There’s got to be more, Teacher

As a nation, we need a curriculum that demands more from our students than the mere memorization of facts, and a move toward a curriculum that supports deep and meaningful understanding of content, creative and critical problem-solving skills.

from Janet English quoted in “What is a Good Teacher Worth?

I think her sentiments are not only what’s needed for American education but also for the Philippine educational system, too.  As we are now implementing the K-12 program, there is still a need for teachers to focus on critical thinking and, I think, the more important quality to be developed – a love for learning – in the students.

I think students who are inspired to know more, learn to ask and probe issues and matters at hand rather than students who just memorize are the ones that will go on to invent new stuff, come up with new ways of doing things and shake the prevailing mindsets.

We must teach kids and students to think, dream and connect the dots instead of settling for just parroting us and what they read in the books.

one of my practicum classes in a public night high school 🙂

My happy thought: Teaching :)

There are a lot of things I don’t want to admit.

One of them is missing those teaching moments in a classroom and another one is missing the kids I taught.

I’m not teaching in the classroom set-up right now though I’m still “teaching” as a tutor. The set-up is quite different from the classroom thingy but I have to admit that the fun and the challenges of imparting what you know and understand to these kids are the same.

The “I miss ’em” syndrome hit me last Sunday when I attended a bash {quite a bash} of a former student who turned 4 years old. Most of the kids I had taught last year were there and it was such a joy and a privilege to hug them and talk to them even for just a minute. The hugs and the innocence and the refreshing candor of kids are just one of the many things that a preschool teacher misses.

Teacher Kha and I with E during C’s birthday bash. We had our photo taken since he’ll be leaving for the US for good. 😦 No smiles from E here. 🙂

Last night, I got to sharing what was in my heart with my dad and my mom about missing my former students and wanting to open a preschool. That is the second thing I have to admit. I want to start a school. Something that never crossed my mind in the last 12 years I’ve been a teacher.

I’d like to have a preschool or a daycare where children from less privileged families can go to school by paying a minimal fee of P300/month. How I will manage to operate in those figures will take a miracle from heaven.

For two years, I taught in a preschool that catered to kids who come from very affluent families – expat kids and children of businessmen and politicos. It was a delight and so much fun to teach in that environment where we had a lot of resources {papers in all colors, all kinds of art materials, educational toys and manipulatives and every learning resource necessary to catch the kids’ attention and inspire them to love learning}, meaningful learning experiences and good facilities but oftentimes I would catch myself dreaming and thinking “God, how do I make this available to those kids from the slums or from the streets?” I am praying and waiting that I’ll have wisdom and the answers from heaven to make this a reality.

It hit me then that God has a purpose why I’ve handled all four levels. In the past, I’ve looked at it as signs of not knowing what level I should be in but this time I am starting to see that God set me up. Now, it is a privilege for me to have taught 2.5-3.5 year olds, high school students for a practicum stint, college students for the most of my teaching life and now this new level, teaching or tutoring elementary students.

I’d like to confess that the times that I look forward to most when tutoring is that time when we’re done with all the assignments and it’s what I call “laughing time” where we horse around, they ask the funniest questions, goof around with my camera phone and just enjoy that time with each other. That is also one of the times that I miss with my college students. Me just sitting on a bench, them approaching me and talking…talking about everything and anything under the sun. I think it’s the humanity factor and stamp that we teachers enjoy the most. It’s relating and connecting with your students and enjoying that moment that leaves an imprint on you.

So as I enjoy this season of my life where I am teaching in a non-classroom set-up, I’d like to share some snapshots that always, always make me smile or laugh out loud when I look at them remembering those times I spent with young people. One of my regrets though is that the first five years I taught, camera phones were not that nice plus the fact that I didn’t have one so I didn’t have a lot of pics from my early teaching years. Still those moments are forever engraved in my heart and they will always be one of my happy thoughts.

Unforgettable photo walk aka exercise along Colon with my Philippine History class 🙂

Super loved this batch!

Practicum in a public high school 🙂 ’twas such fun and challenging!

My Abellana High {evening class} students, DPE Practicum

g.r.i.t.

from the NYTimes article ” What if the Secret to Success is Failure?

grit:

noun, verb, grit·ted, grit·ting.

firmness of character; indomitable spirit; pluck:
She has a reputation for grit and common sense.

“This push on tests,” he told me, “is missing out on some serious parts of what it means to be a successful human.”… The most critical missing piece, Randolph explained as we sat in his office last fall, is character— those essential traits of mind and habit that were drilled into him at boarding school in England and that also have deep roots in American history. Whether it’s the pioneer in the Conestoga wagon or someone coming here in the 1920s from southern Italy, there was this idea in America that if you worked hard and you showed real grit, that you could be successful,” he said. “Strangely, we’ve now forgotten that.”…

People who have an easy time of things, who get 800s on their SAT’s, I worry that those people get feedback that everything they’re doing is great. And I think as a result, we are actually setting them up for long-term failure. When that person suddenly has to face up to a difficult moment, then I think they’re screwed, to be honest. I don’t think they’ve grown the capacities to be able to handle that.”…

As Levin watched the progress of those KIPP alumni, he noticed something curious: the students who persisted in college were not necessarily the ones who had excelled academically at KIPP; they were the ones with exceptional character strengths, like optimism and persistence and social intelligence. They were the ones who were able to recover from a bad grade and resolve to do better next time; to bounce back from a fight with their parents; to resist the urge to go out to the movies and stay home and study instead; to persuade professors to give them extra help after class. – Dominic Randolph, Headmaster, Riverdale Country School

happy weekend! {teaching thoughts}

If you’re a teacher you can probably relate with me on this.  Have you ever wondered – while you’re giving a lecture and looking at your students listen to you some with feigned attentiveness, some with real attention on your subject and some not caring at all about the subject – how to get them to go beyond the subject and relate it to life?  This week, the same question kept running through my mind “Lord, how do I teach these college students to love this nation?”  Tonight while I was typing those words another line haunted me:  “Lord, does my life and teaching lead my students to You?”  This question started coming back to me after I read an online article about Finding God in the Classroom in a Christian education website.

Lord, I want to put a smile on Your face by my teaching.  Help me to connect with these students and to leave an eternal legacy to them not just about History but moreso about You and the things that really matter.

By the way, I love the movie Freedom Writers.  I got to watch it again this morning in my Educ class and it still moved me to tears.  I want to be a teacher who can touch hearts and bring them to God and impart a love for this nation.  I believe with all my heart that it is only when hearts are changed by God that this nation will see change and real development.  So Lord, give me eyes and wings though I know much of the battle will first have to be won on my knees.