Passion for teaching

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Passion for teaching

  1. 1. Contents1 THE ROAD TO BEING A TEACHER An Impulsive Decision 2 Nancy Pascual The Visionary 6 Ma. Elena Eleperia Adapting to Students 9 Felecitas Pado Discipline and Perseverance 12 Maria Utanes Teacher Aurelia Ballitoc: This is My Story 16 Aurelia Ballitoc Living in the Crossroads: From a Chemical Engineer to a Teacher 18 Mary Lyn Dominguez2 COMMITMENT TO THE TEACHING PROFESSION A Teacher Until the End 24 Allan Canonigo Transforming People’s Lives: Inside and Beyond the Classroom 28 Mohana Ratnam-Eswaran The Vision to Help the Philippines 36 Rogelio Opulencia3 RESEARCHING FOR THE BETTERMENT OF STUDENTS The Urge to Serve 42 Aurora Zuñiga Am I Really an Action Researcher? 48 Saowanee Yuthtamanop
  2. 2. 4 INITIATING CHANGE THROUGH INNOVATIONS AND TECHNOLOGY Knowing One’s Students 54 Trixie Marie Sison Innovating for Development 59 Maria Eljie Mabunga Technology and Innovations: Tools for Better Understanding 63 Ester Raagas Introducing a Paradigm Shift through Innovations 66 Glendale Lamiseria Polishing Diamonds: How Datuk Yap Transformed Tawau Technical School 73 Mary Yap Kain Ching The New Chalk and Talk 83 Norizan Ahmad Haji Alias Abu Bakar Stewardship at MKJB: 87 Leveraging on Partnerships for School Success Haji Alias Abu Bakar5 THE IMPORTANCE OF LANGUAGE IN EDUCATION Not the Typical 21st Century Teacher 104 Schedar Jocson Medium of Instruction in Teaching: A Critical Tool for Understanding 110 Ma. Isabel Pefianco-Martin6 BENCHMARKING BEST PRACTICES Learning from Other Nations 110 Chea Vuth Feels Like Home 114 Slamet Nugraha
  3. 3. ForewordIn line with the continuing effort of SEAMEO INNOTECH to foster constructive dialogue andconsultation on various education issues and concerns affecting the Southeast Asian Region,the Third Regional Education Forum was conducted last March 22-24, 2011 with the theme:Rediscovering the Passion for Teaching in Southeast Asia.This three-day forum actively engaged the participants into a continuing conversation about thecore factors that enable teachers to sustain their motivation, commitment and passion for teaching.The participants, composed of outstanding teachers themselves and senior education personnelresponsible in teachers training and development, were able to define the Success Profile of apassionate/ motivated teacher. This Success Profile lists the specific 1) Competencies ---set ofknowledge, skills, values required of a teacher to passionately and successfully carry out his/hertasks and responsibilities; 2) Personal Attributes ---general characteristics and personal traits ofa teacher which set her/him apart from the other professions and 3) Experiences --- necessaryexperiences that a teacher must/should go through as part of his/her learning journey contributingto continuous professional enhancement.The Forum was also highlighted by the sharing and exchange of teacher development policies,strategies and programs to further sustain teachers’ passion for teaching. Resource panelists fromboth the government and private sector shared their respective programs and strategies on how torecognize and take care of ‘outstanding, committed and highly motivated teachers’ which triggeredfurther discussion and conversation on how to sustain teachers’ passion for teaching.The outstanding teachers who participated in this Forum reported that they are able to ignite theirpassion in the teaching profession as they go through self reflections and self-development andwhen they are recognized and rewarded for good performance. Teachers also put premium on theimportance of making available for them reliable data and information about the students and theirprogress to enable them to make important decisions about student learning. Teachers take pridein being part of defining the school vision and direction and when they are given the opportunityto participate in realizing said vision. Sustaining the teaching profession involves many interrelatedfactors and these factors should be carefully looked at by the Ministry particularly the unit in-charge of teacher training and development.The part of the Ministries of Education responsible forteachers training and development are expected to ensure work-life balance among the teachersand to be concerned about their individual well-being. Among the other suggestions to sustain thepassion of the teachers are: 1) clarity in teachers’ career path in the profession 2) incentives andbenefits system in place 3) opportunity for the teachers to interact and learn from each other 4)professional development programs. The teachers must also be provided with the opportunity tosubscribe to continuous learning and discovery of new knowledge either through formal educationand training or by going through other development programs. Other professional developmentprograms beyond the formal system must also be encouraged by the Ministry. This includesproviding opportunities for teachers to collaborate and learn from their peers in a professionallearning community setting, providing them enough time within the school day to work togetherand reflect on their practices.
  4. 4. The need to upgrade the status and image of the teachers will enhance teachers’ self-confidenceand motivation to stay on the post. Rewards and recognition system should be in place, selectionand screening criteria and qualifications need to be clearly defined and should also be alignedwith teachers’ professional development programs. The criteria must include passion, values, andattributes of passionate and effective teachers. On the other hand, the MOEs should ensurethat accreditation of teachers is rigorously done and that they should provide a customized corecurriculum to build proficiency of pre-service teachers aligned with the requirements of theMinistry.Quality teachers should be aptly recognized through an honest-to-goodness performance-basedgrading and portfolio assessment which is tied to their professional development.Educators at all levels must work together to help teachers sustain the fire of their passion forteaching. The MOEs must seek to continuously partner with the private sector in terms of jointlyaddressing some of the identified needs of the teachers. However, there is a need to ensure thequality of program design and its delivery and the uniformity in the professional developmentcurriculum should be achieved based on the standards and policies of the MOE.Overall, the three-day forum provided critical insights on the core factors of a passionate andeffective teacher and coming up with consistent and coherent strategies to sustain and nurturethe PASSION of educators in the teaching profession as valuable inputs to the respective MOEs onhow to take care and multiply the number of ‘outstanding educators’ in the region.
