On teenagers, my Grade 8 English teacher, and Nihongo classes

Hello WordPress,

Story time!

Since I entered my second year of being a Scholastic and passed the licensure for teachers last 2015, I started my teaching career and lived a busy life for the next three years. Since entering in the active ministry as a young Brother, I celebrate everytime we have holidays by just staying in the house of course except when Br. Ador would initiate us to go somewhere like going to Lebak which I also loved doing too. I think last year was the busiest year of my life where I handled a homeroom, table tennis boys team, and the Grant-in-Aid Scholars while teaching more than 23 hours a week! I don’t know if it’s just me but the preparation for Values Education 8 (Christology), Religious Education 11 (Faith and Revelation), and World Religions and Belief Systems 12 during the first two quarters made me anxious more than the actual teaching. Since I only took 18 units of Education subjects, I think that’s where the struggle was from. Don’t get me wrong though. I love teaching in high school. The paper works were dreadful though. I know some teachers dread not only the paper works but the dealing with high schoolers. Yeah, I admit I had those moments but I refuse to feed those feelings and keep on going instead. Puberty and teenage years can be an emotional rollercoaster ride which affects even for us teachers too. Those are the rebellious years of their youth and I have been there so I understand.

When I was in high school, I cannot understand myself why I get so emotional at times. I remember how my heart beats whenever I see my crush, my English teacher at Grade 8. I developed a friendship with her and I would be very at ease talking to her because I like her so much. Hehehe! I think my English improved much because of her inspiration and I would admit that my handwriting was patterned from her handwriting. Looking back, I think I was influenced by her in terms of my teaching style on the manner how she treated us her students and her honesty with us. As our school is an exclusive for boys, we too had given her a hard time in class at times but her command in class and composure would win our rebelliousness and boyish-ness. Maintaining a good relationship outside the classroom with students is something I learned from her too. She would then transfer in a university and become an instructor or professor. As a college student, I remember seeing her on the jeepney stop and we would again talk for a long time even on the train until she would stop on Legarda station and I would say goodbye. I would see her again on our ride to our respective schools and talk non-stop. After 2008, I never saw her after that. Since I remembered her, I thank God for her presence and influence to me. She taught me a lot not only about English but also about maintaining good relationships with students. Ma’am Ginnie, wherever you are, maraming salamat po!

Well, I didn’t intend this post to be a tribute to her and I just ended up writing about her because of her strong influence to me when it comes to being a teacher.

Now as a Nihongo student, I enjoy this moment of learning a new language everytime I step inside the classroom. I suck in pre-class preparations though. Our classes would be only for 2 hours but at times, it feels so long or very fast depending on the difficulty and my attention span.

Being a teacher for 3 years changed my perspective when it comes to learning. I now know how to anticipate questions in tests because I used to make test questions. I enjoy every moment as a student and will take my time and learn at my own pace. Besides, I still intend to teach in the future. Who knows? Maybe I can teach Nihongo too in the future.

God bless you all.

Peace! ✌️

One question that changed my life

This is the draft of my Opening Remarks for tomorrow’s Career Celebration 2K18: Millennials Shaping the Future here in Notre Dame of Cotabato.

January 22, 2018

Good morning everyone,

One reason why I was asked to give the Opening Remarks is because I am a millennial. I can still remember that I once was a high school eleven years ago. We don’t have these model ramps that often before in Marist School, Marikina where I spent my high school. As an exclusive for boys’ school, we only have the Mr. Marist contest every two years during the Marist Fair. (For the record, I did not join.)

Given my surname Timola, which is a cause of being bullied sometimes, I was always asked to seat at the back of the classroom and mostly at the corner beside the window. There, I spaced out; stared outside the windows and daydreamed. Sometimes I draw doodles on my notebook or write a list of my favorite songs. In the early 2000, there was a famous song by Switchfoot with the title Only Hope. The lyrics would haunt me until now.

The lyrics go like these : “There’s a song that’s inside of my soul. It’s the one that I tried to write over and over again.” 

(Sing this if I have the guts to sing in front of these 2,000 students)

That song is a constant companion of my restlessness during college. It took me years to decipher the meaning of that song. We all have that song inside us. That song inside our soul is our personal mission. It is a God-given personal mission. How do we discover that mission?

