happened.  I had no words.

I did not even know at this point I had made it to the top 10.  I only knew I passed and for me I was already very grateful.  No words could describe my gratitude to God.  I knew it was a God-thing.

In my elation, I mistakenly went to another classroom to start classes after the bell had rung.  I was dazed.  After the class, I went back to the library to work on a school requirement and received a text from Teacher Jane telling me that our jokes about topping the board exam finally became true.

I did not get my friend Jane’s text and told her “Yeah, I wish.”  She replied with a “No, ‘Cher, this is not a joke.  You topped the board.  10th place.”  “What?”  I told her it was not a nice joke.  She told me to check my Facebook.  The librarian who had earlier checked the result said, “Oh no, miss, it’s really true” after she checked the LET results the nth time that day when I told her a friend of mine said that I made it to the 10th place.

The moment I confirmed the news, I rushed to our school’s fifth floor and there, near the school chapel, broke down in tears.  My first thought was, “Lord, thank You, this is for my parents.”

You see during the last week of studying, I only wanted to pass for my parents because they had assisted me financially in the preparations especially in buying different reviewers and other materials.

Had I studied straight for several months for the LET and answered all the required 10,000 questions, I would have attributed it to my superb intellectual prowess. Hah! But as I see it, it was all God’s grace and goodness.

I did what I had to do and gave God the rest, trusting in His wisdom and grace.

So as I end this, I give all the glory and praise to God for passing and making it to the 10th place.  This is all for His glory and for His honor.  I am just a vessel of His faithfulness, mercy and goodness.

Teaching

10 Tips when Taking the Licensure Exam for Teachers

Passing the B.L.E.P.T. (Part 2)*

Last summer, it was my turn to sit in a class for a whole day and listen to the reviewers lecture.  Like any class I have been to, I was in a range of emotions.  From wide-eyed and “hungry” for more information and learning to down out almost a dozen coffee candies just to stay awake especially when the lectures were after lunch.  Still, I kept on.  I took notes and faithfully listed what the reviewers’ tips were.  You could probably say I followed them almost to a T except when the things I followed did not work for me.

To the one reading this, you’ve probably searched for the key words or tags in this post because you’re preparing for the LET September 2017 exam.  And if you’re like me, I want to be informed FIRST before I dive in.  I’m cautious like that.  I want to study first and know what I’m getting into before plunging in.  So I’ll write 10 things that worked for me in this post and feel free to add your top 5 or top 10 for you that worked for your study sessions.

Know.  Position yourself.  Download.  Show up.  Prepare.  Answer tests.  Take notes.  Read.  Pray.  Team up.

1.  KNOW – After I enrolled in a review course, I searched the net using key phrases like “how to study for the LET”, “how to top the LET”, “tips for studying the LET”, “tips for topping the LET”, “tips to top the board exam” and similar topics.  I’m a geek so what works for me is information.  I listed tips that appealed to me and something that I could work on and bookmarked articles and blog posts about passing and topping the LET.  I searched for the TOS (Table of Specifications) for the Licensure Exam as well as the topics.

One important sub-topic to KNOWING was knowing one’s self.  What I mean by this was after listing the topics I needed to study, I took note of the topics I was still familiar with from my basic education and college years and took note of the topics that I know I am not good at and usually have a hard time studying them.  One of them is Math.  That said, I searched the net for sites that simplified Math topics and lectures.  I answered quizzes and read the rationalizations.  One website which was very helpful to me was Khan Academy.  I logged in on Khan and watched several Math videos and solved problems with the help of their “clues” and prompts.  I took the long road because I knew it was an Achilles’ heel of mine.

2.  POSITION YOURSELF — Look for a place that is conducive to studying for you.  If you’re a learner that can absorb knowledge well in a silent place, look for a public library or a study cafe.  Since I’m a mix of a learner, I came up with places that I knew worked for me.  If on that day, I wanted to study with the buzz of the crowd, wanting the crowd’s energy and company to motivate me, I’d go to a Starbucks (I liked their Escario, Colon and SM branches) and study there.  The Cebu City Rizal Public library is also a good place to study and it’s free.

If on a certain day, I wanted to study in a place that was quieter along with other students who craved the silence, my go-to place was Omou Think Cafe at Raintree Mall. They also have a branch in Ramos where Dessert Factory is located. It’s right across Velez Hospital.  For P15.00 per hour, I would study there for 3-4 hours depending on my attention span.  After 3 days of studying there, I learned that paying them good for a week was more pocket-friendly and saved a few pesos and came with a locker too.

