History, Teaching

Teach. Research. Community work.

Seventeen years after graduation and letting go of my fears and apprehensions, I am now able to articulate 3 areas where I want to focus on professionally:  teach (part-time), do research and write a book and write articles and do community work.

It has taken me that long to let go of my fears and sort out what I really want.

When I was much younger, it was the steady income and money that was uppermost in my mind.  I wanted a stable job never mind if the teaching requirements took up most of my time from doing research.  After an experience teaching 2nd graders in a public school and teaching 7th and 11th graders in a private school, I finally put my hands up in surrender and mustered enough courage to pursue what I want and what I enjoy doing and that is to teach a subject or two, read, read and read books and articles and write and have time for my blogs and other creative ideas.

As my dad again reminded me this morning during breakfast, “Tsi, don’t think about the money.  Work on what you’re passionate about first and then the money will come later.  Sow first by doing unpaid work first and then the income will follow.”

I guess I now have the strength and self-awareness to admit to myself that I am not cut out for an all-out teaching career.  The kind of teaching career that makes one stay all day in the school churning out lesson plans, grading papers and working on all the paper trail.  It makes my brains go out, makes me restless and bored.  I want to work outside the box (literally and figuratively).

I would rather go to school for my classes only, mentor a few students for their papers, work at the university library for research work and publish a book and some articles.  At the same time, I would want to work on a community project that combines some of the things I am passionate about which are:  community development and history.

It was scary at first contemplating about this move but it has been two months now since I left the school where I once taught and so far this has been the most restful, “busy but not stressful” and enjoyable time of my career.  It is a bit challenging though not to have a fixed schedule as you have to be mindful of keeping time blocks to make sure that you work on the research projects you are involved in.  I have found that these days while I do not have a fixed schedule and a time in, time out schedule, I am more punctual without absences at this time.

Hopefully, I get to work on my planned Instagram and blog for Cebuano History and Culture.  That’s always been my dream:  to someday work on something that will make the ordinary Juan de la Cruz and the Bisayang Dako (like me) passionate, more aware and more knowledgeable about our local history.

 

*Photo mine – Taken at the Museo Parian sa Sugbo 1730 Jesuit House*

 

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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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Teaching

Why I teach

It’s been 16 years since I graduated from college.  Yes, I’m that old if you do the math.  I’m that old but the freshness of the reason or the raison d’etre for my teaching still remains.  This morning, I talked to a former teacher of mine who’s now my co-teacher in the Senior High School department and our talk brought me back to those last few months in college and that passionate, zealous desire to come back to Cebu because I had two reasons:  to teach because I wanted to “change the world.”

I realized today that 16 years after and after so many failures, setbacks, burnout episodes and mistakes, that same reason still resonates within me.  That I love to teach and mentor younger people because I believe that by doing so I am creating ripples of change in society and doing my part in helping change the Philippines.

But I learned along the way that more important than changing this nation is first changing yourself and that by ourselves alone we cannot change.  Only God can do that by the power of His grace.

This afternoon, I watched and listened to my students in the STEM strand debate about the implementation of the Senior High School program.  There were several good speakers and I wanted to chime in and say, “why are you in the STEM strand when you’re so articulate and eloquent?”  But then I realized that why not?  As my brother Jim puts it: “We need more articulate and eloquent scientists and engineers in this nation.”  I told my class “the science and technology community needs people like you because maybe that’s the reason why there is a disconnect between the community and the academe because scientists cannot articulately explain their findings and inventions (to the eloquent scientists out there please do not get offended, this is for most of the scientists who have difficulty explaining their work in layman’s terms) to the community.”

Today’s activity made me reflect about my WHY for teaching these young minds and the vision that I made just before classes started.  I tweeted and posted it on Facebook tonight so I would be reminded over and over again about the reason why I go to school every day.  Here is my vision for my students in Senior High School this academic year.

This is what I’m praying for my SHS students and this is my vision for my classes:

My vision for PCGS’ SHS: Students who passionately love Jesus, love to learn, are smart, who have excellent character & are “men/women for others”.

I hope that these students can see themselves the way I see them:  that they have so much potential in them, so much creativity and intelligence and so much passion.  My constant prayer is that they’d encounter Jesus Christ and know His power, love and His dream for their lives and for this nation that it will totally change them and how they see things.  I hope that they see how precious and loved they are.  

