Sep 6, 2010

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Lessons that Matter Most

In the past three weeks, I have had my share of ups and downs with regards to myself and my competence in this teaching world that I belong in. I guess it really comes from the fact that I’m a different kind of teacher and although I can appreciate the value of that most of the time, every now and then, I find myself in painted into a corner, especially when it comes to doing things by the book. Same goes for standardized assessments.

What kind of teacher am I to begin with? Well, I definitely am not the conventional type of educator. Perhaps this is one reason why I adapted very well to the transformative learning framework that the university I teach in employs. Since the very beginning of my college teaching days, I already used alternative means of getting my kids to learn. I’ve always loved having toys and storybooks around to make my lessons more real to the people I teach. My philosophy of teaching, after all, is not just to know the facts and figures but to understand, appreciate and make sense of them all, because what’s the point of just knowing if you can’t apply it, right?

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Sep 1, 2010

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Unexpected Surprises

I love you Teacher!

Today I woke up feeling a wee bit under the weather and with very little inspiration in my heart. Add to that, tired eyes from another sleepless night compounded by endless palpitations that was driving me nuts. I don’t really know what it was, but I just knew I was starting things off on the wrong foot. Before leaving for work, I posted a message on my Plurk page saying that I was feeling a bit emotionally, physically and mentally tired and that I could really use a hug, which my Plurk buddies readily gave. However, I still found myself wishing for something more. Like I said, I don’t really know where it was coming from, but I just felt soooo zapped of all positive energy in me and I was feeling kinda low.

Just before classes started, I checked on my Facebook page and saw a wall post from a friend who was wishing me well because of my earlier messages and I quickly sent back a reply before beginning circle time which said: “i am okay thank you very much :-) i could use a hug and some positive energy, but im fine :-) see you later”. Just as I logged off from my mobile connection, one of my little kiddos suddenly came up to me and just threw his arms around me and gave me a loooong squeeze and said, “I love you, Teacher”.

*heart melts*

I wasn’t really expecting it and when it happened, all I could think of was how amazing it is to work with kids. We kinda think it is us giving something to them and touching their lives to make a difference, but the truth is, often times, it’s the other way around. Today my heart was full of joy because of that unexpected surprise.

This is truly one of the priceless joys of preschool teaching.

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Aug 29, 2010

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Term-end Analysis

Even though I have been teaching for so, so long, I still find myself surprised at how quickly a trimester goes. It feels like we just started yesterday, but here I am again, checking their papers and working on grades. Despite this term starting off on the wrong foot for me (for some reason I had difficulty getting into the groove of things, why I don’t really know, but it was not as natural and spontaneous for me this time), I enjoyed my classes very much. I also liked the outputs that came out of my various classes, especially the advocacy and information dissemination campaigns we did, both for abnormal psychology and for another subject.

My goal for these projects was simple: to campaign for understanding for their assigned mental disorder (for abnormal psychology) and to promote solutions for simple day to day social problems.

In their projects, I had the students make videos that would make their assigned issue simple and understandable to an ordinary person. I told them to also supplement these with inspirational posters that will drive their messages home.  I also encouraged them to make their campaigns as multi-modal as possible. Some of them designed pins and buttons with funny quotes and some even made board games about their topics.  There were some who even designed shirts (similar to those Cafepress funny tshirts) to highlight how simple it can be to solve everyday problems if we just try.

Those projects were definitely the highlight of my term :-) I loved how this also engaged the students in a different type of learning activity that let them tap into their different potentials. Overall, I have to say the effort of my batch of kids this term made me feel good about teaching, especially since I tend to be a more non-traditional teacher. This term, I felt that for the most part, they appreciated that too :-)

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Aug 27, 2010

Posted by in Featured, Reflections, Teacher's Corner | 3 Comments

Missing my Little Cara-tot

I would be lying if I said I don’t have class favorites.

