Apr 16, 2011

Posted by in Classroom Escapades, College, Life Lessons, Teacher's Corner | 0 Comments

Goodbye Academic Year 2010-2011 and THANK YOU

The time has come once again for me to bid farewell to another group of students and classes that I have grown to know and love.  It’s funny but this school year has, by far, been the most life changing one for me in so many ways and in so many facets of my life.

On a professional level, I have finally found a good balance between distance and closeness to my students, and I have the kids to thank for that. They have allowed me to see a side of me that I have tried hard not to get to know. As I posted on my “Teacher Ria” facebook page, these past few months have made me realize that there’s so much to teacher ria then i have allowed myself to know and that there is a whole wider world out there for me to learn from, if only i let it happen :) On a personal level, because I have embraced that openness and allowing-ness, I have become a much better person, I’d like to think.

As I end the term, I am exceptionally grateful for the students in both my developmental and clinical psychology classes for allowing me to learn from them as I tried to teach them more than just psychology, but about life in general.

To my Devpsyc students, thank you for the sweetest note ever :) I am glad you got to enjoy our “child-like” activities from time to time. Thank you too for always having such a lively discussion with me.  It still makes me laugh when I remember how our classroom discussions would often go all sorts of directions because you guys were always so open to giving your ideas, opinions and all. You also made me think a lot. It has definitely been one of the most enjoyable developmental psychology classes EVER.

From your essays, I take with me very important lessons. Yes, I know I give too many essays and just yesterday, two of you were teasing me about how I loooooove reading essays and my answer to you was: reading essays? toink. no. learning from my kids, yes :)

This term I had so many great essays to read, and while there were those that made me want to pull my hair out, there were some that simply took my breath away and made me say, wow.  These are but a few very important life lessons I will take with me from what I’ve learned from you. And if I helped you learn this, then I am blessed.

  • “this realization has taught me to live in the present and not worry about the mistakes I’ve done in the past because there’s no use stressing over something that cannot be undone. Instead, I should learn from [these] mistakes and make sure not to repeat it; and not to over think the future because it will eventually come, there’s no use planning every single detail of tomorrow when many uncontrollable things can always get in the way”
  • “[Life] is like playing Tetris where you have to find out how to win every level to be able to go on to the next; every one of them a different challenge”
  • “I learned that throughout our life span, we develop because it is our nature to develop…to adapt to our surroundings and to try to survive the world. [As we pass through different stages] we arrive at the pit-stops of our lives. [Conflicts that exist] may possibly shake or weaken us, [but] we must learn to surpass them in order to…move on to the next stage”
  • “They say that the most valuable lessons are not learned in school. Well, I beg to differ. The things you learn in school are just as valuable as the outside”
  • “[Life can be difficult] but I always put in mind that there are no challenges that are meant not to be surpassed because that is the way it is [and that] is what life is all about: learning to breathe and take a step forward”
  • “All in all an equally significant ideology I have grasped from this term in developmental psychology is the acceptance that change is the only permanent thing we have. No matter how much you want certain things to be preserved and remain the same, we must not struggle to hold on to them when the right time has come. All these things we must shed are part of growing up and are a part of life. Overstaying the welcome of things will hurt no one but the one who persists on keeping it and at times the object itself. This is how the world works whether we like it or not. But this does not mean we don’t have a hand in how these changes are made; in fact, I believe the most important changes are based on our decisions. I t is how we react to such things that truly define, shape and develop who we are”

And yes, this made reading all your essays oh-so-worth it. There were so many other brilliantly written ones but I will stop with these :)

And to my dear CLINPSY students…THANK YOU. I tried to teach you the skills and characteristics needed by a therapist/clinician, and though many of you said in our final class that you realized it isn’t for you, I would beg to disagree. In your own little ways, you all (okay, most of you haha), have the potential to be good therapists. Believe me when I say you guys have given me soooo much healing and insight after an exceedingly difficult second term. Being with you guys allowed me to, once more,  love what I do and for that, I will always be grateful.