3.  DOWNLOAD — Download productivity and timer apps as well as LET Review apps.  I have a very short attention span.  The first time I really sat down to study, I only lasted for 30 minutes.  I could not study for 3 hours straight. After reading a few blog posts for tips, I noticed that some of them mentioned some productivity and timer apps like Pomodoro and there was this one app (the name I forgot) that recorded your work sessions and gave you stars when you clocked in a certain number of minutes.  Seeing the number of work sessions and hours I was clocking in spurred me on.  These apps helped me study for 3-4 hours straight with 5-10 minute breaks on the net, on Facebook or Twitter.

4.  SHOW UP — Attend review classes, take notes and list tips.  This one worked for me during the summer time (May 2016) when I wasn’t too overwhelmed with the paperwork and requirements of being a teacher.  I took notes from my classes especially in the afternoons so I’d stay awake.  Almost after review session, reviewers would give some of their tips and I’d list them all and see what worked for me.

5.  PREPARE — When I say prepare, this is not only about studying.  Most of my reviewers told us to prepare for the board exam emotionally, spiritually and intellectually.  If you had test anxiety like me, you’d have to make a firm resolve to let go, give your anxiety to God and trust in Him.  It was a conscious decision on my part especially after the pre-board and mock exams since I got failing marks in my Gen. Education and Prof. Education tests and got only a passing mark in my major which is Social Studies.

It was after I took these mock exams that I decided that I’d have to let go or else the fear would eat me up.  I started to change tack after this.  I concentrated on answering test questions with a timer, READ (I followed the reviewers’ tip) and read a lot and, most of all, I relaxed.  I found out that I absorbed the lessons more when I wasn’t that pressured that much.

6.  ANSWER TESTS AND TIME YOURSELF — This one I did a month and a half before the LET.  I realized that I was still a long way from finishing all my topics in the TOS so I did what I could with the limited time I had.  I answered questions with a timer.  I did this especially for my Waterloo:  Math.  I timed myself to answer 20 questions in 10 minutes and recorded my scores.  I told myself that in the next test I’ll take, both the time it took me to answer and the score I had should have improved.  It was discouraging at first but if you keep on doing this, you’d see results and see your scores improve.  If there wasn’t any improvement in the series of tests that day, I’d study the rationalizations again and answer another group of questions on another day.  I’d switch to another subject to help avoid “subject boredom”.

7.  TAKE NOTES — I’m old-fashioned so that means I like taking notes not electronically but writing notes on notebooks and index cards.  The latter I would usually bring during commuting from Liloan to the city because it helped one forget the heat and the traffic while sitting in a multicab or in a jeep.  I chose index cards because it was easier and lighter to bring and easier to flip and organize by subject.  I usually used this for the Professional Education topics like the NCBTS and the RAs (Republic Acts).

8.  READ — One of the reviewers told us that during the LET, it was imperative that one be able to read as fast as she can and answer.  Read with comprehension and answer quickly because of the time given.  She told us to read not just our reviewers and readings but mostly books and to read them with comprehension and critical thinking. This was one of my favorite tips.  I faithfully followed this using it as an excuse to read novels like James Patterson books and other novels from the school library. 🙂  If in the past I read for leisure, in this period, I made sure to read at a shorter time than my usual reading time.

I also read the textbooks I was using for my Grade 7 & 11 classes in Asian Studies and Understanding Culture and Society.  I read the lessons and also scanned test questions that came out in my Grade 11s’ Filipino, Personal Development and Statistics subjects just so that I’d get an idea how questions in these subjects would be formulated.

9.  PRAY — I cannot overemphasize this enough.  As I wrote in the first part, preparing for the LET made me a more prayerful person and I could say humbler from that experience because you know it was something you could not control.  There were a lot of factors involved.  Once I learned to humble myself, ask God for guidance even in studying (for grace to have a longer attention span), I was not as afraid as I was during the first few months of the review.

10.  TEAM — Like anything in life, you need a “life team” in your LET journey.  By team I mean people who pray for you, encourage you and give you tips.  Those that have gone before you.  I was blessed to have a very supportive family.  I mean really supportive — emotionally, through prayers, sometimes even financially and sometimes through gentle rebukes and reminders to study.

I had teacher friends and friends from work and church who lent reviewers (like teacher Jane and miss Bea), cheered me on and prayed for me before, during and even while waiting for the results.  Even my boss, Dr. Po, prayed for me one day as she called me aside and asked if the results had come out.  I told her I was still waiting and told her I might not make it.  She prayed for me and she prayed for mercy and peace.