  5. 5. 1 The Road To Being A Teacher
  6. 6. Nancy Pascual An Impulsive Decision Dr. Nancy Pascual with her special children students during a parade in celebration of National Autism Conciousness Week How an impulsive decision to take an MS Degree on Special Education led to a life-changing opportunity. Sometimes a person makes well-thought of decisions in life that seem to lead nowhere and sometimes, a person makes impulsive decisions that lead to the perfect spot. This was exactly what was experienced by Dr. Nancy Pascual, a part-time Filipino professor, a former Special Education (SPED) teacher and school principal, and an all-time SPED advocate. The Influences Dr. Pascual says if there were significant people in her life who influenced her to be an educator, they would be her parents and siblings. Her parents, both farmers, worked hard to send their children to college and eventually live a better life than what they had. They succeeded in doing so, says Dr. Pascual, the youngest of eight siblings. She believes she was blessed having not only her parents as inspiration but all her siblings as well since she saw them as role models. Her parents reminded them to mould people so that they, in turn, will mould children in the future. She said that this lesson was instilled in her mind and that she decided to be a teacher to ensure that the Philippines will have good teachers for her own children.With that simple premise, she decided to be a teacher. Later, she would realize that she stayed in the profession not for that reason alone but because she was happy and contented with what she was doing.2 Passion for Teaching
  7. 7. ...this number may be small for some, but handling 16 students with disabilities was like handling 60 learners in regular school. Besides her family, Dr. Pascual says her sixth grade teacher, Ms. Lavina Laforga, a Metrobank Outstanding Teacher, influenced her in many ways. Ms. Laforga always brought out her best in everything she did so that she can automatically bring light to other people’s lives. Dr. Pascual also did the same especially in teaching, as she found this practice effective since she was able to influence the lives of many of her students. Her former professors at the Philippine Normal University Graduate School—Dr. Yolanda Quijano and Dr.Teresita G. Inciong—also inspired her as they gave themselves selflessly to their students and colleagues, sharing their teaching experiences in touching lives. The Journey After completing the degree of Master of Arts in Educational Management at the age of 25, she decided not to take a PhD at once as she felt that she was too young for it. So she enrolled in another graduate course, this time at the Mariano Marcos State University, a school located in the northern part of the country. Without any other degree in mind, she specialized in SPED, without even knowing where she would use it. However, because she was asked to be the guardian of her nieces and nephews in Manila, she transferred to Manila, without finishing her degree and earning only 15 units. While in Manila, she continued teaching basic education in a public school in Pasay City. After four years, her school division decided to offer SPED classes in response to the national program goals of EFA (Education for All). Dr. Pascual’s superintendent, knowing that she had earned some units in SPED, assigned her to handle such classes. She accepted the challenge. At first, she handled eight students, who had conditions/manifestations of autism, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). The next thing she knew, she had 16 students all of whom had disabilities. She said this number may be small for some, but handling 16 students with disabilities was like handling 60 learners in a regular school. Each student needed individualized instruction depending on his/her disabilities. Each of them needed extra care and attention and handling them together as a class was indeed a great challenge. Her engagement in SPED classes continued for eleven years. She was transferred to a regular school, but this time as principal. She committed to help the special children become independent individuals, and seeing them improve fulfilled her fully and enriched her as an individual. Passion for Teaching 3
  8. 8. The SPED Teacher While teaching at a SPED School, Dr. Pascual decided to finish her Master’s Degree in Special Education, specializing in teaching children with intellectual disabilities. Completing the units required for the course made her feel more equipped and confident to teach students with disabilities. Although her specialization was in teaching learners with intellectual disabilities, she also had to handle students who were visually impaired, hearing impaired, autistic, and had cerebral palsy who were also enrolled in her class. Thus, she decided to enroll in classes on Sign Language and Braille Reading and Writing. She also continuously attended various seminars and training programs on handling other disabilities so that she could adapt lessons appropriate for her students. She said that through these learning opportunities, she was able to focus on the abilities of the students, surface their strengths, and address their better weaknesses. As a teacher, Dr. Pascual follows the 3Ds—direction, dedication, and discipline. With direction, she makes sure that she is working towards a goal. In the case of teaching special children, she makes sure that her students, regardless of age, are equipped with life skills as they learn to be independent individuals. Dedication, she says, should be the number one qualification of a teacher, especially in teaching special children. With dedication she always does her job with sincerity, as it enable her to address or provide certain steps to solve a problem. With discipline, she believes that before she could discipline her students, she should first discipline herself. She often shows her students the importance of discipline as it is a big step for them to be able to be independent people. In handling special children, Dr. Pascual says that she uses differentiated learning as some of her students are at extremes—being either very fast learners or very slow learners. She also considers an important factor: the students’ family resources. Thus, she organized the parents who wait for their children to finish class and involved them to help prepare instructional materials or serve as room aides. In this way the parents won’t have to buy the required instructional materials or pay a room aid. What is her biggest challenge as a SPED teacher? She says it is having each special child moved to regular classes and be like any other child in a regular school and late on helping that child become employed and independent. She also considers the parents’ acceptance or non-acceptance regarding their child’s conditions as one of the challenges. Some parents, she says, are still in denial about their children needing special care. To be able to address this, she would talk with the parents and equip them with knowledge and skills in handling their child, so that they can supplement the child’s learning acquired in school. Yet another challenge is having to transform the belief and attitude of school heads and teachers towards children with special needs. Sometimes, she would ask her former students with special needs to visit regular schools with so that people may see and4 Passion for Teaching
  9. 9. understand that special children can be useful to the society. At other times, she would invite parents of special children to talk at seminars and orientation sessions so they, the school heads and teachers, may see their role in the providing of appropriate education for independence. Why She Stayed Many people ask why Dr. Pascual stayed for a long time teaching special children. They said that even if she teaches these children, they could never be normal and would just end up as liabilities. Instead of listening to their advice, Dr. Pascual decided to stay in the profession and she continues equipping learners with special needs with the skills to become regular citizens. She is always out to prove to them that they are wrong in thinking that people with disabilities are worthless; in fact, they could even be better than regular people, she adds. She says that she will do everything to help these children become equipped with life skills. As a teacher, she believes that teaching special children could be one of the best experiences for teachers as they are able to apply and exercise almost all the theories that they have learned in school. With that impulsive decision of taking special education, Dr. Pascual was led to a job she was very passionate about. It led her to her life. Dr. Pascual’s stint in regular classes may have made her happy, but teaching special children, she says, made her feel more fulfilled than ever. Dr. Nancy Pascual with her students during one of the school camps. Passion for Teaching 5
  10. 10. Ma. Elena Eleperia The Visionary Who would have thought that Dr. Elena Eleperia, the present principal of the only maritime high school in the Philippines, was, in fact, afraid to teach? In her defense, she explained it was a natural reaction even for any other fresh graduate female teacher facing a male-dominated class with students who were almost of the same ages she was! She was then about to start her profession as a teacher and there she was imagining herself as the helpless teacher who was able to do nothing while her students bullied her or did not respect her. According to her, those first four years at school were the most challenging years of her teaching life as she was still learning the different twists and turns in her career. On Being Tough Teaching at the John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University at Iloilo City, she had a hard time to deal with the individual differences of her then students. As a first time teacher, she wanted everything to run smoothly. She wanted to be the perfect teacher that every student dreamt of having as she wanted to address what each student needed and wanted. However, she later found out that this was impossible. She then stopped trying to please them individually and treated them as a whole group. Through this method, she was able to be fair to her students and was able to address their needs as a group. She also learned how to admit her mistakes and to face the consequences that these entail. Though it was hard and definitely challenging to be a young teacher, she made it a point to establish respect and authority to her students. She sees to it that she was firm in every decision that she made so that other people would have nothing to say against her. She believed that integrity would help her sustain the respect that her students were giving to her. Having students with almost the same age as hers back then, she was also courted by some of her pupils. However, she always put into her mind that teachers must not go beyond their limitations as she did not entertain these suitors. Having some free time before her classes start, she takes time to visualize her students and the classroom situation. She imagines the different scenarios that might happen in class as she also visualizes how she would address these. Eventually, this visualization process became a habit and she did it every time she was about to stand in front of class. This method made her confident in what she is doing and prepared her in case the scenarios she imagined happen. This also made her realize that having a vision is important for a teacher to be able to execute changes and be optimistic in what she is facing in the class. The fact that she had a vision of the class management made her go through a less bumpy road in her teaching career.6 Passion for Teaching