The short answer is that we discover our mission in life by discovering about ourselves. High school life is a perfect time for us to discover about ourselves. It starts with discovering your talents.

Who are those good in Math? How about English? How about Science? How about basketball? How about computers? How about painting? How about singing?

But still, even discovering our talents will still leave more questions about our own selves. That is the question we have to live the rest of our lives; that too, is the tension we have to live the rest of our lives. And this tension will only end when we stop living. Thank God we have that tension; it means we are still alive. It’s okay if we try to write that song inside our soul over and over again.

It will be an unending search for an answer. To paraphrase Maria Rainier Rilke, let us live the question.

I hope that the Grade 12 students will learn the most from this Career Celebration. Grade 12, I dare you to ask questions about college, about work, about your future. Start asking us—your advisers, your teachers, our guidance counselors: Mrs. Casiano, Mr. Ade, and Mrs. Sobrepena.

Dear students (yes, all of you), I dare you to ask questions. Curiosity is an evidence of one’s willingness to learn. Learn by asking questions.

Before I end, I’ll leave you with a question that changed my life: “Sa paghahanap-buhay, mahahanap mo ba ang buhay mo?”

Good morning everyone.

Br. Allen Timola, FMS

How is my teaching life so far?

Hello WordPress readers,

I am writing a test draft now but I am not in the mood to write a test draft so it will just be a story time.

So I am here in the convent library, just typing on this cheap laptop I acquired for my teaching ministry. As I look at my laptop, I can see the reflection of the cable wires outside since the glass panels are transparent. This past three days, I heard some birds banging the glass as they thought they can pass through them. Two months ago, I was wondering why I was hearing a bird crying at night. I thought it was nesting somewhere in the roof but my hunch was that it was somewhere hiding here in the library. I found it resting at the top of the book shelf and I shooed it so it can set itself free.

I’m thinking of what to purchase as Christmas gifts but I think I’ll just go outside during the weekends or during the examination time. Honestly, I don’t know what gifts should I give to them. I even forgot the name I picked on the one of the exchange gifts I joined.

I can believe it’s already December. It’s like I was just starting the school year last June and now we’re just four months away from March. I was so caught up with the school system I barely have time for social media. Well, I am online almost every day but I don’t have the energy to create contents like I did in the previous years.

I’m still teaching eight (8) sections and I am teaching a new subject this second semester. It’s about Trends, Networks and Critical Thinking in the 21st Century. I told them about my SNS (social networking sites), the term used before it was called social media. I realized almost all my online accounts were made during the year 2009: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Sadly, I was not able to back up my photos in my Friendster and Multiply account last 2011. I had no idea they were already going down at that year.

I think in blogging here in WordPress, I have found my “voice” in writing. I admit I am so shy in front of the crowd that I struggled two years ago when I started teaching in Marikina. Luckily, it was only one class and all of them very nice, charming, and bright. I hope no student from that class will read this . But if they found this, then that’s fine. Besides, I already told them I love them before we part ways and I miss them so much. They are now in their Grade 11. Half of them transferred schools already. The first year of teaching for me is indeed memorable.

For two year, I am now here in Cotabato and this is my final year of teaching. I will be spending my time outside the Philippines next year. That’s my only hint. Some of my fellow teachers knows already where I am heading.

Speaking of my last year, it helped me to make the most out of my remaining time here in Cotabato. I think this is the busiest year in my entire life. I took lots of responsibilities. Using the cliche term, I think I bit more than I can chew (is that the correct usage?).

When the time comes for me to say goodbye, I just hope and pray that I am able to touch the lives of the students and fellow school personnel in a good way.

I seem to attract the attention of the naughty students. It’s like they are not intimidated by me. When I scold them inside the class they straighten up. But when they talk about it outside, it’s like they are talking about someone else and talk about themselves as a matter-of-fact. I would be angry with them in the class but outside the classroom I would be waving my hands at them. In a good way, they are detached and don’t take my scolding personally. Maybe it’s the generation they are in now. They want to be friends with anyone even their teachers. Though I appear to be strict and tough at times, deep inside I know that what I do is for the good of my students. I love all of them not just the naughty ones. Loving can be tough at times. I really do will what’s good for them even those students who I seem to neglect at times. There are really students who tend to flourish even if you don’t focus on them that much. I am talking about the shy, quiet, and average students. When I was in high school, I was one of them. I feel guilty for not paying attention to each one of my students.