*Notes for a review session for LET September 2017 and written for the batch of examinees this coming September

Teaching

Passing the B.L.E.P.T.

PASSING THE Board Licensure Examination for Professional Teachers (B.L.E.P.T.)
(Thoughts during this review season for the Sep 2017 exam)
Part 1
It’s LET review season this summer. Education graduates fresh out of school will be flocking in droves to different review centers nationwide to study, prepare and review for the upcoming September 2017 exam. I’ve been asked by some to share some tips for passing and topping the board and I’ll be sharing this in one review center next week. At first, I would easily tell you that I probably took the LET at the right time and at the right circumstances. But now as I ponder and think about the choices I made on the road to taking the LET, I realize that it was not so much about chance and serendipity but more about making the right choices, having a strategy and PRAYING – and I mean, lots of praying.
You see I’ve always been scared of failure. I avoid getting low scores and failing marks whether it’s in a quiz, a major exam or even in life. But I realized that preparing for an exam also means looking at the two possible outcomes when you take that test. As my dad told me after I had shared with him my fears, “’nak, you’ll never pass an exam you DIDN’T TAKE. You first have to take that exam. So what if you fail. It does not make you less of a person.” Those words reassured me and allowed me to let go. And by letting go, I started to relax and rely more on God than on what I thought I knew or know.
First thing I did was to PRAY. I prayed for wisdom, strength and most of all, courage and peace because I was so scared. Petrified is more like it. There were times that my mind would blank out for seconds in a review session because I was so scared of failing. You could say that the LET season and the review sessions made me a more prayerful person. 🙂 I would – almost every week – write a prayer request for my LET exam at Victory but would not put my real name just a part of my name or my nickname.
I had the distinct disadvantage of graduating four years before I took the LET. That wasn’t so reassuring if you come to think of it because I knew I needed to take a refresher course. Thankfully, I wasn’t required to but I enrolled in a review course nonetheless. To make it more challenging, most of – if not all – my classmates were fresh graduates so they remembered most of the lessons while I, on the other hand, had to go look for my DPE notes, books and readings and try to remember my instructors’ lectures. Good thing I took notes in my classes and kept them along with my DPE stuff. I prayed hard because I had the disadvantage of age and time.
To add to my test anxiety was the fact that I got barely a passing mark in the pre-board exam and in the mock exam. For example, if 120 was the passing mark, I only got 115. So I changed tack after I took my first mock exam in Gen. Ed. I realize that if I wanted to PASS (I had already changed my prayer and my wish from topping to passing), I would have to score higher than the passing mark. If the board required 75% for me to pass, I should get at least an 80%. Our reviewers kept hammering on us that the September board exam was very competitive. Most of the March graduates take the September board exam. You had to have a very high score to be able to match the others’ scores.
{To be continued}

Teaching

SOCIAL STUDIES Performance Task (Periodical Exam)

SOCIAL STUDIES Performance Task (Periodical Exam)

40 POINTS

Answers must be typewritten on a SHORT (8.5 x 11) bond paper.  Use Arial/Times New Roman/Calibri font (size 12), SINGLE-SPACED for your answers.  Correct format = 5 points —- *One page/sheet for each answer.

  1. SPEECH – – You have been tasked by UNESCO as a Youth Representative to WRITE a speech about Western imperialism in the Philippines.  You are given 5-10 minutes by the organization to make a case AGAINST Western Imperialism.  Describe how the Western countries (Spain and the Philippines) colonized the Philippines and give its long-term effects.  Give examples in any of the following areas:  language, culture, religion, government, educational system.  Choose only TWO (2) areas and cite specific examples in your speech.

Your speech must be formal, entertaining and interesting to the listener.  It must be factual and based on historical facts.  You may use your textbook as a source, websites (provided they are reliable and credible) or library books.

Use TWO (2) more sources in addition to your textbook.  Make sure that your speech is easily understood and your main point is clear.  You may start with a story or an anecdote based on our colonial history and build your argument against imperialism around it. 😊  Happy Writing!

FORMAT OF SOURCES:  5 points

Please cite your sources using the following format (MLA – Modern Language Association) format

You can find the name of the publisher, the city where the book was published, its copyright (year) on the first few pages.

 

Format for BOOKS

Last, First Name. Book. City: Publisher, Year Published. Print.