  11. 11. Voicing Out Concerns During her early years as a teacher, Dr. Eleperia had a principal who was a dictator who was feared by everyone and whose orders—good or otherwise—were followed without hesitation. However, when he was not around, the faculty, staff, and students voiced out many concerns, but because of fear, they never brought these concerns to management. She knew that the faculty and staff had the right to speak up, but she also kept quiet for fear of losing her job. After a few years, however, she realized that something had to be done about the situation. So she talked to the principal and voiced out the concerns of the school. Since then, the principal realized his mistakes and started to listen to his people. Teaching Through the Heart Dr. Eleperia says that she is not the typical teacher who settles for the traditional chalk and talk style of teaching. She says that teachers must know how to innovate and to improve their own skills and knowledge so they can likewise improve their students’ skills and knowledge. When introducing a lesson, she sees to it that her students will find the lesson useful in their life. She also presents lessons in a simple manner so that they can easily grasp the main idea. With resourcefulness and creativity, she prepares in advance all instructional materials including the course of study and learning plan to ensure that everything will go smoothly. As for classroom activities, Dr. Eleperia engages her students in cooperative and collaborative learning through the use of student-centered activities such as reporting, Passion for Teaching 7
  12. 12. ...the profession is definitely not financially rewarding but is very fulfilling. It is also a very gratifying career as the society in general looks at teachers as respectful and trustworthy role models. film showing, role playing, field trips, navigational trips,and simulation, among others. Various group work activities, she says, enable them to develop not just their knowledge of the lesson but also their social as well as critical thinking skills. By talking with students casually during break time, she gets to know them better and eventually adapt her teaching style to their traits. She also believes that being a teacher goes beyond the formal classroom setting as it involves being a second parent to her students or “one of them”. Believing that the simplest way to teach a student is through the heart, she also makes sure that she knows her students by name so that they would be encouraged to participate in class and to develop their potentials to the fullest. Going Beyond the Profession Dr. Eleperia says teaching is one of the most fulfilling careers as long as one puts his/ her heart to it. Dr. Eleperia explains that originally she did not want to be a teacher and that she only pursued her degree in BS Education to be able to have a job right after graduation. However, she never imagined that she would eventually love the profession as much as she does today. Adding, she says this profession is definitely not financially rewarding, but it is a very fulfilling and a very gratifying career as society in general considers teachers as respectful and trustworthy role models. As principal of John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University High School Department, Dr. Eleperia incessantly helps students become responsible members of the society through the use of different innovations and strategies to fit the needs and expectations of these future seamen.8 Passion for Teaching
  13. 13. Felecitas Pado Adapting to Students Knowing your students inside and out is definitely an advantage of a teacher. Teachers could be an instrument in making a great change in the society.This is what Dr. Felicitas Pado believes. Teachers, says the professor from the College of Education of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, can greatly impact on children’s lives—and when these children eventually become responsible members of the society, somehow, the teacher’s influence would leave a mark on them. In effect, Dr. Pado adds, teachers are a crucial factor towards making the country a better place to live. The Eye Opening Experience Among the first eye openers for Dr. Pado was her first teaching experience in public schools. After a teaching stint in a private school and while waiting for an extension class, she was assigned in a poor barangay (village) school, which could be reached through a jeepney ride, a boat ride, or a one-kilometer hike through rice fields. She spent two months in this school teaching a combination class consisting of Grade 1 and Grade 2 children. She recalls that it was definitely challenging as she was teaching two classes of different grade levels in one classroom. She was almost tempted to treat the two classes as one group. However, she affirms that she resisted this, knowing fully well that the lesson might be too easy for the higher level but too difficult for the lower level—and thus, neither would achieving any learning at all. This made her experience, first-hand, the difficulties that teachers in far flung barangays had to go through to be able to help their students learn, especially now since there are already multigrade classes—that is, one teacher handles not only two but even three different grade levels in one classroom! It was also during this time when she encountered poor families who desperately wanted to send their children to school in the hope would take them out of poverty. Indeed, this was an inspiration for her to reach out to the majority of learners in the public schools. Pursuing a Teaching Career: A Choice? Dr. Pado wanted to become an accountant, not a teacher. However, due to the inspiration and persuasion of her mother as well as the good teachers that she had and her high school classmates who talked about pursuing an education degree, she decided to become a teacher—and an excellent one at that. In fact, she was awarded as one of the Most Outstanding Teachers in the country by the Metrobank Foundation, among other awards that she received during her 41 years in the education sector. Passion for Teaching 9
  14. 14. Dr. Pado confessed that had she pursued her original dream, she would not have been as happy and as fulfilled as she is now in her present career. The Teaching Style Dr. Pado believes that students have individual differences—they have diverse learning styles, multiple intelligences, and distinct mental capabilities. These students, she says, learn best if the teacher acknowledges and addresses these diversities through the use of varied teaching styles. As a teacher, she therefore tries her best to discover and acknowledge the individual differences of her students as she knows that they are capable of learning provided that their needs are met. When she was teaching basic education, the first thing that she did was to know the individual differences among her students. Then, she would plan various activities that would address these differences. Moreover, during such activities, she would adjust to the students’ preferred learning styles. She narrated that she once had a student who could never get his spelling right when asked to write the words nor when asked to use the alphabet blocks. However, when she asked the student to spell out the word by hopping from one letter to another on an alphabet mat, he could do it perfectly. In this case, she tried to adjust her teaching style to the learner’s learning style and continued to do so throughout the school year. Dr. Pado also spent many years teaching beginning readers and, therefore, she could say with certainty that every child is capable of learning to read. She mentioned that she was very lucky to be employed in a laboratory school of the University, where the teachers were expected to be innovative and to think out of the box. She believes that there are numerous ways by which a student may learn, aside from that of the traditional chalk and talk. For example, to help them learn how to read, she would first try to find out their reading level. Then, she would group the students according to their reading ability. She then plans lessons and activities that would address the reading needs of each group. Moreover, she would always make sure to pay equal attention to each group as the slow, average, and fast learners improve according to their own pace. Now that she is teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in the College of Education, she likewise takes into consideration that her students come from different backgrounds—different schools, work culture, and learning styles. She says that in her graduate classes, she lets her students share with their classmates their work experiences so that they can learn from each other’s stories. Since she handles undergraduate and graduate courses on teaching strategies, she shares her teaching experiences to them. She also employs scaffolded teaching, which starts with inputs through lectures, discussions, readings, related studies, and actual observation of classes. Then, this is followed by guided practice through workshops and exercises. The presentation of outputs is then followed by constructive feedback for them to improve their way of teaching. Finally, these future teachers would be required to apply what they have learned by conducting a microteaching.10 Passion for Teaching
  15. 15. Since the day Dr. Pado entered the teaching profession, she knew that she would be instrumental in developing the future of the country. Dr. Pado believes that teaching means helping the students discover their potential and realize that learning is an enjoyable activity. Among the hardest challenges that Dr. Pado had to go through as a teacher is motivating reluctant learners and making them realize that they have the potential to do better. She also says it is heartbreaking for her to give a student a failing grade as she feels that that would be like destroying the student’s future. Thus, she usually gives her students a second chance. The Teacher She Is Dr. Pado’s students describe her as very knowledgeable of the subjects that she handles; fair; very approachable; always prepared for class; presents factual, research-based, and updated information; and last but not the least, among the best professors. All of these are impressive descriptions of a teacher who believes that the satisfaction of being a teacher goes beyond financial satisfaction as she feels good to know that she has done something good to make the world a better place: by producing good people. Passion for Teaching 11
