2015 in review

My favorite teacher, Rica Bolipata-Santos, posted this writing assignment on her FB account:

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Ma’am Rica said that it wasn’t really important to follow the number but that we should “Write [our] year, in honor and in supplication.”

So I choose to write my year in months, with these highlights and disappointments and game changers and things I focused on and forgot remembered in the order they happened.

Continue reading

Why?

The first time I encountered JUST THIS QUESTION in an academic setting was in junior year high school when our Filipino teacher asked on a major exam: Bakit? (direct translation of said question).

That was it. One word.

We were talking about literature and grammar and things like that and then out of the blue he drops on our puny little brains a philosophical question.

I didn’t get it.

WHY stray off topic?

WHY what? Where were the modifiers? the qualifiers? Where was the rest of the question?

WHY was the question incomplete?

WHY did I get a lower grade for not satisfactorily answering a question that was not included in the pointers for review?

And with this encounter began my profound dislike (bordering on hatred) for philosophy.

I didn’t understand WHY he put that question there. Even after “explaining” the question when he returned our papers to us, and he pointed out that when someone said, “Bakit hindi?” (Why not? This answer, btw, got the equivalent of an A), it was what he was looking for. WHAT EXACTLY WAS HE LOOKING FOR?

As a teacher now I would have to say that even though I hate these types of on-the-spot questions, I do see a bit of merit here. This “strategy” (if you will) informs the teacher of the student’s ability to handle a situation that is unexpected. Does the student handle it well? negatively? proactively? This type of information is important for the teacher because it helps her prepare for lessons and activities and PTC’s accordingly.

What I didn’t like about what my teacher did back then was to grade us on it. That was just… wrong.

———

This small rant just showed want kind of a learner I am. I liked the traditional. I liked the memorization because I was kinda good at it. As a teacher, though, I recognize that my book smarts–while helpful–were not enough.

Do I now appreciate what my teacher did? Only in that it told me I had to be smarter, and that my students can’t get stuck the way I did back then.

But I still don’t like what he did.

Tanggi at Tanggap

This blog post was written in Tagalog/Filipino. An English translation is provided at the bottom.

ADE fail

Oh well. Challenge accepted. 😀

TANGGI

Tinanggihan ang aking aplikasyon para sa pagsali sa eksklusibong grupo ng mga gurong gumagamit ng teknolohiyang Apple. Sa madaling salita, hindi ako nakapasok sa ADE (Apple Distinguished Educators).

Isang malaking karangalan at responsibilidad ang matawag na ADE, at pinangarap kong mapasama sa piling mga taong may ganoong titulo. Naisip ko na hindi maganda ang aplikasyon ko subalit umasa pa rin ako na makakapasok dahil ayon sa konteksto ng aking paaralan, malabo talaga na marami ang aking magawa gamit ang teknolohiya.

Una sa lahat, wala kaming koneksyon sa internet noong unang taon ng operasyon. Noong pangalawang taon, isang silid-aralan lang ay may koneksyon. Nitong nakaraang taon, kahit na may internet na kami, nag-aagawan naman kaming mga guro sa paggamit ng mga Macbook o iPad.

Naisip ko na dahil hinihingi naman nila ang aking kuwento, mabuti nang sabihin ko ang totoo na hirap ako sa paggamit ng teknolohiya pero naipakita ko naman na handa akong magtrabaho at maghanap ng oportunidad na gamitin ito.

Nalungkot ako ngayong umaga nang matanggap ko ang sulat na hindi ako nakapasa. Naiyak pa ako. Sinabihan ko agad ang aming punong-guro (ano ba Tagalog ng principal?) at tunay na napakabait niya dahil hindi naman siya nagalit. Naramdaman kong nalungkot siya (ano Tagalog ng disappointed?) kaya mas lalo akong nalungkot dahil hindi maganda ang balitang iniulat ko sa kanya.

TANGGAP

Mahirap tanggapin na may pagkukulang ka kahit na alam mo namang hindi ka naman perpektong tao. Sinisikap mong galingan pero sa bawat pagkabigo damang-dama mo ang iyong pagkukulang. Madaling magpakitang-tao–ang sabihin sa mundo gamit ang text at social media na tanggap mo ang pagtanggi sa iyo dahil may iba pa namang proyekto, pero sa kaibuturan ng iyong damdamin ay ang sakit ng pagkabigo. Sa totoo lang kahit ako ay nabababawan sa sarili dahil parang pinalaki ko ang isang maliit na bagay, pero kahit anong gawin ko ay hindi ko maalis ang sama ng loob ko. Wala naman akong sinisisi. Hindi naman ako galit sa kahit sinong tao. Sadyang hindi lang ako masaya ngayon.

