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Oct 5, 2010

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

I Teach Because They Taught Me Well

Happy World Teachers Day!

Every now and then, I still find myself questioning why and how I happened to fall into teaching. I still haven’t figured out the answer to that, but every time I find myself questioning just that, I am reminded that whatever the reason may be, I am just so lucky to have been given the opportunity to be among the ranks of those who are called ‘teacher’, and while I may be (and perhaps always will be) an Accidental Teacher, I am grateful that I am able to heed the call to do what it is I do.

Today I’d like to take pause and honor all the teachers that have paved the way for my own path, because in my heart of hearts, I know I wouldn’t be here if not for what I’ve gained through them.

Perhaps the teacher I owe most of who I am today is Teacher Chona. It was she who recognized early warning signs of dyslexia in me and went through great lengths to help me overcome that looming learning disability. While it may come to hinder me every now and then, I believe that her support and insights as early as then made learning, and yes, even excelling, a possibility for me.

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Jun 10, 2010

Posted by in Multimedia Center, Teaching Resources | 0 Comments

Lessons from the Karate Kid

I was able to catch an early screening of the Karate Kid and I loved it a lot! I don’t really remember much of the first three installments of the film, but this last one was a blast :-)

As usual, the teacher in me got to thinking about how I can use the film in my class. What really struck me about the film is that it is really more than just a story of karate (or should I say kung fu) but it’s a story about patience, perseverance and courage in the face of anything. On a personal level, it reminded me of the value of being centered and tapping into “quiet energy”. Another thing I was able to appreciate in the film is the reminder that life should be a balancing act between work and play.

The Karate Kid definitely has earned it’s rightful place in Teacher Ria’s shelf of movies to use when teaching class, particularly for leadership and self-development :-) Read more of my review on Karate Kid here.

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May 31, 2010

Posted by in The Library | 0 Comments

Books for the Classroom: William’s Doll

When I first started this blog, I wanted offer various resources and materials that would be helpful to teachers like me. I haven’t really had time to focus on that but starting today (especially since a new school year is starting, I will try to be more consistent with that! Hence, here is a new category that will fall under the library section of this blog, Books for the Classroom

The storybook William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow is a great book to use in class when talking about gender roles and breaking stereotypes attached to it, especially if you have kids who like playing with toys that appear to be gender inappropriate.

The story tells of a little boy named William who asks his mother to give him a doll. Given that he is a boy, his father tried to encourage him to play with trains and other toys for boys, but much as he liked these toys, he still asked for a doll. Finally his grandmother conceded and gave him a doll and when asked why he wanted a doll, William replied that it would be so he can practice being a father.

I’ve used this story several times in my teaching career, and I have even extended the use of this to my college classrooms where I teach social psychology. It is a good way of looking at socially accepted norms and allowing kids to feel accepted despite being “different”.

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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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Apr 11, 2010

Posted by in Advocacies, Teacher's Corner | 0 Comments

Rewriting Filipino Time.

I used to be a very punctual person growing up.  Now, I catch myself being late a lot. To be fair, I still am generally prompt  when it comes to meetings and appointments. However, because of the notion of Filipino Time, sometimes I find myself dilly dallying instead of getting ready as early as I would have normally used to do.

The idea that it is okay to be late because the event (be it a meeting, party or what not) doesn’t start on time anyway seems to have been so ingrained into todays society that many have lost a sense of value for time. Perhaps this attitude prevails because it has become an accepted behavior among most of us, very much like Pavlov’s classical conditioning. I suppose we also make it acceptable by our response to these kinds of behaviors.

Just this term, the university I work for introduced a program to really emphasize the importance of being on time. Every now and then, we would receive emails reminding us about how we should be in the classrooms on time, even though our students tend to come in later. I guess part of the reason why the students come late too is because they know the teachers are aware they come late so they aren’t 100% prompt 100% of the time. Plus they get away with it anyway.

This coming term, I am going to try to rewrite Filipino time, at least for myself. Perhaps by being more self-aware about my being prompt and conscientious about this, I can affect change around me, after all, this is why I’m called teacher, right?

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