  16. 16. Maria Utanes Discipline And Perseverance How discipline and perseverance helped Mrs. Maria Utanes reach her dreams and help students who have been in her shoes. “Clearly, the best part of being a teacher is the opportunity to help children and change lives.” These words come from Ms. Maria Utanes, a teacher of 32 years and now a newly promoted principal of Masambong High School in Quezon City, Philippines. Teaching Journey Mrs. Utanes graduated from the Philippine Normal College finishing her Bachelor of Science in Education in 1974. Then, she earned her Master of Arts in Mathematics Education at the University of Santo Tomas in 1989. From 1974 to 2006, she served as a teacher of physics and mathematics teacher at Manuel Roxas High School (MRHS). In that span of over three decades, she worked as chairman for the Mathematics Department (1999-2006) and was later appointed as the head of the same department (2006) until she was assigned to be the school head of Masambong High School (2011). Throughout her career, Ms. Utanes taught her students with passion and commitment and she says she wouldn’t have survived the profession without her skills in logical and critical thinking, problem-solving, management, and quick thinking skills. She takes pride in her work; strives for quality education and academic excellence; and practices fairness among her students. Very much dedicated and committed to her profession, she sees teaching as a profession that can yield something amazing when the right ideas and beliefs are implemented in the classroom. She says that being a teacher is not easy, but it is definitely gratifying. As a teacher, she makes it to a point that she takes note of the principle of multipleintelligence and understands that each and every child has his/her own special talents and skills. She also ensures that what is taught in the classroom is not left there, but should rather go beyond the walls of the room and should be applied by the students to real life situations.12 Passion for Teaching
  17. 17. The New Leader. Mrs. Utanes posing with students of Masambong National High School during the annual Brigada Eskwela. Ms. Utanes says she was inspired to become an educator by a former teacher, Mr. Pedro Miñano. She narrates that she was raised by only her mother and so they had to live thriftily to be able to survive. At an early age, she knew how to be innovative as she needed to save money to be able to continue her studies. During one examination period, she brought a banana leaf and a stick to serve as an alternative for a scratch (draft) paper. She only brought one paper to serve as her answer sheet for the exam, as they could not afford another one. Mr. Miñano, seeing his student struggling to write on a banana leaf, was moved to pity and gave her an extra sheet. Ms. Utanes was touched by the gesture and was inspired to become like him—a teacher touching the lives of poor children who strive to learn and excel despite financial limitations. For two decades, she was a teacher, like her mentor, Mr. Miñano, making a difference in the lives of her poor students and teaching them how to battle poverty and to rise above it despite all the obstacles that might come in one’s life. Innovations As Ms. Utanes rose to ranks in her teaching career, she made sure that she implemented innovations that would ensure learning of her students. As a Head Teacher for Math, she implemented the use of modules. Since teacher’s absenteeism could not be avoided at times, such intervention should be implemented so that the learning process of the students would not stop. With these modules, a teacher is able to finish the scope and sequence based on a given time table; these also controlled—indirectly—the loitering of students. Passion for Teaching 13
  18. 18. Very much dedicated and committed to her profession, she sees teaching as a profession that can yield something amazing when the right ideas and beliefs are implemented in the classroom. Moreover, knowing how hard it was to be a poor student, she also implemented the “Twenty Pesos a Day, Helps a Drop-out Program” which helps students who are financially constrained to finish their education through the help of the donations of volunteer teachers. The Teaching Style In her class, Ms. Utanes makes each lesson as realistic as possible. Knowing the perception of most children that math is boring, she makes it fun by relating the lesson to real things that the children can see. For example, if they are about to discuss sequence, she lets her students go out and look for leaves and study their arrangements or she would let her students make a bracelet or necklace using the principle of sequence based on the color of the elements to be used. She also makes use of techniques such as peer-teaching, math games, and manipulations in problem solving. She believes that the use of peer-teaching is a mutually beneficial process as both parties would be able to share their knowledge, ideas, and experiences. Being more comfortable with each other, compared to that of the teacher-student relationship, they are able to share more ideas without much hesitation. Math games are also played. For example, when the topic is sequence, she writes the first two numbers on the board and then whoever guesses the third number is awarded three points. If no one gets the right answer, she writes the correct answer and the class has to guess the fourth number, and so on.Then, she lets another student explain what rule of sequence was applied. The student who is able to recite the rule is also given extra points. She thinks that such games allow for practice and repetition, which often leads to stronger mental math reflexes and skills. While discussing about polygons, she would distribute a geo board and rubber bands and the students would form different kinds of polygons.Through this activity, students learn by doing.14 Passion for Teaching
  19. 19. Mrs. Utanes discussing matters as a Head Teacher for Mathematics Disciplining and Understanding Students Teachers, like mothers, always encounter problems with their students. One day, she caught some of her students using illegal drugs within the school premises. Though it was hard for her since she treated her students as her own children, she called the police and they did the necessary actions to rehabilitate the students. At first, it was disheartening to see the situation happening in front of her eyes, but she knew she had done the right thing. Despite the personal threats she received, she continued doing what she knew was right. After months of rehabilitation, the students continued their education and are currently successful in their own chosen fields of specialization. Cutting classes was also one of the problems encountered by Ms. Utanes as a school teacher. To curb this, she would require the concerned student to explain in writing his/her reason for cutting class. Then she would talk to the student privately. Usually she would discover personal problems as reasons. And often, the student would thank her for being a second mother and showing concern. Although Ms. Utanes no longer teaches, she continues to be committed to her profession, this time as a principal. She says that through her position, she ensures that each and every teacher teaches effectively so that each child would be committed to academic excellence. Passion for Teaching 15
  20. 20. Aurelia Ballitoc Teacher Aurelia Ballitoc: This is My Story I started teaching in 1983 after topping the competitive examination of the Philippine Department of Education, Culture and Sports (now Department of Education) given by the Ifugao Division. The test was given to all applicant teachers, in addition to the usual pre-qualification standards of holding a degree and passing the board. I was assigned to the most remote barangay in the municipality of Lagawe, where there was no access to transportation. Each week, my husband, carrying our provisions on his shoulder, and I, carrying our second child on my back, would start off very early in the morning and hike for seven hours to reach my school. I taught a combination class of Grades 3 and 4. It was difficult to teach Math, English, Filipino and other subjects in a combination class because it meant preparing a lot of written activities. However, I was able to do it well because the passion of teaching was strongly burning inside me. I didn’t mind the sleepless nights I spent preparing for all my visual materials since I felt that every effort that I exerted was all worth it. In 1995, I organized a journalism club in compliance with the Campus Journalism Act of 1991, or Republic Act 7079, which aimed to promote campus journalism in the elementary and secondary levels. I trained my students in the barrio school to write news stories, editorials, feature, and sports articles, both in English and in Filipino. My students would always win in the press conferences where we would join. I noted that at this point, my efforts were slowly being recognized. In 2000, after teaching in the barrio school for seventeen years, I was transferred to the biggest school in the capital town of Lagawe, the Lagawe Central School. On top of my teaching workload, I was assigned as the school paper adviser. From the time I started handling the school paper up to the present, the school has been winning in the press conferences, from the division to the regional levels. Campus journalism is indeed one of my passions and I plan to keep on organizing the journalism club until I retire. I believe that as a teacher, I have the responsibility to become a second mother to my students. Whenever I see that my students are not fetched from school, I offer them some money for their fare and make sure that they reach their homes safely through letting them ride a tricycle of a trusted friend.16 Passion for Teaching
  21. 21. I teach because I think I was created to be able to make a difference in the lives of my students. I try to understand each and every student I handle. However, when they do something wrong or neglect their responsibilities, I do not tolerate them. I am certain that I do not play favorites. I always tell my students that even if they happen to be the children of the governor or even the president of the country, they are not exempted from doing their duties as students. In my classroom, all of them are just regular students. One innovation that I use to be able to get the attention of my students is by reading fables to them. I regard this as my secret weapon and it works like magic. Since my students really look forward to this period. Through this intervention, students also learn about the lesson from each fable. I am also committed to develop my students’ skills in reading and computing. After conducting the annual Philippine Reading Inventory (PHIL-IRI), I make sure that those students who belong to the frustration reading level join me every Friday afternoon in the program that I dubbed as Friday Reading Program. The program is attended not just by my Grade 4 students, but all of the students of our school! During the program, we all read together using the books lent by the library hub. Ms. Aurelia Ballitoc explaining to her students the events that would happen during school’s culminating activity in celebration of the Nutrition Month. Passion for Teaching 17