Examples for BOOKS

James, Henry. The Ambassadors. Rockville: Serenity, 2009. Print.

Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1942. Print.

Format for WEBSITES

Last name, First name. “Article Title.” Website Title. Publisher of Website, Day Month Year article was published. Web. Day Month Year article was accessed.

Examples for WEBSITES

Cain, Kevin. “The Negative Effects of Facebook on Communication.” Social Media Today RSS N.p., 29 June 2012. Web. 02 Jan. 2013.

———————————————————————

Grading for the Speech – Look at the scores on the topmost part and multiply it by 6 points so that the highest score you can get for the speech is 24 points.

Catchy Title = 1 point

Speech = 24 points

Format = 5 points

Sources = 10 points (For every source you get 2 points each = 2 points x 2 sources = ­ points)

Correct format per source:  3 points x 2 points = 6 points

No additional source – no points for sources

The use of your textbook will not be credited for the points.

Again, please make sure that your speech is FACTUAL, INTERESTING/ENTERTAINING and, at the same time, FORMAL and suited to the audience that is, UNESCO.  Thank you!

Rubric for the speech writing

rubric for SPEECH

Teaching

Looking back, Moving forward (Remembering Grade 2 Banana)

It was the first week of class and the principal had just informed me that I was going to have a section of Grade 2 pull-outs. Pull-outs comprised of non-readers and with kids with behavioral challenges. In my mind, I was excited and I never expected that it would not be as exciting or challenging as the picture I had in my mind. I had even chosen the name for my section – Grade 2 Banana. It never crossed my mind that it would be hard, unexciting, and would take everything that I had to make it work.

I went to my grade leader’s classroom and my level teachers were smiling, more like smirking, and asked me “Andam na ka para sa imong kalbaryo?” Huh? I asked. I was not expecting that at all. It was far different from what I had in mind. They repeated it again. “Andam na ka sa imong kalbaryo kay di ra ba sayon.” “Oh, ma’am, excited kay ko. Mao ni akong ganahan jud buhaton, gi ampo. Na makatudlo sa public school.” “Bantay ha. Basta pag andam lang.”

The next day I went in to class armed with all the visual aids of my class rules, claps and motivational chants – ALL IN ENGLISH. To say I was excited was an understatement. I could not sleep the night before the first day. I was very excited and thrilled to have my own class.

I stepped into my classroom and found most of the kids running around the classroom, with some boys tumbling at the back and doing somersaults. A couple of kids were running on the benches. Some were jumping. I went to the front and said “good morning” but still the ruckus went on. Nobody listened to me. A few stopped and went to their seats but would stand up again when the activity at the back seemed to be more interesting. I was wearing my best “teacher outfit” complete with high heels and accessories kind of what I am wearing today and I was wearing makeup because I remembered my mentor, miss Dabon, that one should wear makeup in class especially when one was teaching younger kids.

I thought I was ready but I was not ready for what I encountered that day. It was very hot inside the classroom and when my grade leader went inside my class during the 2nd or 3rd period (I was given a self-contained class which means I taught all the subjects straight for 6 hours) to check on me, my hair was sticking out in different places, sweat was plastered on my face and my makeup was melting. I look harassed and ready to cry she later told me after the class.

I kept telling them (in a very soft voice), “Please sit down. Please keep quiet.” They all looked at me as if I had come from another land. One of the mothers standing outside the classroom finally took pity on me and said “’cher, pag binisaya lang kay di na sila kasabot ug sit down or stand up.” What?! These 2nd graders did not understand simple phrases in English. I had gone into the classroom armed with my lens from my private school experience. And it was only the beginning, there were more instances like that day: times when I would go into my class seeing them from my point of view and my experience instead of knowing where they came from.

KNOW YOUR STUDENTS. I know this has been repeated over and over again in many an Education class but I can’t emphasize it enough. It is important that as a teacher we get to know not only our students’ learning styles but their family background and stories as well. As the school year unfolded while I was teaching in public school, I learned about my kids’ stories and how they affected their learning and their classroom behavior as well. I began to understand why one kid was always absent and why one slept during class. I began to learn why one kid was a bully and a “siga” in class and what motivated him to do good.

But I started only to know these things when I let go of what I had and started to get to know them like really talk to each of them. I let go of what I wanted to do in class and started listening to how they learned, what they liked, watched at home, what interested them and what made them fearful or happy perhaps. I started to let go of my own background to know theirs. I exchanged my chants, songs, rules in English for ones written in Bisaya, something they could better understand. As my dad told me,

“Why tell them the story about the Hungry Caterpillar when they cannot relate to the food and the desserts in that story? Read them a story they can relate to. After you have taught them and built a relationship with them, then you can share with them the story of the hungry caterpillar. Do not teach them songs that they do not know yet. Start with the songs they know.”

