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.

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A long, winding, but grace-filled weekend

I forego my plan to run 5 kilometers this night just to prepare for a week-long lesson plan. But here I am writing this post. So there.

This semester, I’m a busy person. These are my responsibilities:

  • Teacher to eight classes (six sections of Christian Values Education 8, one Christian Religious Education 11, and one World Religions and Beliefs 12)
  • Homeroom adviser to a Grade 12 section
  • Campus Ministry staff
  • Table Tennis coach
  • Grant-In-Aid coordinator

I miss my free time since I was just teaching part-time to five sections last school year. I got all of these because I agreed to take these responsibilities. So just bring it on! Also, I realize that this might be my last year of teaching to high school students. I will be sent out of the country next year for my next assignment. Getting my teaching license renewed would be harder whenever I get out of the country because of the recent law which says that I should get professional development modules/seminars/workshops sanctioned by Professional Regulatory Commission. I really hate that law because I actually get a lot of modules and workshops on administration here in Marist and teaching though they are uncredited because PRC is not involved there. Our Brother Provincial’s future plans for me would be working in foreign mission and/or teaching in college. I’ll save my worries later once the school year is almost finished.

Yesterday was a funny day because I did a lot and most of them are unplanned. I started the day by attending the daily Mass for spiritual strength. Next, I encountered a GIA who doesn’t have a Daily Time Record though it’s already mid-June so I gave away twelve copies to be used for the whole year because I am such a passive-aggressive type of coordinator and I never scold. Then the same person asked me the key to our office because they left the key inside. It’s just six o’clock so I just take my time before eating breakfast. I prepared for my almost two-hour class after the brekkie and got some Fudgie Bars to give away because I promised my Grade 8 students to give them some price. Until now, it still surprises me how I can sustain teaching for that long.

At 9:50 AM, I had to rush to the library because I got to meet all the working students since it’s our monthly meeting. After the meeting, I read the book Jesus of Nazareth by Gerhard Lohfink. I once bragged to my Grade 11 students that it is the best book I read on Christology. Possibly because of running 7 kilometers the previous night, waking up at 5 AM, percolating at a good book, proper ventilation of the aircon in my room, or because I just worked straight for three hours, I slept. I woke up around 12 PM and opened this laptop because I haven’t prepared for my next lesson with the Grade 11 students. I spent some good one hour on it and I went down to the dining hall to eat my lunch.

When the bell rings at 1:20 PM, that’s the time I will teach for another one hour and forty minutes. Again, I still wonder how I get to talk and tell stories I never told before in front of a crowd. If it is experience or reading books or both, I cannot tell. It also helps that there is a talkative student sitting in front that I get to engage with him and make my teaching dialectical or in a dialogue form. Then I had to go back to our homeroom afterwards to check the cleaning. The class president and the vice president collected the relief goods for the victims of war in Marawi City so they endorsed it to me and we delivered it to the Community Extension Services office but it was closed so I suggested we leave it in the convent.

Since I forgot to get the attendance sheet in the classroom, I had to go back and get it. On my way, I noticed the smoke from a fire somewhere near the Rio Grande. I heard firetrucks had a hard time entering there. Then I saw a student using a cellphone in the hallway so I had to approach him and confiscate it since they’re not allowed to bring it in school. While I was talking to him, there is someone calling my phone so we were talking while my phone is ringing. That was a bit awkward. He doesn’t want to hand it over to me and I do not want to argue so I got his I.D. and brought him to the Senior High School Coordinator. I slipped away afterwards to finally get the attendance sheet. I was actually in a hurry because it was almost 4 PM and I have to pack up my things for a trip later. Then I checked my phone only to find out it was Ms. Wilma, the aunt of a working student who got hospitalized due to acute ulcer. They needed the money I collected yesterday because I told her I “begged” some money from school personnel when I went around the school in between classes. I realized I had a talent in begging money. No, that was only a joke. Sorry if it was not funny. The amount? Sorry, it is confidential.

After packing my clothes and necessities, I went with our teachers/coaches to Belle’s Farm, Pigcawayan for planning and an overnight recreation. So there’s the usual drinking and singing either with the rented karaoke or with coaches playing the musical instruments brought by Mr. Dequiña in the venue. I skip singing ballads because I suck when I sing them and enthusiastic whenever we sing alternative rock songs especially if they are local songs. Filipino karaoke culture, represent! I only drank a bottle of San Miguel so I wonder why I got a recurring hiccup. Around past 1 AM, I sneaked to our booked resting house and was able to secure a resting place in a hard sofa-like furniture made of bamboo in the sala. I don’t know what it is called in English but I just know it gave me a hard time getting a good sleeping position because I don’t have a pillow and the sofa doesn’t have a cushion. Probably, it was already 2 AM when my body just got tired of searching for a good sleeping position. I then woke up at the usual 5 AM thinking of helping in cooking breakfast particularly the rice because that’s the only skill I know in cooking and I know how to cook rice for a lot of people because that’s what I learned from a fast food chain.

And I slept again around 9:00 AM until 3:00 PM today. Because of sleeping and waking up late, I feel a little bit of restless so here I am writing.