  22. 22. In 2009, due to the efforts that I have exerted in my profession, I was awarded as the Most Outstanding Reading Teacher of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). I was so happy when I heard the good news. I believe that I was given the award because of the many projects that I have introduced to the school, like making indigenous stories in English. I have also served as a tutor to a group of pupils during vacation time to help them read. The award given to me boosted my morale as an educator. I was so happy that even if I was previously employed in a barangay school, I was recognized for being an effective teacher who could be at the same level of the teachers from the city. Recently, I also applied for the position of Values Supervisor in our Division with the aim of being a role model to teachers and help rekindle their passion for teaching. If, however, I will not be considered for the position, I would still be happy since I would be able to directly touch the lives of my students, and I will do so until the day I die. Mary Lyn Dominguez Living In The Crossroads From A Chemical Engineer To A Teacher Giving up the high salary and the prestige of being a Chemical Engineer to be a full-pledged teacher It was almost 11 years ago when Ms. Mary Lyn Dominguez found herself at the crossroads of her life. She was then a chemical engineer assigned as a quality control analyst at a well-known corporation in the country. For five years, she could not shake off the feeling that there was something missing in her life. Looking for that missing piece, she applied as a part-time teacher at the Educational Research and Development Assistance (ERDA) Technical Vocational School. Luckily, she was given a chance to try the teaching profession though she had neither education units nor teaching experience. The said school served as a good training ground for her. Being a former Chemical Engineer, she was able to share her experiences in the field and insights to her students. After two years of teaching and after she was advised to take education units to be able to get a stable teaching job, she left her post and went into soul-searching. She decided to be a volunteer teacher at Tuloy sa Don Bosco Alabang (Welcome to Don Bosco Alabang) where she served street children and out-of-school youth and where she met battered and sexually abused, most of them whom came from18 Passion for Teaching
  23. 23. Bonding with the student council officers at Enchanted Kingdom, a famous theme park in the Philippines dysfunctional families.While teaching science and math to these students, she was also teaching them proper hygiene and good manners. She realized how the student in the institution really sought love from their elders. For two years, she worked not just as a volunteer or a teacher but more of a social worker, a counsellor, and a mother. It was here, she says, where the flame of her love for teaching really ignited. As she was starting her own family, Ms. Dominguez tried another teaching job, this time as a college instructor teaching physics and chemistry at the University of Perpetual Help.At the same time, she was also taking graduate studies in Mathematics Teaching at the Technology University of the Philippines (TUP). And once again, she found herself at the crossroads—whether to teach college or high school students. Finally, she decided work as a physics teacher in Don Bosco Mandaluyong. As it was her usual practice, she whole-heartedly shared to her students what she had learned in her previous jobs as a chemical engineer while teaching math and science. Through this, she was able to make her lessons more realistic to students. Her big break came when she was assigned as co-curricular activities coordinator and student council adviser. Through these growth opportunities, she was able to mold student leaders as well as serve the entire student body while enjoying being a math teacher. A year later, she was appointed as Assistant Principal for math, science, and physical education. As her career shifted to administration, she took note that her new mission was to share and guide her co-educators. However, because teaching is her real passion, she requested to be given a teaching load. Perspectives as a Teacher Though it has been a long journey for Ms. Dominguez to be where she is now, she says that the adventure was all worth it. For her, teaching is an endless pursuit of learning. She believes that as a teacher, one should have a continuous desire to upgrade oneself Passion for Teaching 19
  24. 24. Being a former Chemical Engineer, she was able to share her experiences in the field and insights to her students. since the profession requires not just to educate the students but also to keep up with the generation’s learning styles and technological skills and new trends. Teaching is not just a noble profession, she says; it is a mission, for it is not salary-driven but rather commitment and dedication-driven. Teacher. Mother. Friend. That is how her students know her. Believing that these children long for someone to talk to, she would listen to them, especially when they open up to her about problems on peer pressure and relationships with their friends and family members. However, if she thinks she is not the proper person to give them advice, she would refer them to the right persons. Teaching Strategy Having experienced being in the real world before entering the academe, Ms. Dominguez believes that students become more interested to learn math and science concepts when they see how they can apply them to their daily lives. Hence, she sees to it that her students just do not memorize facts or formulas, but really understand the concepts and apply them through class activities. She wants her students to The student council adviser with the fresh graduate student council officers during the commencement exercises20 Passion for Teaching
  25. 25. Posing with the Rotary Club Organizers during the Science Caravan organized by the said organization in Mandaluyong City develop their interest in learning the two no-so-loved subjects of math and science. This is a challenge to myself, she adds. The Use of Technology in the Classroom While continuing her graduate studies, Ms. Dominguez was able to realize that technology-based instruction is a must for the present generation of learners. Wanting to become a more effective teacher, she equipped herself to become more proficient in the use of mathematics and science software, the Internet, and other software that could be used to aid in the teaching and learning process. She also makes use of the Understanding by Design framework in teaching as well as attends various seminars to upgrade her knowledge and teaching skills. She believes that the use of technology in teaching mathematics will make a difference in the learning and discipline of students. Since majority of the students in this age are very much interested in the latest technologies, their use should be maximized. Moreover, with technology and other innovations, multiple intelligences of students will be further improved. Today, as Assistant Principal for Academic Affairs, she plans to integrate technology as part of their curricular program in mathematics in coordination with the school’s technical department. Wanting to make her constituents techno-savvy, she has offered a seminar on information literacy for teachers, which would include the use of mathematics software. Looking back, Ms. Dominguez believes that she, the chemical engineer-turned-teacher has yet to face other challenges. By making people understand that technology, like math and sciences should not be feared but rather embraced, Ms. Dominguez is optimistic that Philippine education will soar high in the future. Passion for Teaching 21
  26. 26. 2 Commitment To The Teaching Profession
  27. 27. Allan Canonigo A Teacher Until The End The prospect of being a School Administrator could be enticing for other teachers, but not for Mr. Allan Canonigo Mr. Allan M. Canonigo believes that he was born to be a teacher and not anything else—not even a school administrator. Once appointed as the Principal of Margen National High School in Leyte, Philippines, he felt terrible as he realized that he should be in the classroom and directly teaching students. Being Strict is Good Being the typical dominant male, Mr. Canonigo is a strict teacher. A strict but nice teacher, he says. As he typically conducts an expectation check at the start of the semester or school year, he always makes sure that what was agreed on that day is implemented in the classroom throughout the school year/semester. Like a father to his children, he said that he is strict because he cares so much for his students. He also wants them to set high expectations for themselves so that they will strive more in life. Through the discipline he requires each and every student to have, he is able to make his students appreciate mathematics and life in general, as he always sees to it that despite his strictness, his students enjoy every lesson. Mr. Canonigo while teaching his students to use the Geometry software for their activity on verifying the properties of quadrilaterals.24 Passion for Teaching
  28. 28. Though he believes that his experience as a school head was terrible in general, it was still a blessing for him, as it was through this experience that he realized that he did not want to be anything more than being a teacher. In terms of teaching styles, he bases them on the students’ learning styles and attitudes towards Mathematics, as students typically hate it. However, in whatever style he decides to use, he always puts into consideration the students’ personal background. He first works on getting the attention of the students for them to be able to be motivated to learn. Once this is done, he believes that half of his battle is already won, as there is already an assurance that the students will learn. He then proceeds to the teaching and facilitation process wherein he usually lets his students engage in group work as this enables them to improve their social skills and at the same time learn from the activity. When asked what teaching is for him, he says that the profession demands a lot of things—energy, resources, time—and that one should be tough enough to learn how to handle troublesome and challenging students. Teachers should have an alert mind but a kind heart as well as have the integrity and persistence to be a great educator. Teachers should also make their students feel that teachers can be trusted as second parents and friends and that they must understand their students—their language, interests, among others—to be able to catch up with them, without compromising the teaching standard. He also believes that teachers must be able to improve their knowledge and skills to also be able to improve their teaching competencies. As a math teacher, he believes that learning mathematics should not be made difficult unless the students are doing pure research on the subject. In fact, mathematics can be made enjoyable. To improve his teaching competencies, he attends various seminars, trainings, and workshops. He also works hard every day, even beyond office hours, to be able to enrich the learning of his students. As he challenges his students to become above average, he also ensures that he is also as such. In his situation, he says that he sometimes takes a lot of time in dealing with and in getting to know his students. Having been a shy-type student, he understands why some students are timid. With patience and determination on how to handle his students, he makes sure that he is always honest, persistent, and consistent in whatever he does. Passion for Teaching 25
