Back to Manila

After all the stressful thoughts, I am now here seated at puerto princesa airport waiting for the plane to arrive. This is another level-up opportunity for me and for my co-teachers T. Mel, T. Lorna, and T. Angie. We are all going to Subic to attend the Standards-Based Assessment with Test Construction Workshop sponsored by Phoenix. It’s going to be at a Holiday Villas so I am pretty much expecting a lot like a 3-star advantage. I expect coffee and pool. Yeah I brought my swimming gear: a pair of shorts. I am excited.

Also, I see this as a research opportunity for everyone. We would be going back to Emmanuel Christian school and bright woods school to streamline details and action plans on school strategic planning and management. I guess, there are two words to consider here: professionalize and benchmark. The nitty gritty will be integrated to a LifeCollege Development Plan, that will be the output of this trip.

To integrate every idea or concept, I also expect bloody brainstorming and throwing of ideas here and there, short of foul words in a normal corporate setting. This is a platform to strengthen the core group much better. In the process, I hope we will not just produce the best ideas but also know each other better so we can all work towards once common vision, one common goal. After all, we are a team behind a man, whom we all see as God appointed. If we don’t believe in that anymore, may be we must find ourselves in another plane.

Guidepost to FB comments

Social network sites are here to stay. So either we use them to our advantage or we lose it to non-responsible users.

After reading an article about minding one’s manners in posting status updates or comments in FaceBook or in any social network sites, I thought of letting my students apply what they have read. I connected it with the short stories we had previously taken up in class. So what I had was activity that allowed them to post their comments on each short story.

To make the short stories accessible for the students, I have posted each of them into our LifeCollege Seniors page. With the stories posted, the students task now is to make a comment about the story. Their comments included a summary of the story and their reflection on its morale or lesson. I asked them how the story related to their lives.

Here’s the catch. I first asked them to write their summary and reflections in a sheet of paper. Then, we have edited and revised what they have written. I asked them for peer checking first before I delved into checking the papers myself. Of course, they had to check the grammar, tenses, and common errors.

After the finishing the writing process, they then published what their summary and reflection to the FaceBook page. Since we have tackled five short stories in World Literature, they had to make one for each short story.

Honestly, I enjoyed reading their insights more in the FaceBook page as much as they did.

Five short stories in 1 day

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One time, I faced the challenge of making my students get hook into reading classic short stories in World Literature.

It is not easy to engage them into something they are not used to doing. First, there is an absence of a reading culture in their group. Second, their inclination lies in sports and kinesthetics.

So instead of boring them to death with daily lectures on different stories we need to finish during that quarter, I divided them into groups instead and hand over one story to finish for each group.

The stories included Guy de Maupessant’s The Necklace, Antoine St. de Exupery’s The Little Prince, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s David Swan, Luigi Pirandello’s War, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and James Joyce’s Araby.

In their respective group, their task is primarily to read and understand together the story in the light of the different elements present. Of course that included the characters and their characterization, plot, theme, morale, and vocabulary. I asked them to put in a visual diagram all those elements that they have identified in their story and to draw their interpretation of the story, as well.

Each group was able to produce their story diagram and illustration ready for exhibit. The next thing I asked them to do is to exhibit their product and allow their classmates to visit their station.

In each station, a reporter was assigned to retell the story. The ‘visitors’ listened to the sharing and took down notes, which they are required to keep for checking.

In a matter of an hour, everybody in the class gets a glimpse of each short story that have captured the hearts of men and women. Their background about the stories, though incomplete, would make them motivated to read each story and to share what they have learned.