To be honest, I’ve always made it a point not to have classes on my birthday (which this term’s last day of class ended with!), but for some reason, I just wanted to be with you guys on that day. And yes, it made my day extra special :)

I will miss you guys oh so very, very much :)

Here’s to a new school year ahead!


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Nov 20, 2010

Posted by in Life Lessons, Reflections | 0 Comments

Little Bits of Sunshine

One of the things I will miss the most when I no longer teach my Little Chickens (a.k.a. the seniors class. For some reason they’ve taken to calling me Momma Chicken (or shark, or tiger, and lets not forget cougar at times!). One day they decided that since I’m their momma whaterver, they became little chickens), are the random bits of sunshine they throw my way. From unexpected hugs to hilarious comments, and even those little endearing puppy-dog-please-please-please-teacher-eyes they send my way, these are little bits of sunshine that brighten up even the most dismal and difficult days.

Not too long ago, I was having a really bad day. But one of my little chickens threw such a bright ray of sunshine my way I couldn’t help but feel the love.

oct. 15, 2010. today wasn't all good.... blame in on bad dreams and kulit dogs that don't let me sleep, being too nice to people who i should know better than to be nice to (but then again i'd like to still think being nice is a good thing...butbutbut...lets not go there), knowing i hurt some people without meaning to, having to deal with unexpected requirements... but...lookie what i found in my bag ♥ dear god, thank you for these little reminders that despite everything, there is always something nice in every day ♥

happy, happy sigh :-)

I am so gonna miss this.

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Sep 12, 2010

Posted by in Featured, Life Lessons, Reflections, Teacher's Corner | 2 Comments

Rekindling the Passion

yes, this is why I teach….

When this school year started, I knew I was sure about my decision to once again, hang up my Preschool Teacher Hat and move on to more “grown-up” stuff. I was looking forward to being more of a blogger and a writer for the various publications and sites I work for on the side. In preparation, I bought several other domains to start working on, with the idea that once I end the year, I can go full blast into maintaining these sites.

I was so sure of leaving that, unconsciously, I started to distance myself from the kids. While I was there to be their teacher in the classroom, I did not let myself get emotionally connected to them the way I used to. I avoided giving them pet names or using my usual terms of endearment towards them. I suppose in someway, I was preparing myself emotionally to say good-bye to them and to the profession.

However, in the past few months I’ve started questioning this resolve. Am I really sure I want to give this up?

Today, I was invited to give a workshop to a group of preschool teachers from various public schools around the Manila. At first I agreed to do the talk mainly because of my fervent belief that preschool teachers play one of the most essential roles in a child’s future. What made me say this was my own experience with my preschool teacher who went way above the call of duty to help me overcome an emerging learning problem she noted in me. As a child, I was diagnosed with dyslexia and I believe that it was her early intervention efforts that allowed me to make it through school in a relatively painless fashion. Sure, reading tasks have always been (and always will be) tedious and effort-full task for me, I have learned to enjoy it. My main goal for the workshop was just to get that message across.

However, as I ended the workshop, I realized, or should I say, REMEMBERED why I teach in the first place….

….I teach to touch lives and make change happen….

…I teach to watch children discover their full potential…

…I teach to see amazing things happen….

…I teach to see what pure joy means…

…I teach to remember what living life to the fullest means….

…I teach because this is where I learned life’s ABC’s.*…

…I teach because it makes me happy….

While I have not yet made up my mind at this point in time, I felt a spark rekindled in me. I am determined to make my teaching, both in the preschool and college levels, even better. I think part of the loss of interest was because of the fact that I’m just so tired, that I can barely enjoy myself with what I’m doing. I guess it’s also because I haven’t been taking care of my health too much. For one, I allowed myself to get fat again!  Seriously though, these things make it difficult for me to feel the joy of teaching on a regular basis.

Today, however, I saw my passion for teaching rekindled.