  29. 29. A typical day in a classroom. Mr. Canonigo uses various techniques to teach his students geometry. When he was still new in the profession, he was labelled as a terror and many students did not want to be in his class. One time, a set of incoming fourth year students wrote a petition letter asking the school officials not to let Mr. Canonigo be their Math teacher. This action was done because of the feedback of his previous students, whom he had challenged to do better. Since they were not used to having strict and challenging teachers, they feared him and later despised him for his ways. Eventually the students who petitioned succeeded in not having him as their teacher. However, he did not take it personally. Ironically, some of the former students who said negative things about him found time to visit him to thank him for teaching them how to be disciplined and responsible persons—lessons which they were able to utilize in life. As years went by, he learned how to deal with the different kinds of students and started to show kindness and care, but still with persistency and consistency in observing and implementing discipline in class. Though he received a lot of negative feedback regarding his being strict, he never regrets being one as he knows that he is able to challenge his students to do their best and be trained to be good college students in the next few years—and eventually better citizens of the nation. He always instills in his students that being average is never enough.They have to push their limits and be excellent individuals as they should not be medicores, but rather smart risk takers. The Balancing Act One of Mr. Canonigo’s challenging experiences as a teacher, was the time he had to balance his time between his mother who was suffering from cancer and keeping his teaching job. As he loved his mother dearly, he made sure that he had enough time to spend with her. Although he wanted to take a leave to be able to look after his26 Passion for Teaching
  30. 30. mother all the time, he decided not to, since it would mean having no pay and thus, no additional money to pay for his mother’s hospital bills and medicine. Thus, he did a balancing act of being a good son and a good teacher. But it was not easy. Later on, he asked the principal to allow him to leave after handling his classes, in case he was needed in the hospital. The principal, being an understanding person, allowed him to do so. As his mother’s health slowly deteriorated, Mr. Canonigo says he felt like a saw going back and forth, from hospital to school and back. But, he adds, God is always good. Though he was going through a lot of trials, a blessing came his way: he was awarded by the Metrobank Foundation as one of the Outstanding Teachers of 2004. Moreover, another blessing came into his life five months after the death of his mother—he was appointed as school principal. Blessing in Disguise For Mr. Canonigo, accepting his new assignment as principal while suffering from the loss of his mother, did not feel right. In his own words, he said that he felt so terrible that he thought of quitting. On his first year as principal, Mr. Canonigo realized that handling people, especially those who were older than he was, was not his forte. Elders in the Philippines are respected, Mr. Canonigo explains, and so he encountered difficulties in instructing them what to do. Moreover, the school where he worked was too far from the city. Thus, he needed to travel a long way to be able to go to work. In addition, because the campus did not have any fence, students who cut classes and other people including vendors could step out or enter freely. Also, most of the students were not serious in their studies and that few teachers were dedicated to their profession as they either came late to class or not at all. To remedy the problem of absent teachers, Mr. Canonigo would handle the class and teach the subjects even if these were not his field of specialization. However, Mr. Canonigo never gave up with the help of the parents of the students, he spearheaded the building of a fence around the school premises, which resulted in a relatively peaceful situation on campus. Moreover, a four-room building was also provided by the local government to address the need for more classrooms. When funds were not enough for the use of the school, Mr. Canonigo would dig into his own pocket to cover the expenses.Though he believes that his experience as a school head was terrible in general, it was still a blessing for him, as it was through this experience that he realized that he did not want to be anything but a teacher, that all he really wanted to do in his life was to touch the lives of his students—to make a change in their lives and to make a difference in the society. Passion for Teaching 27
  31. 31. A Teacher Trainer Even before Mr. Canonigo was promoted to Master Teacher, he has shown a potential as a teacher to both students and other teachers. He started to get involved in teacher training at DepEd-Ormoc City Division. He later became a trainer in the national training of teachers in mathematics, mentor training program, among others. Moreover, he initiated a one-week training program for secondary and elementary teachers in his hometown in coordination with the local government and invited well- known personalities in the field of education to be with him in this program. At the training he met his elementary and high school teachers who were very proud to see him as their trainer. Aside from teacher-training, Mr. Canonigo has also taught in a graduate school where he handled courses for teachers who were taking their graduate studies in mathematics education. Through the years, his passion for helping other teachers has been evident in his active and continued participation in different teacher training programs. At present, Mr. Canonigo engages in part-time teaching in one of the universities in Manila. However, he knows that he will be permanently back in front of a class, teaching, until his last breath. Mohana Ratnam-Eswaran Transforming People’s Lives, Inside and Beyond the Classroom “I just sat there, and I just looked at them, and I said it’s worth the time and effort that I have actually spent because I could have just stopped at the classroom level, but I didn’t.” I have been a teacher for 21 years and I never really envisioned myself being one when I was a child. As an adventurous kid, I was hooked on aircraft back then. I then set my mind that I would be an aircraft engineer in the future. However, my mother did not approve of my ambition. Being the stereotypical Indian mother, she said that I should pursue a career which is outnumbered by women—like being a teacher.The next thing I knew, I was married to a man from the air forces and I was in front of my students teaching about logarithms.28 Passion for Teaching
  32. 32. The Influences and The Adventures I did not become a teacher just because of my mother’s wishes, though I admit that it affected my decision to be one. Who doesn’t want to make his/her parents happy, anyway? However, I believe I became an educator because I felt something inside of me wanting to transform other people’s lives the way my mentors transformed mine. But I did not just wake up one day wanting to become one. It was a step-by-step process and many people and events contributed to it. First among them was my secondary school principal, Mrs. Margaret Mary Joseph. She was a very influential and kind educator. She cared for each and every student in the school and felt like she was responsible for our growth. Thus, she held weekly assemblies to talk about life, responsible living, and women for others. She was a good speaker and was very inspiring. She personally told me not to quit despite the financial constraints that I was experiencing back then. She saw something in me that I didn’t— she knew I would be a good teacher someday and she greatly contributed to what I am now. She even provided me financially in the form of a bursary to be able to ensure that I would continue my studies. When I finished secondary school, I went back to my alma matter to serve as a relief teacher. When I received my first salary, I gave it to Mrs. Joseph wholeheartedly and told her to give it to other children who needed the same help that I did. It was through her and the relief teaching that I developed my passion in the profession. Though Mrs. Joseph molded me into the teacher that I am, it was Ms. Chan who inspired me to become a mathematics teacher. She was a very tough and disciplinarian educator. Everyone feared her, but I didn’t; instead, I respected her. She was the typical teacher who used chalk and talk and did not use any technology to inspire students to learn mathematics. In her class, nonsense talk was prohibited. She also enforced rules regarding neatness— whether in writing or presenting. Through her, I also learned that to be respected, one has to be presentable. I have also developed the skills in discipline and neatness that she has enforced on us and have brought it up to now. Passion for Teaching 29
  33. 33. I believe I became an educator because I felt something inside of me wanting to transform other’s lives the way my mentors transformed mine. A Teacher in Action When I enter the classroom, one of the students stands beside me and tells his/her classmates to greet me a good day. They then stand up and do as instructed. I return the greeting with a smile and then start the lesson with a story. I am a disciplinarian yet an approachable teacher. Though I usually crack jokes and socialize with my students, I demand respect from them. I teach them that there are times for fun and there are times for seriousness and that I am sometimes a friend, sometimes a teacher. Being a former student, I put myself in my students’ shoes. I usually sense the ground if they are ready to learn for the day. I believe that for effective learning to occur, relationship building must come first. Since I handle mathematics, I saw the need to make a way to be able to catch my students’ interest. Ever since, I have been hearing students questioning the need to learn about advanced mathematics—logarithms, trigonometry, calculus, and algebra, among others. Even I, myself, ask about it sometimes. But, there is really a reason why we need to study such things and, believe it or not, it is related to our everyday lives. This why I start each lesson with a story related to current events and to the topic for the day—for them to be able to see the importance of learning the mathematical lessons and applying it to their everyday lives. I find that children like to connect with stories because they are very real. It has been my daily habit to read newspapers and watch the news. From these media, I get inspiration on what story to tell my class. One day, as I was about to introduce logarithms, China was devastated by an earthquake. I then started the lesson by telling them about the disaster and how it killed many people in the country. Then, I connected it to logarithms and how the Richter scale works through logarithmic equations. Afterwards, we discussed how important it is to use sturdy materials when building structures. Later on the discussion went to corruption and how the people who were in-charge of building the structures in the country corrupted the funds which led to the destruction of buildings during the earthquake. In one of my advanced mathematics classes, I produced a Learning Experience Module so that the students would be able to appreciate the importance of logarithms more through studying earthquakes. I assigned them to research on the different aspects of the earthquake, from the movement of the plates to the current events in China with30 Passion for Teaching