This afternoon, we will be honoring the achievers who got an average of 90 plus in their report cards. I will be meeting the parents of my advisory class in Grade 12. I have some 52 students in my homeroom and I will update them how their sons and daughters are doing in their academics. I have yet to prepare what to say to them.

But before that, I need to finish my test drafts. I have three test drafts to prepare. So this is all I can say for now.

It’s good to be back here in WordPress.

Goodbye.

Education for life (A Morning conversation)

This morning meal, we talked about education in the Philippines and in other countries with topics such as alternative learning system, giving assignments and examinations, and play. Our current Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones has in her agenda the alternative learning system. This is encouraging to some students in our country since not all students are geared towards formal education and not every high school graduates are suited to enter college.

Currently, if the cumulative grade of a student reaches 60, the student is given a passing grade of 75. It seems that this move of the previous secretary Br. Luistro Armin, a La Sallian Brother, is geared towards mass promotion of the students so they can graduate in high school.

Though I know it’s important to focus on our high school students (since our country is dominated by the millennial population with a median age of 23 years old), I hope that educators and lawmakers would consider the program we give to our children below 10 years old. Like in Finland and Japan, they tweaked their preschool and primary level with lots of play and exploration for kids and no assignments and examinations.

For parents, I hope that they wouldn’t spoil their kids by giving them smartphones and tablets at an early age so kids can enjoy their childhood outdoors and with their playmates.

How about you, what do you think about your country’s education?

I don’t know why math really loves Allen

Last March, I saw Sir Eric, my former math teacher, and told him I’m taking the LET. He hinted the possibility of me teaching mathematics in my former school. I just shrugged, thinking it’s very likely. Yes, I love math when I was in high school but it’s just wayward from my career path knowing my college degree and vocation taken (religious life). It doesn’t mean I don’t like it. I just, maybe unconsciously, had avoided math related courses. I scrapped Engineering and Computer Science and went to Psychology maybe for the love of math. You know, absence makes the heart grow fonder so I yonder. Yucky, right? Now that I’m in Education, which I don’t really like but I don’t hate it also, it seems that I’m in a profession where I never imagined to be until I entered Marist Brothers.

Fast forward. After four months, here I am now in the same faculty with my math teacher teaching geometry. While talking to Sir Eric and Sir Honesto, my former trigonometry teacher, I said “Well, I taught in one of our classes about statistics in college.”

“Now look… you really did go to teaching math as expected”, as he puts it. From my engineering graduate father and older brother, a sister and brother who teaches math, and a mother who is an accountant, I think you know where I’m going now.

No matter what I do, I really belong to math.

Do it for love: an anecdote

Yesterday, I was asked to write a vignette on my memories as a Marist student for the 50th anniversary of Marist School, Marikina. I sent this anecdote hoping to be part of the future coffee table book. It doesn’t matter to me if they reject this. This is an expression of my love towards the “little ones”. Here it is:


One of my most memorable moments was when I received a CSEP award in my senior year. To be honest, I was not even expecting it. As a teen who almost gave up studying, I wondered what reason was it behind the inclusion of my name among the awardees.

It was 2005 when we taught Math in a Grade 5 class of Kapitan Moy Marikina Heights Elementary School. At first, I went there because we were told to. But after borrowing a book from my classmate, my perspective on teaching changed. Reading Improve Your Grades by Veltisezar Bautista inspired me. As a result, I helped me reflect and feel compassion towards the little ones.

One afternoon, dissatisfied with our manner of teaching, I took over, animated the class, and spoke as if I’m just discussing with my barkada. I was stirred by that moment.

I believe I was given the award not because I was a good speaker nor I was knowledgeable of the subject but because one afternoon, I taught with passion.

To paraphrase Mother Theresa of Calcutta, teach math not because you were told to; teach it because you love the students who will learn it.