Part of knowing our students is to know where they are at so we can start there. I began to observe, study and note my students’ interests, learning styles and level to help me plan my classes. I stopped planning from my point of view and started planning my lessons based on their ability and their level of learning. I adopted the Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) way in my class since I realized that most of my students were in the preschool level in terms of literacy and numeracy. I had to teach them the letter sounds as well as the letter names. They were grade 2 but their academic skills were in the Nursery or Pre-K level. The reason for this was a lot of factors combined and not just because they were “slow” as they were labelled by some teachers. It had to do with class size, family background, nutrition and mass promotion.

I started teaching them the alphabet and numbers through play and they loved it. Most of my kids in Grade 2 Banana were very active and were kinesthetic learners so it was not a surprise that teaching through play appealed to them and became effective to them especially to the ones that really wanted to learn, was always present in class and highly motivated to learn and achieve. I began to see their behavior change as well after six to seven months. From a group of jumping and running students, they became a class that listened to instructions, walked in line even if I was not around (as long as I gave instructions) and became accustomed to our class system and procedures. They became so attuned to it that if I missed a classroom procedure, they would remind me about it.

One thing that really worked for them was a system of class leaders and daily tasks assigned to them. Leaders and people assigned were changed on a daily basis and since we had the whole afternoon, I would take the first 15 minutes of our class to assign a class leader, an “eraser”, a paper collector and distributor, someone who put stars on our daily star list, column leaders and other responsibilities. Oh how it worked and worked well! It was amazing to see them work together even if I would step out of class because I was called out by the principal or the grade leader for brief meetings. The class would “operate” based on the system I had already put in place.

STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND COLLABORATION. When you start treating students as leaders, they will begin to measure up to what you have called them to be. I began to see that the students who were very unruly and siga to begin with were actually leaders. One just had to let them channel that dynamism and energy into something productive. These kids began to be the ones who would call their classmates’ attention when they misbehaved. They also became very motivated and instead of me always trying to make them behave, they would now copy lessons on the board and actually finish it, they would even argue who would volunteer to do things in the classroom like clean up after class or erase the blackboard after every subject, most of the students were even very active during class recitations.

As these students started behaving and started learning, I now began to see actual learning take place both academically and behaviorally. During the first week, I was both surprised and aghast to hear a student say “psst!” and signal for me to move away from the notes he was copying. During the last months of our school year, our class was abound with words like “thank you, please and excuse me”. They also began to care for one another. Take note that the kids I had in my section came from the poorest of the poor. Some walked to and from school because they had no money for fare. Some I had to buy them lunch because they only had pancit canton or biscuit for lunch and they would try to hide it from me.

The first time we received our first batch of donated books, their faces and eyes lit up like ones who found a gift under the Christmas tree. They were that happy to have books because they did not have one at home. Some of them were always absent due to a myriad of reasons:  one had to tend to her baby sister when her mom had to go to work, another one had to help his father in the farm or go to the market with them or help them cook lechon (roasted pig), one student had to stay home on some days to do the laundry.  This was their reality.

It was heartbreaking, hard to accept at times but – at the same time – the most heartwarming experience I have ever had.

As the class grew closer, I now could start teaching them concern and care for each other. You would now begin to see instances where kids shared their baon, give a portion of their food or something that they really liked to a friend and students caring for each other especially when one got sick or was absent for days. You’d hear them telling me, “cher, ig dako nako mag police ko” or “cher, mangita jud ko ug mayo na trabaho para sakong mama ug papa” or “mag teacher ko inig dako nako ky tudloan nako ang mga bata mo basa.”

My third point is the concept of puso or servanthood is one I teach and emphasize to my students in the school I am currently teaching. In contrast to the ones I handled last year, most of these students come from families of well-to-do Chinese who have big businesses, some of which they are already trained to handle after they graduate. I keep reminding them that hopefully someday they will begin to see that their knowledge, education and businesses are there to make an impact on the lives of others. Hopefully when they study or go to university they would have a mindset that what they do and what they choose will create ripples of change on other people’s lives. I say it part jestingly and seriously that when they study and choose a course in college to “think of the Philippines” and what they can do to make our nation better.

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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