*life’s ABC’s, as published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Youngblood Section, July 2007. Click here for the article :-)

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Sep 6, 2010

Posted by in Featured, Life Lessons, Reflections, Teacher's Corner | 0 Comments

Thank You!

In anticipation of our upcoming Family Day activity next week, I am having my kids prepare thank you cards for their mommies, daddies, grannies or even nannies (whoever they want to make it for for that matter!). As I was preparing the materials this morning, I got to thinking about what who and what I am grateful for these past few months. I was suddenly reminded of the National Thank You Day celebration that Toblerone had last year, wherein I even held a contest in this blog sponsored by them.

And while Thank You Day is still weeks away, I still want to take this chance to say thank you to those that made this term especially meaningful. So as I close out the term (yes, grades included :-) ) let me just say thank you….

Thank you Abpsych students for making me laugh every meeting, even if you were always, always so kulit :-)

Thank you Psycho1 students for putting up with the technological challenges we had throughout the term…from the leaky roof, to the projector that wouldn’t project and the classroom without an aircon :-) And more so, for trying to convince me to teach Psycho2 so we can be in the same class again (although it didn’t work hahaha!)

Thank you LBYPSY class (lab class) for making every Tuesday afternoon a comedy of errors…both on your parts and mine. And yes, Kevs, Robbie, and Don, three times in a row is TOOO much :-)

Thank you PERSEF1 EW for giving me something to smile about always. Well, at least I think I was smiling.

Thank you Teacher Trina for being my lab partner :-) And for putting up with my weird moods and crazy ideas all the time! And for the car rides too….even if they did turn out…um….challenging every now and then.

Thank you Sir Robert for cheering me on with my  “Project Prettify Me”…and for trying to convince me to finish my thesis even though it makes me mad when you do :-) But best of all, thank you for recognizing that I am a good teacher, with or without my M.S. :-)

Thank you Teacher Pia for…well, where do I begin with this? I guess I can start it off with thank you for making that detour to the green school, even for a bit, because it changed my life in so many ways. More than you know, in fact :-) Thank you too for helping me find that spark of inspiration that I was starting to lose again and for reminding me to keep that little girl inside of me alive :-)

This list can go on for much longer, but I gotta get ready for class :-) But once more, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU :-)

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May 21, 2010

Posted by in Advocacies, Life Lessons, Outside the Classroom | 8 Comments

Nurturing a Teen’s Self-Esteem: Reflections learned from PBB

Last night, I caught an episode of the television show Pinoy Big Brother Teen Clash (PBB). Even from the teasers and trailers of the episode which aired throughout prime time, I had a bad feeling about what would happen in the show.

The nights episode featured the birthday parties of teens Tricia and Devon (disclaimer lang muna: sa lahat ng girls, pinakanagugustuhan kong mukha ay kay Devon, not the typical showbiz beauty pero maganda mukha niya! OT!!!). Since they are celebrating their birthdays this week, Kuya decided to give them a birthday party each. Sadly, it will be on the same day and their friends can only attend one party. Hmmm….from that pa lang na-off na ako. The idea of having to place a teenager at that position is quite an emotionally challenging experience. Nakaka-trauma kaya! Siguro kaya ako affected kasi alam ko rin naman that this is a personal issue that bothers me rin. For others, maybe this is not an issue. I’ll explain later why this triggered some emotions and negative feelings in me.

Anyway, as I had assumed (based on the trailer) hardly anyone went to Tricia’s party. Granted that she is the “unliked” teen by the others,  it was sad to see how this was played upon even more. While she was waiting for guests to arrive, for example, she heard the other side of the house celebrating as one by one, the Pinoy housemates arrived and cheered for Devon. I felt so bad for Tricia as she tried to cheer herself on despite the tears that were welling up in her eyes. I myself have been in that position many times, whispering to myself “okay lang yun”.  By the end of the episode, aamin ko na pati ako naluha. Yes, this coming from me who used to tell my own mother that she was so baduy because she was not just watchingPBB, pero naiinvolve pa talaga siya! :-)

Now…what does this have to do about me? Well…for one, I was a teen once. A not so pretty and mega super overweight teen at that. As such, I was never the “liked” teen in class. Also, many say I look mataray and suplada because of the way I look (at least when I was younger). Because of that, I was often misunderstood and disliked. I remember how whenever class groupings had to be made, I would often be the last to be chosen. Watching the show last night reminded me of that.