Checklist

In the next few months, I should be able to post the following:

1. Short Stories in World Literature exhibit

3. FaceBook posting of comments and reactions to short stories

2. Grammar games

3. Global Competence Class exhibit

3. Career Planning Portfolio

4. Ancient Civilizations Mindmap

5. 2 Plays: Oedipus Rex and Atsumori

6. Reading Strategies: highlighting, annotating, and mindmapping

7. Museum and heritage sites as a Learning Resource

 

EduTour Reflections – Benchmarking

Reflection from the Schools

1. Continuing education, lifelong learning is important for a school to thrive. The culture of excellence is basically sustained by the new things learned each day by all the stakeholders and the innovation that happens after the learning. Whether it is formal as going back to school to finish a master’s or Phd or informal as reading books of diverse themes and topics, administrators, faculty and staff must all be committed to learn as well.

The culture of high expectation is needed to elevate everybody’s mindset, and that runs from the leadership down to the students. As how a pastor in North Point Church said, “an organization must not be limited to the brain capacity of the leaders or core.” It is imperative that they continue to learn, relearn. And especially unlearn.

In Brightwood School, T. Joyce emphasized that T. Ana took her master’s from the Ateneo and she constantly encouraged her team to pursue their post-graduate degree.

In Our Saviour Academy, teachers employed graduated with honors. They also have a learning group where teachers are required to read and share among themselves. There is a wide reading culture in this school as also supported by an updated and functional librabry.

In Emmanuel Christian School, T. Ruby has a deep passion for learning as evident in her desire to learn and improve her technical know-how about education.

Both schools pointed out to the importance of continuing education, but I guess the most important thing is that a school must not see itself as a consumer of knowledge or learning but rather an active producer of it.

2. Visuals matter, facilities draws people toward the school. We all liked the idea of having something new to offer which both parents and students can look forward to school year after school year. In LifeCollege, we do events that are very much anticipated but unlikely to become sustainable because they are strictly people-based. Unless it is integrated into the system and can be done by the team, then it can go on for years.

Facility investment are quite a shock in Our Saviour Academy because it an expensive, yet, long term investment. There was wisdom in Ps Brian who never believed in loan and took it by faith and was able to add up something every year. And his keen eye for details and artistry is moving the school towards postmodern architectural design, which is very zen, easy to the eyes, and functional. Since I am a caffeinic person, I really admire the reader’s cafe. It brought me back to staying at the UST’s reader’s cafe.

Brightwoods School, on the other hand, showed me not just about each teacher owning the classroom design theme or concept and bringing it to life, but the school showed how important it is to train teachers to do the task and make sure they know something about the fundamental of designs.

Like how I approached my students, it is not just about making them work but it’s about ensuring that they are also equip with skills needed to finish the work in its desired way. I liked the idea of a visual artist to train and oversee the schools overall classroom layout and design. It gives me the thought that education is not a task by teachers alone, the presence of people from diverse educational background and profession, even those with the slightest hint of connection is a wellspring of idea. It’s like the medical and dental services provided for by SCA. It’s like having a school chaplain, who would take care of the student’s spiritual needs as well.

3. The tipping point is triggered not by heavily clad ads nor by just mere word of mouth. Though they help promote, the people inside the school-administrators, faculty, staff, students including their parents-all take part on the walking billboard game.

Like what is claimed by the book Starbucks, it is about considering everyone in the organization as partners. Like how BWS put it, they crave not to satisfy customers, but to make them loyal.

Hence, the school must be providing a good customer-driven service. The parents, not only their children, matter. No wonder, with the same drive and mindset towards their customer, Emmanuel Christian School and Our Saviour Academy were able to lead the parents and families towards Christ. It was better for the parents to invest their money, assuming they have the money because they can send their kids to a private school, to the church through tithing and offering than spend them somewhere else.

EduTour Reflections

From November 4 to 11, our humble school LifeCollege embarked on an EduTours and Learning Trip in Manila, Pampanga, Laguna, Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. The journey allowed me to see things in a different light.

1. “Be kind to people. They make you,” my English teacher once said when I was in high school.

I understood what she meant, but I never really grasped its full meaning. I guess I always fall short of putting what’s inside my head into something tangible.