Today is Father’s Day. What’s my gift to my father? I’ll just present him with my own presence. Besides, I’ll be visiting home in Marikina this Tuesday to attend my youngest sister’s college graduation. I’ll be seeing my mother too whom I haven’t seen in almost two years because she went to Japan to work.

Thanks for reading and have a blessed weekend everyone.

A journey inward

Now, school year 2016-2017 is over. Wohoo!

Since I promised in my previous post that I will talk about my teaching experience, I will try to do it here without any specific topic in mind. That means free-writing.

When I’m not writing, I’m reading the writings of my students. I as their teacher asks my students in class to practice being reflective through writing. I, as their Values Education teacher, encourage my students to touch their introspective side. And for them to do this, they must learn how to be silent. In these times that these teenagers are in (and for us adults sometimes too), it is hard for them to let them sit for hours.

But I know my students are all capable of spending time in silence. I’ve witnessed it during their recollection where they were asked by our campus ministry directress, ma’am Che, to sit down in silence, close their eyes, and imagine themselves walking through nature and encounter people close to their hearts. On the part where they encounter their parents in their imaginative journey, when the students were asked to feel how their parents are struggling in earning a living just for them to study in a good school and be provided with their own needs, it made them weep. It may be pity or guilt that they felt whenever they get mad whenever they request something and their parents refuse to provide them; those times when they fail to appreciate the goodness of their parents towards them. That time, they were able to get in touch with their own experiences and relationship with their family especially their parents. They were able to do it because it was a recollection and they really spent time in silence.

Going back to my students’ reflective writing activities, I discovered that it is not easy for some to spend time for reflection when it comes to writing. But I am happy that at least they are trying. I even encourage students to write in Tagalog if they’re having a hard time writing in English. But there are some who won’t really bother and try to even write essays. Ah, your patience, Allen!

So in the same manner, I as their teacher must practice being reflective. And I will do it through web logging. And here, I did it by just writing about my students. Woo!

Whenever I talk in front of the class, I lecture through story telling. Usually, the subject is my own life experiences and stories of people whom I have known personally. Honestly speaking, I am a such a bore in retelling stories of others when I have just read or heard them somewhere in books, web, magazine articles, or even podcasts I am listening to. Even the jokes that seems funny to me, when I retell them, because too corny.

Now that I have stopped following any television shows or anime series, my watching habit of watching basketball games has gone up because of our access to cable in our convent. I consume more time in doing unproductive things such as watching games or highlights when I really want to do is to be creative like writing, composing poems and stories, polish my handwriting (which my student said was poor), capture more photographs, play basketball or chess, or learn how to draw better.

Maybe sometimes, I will consciously spend time to feel boredom and not seek constant stimulation. But I know it will either be productive or unproductive. I need to choose the former though.

Postscript: I will be spending a week in Malaybalay, Bukidnon for the Annual Lenten Retreat of Marist Brothers here in the Philippines. I am part of the Liturgy Committee and an assistant secretary during the Provincial’s time (meeting). Within the week, we Brothers will discover our Summer assignments and our next community and ministry assignment for the next school year. And during the Easter vigil, I will renew my vows. If you want to ask me to pray for me, just write a comment below or reach me out in the Contact Form. Please pray for me too.

In the eye of the storm

The Philippines had just two storms, Karen and Lawin, enter in succession in just one week. For me, my storm was this past first half of the school year. Looking back, it feels like it was so long that it was gone in a blink of an eye. I experienced rains, gusts, and at times peaceful days. It’s like the government suspending classes only to go out of your house with the sun greeting you a good morning. When you’re a student or a teacher or even a parent of a schooling child here in the Philippines, you can relate to this. We have twenty typhoons every year not counting the low pressure areas or tropical depressions. 

And because it’s school break, I can afford to wake up in the morning just recalling about a recent dream and musing the past five months of teaching. When I was in elementary or high school, I caught myself a lot staring outside the window or doodling. Daydreaming is my past time. Not that I am twenty seven, I still long for these kind of opportunities. Even if I am busy teaching, I still have lots of free time. My compulsion is to use internet or play a computer game. I often forget to read books, write a journal, spend time in silence, adore the Holy Presence in the chapel, and other things that are done solitarily (except the last example).

Tomorrow will be our Personnel Retreat. I hope that with this, I can spend more time in silence. The only exception will be the writing in my journal and on this blog. 

May you have a blessed Sunday. Peace be with you.

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.

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.

Something to ponder upon even if reality is harsh

It’s December and lots of things are happenings

The not nice things:

  1. One of my teachers just passed away.
  2. We lost a crucial basketball game by one point in overtime, making our team fall to fifth place thus failing to make it to the semifinals.

But cheer up, we have lots of nice things this Advent:

  1. I thank God for the gift of Mrs. Delgado to our Marist community.
  2. Some young Australian Marist volunteers visiting our country for exposure in mission areas.
  3. The start of the Year of Consecrated Life.
  4. Free admission of the ASEAN Schools Basketball games in Marist Gym.

Still, I acknowledge the harshness of reality. It’s just a matter of perspective. Rejoice in the Lord always!