  34. 34. Ms. Eswaran during the Third Regional Education Forum held at SEAMEO INNOTECH regarding the Passion for Teaching regard to the disaster. They actually exerted a lot of effort by going online to research about it. Later on, I asked them to present in the class what they have learned and its connection to the subject. By the end of all the presentations, many of them were able to appreciate the fact that being Singaporeans, they will never experience having an earthquake since the country does not fall in the fault line. Aside from this, many of them appreciated that every subject is connected to each one, though it may not be obvious. As I saw that my students were very interested about the earthquakes, I brought them to a polytechnic institution which has an earthquake simulator. I also requested a speaker among their faculty to teach my students how to build structures. After the field trip, I divided them into groups and gave them materials to create their own structures. After six months of working on their miniature structures, we tested it on the earthquake simulator and I told them that the last structure to fall would be the winner. They were so excited and so engaged with the activity. Inspiring Students To Dream For Their Future Wherever I go, I look for opportunities for my students. One day, when I accompanied my daughter to a dentist for her braces, I was observing the dentist and I was amazed at how brilliant he was in his profession. I then asked him if he would allow my students to observe him while working. He gave me the contact numbers of the persons who I should ask permission from and then, later, I was able to send four students to rub shoulders with the dentist himself as well as some first year medical student interns. I believe that for effective learning to occur, relationship building must come first. Passion for Teaching 31
  35. 35. In another instance, as I was having my personal check-up, I asked my doctor if he would allow some students to work with him for a day. He hesitantly said no, but later on, I was able to encourage him to inspire my students. Four of my students, as well as my son, who had no opportunity as such in his school, were given the chance to live as a doctor for a day. After that experience, my son wanted told me he to be a doctor. By showing them the lives of people in the different professions, I want my students to realize that learning should not be confined in the classroom as there are many more things that could be learned in the real world. I also want to empower them to be able to have the vision that they could practice their desired professions in the future if they study hard. The Teens and Sexuality Education Having been appointed as the Students’ Welfare Head in Regent Secondary School, I was very concerned on how teenagers nowadays handle the different issues they are facing. In this stage of confusion and exploration, I knew that they needed guidance which may not be given by their own parents. “Sexuality education,” a part of the Singaporean curriculum, addresses problems and issues concerning the different challenges and curiosity concerns in the life of a teenager. This is one of the most important subjects in the school as it brings out issues which are very close to the heart of the students. As such, I ensured that the teachers selected to teach the subject had the necessary skills and knowledge to be able to handle sthe sensitive issues. Before the subject is officially started, a set of rules is introduced to the students. The rules and regulations in class revolve on values on respecting others’ questions and opinions and making sure that everyone will be comfortable in sharing their own experiences with the class. Through showing them the lives of people in the different professions, I want my students to realize that learning should not be confined in the classroom as there are many more things that could be learned in the real world. I was able to address various student issues including the proper use of social networking sites—what information should be shared and what shouldn’t—relationships, and other related issues. We also addressed the issues based on the RISE values system of the school—Respect for oneself and others, Integrity, reSilience, and Empathy. As Sudents’ Welfare Head, I knew that I had to be a good listener and that I shall take32 Passion for Teaching
  36. 36. I am also very proud to say that I am able to transform lives and mould the future generation— the leaders of tomorrow. advantage of certain situations to be able to make them teachable moments for the students. I also teach the students to be good citizens so that they will not be a menace to the society. I always reiterate to them that being intelligent is always not enough. One must have a good character and everything else will follow. We also talk to parents regarding this program. In the Asian culture, parents are not comfortable talking to their children about sexuality issues; in fact, they are the ones who should be guiding their children in these matters. They need guidance. They need light for their path. Otherwise, they may take the wrong one. The Perks of Being an Educator I have never thought that I would enjoy the teaching profession as much as I am doing. As a teacher, I learned that I love working with kids so much. I never thought that you could learn so much from a child. They have the capability to improve a fully grown up person in different aspects. No other career can give you as much satisfaction as being a teacher. It is like being a famous actress! Being a teacher for sometime, I believe that the greatest reward a teacher gets is when former students give thanks for the impact that you have brought to their lives. In fact, I have been featured in the television due to this as one of my former students became a big star in our country. When she was asked who her greatest teacher was, she answered that it was me. Because of her answer, I was featured on the “One Deed, One Lifetime” Show which showcased how help reciprocated in my life—how Mrs. Joseph inspired me and how I returned the favor by teaching her child. I believe that one of the perks of being a teacher stems from the perception of Asians regarding teachers. Being appreciative people, we tend to put teachers on a pedestal, and thus, the society looks up to educators. In addition to this, I am also very proud to say that I am able to transform lives and mould the future generation—the leaders of tomorrow. However, I am not a perfect teacher. I also make mistakes and I sometimes doubt my competencies. Besides, multitasking in being a mother, a teacher, a daughter, and a wife is not that easy. Along with this, every year and every class I handle has a different story, which is unique in their own ways. Sometimes, I have to stop to be able to renew myself to become a better educator. Passion for Teaching 33
  37. 37. Like Being a Ms. Universe... Even better! Throughout my existence, I have been dreaming of going to the Istana, the official residence of the Singaporean President. Like any other presidential residence, it has tight security and anyone cannot easily enter it. This dream finally came true in 2010 when I received the President’s Award for Teachers (PATs) with the theme: Teachers who are Leading, Caring, and Inspiring. It was magical! It was as if the whole world was conspiring with me and that I won the Ms. Universe title. In fact, it could be even better! In the latter part of 2009, I was informed by our Vice Principal that she had nominated me for the award. I was shocked and flattered at the same time. I was confused why she nominated me when in fact, there were a lot of commendable teachers in the school. I have always been the silent worker that I am and I did not ever expect that I would be recognized for my efforts. After knowing about the nomination, I continued living my life as if nothing happened. I did not expect that I would get it since there were 9,700 nominees for the award and only four would be chosen. There was a very slim possibility that I would be among the four to bring home the bacon. The probability of winning was even smaller than that of winning the lottery! However, I was later informed that I was short listed.They asked me to write an article about being an educator, so I made one and did not make much of a big deal out of it. Being shortlisted was already an honor; I did not ask for more. But, still, God kept on blessing me, and I was later asked to come in for an interview. While preparing, I felt that everybody was supporting me. I felt so loved, even through the simple words of encouragement from a sales lady and a hair dresser, whom I barely knew. My husband also did not leave my side as I was preparing for the interview. During the interview proper, surprisingly, I was not nervous because I came there not to bring home the award but for the learning experience that I could later share to my students—bringing home the award was just a plus. Upon reading the invitation for the interview, I realized that it has been a long time since I was interviewed and that I need to teach my students to be prepared for such occasions. In a span of a week’s time, I received a congratulatory e-mail from the Ministry of Education (MOE) informing me that I was one of the four winners of the award! Congratulatory notes and calls came in from various people. I felt like I was on top of the world as everybody rejoiced with me. I consider it not as my individual achievement, but the achievement of the people around me as well—my family, my colleagues, and my students. Later on, we went to the Istana for the awarding. I was elegantly dressed. Being a very simple person, who is not used to putting on makeup, I had to look at my best during34 Passion for Teaching