Let me qualify that statement: I have kids who I feel more connected to compared to others, but this does not mean I don’t treat my kids equally. Some of them just have the uncanny ability of tugging at my heartstrings. To be fair, I keep my emotions in check when I work with the children in class, and I make sure to have my partner tell me if she feels I am paying too much attention to one over the other.

The thing is, as hard as I try not to get attached to some other kids, I can’t help but fall for some of them. Perhaps it’s because of a certain need they have, or a difficulty we worked through together, or simply because he or she is simply adorable and can make me laugh, whatever it is, some of them creep slowly into my heart and stay there for a long, long time.

Cara was one of those little kids who touched my heart and has stayed there despite the fact that she has been gone for the past two school years already.

I guess what made Cara so special to me was that she was in the first class I taught after returning from my two year retirement from preschool teaching and she was one of my biggest success stories ever! She transformed from a very clingy (yes, with matching cry, kick and may-I-throw-you-a-tantrum daily) little girl who refused to talk to anyone except her cousin Rafa and her nanny to a confident and sociable child in a few months. At first she would not allow me to hold her and would really cry if her yaya was asked to wait in the nanny area already.

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Aug 27, 2010

Posted by in Classroom Escapades, Featured, Lesson Plans, Outside the Classroom, Preschool | 0 Comments

When Nature Has Other Plans

Often times in a preschool teachers life she will find that no matter how well in advance she has planned her lessons, things happen that change the course of this discussion. In my personal experience, this has happened countless times, both for the good and the bad. Sometimes these changes are due to faulty equipment or at times due to a more pressing interest in another topic or stimuli, whatever it is, the teachers job is to adjust to these changes and not get caught up with the “plan”.

When I was starting out, I occasionally struggled with that. It took some time for me to really embrace the idea that no matter what I do or say, if the children are intent on something else, I better just go with it. And what I realized from this is by going with the children’s flow, I would find they learned better and they remembered these lessons even years later.

One example of these sudden changes was when I ran into Mother Nature as I taught my kids about animals and bugs. As part of our Math lesson, I had them go through an investigative bug hunt. The task was for them to look for the plastic bugs and pictures of animals I had hidden around the playground and to count the number of legs these bugs had, then we were to chart this and compare which had more or less . Armed with a magnifying glass and a record sheet, we set out in search for these little critters.

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Aug 23, 2010

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Easy Cost-Cutting Measures for Day to Day

It is a sad fact that good quality learning materials are costly. While it is true that cheaper and more affordable alternatives are readily available, their quality is not always as good. For example, I was able to buy a relatively affordable pocket chart for my class, but compared to the more expensive one that I got a few years back, it broke more quickly than the old one. Another example is how the low-cost building blocks can really not compare to Duplo or Lego.

However, the question of expense should not compromise the quality of education we give our kids, or at least I would like to believe. I work hard at finding ways to give my best to the kids without having to spend too much. Unfortunately for me, the use of discount coupons and rebates, such as the Radio Shack coupons I was able to use years ago to get one of those V-tech computers, is not very popular where I live. As such, I have to rely on store sales all the time.

Nonetheless, there are many ways to cut costs on a daily basis. Here are a few of my ideas:

  1. Buy in bulk. Whether it is art supplies or printer ink, get them in the bigger bags since these are often waaaay cheaper. Plus there are often promos for these, such as the HP coupon codes that allow you to get small tokens, rebates and refunds.
  2. Utilize scraps! I use a whole bunch of these…from toilet paper rolls old boxes, these will definitely lessen the need to purchase new items.
  3. Scratch paper is your friend! I use these for drawings, practice sheets and the like.
  4. Make sure your light bulbs and the like are cost-efficient. Recently, we were able to change some of our bulbs to the “green” and “low energy” bulbs. Hopefully this will translate to savings soon. These bulbs are available in local hardwares. Sometimes there are even Home Depot coupons and discount vouchers that can lower the costs of these more expensive light bulbs to the regular ones which are generally cheaper.
  5. Be vigilant. For me, this is the best cost-cutting measure. Make sure you utilize materials and equipment at it’s best so that you can save in the long run. Keeping these in tip-top shape will make sure nothing goes to waste.