I would always dismiss it and tell myself it didn’t matter. For the most part, okay lang naman talaga sa akin. Or so I thought. A teenager’s ego is quite fragile and a lot of seemingly insignificant events can leave emotional scars that may not be apparent till much later on in life. In my case, that’s true. I always thought I had resolved those feelings and chalked it up to nothing but even as a young adult, I had a lot of insecurities even at work. In fact, one time I was inadvertently left off in an email correspondence between colleagues and this triggered a lot of feelings of anxiety and depression in me.  So much so I needed help to get over it.

Some may say OA naman reaction ko. Pero sa totoo lang, a lot of those feelings are deeply rooted in my poor self-esteem formation as a teen. While I may come across as confident and boisterous, those are cover-ups for my insecurity. I don’t personally know Tricia, pero what if kaya rin siya napagkakamalang maarte at lahat dahil ito rin ang way niya to deal with her feelings?

Adolescence is perhaps one of the most tumultuous and difficult experiences one goes through in life. It is often plagued with insecurities and uncertainties about who one is and the direction one is going in their lives. While this period in life brings with it a lot of new and exciting experiences, it also brings with it challenges that are often hard to explain.

According to Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory of Development, this is a period in which one goes through the developmental crisis known as “Identity vs. Role Confusion”.  In Britney Spears talk, at this time, a teenage girl is “not a girl, not yet a woman”. Whatever way you look at it, a teenage girl is at a crossroads of her life. She is picking up pieces of a puzzle that will complete a picture of who she is and what she is all about.

For me, last night’s experience was a painful episode in a vulnerable teens life. While she was opening an ice cream cone while talking to Patrick, you could see how pained she was that she really wanted to cry. I wonder how this will affect her self-esteem…

I have to applaud Tricia’s response to a very painful experience she had to go through. As she huddled under the blankets when the Pinoy teens arrived after the party, I heard her mutter what I would usually answer, but with less sarcasm: tapos na rin naman, wala na tayong magagawa.  She also invited her housemates to eat cake after going to the confession room and For a 15 year old, that was pretty big of her.

Moving on, however, the episode taught me an important lesson as a teacher :-) What is this? Well, it reminded me about my role in nurturing a child and teen’s self-esteem. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook this. Here are some tips on how to nurture a child (or teens) self-esteem:

  1. Give them constant affirmation for the good they do. By recognizing their strengths and highlighting their accomplishments, they can feel better about themselves. This will also help build their self-image.
  2. Focus on the positive, not the negative! Rather than saying “sayang may two mistakes ka, perfect na sana e!” say “great job! you almost got it all!” .  Although to be fair, pointing out the two mistakes can be a form of challenging them to do better. Be careful in using it.
  3. When punishing or reprimanding them, focus on the negative behavior and not the individual. Many times we unintentionally say ang tigas talaga ng ulo mo, no? or you’re such a bad girl (for younger kids). Rather than saying that, try using words like “what you did is bad” or “Your behavior is unacceptable”.
  4. For teachers, when making groups in class, try counting-off or assigning groups rather than leaving the students to pick their own group mates. This is what I’m most guilty of. I often let my students pick teams and I have had times when there is someone that the class does not like and she is left alone. Once, in fact, I had to intervene because no one wanted this girl in their groups and the girl ended up in tears.
  5. Provide opportunities for success rather than defeat. This does not mean, however, that he/she should not be challenged to push themselves further.