The EduTour made me realize that a community is important and that leadership is largely a business with people.

While the trip was ongoing, I honestly felt a little anxiety of which group to join. I am not really the all-around kind of guy, so I was restless about wanting to connect with the smaller cliques inside our big circle. This made me realize that I still need to learn to become comfortable around people and to break in easily. This made me realize that there are people I needed to get to know personally, especially my colleagues.

There was truth when a teacher said, “I had a chance to bond with other teachers, who just appear as faces to me before.” I know I miss an opportunity here, but this is one area of leadership that I needed to outgrow. I have to be more inclusive rather than exclusive.

Being surrounded with fun-loving and funny people made me feel like why am I not like the most of them. But what I lack as being personable, I compensate with two other things: I am better in one-on-one conversations and in coming up with platforms or activities where I can help elevate the people around me.

2. While we are having a briefing at Bright Woods School, I heard T. Joyce said something about Ms. Ana, the school’s founder. She said the school started with her worried about where to send her child. So, she put up her own school. Since she finished Food Technology at UP Diliman, she needed to take Master’s in Education at the Ateneo.

This supports what the principal and the Singaporean owner of Saviour Christian Academy said, “We never stop educating (and learning).” Principal Barnette Tamayen is encouraged to finish her dissertation, while Administrator May Shah is taking up her master’s in Manila.

I was envious because I can’t do what I have ever wanted in my life. Just YET. Last June 2011, I got accepted at the University of the Philippines Open University. I took a Diploma in Language and Literacy Education leading to a master’s degree. I wasn’t able to continue it during the second semester because of the hectic schedule for GCC.

I felt bad, but both school reminded me to bounce back and dream again. I was close to giving that up because of my present work, but God reminded that there is a season and time for everything. There is a season and time to pursuing post-graduate education.

Now that my plans to impact lives through the education sector is sealed, I can no longer give up finishing both masters and PhD. I must take it either in Ateneo or a through a scholarship in Australia or Singapore by 2013 or 2014. I will just wait for God’s time. I will pray in the mean time.

Finishing those degrees is an important way to step up into the ladder of school leadership. Like how T. Ana did it, I believe her Ateneo education made her leap bounds away from the norm. The EduTours showed me exactly that kind of excellence to bring here in the province and my desire to become an inspirational leader could propel that.

3. I saw how God has changed me to become sensitive towards others. The very narcissistic, egoistic, and intuitive me now became more manageable. Through the travels that I have experienced ever since I got here in LifeCollege, I become more and more rooted to my cultural heritage. I don’t imagine myself leaving the country for good anymore. I just want to travel, explore, and inspire other people’s lives. I also become more aware of the message that God wanted me to tell. From the moment I stepped in this place, I knew my life was changed forever.

Be personable. Be a better team player to become a leader. Go to Ateneo. Then, continue serving the people in this place. Never be afraid of taking risk and daring to accomplish feat. These are the very thing that this EduTour taught me, all in the name of creating maximum impact and enhancing legacy to the lives of the school children that God will bring to us.

Kairos moment here I come.

On becoming an educator

I haven’t had a slightest hint of becoming an educator. But when I discovered that I’ve got knack for it, it didn’t surprise me anymore and thoughts of shifting career (or vocation) were shelved back in the closet.

For one, I was born to a bloodline of educators. My grandparents, aunts, uncles and few more relatives raised their families as public school teachers. There were just two professions during those times, teaching and others. And they opted to teach in far flung government-run schools. So I guess, the passion for learning and sharing what I learned is already embedded in my DNA.

I liked it that way! Although the past four years of my teaching didn’t render itself as a fairytale, it did lead me towards discovery of my purpose and calling. I honestly struggled at first, because I have high regards of what I can do and must do. I dreamt of becoming a lawyer once that’s why I took an arts program in Political Science. Then, I wanted to do Organizational Psychology as I loved thinking about systems and structures. I’ve traded all of those to what I call now, my passion.