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Aug 22, 2010

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

When Students Grow Up

fellow bloggers with SM Winema Project Head, Sharon Yu…

yes…she used to be my student!

One of the most rewarding things for me as a teacher is seeing my kids grow up to become their own people. Over the years I have received updates from parents bubbling with pride over their child’s latest accomplishments and every time I get these messages, I feel a surge of pride rush in me. Even though I know a lot has happened since they were in my class, I can’t help but feel I am part of that growth and progress as well, even just a little bit.

In the past two years, my very first preschoolers have graduated from elementary school and are now in high school. It’s amazing how quickly time flies and in my head, I still think of them as the little kids I used to carry around!

My college kids have graduated too. I guess that’s even stranger for me than having the little ones grow up! For one, a guy from the very first class I taught in the university is now my colleague in the department. More than that, he’s a very accomplished researcher. I also have found myself “working” with former students in a totally different capacity now. Since I have gotten into this blogging thing, I have run in to two former students from an advertising/marketing class I once taught. The last time I saw one of them, we had a long talk about the movie Inception and about Psychology. And you know what, for some reason, I felt so tongue-tied and clueless all of a sudden!!!

In any case, seeing them grow up has truly been a testament to why I do this job :-)

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Aug 22, 2010

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My Biggest Investment :-)

This is about a year old but I guess I really have to say that my car has been my biggest investment ever. Well, financial investment that is. Given that teaching is not really the most lucrative profession around, it really took some time for me to be able to pay off the amortization of the car, but at the end of the day, it was so worth it!

I am also glad that I opted to maintain a comprehensive insurance coverage, even though the car is halfway through it’s fourth year.  Sometime last year, for example, a small pebble hit my windshield and a crack appeared. Thankfully, my insurance company replaced it with no questions asked.

This year, when I asked for a my renewal insurance quote, I made sure to include an “Acts of God” coverage. I think this is especially important especially given the changes in today’s weather. We all know how floods are so prevalent nowadays, right?

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Aug 20, 2010

Posted by in Lesson Plans, Preschool, Teaching Resources, Tips and Tricks | 1 Comment

Teacher Made Resources: Alphabet Dress Up Cards

I was able to dig up one of my old teacher made materials just in time for our class discussion on clothing. I made this probably five or six years ago and I was amazed that it still existed!

When I first made this, what I had in mind was integrating academic concepts to a “fun” game. As such, I created a paper doll, a farmer to be exact. The goal was to dress up the farmer with articles of clothing that matched based on the letter seen on his hat. I guess you can see what I mean in the photo :-)

Cute, don’t you think? ;-) hmmm….maybe I should patent this right about now hahaha!

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Aug 19, 2010

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Planning Ahead is Key

I guess this will not only relate to preschools but to any business venture as well, but one of the key steps in making your plans is considering all options for protecting your investment. From a commercial insurance policy to getting a group health plan for your employees, this can translate to big savings in the long run. For example, last year during Typhoon Ondoy, many schools, ours included, lost some equipment and materials due to flooding. Lucky for us, it wasn’t so bad for our school but for other schools, they lost much, much more. Having a good coverage can surely be a good way to help you get back to your feet, right?

Other important things to plan ahead for, especially in the school setting, are as follows:

  • Keeping your fire insurance up to date and ensuring you have the necessary equipment such as a fire extinguisher, a fire exit and the like, just in case of emergency.
  • Everyday health and safety measures should also be kept in check. Having your first aid kits fully stocked is one good way to get this done.
  • Having a list of emergency numbers, including the numbers of each of the children’s parents close to the phone is also important so they can easily be contacted if the need arises.
  • When planning field trips, activities and the like, check out the travel and group health insurance quotes that partner establishments offer.

These are just a few of the things to plan ahead for in ensuring the best for whatever it is you are doing, be it on a personal or business level :-)

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