I am looking forward to tonight’s episode. I want to see how Kuya processes this (I sure hope meron!) and how he will turn this into a learning experience for everyone involved. By the way, hats off to some of the teenternationals who showed concern towards Tricia. I don’t know who said it but after the party, one of them commented that “it’s like they don’t even care”. Let’s see how this transforms these teens not just to be winners in this reality show but to actually become winners in life.

PS: please excuse the grammar and taglish nature of this post :-) emotional issue here!

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May 12, 2010

Posted by in Life Lessons, Teacher's Corner | 0 Comments

Charice: On the Pyramid of Success

Every time I watch videos of Charice on You Tube, I get moved to tears, literally. There’s something about her that tugs at my heartstrings, especially when she is on a stage with Oprah. Today while browsing my Facebook page, I came across a video of Charice’s phenomenal debut at the Oprah show which was posted by a friend. I clicked it and yes, I was left in tears again.

She never fails to amaze me! I love her vulnerability and her nervous energy which makes me feel her authenticity. I feel that she is really living her dream. As I write this, I am playing videos of her on You Tube on another browser window.

It sad though, that while the rest of the world loves her, she did not experience the same successes on the local scene. In  an episode of Oprah, she shared how she was made to feel that she was not good enough or pretty enough especially for the local audience. However, thanks to her sudden discovery on You Tube which led her to Ellen and Oprah, she has proven all those who said she wouldn’t make it wrong.

I am thrilled at where she is at now…not simply because I am a Filipino who is thrilled at another Pinoy’s success, but for the simple fact that she has made it, she has reached her dream.

As a teacher, one of the things I try to foster in children is the idea that they can live their dreams. I tell them that working hard and believing in themselves is very important because without that, they’re already halfway lost. While luck may help a dream along, I personally think there’s no substitute to striving for one’s dream.

Charice is a shining example of living a dream. I hope that (while I know I’m no Oprah!!!) I can foster this attitude of hope, resilience and belief in oneself in the children I teach.

Watch Charice debut her album on Oprah here and for a look back at her Oprah journey which led to her present successes, check out the Charice – The O Road to May 11th video series on You Tube :-)

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Nov 15, 2009

Posted by in Life Lessons, Teacher's Corner | 1 Comment

My Teacher of Life’s Important Lessons.

Many of life’s important lessons were taught to me by the most uncanny teacher.

In my wildest imagination, I would not have imagined how much I have grown and become a better person since he came into my life. To be honest, when he first came, I was not interested. I tried not to be attracted. I fought hard not to fall for him but try as I might, he was just too charming not to fall in love with. When I finally allowed myself to love him, my life changed drastically.

Because of him I learned what it meant to be selfless. I used to tell my friends so proudly that I would never let anyone else dictate to me how or when to do things. I used to be proud of the fact that I did exactly what I wanted and I offered no apologies for it.  But when he came into my life, I started changing that. Whenever I make decisions now, I factor in how this affects him. Despite this, it is because of him that I appreciated the fact that being selfless does not mean not loving yourself, but doing both at the same time.

In him I saw what adoration meant. I never really had to do anything special to receive this, it was just there. In the same breath, he taught me that this is what unconditional love really is.

I learned to be more open-minded and accepting of others for who they really are. Because of him, I was able to let go of past judgments and irrational beliefs I held on to. In many ways, he makes me think outside the box and to try things in new ways.

He taught me to be forgiving and what letting go of anger means. Whenever I fail him or hurt him, a little cariño and a sorry is enough then all is forgotten.

He also taught me how to take a chance. For most of my life I had always been the one who’d bet only on the sure thing. I was the one who never took excessive risks and very seldom even accommodated calculated ones. But with him, all that went out the window and I just said why not.

But more than anything I think the most important lesson I’ve learned from him is that when there is love, that’s all that matters. No, I am not being cheesy here, nor have I gone all lovey-dovey. What I mean by this is that because there is love, real love that is, one can really overlook shortcomings, differences and inadequacies.  I sure have a lot of those and yet my Bubba loves me.