As an educator, I live by principles from what I have read, learnt, and observed. I didn’t finish with a degree in education that is why I have to make up for what I don’t have. I took additional education units where the subject called educational philosophy grounded my views on education. My arts degree on the other hand trained me to work on theories and models to apply into action.  Compared to myself four years ago, I can say that I am better now in handling my craft, because eventually, I have learned to teach purposively grounded on novel ideas on learning.

I hold on to a constructivist philosophy about the learner, the educator, the task, and the learning process:

1. The learner is a unique, complex and multi-dimensional individual (Wertsch 1997).  I believe that learning is more than just regurgitation of facts and mere cognition. It involves development in physical, emotional, social and even spiritual dimensions that work hand in hand. Each dimension must have a particular goal to achieve. My role is to guide the learners in recognizing his or her uniqueness and set particular goals in those five dimensions. Individuality rests above uniformity.

2. The learner carries a unique set of experience and culture (Werstch 1997). Learners comes from different background that determine their thoughts, words and actions. Those background serve as baseline that prompt where learning should start from. They aid to shape the knowledge that learner created, discovers, and eventually attains. These unique experiences and background influence the learners’ style and preference which are important tools to frame an individualized learning plan.

3. The learner plays an active role in the learning process. The educator and the learner are partners in the learning process, but the learner holds responsibility over his own learning. The teacher’s role is to design tasks that shall facilitate understanding and to guide the learner in every step in the learning process. Learners, after all, construct their own understanding and that they do not simply mirror and reflect what they read (Glasersfeld, 1989).

4. The learner’s motivation heightens up as they accomplish a task. The key to learning is building on the learner’s confidence as he or she accomplishes a task. This happens when the learner is introduced to a task, pushed to accomplish that task until he or she is able to take in more complex tasks (Vygotsy 1968). Confidence is built on task upon task while motivation is sustained as the learner maximizes his or her potential for learning.

5. Learning is an active and social process. I believe that the school is not a discrete unit of society that leaves the child in a prison-like school only because the parents go for work. The community is a place to learn and every unit can contribute to the provide a real-life learning experience for the child. As the old Chinese maxim put is, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Individuals who are engaged in social activities are more likely to have meaningful learning McMahon (1997).

6. Learning is a dynamic process among the task, learner, and teacher. I believe that my role is true to that of a coach or a mentor. My task is to design tasks, to feedforward and to feedback. Learning is a dynamic dialogue between me and the learner. Hence, we shape meaning at the same time. They view my culture, values, and background as a source of knowledge and I derive from them new ideas based from their viewpoints.

7. Collaboration among learners makes the learning more meaningful. I believe in collaborative or team learning. Based from the notion that each learner is unique and each learner puts forward his or her subjective view of things, a whole group of students can have a bigger picture of things. The learning process becomes an active interplay of the learners’ different skills and backgrounds (Duffy and Jonassen 1992).

8. Context is important. I believe in contextualized teaching and learning. As a teacher, I have to consider that tasks are similar to real-life setting or situation. It is my duty to enculturate students into authentic practices through activity and social interaction similar to life. assessment as a continuous and interactive process that measures the achievement of the learner, the quality of the learning experience and courseware. The feedback created by the assessment process serves as a direct foundation for further development.

9. Learning hops from general to specific. I believe in telling the learners about orienting the learners about the big picture of what to learn during a particular period. It is possible to blur the lines among subjects or academic discipline in favor of multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches.

 

 

Cross References

Duffy, T.M. & Jonassen, D. (Eds.), (1992).Constructivism and the technology of instruction: A conversation. Hillsdale NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Glasersfeld, E. (1989). Cognition, construction of knowledge, and teaching. Synthese, 80(1), 121-140.

Vygotskii, L.S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher mental processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Wertsch, J.V (1997) “Vygotsky and the formation of the mind” Cambridge.