That they’d see that studying in PCGS is not just because their parents want them there but in all things (like Romans 8:28) God orchestrated everything because He has a greater plan for their lives and that He will make everything beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  

More than the lessons about social norms, Culture, politics and qualitative research this semester, my prayer (as what I told my students in the past) is that after they leave my classes, they would learn to love the Philippines, serve this nation and love God with a passion and a zeal that only young people like them have.  By then I will be able to say that I have taught well not only in “head knowledge level” but in the heart and character level as well. 🙂

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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.

Teaching

Teaching as Leadership

Before our 2015 Summer Institute started, we were asked to read a few books and articles about Teaching and the state of education here in the Philippines.  One of them was Steven Farr’s Teaching as Leadership.  It was actually the first time I heard of the concept or the view that teaching was seen as a kind of leadership.  Now that I’m 7 months into this teaching fellowship, I am now starting to understand bits and pieces of this perspective and why this fellowship program is not just about teaching but leadership as well.

First, it’s actually self-leadership.  When you’re out there in the field and the context you are in seems so far from what you have envisioned or imagined it to be.  You have two choices:  remain frustrated at the reality or change what you can change and accept what you cannot.  It actually begins with what is inside of you.  I heard a preacher say “a king will make a palace out of a cave while a pauper will still think that a palace is a cave.”  The choice is in our words, our thoughts and the actions that follow our words and thoughts.  What is inside us will always manifest in the physical realm.

Second, leadership means having a vision and having your team or your group buy into that vision not because of ambition’s sake but because they know it’s good for them.  So this brings me to the classroom.  For the first two and a half quarters in the field, I wanted a new class.  The class I wanted. Or something near to what I saw as an ideal class.  I could not see the gold right in front of me.  But once I began to see my kids and their different gifts, their willingness and enthusiasm to learn and the resources that they bring inside the classroom, my class and my perspective changed.  Miss Val, my manager, was right.  Our students are our greatest resources when it comes to our lessons.

As a teacher, you share the big picture or the vision that you have with the class and let them see why it is good for them.  They have to see it or they won’t buy into the vision.  I will always remember my former pastor’s words telling us “you push the ones above you higher and the ones below you, you pull them up.”  That, in a nutshell, is success for me.  Helping others succeed.

A teacher is also a manager in the classroom.  Out of the “chaos” and jumble that we call kids, we make a system and come up with routines and procedures to help facilitate learning.  This is a skill that is not just applicable in the classroom but also in the corporate and development sectors.  One makes a classroom system that is based on the culture and abilities of your students.

A teacher fellow is also a manager of resources and when I say manager it can mean that you facilitate the movement or flow of resources to and from your class.  Yes, when I came into class, I saw LACK.  There is a lack of materials for instructional materials, a lack of books.  My class does not have books or the Learning Materials from DepEd because we were an additional section.   I ran out of storybooks for my kids that we kept repeating the same Pilandok story. But it does not have to end there.

The world has a lot of resources.  All it takes is for you to knock on the already-open doors and channel those resources into the classroom.  They say there is always PROVISION in the VISION.  Yes, I lacked story books in the first quarter but today, I have more than enough story books for my kids to read and for me to read to them.  A lot of people in my network helped me provide books for my kids.  It is amazing how social media allows one to channel those resources even across the miles.  Distance is not an obstacle nor a factor.  Today’s technology has enabled even the people in other parts of the world to help a class here in uptown Cagayan de Oro.  And that is what amazes me.

As a leader, you not only work with your kids and parents, you also get to work with those who want to help these kids allowing them to share what they have with those that need them the most.  A book, a piece of biscuit, even a candy is already a seed of change sown into the life of a kid.  A kid who loves learning because doors were opened for others to reach out to them.  A kid who loves reading because someone from Cebu, Manila, Switzerland, Canada or New Zealand, perhaps, bought a book or some school supplies for them.  

I don’t see these as dole-outs.  I see these gestures as catapults. Catapults for kids to dream big, love learning and school and love reading and books.  I remember Teacher Sabrina Ongkiko’s words telling our cohort that we need to be bridges between our kids and our network.

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To close, I’ve learned that one important aspect of leadership is being grateful for what you have, working with what you have (instead of complaining) and channeling what you need into the context you are in.  It’s working with the resources that you have and creating waves of change out from the context you are in.  It’s being resourceful, innovative, creative and content with the things in your hands and with the ones that you have been given.

I am grateful for Grade 2 Banana.  At first, I thought that the class was a punishment for all my antics when I was a school girl, now I see them as the ones that taught me the most about love and teaching more than any graduate subject and education courses combined.  They taught me about love, commitment and grit.  The lessons I sorely need to learn in this season of my life.

 

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.

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.