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Jan 24, 2010

Posted by in Featured, Lessons for Teacher | 2 Comments

Beyond the Blind Side: Harnessing a Child’s Learning Style

Every once in a while a movie comes my way that makes me realize the extent of my powers as an educator. The film The Blind Side is one of them. Starring Sandra Bullock in her Golden Globe Award Winning role as Best Lead Actress and Quinton Aaron as the future NHL Baltimore Ravens Pick Michael Oher, the movie reminded me about opening my eyes and embracing a child’s potentials by checking out my blind side. You see, as a teacher for almost ten years now, I cannot deny that many times I work by routine alone. Everything I do in class has become almost muscle memory that sometimes, I need to be reminded that not all students learn the same way. In essence, I tend to forget to check my blind side to see if all my kids are learning and if they’re not, what I can do to help them learn better.

The movie revolves around the story of a young boy dubbed Big Mike who, for all intents and purposes, was passed along through the public school system. However, after being given a scholarship in a private Christian school, his teachers saw how delayed he was in terms of academic competencies. Many of his teachers all but gave up on him and did not exert much effort to help educate him. All except his Biology teacher who saw a spark of potential in Michael. Because she believed he had it in him to learn, she tried to find a way to help harness his learning style. Because Michael refused to talk and would not answer test questions given to him, teachers assumed he was dumb and hopeless. However, when given oral tests, his Biology teacher saw that he knew the subject matter. He understood what was going on in class. Because of this, he began to flourish.

Teaching a class with over 40 students, which is the norm here in the Philippines, can definitely be a difficult task for a single teacher. We do not have the luxury of giving different kinds of tests to all our students depending on their learning styles. However, by simply making small concessions, we can help our students succeed, especially those who need the extra support. There are debates about this, nonetheless. Some will say it is unfair to other students if we make adjustments. Some will say that it gives those who receive accommodations an unfair advantage.

The discussions can go on but at the end of the day, let me pose this question: as a teacher, what are you willing to do to ensure all your students are learning to the best of their abilities?

For me, the answer is not always simple. Much as I would like to say I will make all adjustments necessary to embrace ALL my kids’ learning styles, I know I am limited by requirements in class and our educational system as well. One thing I know for sure is that I will do my best to encourage my students to do their best by being more sensitive to what my kids are feeling in class. I think with this, by building their self-esteem and helping them realize their potentials, I can help make a difference.

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Jul 9, 2009

Posted by in Lessons for Teacher | 1 Comment

Remembering the King of Pop, Michael Jackson

Like millions of Filipinos and billions of others worldwide, I found myself glued to the TV set watching the Michael Jackson Memorial. I never really was a big fan and initially, I couldn’t really understand what all the hoopla was about. After all, I rationalized, he was just another superstar, right?

However, as I watched the tribute to the legendary King of Pop, I began to see him in a different light. I saw him as the visionary who really wanted change to happen, and unlike others, he did let change begin with him. I saw him as the dreamer who never let those dreams fade, no matter what. I also saw him as the poor, troubled soul who was plagued by intrigue and criticism but despite it all, triumphed. These were words I never imagined myself using to describe the character I saw on television and the like. Perhaps the most humanizing portrayal of Michael Jackson was that said by his daughter, Paris: he was daddy, the best father anyone could imagine. Watching this little girl bravely fight through tears as she remembered her father made me realize how, no matter how hard I try, I often see people in a jaded and discriminative eye. I see them only as one dimensional beings, limited by what has been said and done, without really seeing the bigger picture. Though I may be a psychologist trained to distance myself from others, be non-judgmental and fair, I was reminded of how human I still am, just like everyone else. While I am able to keep these characteristics and skills in check inside the clinic or classroom, outside in my personal life I don’t.

Last night I took away an important reminder: indeed, if we want change to happen, it has to start within.  With that said, I am making a resolve to change. I realized that when I come across some juicy news, be it verbally or in a Plurk, for example, I tend to want to ask more about it. Sometimes I inadvertently fan the flame of gossip by asking more and exploring the extent of issues I am not involved in. That’s gotta stop.

What about you? You too can be a vessel of change. What do you resolve to change for now?

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