  38. 38. the ceremony. Everyone praised me for looking good. I even thought that I look like a princess—and I felt like one too! During the ceremony, it was ecstatic. My family was there. My mother was very proud of me as she was in tears. I had the chance to meet big time people in the country who I never dreamt of being with. It was one of the greatest moments of my life and I was very happy that I was able to inspire many co-teachers to give their best in their respective deliverables—even if it means going beyond their comfort zones. Besides the plaque, monetary awards were also given to us, the awardees, as well as a study tour to Germany to be able to benchmark best practices. After receiving the award, my life changed in the sense that there were lots of opportunities to share my experiences and the lessons I have learned as a teacher. I was invited to talk several times in schools, in communities, and to teachers. Through this, I was not just able to touch the lives of my students but other students, teachers, and parents as well. Being a teacher is not just being a teacher—but it entails being a mother, a friend, an explorer, and an inspiration to your students. I honestly could not imagine myself in another profession, but if I were not a teacher, I would probably be a motivational speaker or a trainer—a profession similar to being a teacher who connects and changes the lives of people. Changing lives for the better is my passion and no one can stop me from doing it! Passion for Teaching 35
  39. 39. Rogelio Opulencia The Vision To Help The Philippines He taught them to have a vision and that poverty is never a hindrance to be successful—as it never stopped him to succeed in life. Seeing how passionate he is as a teacher, you would not think that Mr. Rogelio Opulencia never dreamt of becoming a teacher. It was his mother who dreamt to be an educator but because she could not pursue her ambition, she wanted one of her children to fulfill it for her. Being the obedient son, Mr. Opulencia gave in to the request of his mother. Given a choice, however, he would have wanted to be a businessman. However, he never regretted following the advice of his mother. As Mr. Opulencia was taking up secondary education, his father was diagnosed of emphysema and his had to drop their livelihood of selling meat so she could devote her time to taking care of her husband. Having only his elder brother as the breadwinner of the family, Mr. Opulencia decided to continue his parents’ business, using as capital his savings of 3,000 pesos. In two months, his small investment grew to 20,000 pesos.36 Passion for Teaching
  40. 40. He then thought that touching the lives of others would be more fulfilling than thinking of his own financial growth. As a student by night and a businessman by day, Mr. Opulencia was able to help his parents and elder brother sustain their living as well as send his four younger siblings to school. Furthermore, he saw himself through college, graduating with a degree in BS Education, major in history in only three-and-a-half years time, instead of four. A month later, he was employed at his alma matter, Laguna College of Business and Arts (LCBA), as a substitute teacher. Most of his students back then were house helps and it was a challenge to keep them enrolled. He made sure that all of them were motivated to learn and happy with what they were doing. He always reiterated to them to look forward to the future. He taught them to have a vision and that poverty is never a hindrance to be successful—as it never stopped him to succeed in life. In as much as he had an alternative source of income, he did not get his salary for the first six months saying the time was not enough for his students to learn much from him. His meat business allowed him to live decently, anyway, being able to touch the lives of others and inspire them in his own little way was even more than enough. At this time, though he taught his students excellently, he still had not developed the love for his profession. In fact, he was thinking of learning it and focusing on his business instead. His business was then booming and it could have made him rich. But due to the insistence of his parents, he continued to be a teacher and later dropped the business. He then thought that touching the lives of others would be more fulfilling than thinking of his own financial growth. While showing exemplary performance, he was advised by his then District Supervisor to transfer to a public school. He was hesitant at first because of the negative things he had heard about the public school system. In the end, he said he would give it a shot. He was later assigned to teach at Los Baños National High School (LBNHS). Being a teacher in a public school entailed more responsibilities. First, he had 80 to more or less 100 students in comparison to the 20 students he had in the private school. Of course, more students were harder to handle. In fact, on his first two days at school, he lost his voice. Also, there were limited facilities as there was a scarcity of rooms, books, and even teachers. However, there were more growth opportunities as well as financial rewards in the public school. It was in LBNHS where Mr. Opulencia realized that he had developed his love for teaching and that he cared about his students more than he cared about himself. He was willing to sacrifice a lot—his time, resources, money—just to be able to touch the lives of his students—to make them learn and help them become responsible citizens of the nation. As he would say, he does all of this for his country for he believes that Passion for Teaching 37
  41. 41. however small his contributions are for the country, these could become a big thing when put together with the contributions of concerned citizens like him. Being a strict-looking person, Mr. Opulencia is looked upon by students as simply that: strict-looking. When he enters the classroom, his students grow silent. He believes that this strictness would be able to help his students become disciplined citizens of the nation. But under that stern facade is a father who never forgets his “children’s” welfare. In class, he uses the chalk and talk style—but with a pinch of “magic.” People have noticed that when he speaks, they would surely listen to him—however long that lesson is, however soft his voice may be, and however gloomy the weather might be. He also makes sure that his students learn from him by asking them to always be involved in class discussions through recitation. He further reminds his students to do ordinary things in an extraordinary way. As a history teacher, he enjoys narrating historical events as if he was telling a bedtime story to his children. He usually blurts out historical facts that ordinary people wouldn’t know, and this effectively catches the students’ attention. He also conducts different activities in class such as contests, games, creation of posters, role playing, fieldtrips, online activities, and chapter summaries. He says he avoids scolding students inside the class. Whenever he catches one of his students not listening to him while teaching, he would just stop talking and look at him/her, or he would just lower his voice. Through this method, he is able to catch the attention of the students and make them realize that they should instead listen to the teacher for them to learn and because he does not want to embarrass misbehaving students in front of the class, he usually jtalks to them after the class. One of Mr. Opulencia’s most challenging experiences was the time he was assigned to be the adviser of the section considered the “worst” in school. The records showed that most of the students in that class were at risk of dropping out, used illegal drugs and have violated school policies, and had troublesome parents. As adviser, he did his best to steer his students clear of trouble, but as the year progressed, and as expected, happened his students kept absenting themselves from class while others violated school rules. When they were brought to the guidance office for disciplinary action, Mr. Opulencia went with them. At the meeting, he later discovered that these students did not really choose to be where they were. They had very big family problems they could not handle. One of the students had a father who was in jail, another had to get a part-time job as gasoline boy to be able to study, another could not be sent to college, and son on. Through perseverance and understanding, he tried to personally help these students go through the obstacles they were encountering in life. As many of their teachers were already giving up on them and were, in fact, already giving them failing grades, Mr.38 Passion for Teaching
  42. 42. Opulencia talked to each of them to ask for understanding and consideration. He also sought the help of parents and peers to collaborate on giving them moral support. With this supportive team built around them, the students were provided with good influence. Everyday, he related something inspirational to them for them to absorb and reflect on; he also developed supplementary materials and activities during his free time to be enable his students catch up with the lessons. These self-paced and user- friendly materials were later on noticed by a private publisher and published them. Through the strategies Mr. Opulencia introduced, he eventually made his students succeed in life without asking for anything in return. He made them set a vision to graduate in high school so as help their families get out of poverty and he inculcated in them the mindset of drawing up their objectives in life on which they will base their actions that would bring them to success. Fortunately, all of his students—all 101 of them—were very cooperative and were able to graduate that school year. Moreover, on their graduation day, his advisory class, the then worst section, was awarded as the outstanding classroom while Mr. Opulencia was awarded as the most outstanding teacher. Although Mr. Opulencia had never aspired to be an educator in the first few years of his life, he had always been a passionate and dedicated teacher. Aside from teaching history classes, he has also been assigned as student council adviser and coach for various inter-school competitions wherein he helped students bag many awards and prizes.With these additional tasks came more responsibilities and sacrifices—time and resources—but he he never regretted being a teacher—a passionate and excellent teacher and a modern hero. Today, Mr. Opulencia is an Education Supervisor working for the improvement of the education sector, but he has never forgotten that his heart will forever belong to teaching. Passion for Teaching 39
  43. 43. 3 Researching for the Betterment of Students
  44. 44. Aurora Zuñiga The Urge to Serve “Very dedicated and committed to her profession, she says that teaching is her life.” Being the school head of the University of the Philippines Integrated School (UPIS) is not a simple job. The title carries with it prestige, but it also entails the challenge of being a leader in the basic education sector. This was what Dr. Aurora Zuñiga had to deal with as she assumed the post of Principal in UPIS, one of the most excellent basic education providers in the Philippines from 2008 to 2011. Before she became a school principal, however, she started as a simple teacher, living a simple life in the province. Addressing the Need of Indifferent Schools It was no surprise that Dr. Zuñiga, who comes from a family of educators, followed the samepath that her parents had then. Her parents were very dedicated and committed42 Passion for Teaching

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