How I combined Math and reflective writing?


Well wishes and prayer messages disguised in a Facebook Number Game
I manage a Facebook group site for my Geometry class. Though the school year is finished, I posted some activity for them to comment. The post is a Number Game wherein friends would send a number privately to the one who posted then the one who posted would comment on the post, describing the friend, withhold the name, label that person with a number, and letting others guess who is that person being described. The Number Game is, in reality, for me to send them private messages about my well wishes and prayers for them as their teacher and “spiritual parent” (a term I got from Pope Francis). Right now, I ran out of ideas and quirks in writing since the game is still on and I have yet to write for more or less twenty students.

Letter writing activity in class
Last November, I gave the students a letter writing activity called Dear John. You might wonder what’s the connection of letter writing and mathematics? I’ll explain. They are to reply to a former classmate who transferred and talk about John’s struggle with Geometry in his new school. So aside from sharing their own experiences too and their advice to him, I posted other questions such as their preferred degrees in college, their plans for the future, and their aspirations in life. Upon receiving their letters, I replied to their letters and gave advices, recommendations, affirmations, and encouragements in their class performance and in their future endeavors as well. Considering that this activity requires me to reply to 52 students, I don’t mind the hurt in my hand in writing since I enjoy writing for them anyway.

The Number Game and the Dear John writing experience is heartwarming and enriching as a rookie teacher, a brother, and as a human being. I hope that the students felt the same when they receive a reply from this brother.

An open letter to my Geometry students

Dear VBA,

Let me pour out my soul. I am deeply touched by you, my students in Geometry whom I spent a year almost ten months with. This is only possible because of the risks I took and as well as your responsiveness.

I am not a Geometry teacher but I tried being one and I finally became one. I am very vocal of that I am not a math major and you, the students, know it. Is it because you don’t have a choice? Maybe yes or no. You could have complained me with the admin but you didn’t do it or should I say you won’t dare do it. Or no because you don’t have any teacher available to share knowledge of measuring plane Geometry. Or are you afraid of the one teacher you once had? You don’t need to answer me.

At first, I am actually more than happy to take the opportunity since I want to use my license in teaching, practice mentoring, and because of my love for Mathematics. I know it’s a love-and-hate relationship when I was still a student. And now that I finished my duties as a teacher inside the class, I can say that my disposition remained the same. I am still happy that I was able to teach Math to the lovely and vibrant class of VBA, you guys, the section I handled.

It was a risk because I am not an expert in Geometry and not even a Math major in college. I was vulnerable to be called as someone who doesn’t even know what I was teaching. That never happened and I am thankful that it didn’t happen. I risked being wrong sometimes because that’s my challenge to the students: risk being wrong, to commit mistakes, bounce back and learn from these mistakes. Some overdid it actually. But I am proud that they were able to do it: err boldly.

Your class, though noisy most of the time, was easy to handle and ideal for a rookie teacher like me. You respected me as your teacher through your courteousness, listens when I want to say something important, and are open to share your frustrations, struggles, and even triumphs. I know that since I asked you to write journal entries during the second half of the school year. And even without those writings, you were still open to express those emotions inside our class. I proposed Remedial classes and you attended them. You could have opted to sleep more in the morning before P.E. time every Saturday but you are willing to sacrifice your free time. As mathematicians, not all of you are brilliant. However, you showed resilience and that’s the most important lesson you can take away from our class. To bounce back, to commit mistakes and learn from them, and the willingness to try again are important in learning as well as in living as human beings in terms of your relationships and reaching for your aspirations in life.

I am happy as your teacher VBA. I am happy to meet students like you. So in this final day of the school year, I have to let you go guys. I will always remember you in my prayers. You will always have a special place in my heart. You are the first class I ever handled and that makes it more memorable. As I said to one of your classmates, no one can ever replace you. That’s right, you are ever unique.

I pray for your bond as a section to be a lot stronger and closer. May you be away from all useless anxieties. And may you all grow well and be yourselves. Don’t ever pretend to be someone whom you are not.

Maraming salamat VBA.

See you again.

Br. Allen, FMS

How it is to experience a hailstorm for the first time?

Today, I experienced two first times. While preparing for the class inside my living room, I noticed that it was raining hard. It was four o’clock in the afternoon when I was about to leave our fraternity (house) when I saw ice dropping from the sky. I thought it was just a heavy rain; it is a hailstorm! I was wearing my barong and about to go to school to teach but I waited, closed the windows in the kitchen, sala, dining area, and watched from inside the ice dropping to the ground. The sizes of the ices are about 1.5-2 centimeters. Since it’s just 15 minutes away from starting our class, I rushed out with an umbrella even though I might get wet or get hit by some ice (The house is just 200 meters away from the school). Thankfully, I’m just wet down from my shoes up to my belly. I told some teachers my experiences when I arrived in the faculty. That’s the first one.

I went to the classroom and the stairway, hallway, and the classroom floors are wet. By chance, the chairs and the green board aren’t that too wet so we can still start our class. Halfway the class, the principal entered our room to announce that they will suspend the classes at 5:00 PM and brought into attention some students who kicked the back door of the classroom while they were transferring rooms from the grade school building to the high school building (where our rooms were when we have our math classes). I didn’t notice the kicking since most of the students arrived ahead of me in class. Thankfully, our principal was there observing them enter their classrooms. Ecstatic on the announcement, I got their attention and just told them that they know who did the kicking, no need to point fingers or blame someone else, and just be more mindful next time. No need for me to reprimand them since they’re reprimanded earlier. I gave a five minute lecture and let them answer a seat work for 10 minutes. Again, in the middle of the activity, I saw my former teacher in Grade One standing outside the room. I don’t know how to describe that feeling when you realize your teaching the daughter of your former teacher. That’s the second one.

And that’s how I experienced two first times in a day.