Yes, Bubba is a dog. I told you he was an uncanny teacher!


I just realized this isn’t the first time I’ve written about Bubba…he really has taught me so much since I got him. Here’s an excerpt of a post back in 2006. I had him for about a year then. READ THE FULL ENTRY HERE

When Bubba first came into our home, I said there was no way I was gonna like him. After all, I hate dogs….But as the days progressed, the little creature slowly worked his way into my heart. Much as I didn’t wanna admit it, it made me smile when he’d come running to the gate when I’d come home from a long day’s work. Whenever he’d do a trick I’d teach him, it made me feel a bit glad. Still, even with those minor concessions, I still wasn’t ready to admit I was smitten.

Then one night while we were taking a walk, I realized it was not really “Bubba” that I said I wouldn’t like. In many ways, I chose not to allow him into my heart because by doing so, I would set myself up for another goodbye somewhere down the road. I’ve had to say goodbye too many times in my life already, and I didn’t need another one. Why set myself up for the pain and sadness that ultimately comes in the end?…

Okay, okay, I begrudgingly admit it…I have fallen again. This time, I’m not afraid of making the mistake and of the hurt that may come along with it. Who knows, maybe this time, it wouldn’t end that way. And maybe, just maybe, I won’t be alone anymore. No matter what happens though, even if I ended up with a goodbye down the road, I wouldn’t be completely alone because of what I have gained along the way.

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May 30, 2009

Posted by in Life Lessons, The Library | 15 Comments

Books to Liven Up Every Library

For PhotoHunt this week, the theme is books. Over the summer, my colleagues and I cleaned up the school library and decided to allot one slot for our “favorite” books. From Guess How Much I Love You to The Rainbow Fish, the shelf is definitely the most overused section of our library.

dsc001782However, if I were to recommend books to liven up any kids library, it would definitely be those of Eric Carle.  These are but a few of his many fun and colorful books for children. My personal favorite is Brown Bear, Brown Bear because it provides a venue for active involvement with the kids I read it too. After the story, I extend the book to a class activity where I ask the kids to draw what they want to see then we make our own book about it. On a recent trip to FullyBooked bookstore here in the Philippines, I almost fainted at the wonderful Eric Carle selection they had!

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May 21, 2009

Posted by in Life Lessons, Teacher's Corner, Tips and Tricks | 0 Comments

And the Underdog, Kris Allen takes the win!

I have always loved rooting for the underdog, albeit  I may enjoy the popular choice better. This years American Idol finale was no execption. While I enjoyed watching the outlandish and lavish performances by crowd favorite Adam Lambert, I secretly crossed my fingers for an upset.

And an upset we all got!

In the latest idol shocker, Kris Allen, the quiet and understated crooner, won the coveted American Idol title leaving many Lambert fans in shock at the results. Immediately after the win the clamor of the upset filled microblogging sites. However, let me, Teacher Ria, take this moment to savor the win of the underdog.

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May 17, 2009

Posted by in Life Lessons | 1 Comment

Playing in the Sandbox.

(I am borrowing the term sandbox loosely from the Social Networking Site of the same name. I don’t know if the developers named the Smart’s site, Sandbox for the same reason I envision it to be, but nonetheless, I think I live in a world of virtual sandboxes. Parts of this post is taken from an earlier post I wrote in my Sandbox account entitled “In the Sandbox”.)

As a preschool teacher, I’ve seen many great things happen in the sandbox. From friendships being formed to arguments erupting and being settled the Sandbox is probably a kids version of the real world. This is where ideas are born and developed. It is where loyalties are learned and values are explored. And lest we forget, it is a place of fun!

As we get older, we move away from the sandbox and forage through the great unknown, but the dynamics remain the same. We find a place where we converge, form friendships, settle arguments, share ideas, and even find love and grow.

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