Tanggap ko naman ang pagkatanggi sa akin. Naiintindihan ko kung bakit. Masakit lang ang paalala na hindi ako mas magaling sa iba o kahit man lang kasinggaling ng ibang tao… na hindi sapat ang ginawa ko.

Eh ano ngayon ang dapat gawin?

Edi kumain nang maraming masarap na pagkain para mawala ang lungkot. Ika nga sa Inggles: eat your feelings.

Pagkatapos ay itigil na ang pagmumukmok dahil wala namang nangyayari sa mga taong ‘yon lang ang ginawa sa buhay. Move on move on din ‘teh. Kailangan para sumaya.

——————–

English translation:

REJECT

My application to join an exclusive group of teachers who use Apple technology was rejected. In other words, I didn’t get accepted to ADE (Apple Distinguished Educators).

It is a huge honor and responsibility to be called an ADE, and I dreamed that I would be one of those select people with that title. I had thought that my application was not that good but still I hoped that I’d get in beause based on the context of my school, there really wasn’t a lot of opportunities to use technology.

In the first place, we didn’t have an internet connection in our first year of operations. In the second year, only one classroom had internet. This past school year, even though we already had internet, we teachers would “fight” over who’d get to use the Macbooks or iPads for our classes.

I had thought that since they were asking for my story, it would be good to tell the truth that I had great difficulty in using technology, but I showed that I was ready to work hard and look for opportunities to use tech.

I was saddened this morning when I received the email saying that I did not pass. I even cried. I immediately told our principal, and she really is amazing because she did not get mad at me. I did feel that she was a bit disappointed, which is why I got sadder knowing that I was not able to give her good news.

ACCEPT

It is difficult to accept that you lack something even though you are well aware that are not perfect. You try to do your best, but with every failure you feel that lack. It is easy to put on a brave face–to tell the world using texts and social media that you accept the rejection because there are other projects, but deep down you feel the pain of that rejection. The truth is, even I myself find this reaction shallow because it feels like I made a big deal out of something small, but no matter what I do I can’t erase this upset feeling. I mean, I don’t blame anybody. I’m not mad at anybody. I just am not happy right now.

I accept my failure. I understand why I was not accepted into the program. It just hurts–this reminder that I am not better than others or even as good as others… that what I did was not enough.

So what should I do now?

Well, I shall eat a lot of oh-so-scrumptious food to get rid of this sadness. As they say in English: eat your feelings.

After that I shall stop this moping because nothing good ever comes to those who just mope around forever. I have to move on. I need to in order to be happy.

——–

//edit.
I found pistachio ice cream. Life is good. 🙂

I don’t know

Today’s blog post is supposed to be all about the letter I, and I initially thought of doing a blog post on Instagram (check mine out, yeah? work and personal). There was a time I swore I would never join instagram because I had this thing about going against the popular.

BUT

being the social media hound that I am, I caved late last year and signed up. (And now I have two accounts).

————

So while that up there’s an entry already for the A to Z challenge (WordPress tag reader here), I also want to talk about what I don’t know. As a teacher, I’ve struggled the past two years because I was teaching material I had not taught before. These were things I had not known about or known how to teach before, so researching and asking senior teachers and my bosses for help became half my whole teaching life. The other half was the actual teaching and then the checking, of course.

This coming school year, I’m going to be faced with some new responsibilities as well, and I feel terrified that I won’t be able to do enough, which, in turn, is already more horrible than you’d think because in our school, everybody (admin, students, parents) expect nothing short of excellence. It’s not enough to do the bare minimum.

So there.

I admit I don’t know much, but that’s not going to stop me from doing well excellently.

More on reading and literature

My friend Abner’s post on Lang Leav and literature had me thinking of two things: ideas to expose our students to beautiful poetry and wonderful literature, and my own literary backstory.

Pasabog/An Explosion of Literature

As I was reading aforementioned post, particularly the part about having a school environment that exposed and encouraged students to literature, ideas on what we could do to foster such love for the written word. We recently concluded our Literacy Month activities during which we turned classrooms into “living” books of popular authors (Bibliofy activity for high school); featured Bible stories and locally penned literature in the grade school bulletin boards; invited children’s book authors to give talks; invited parents to hold storytelling sessions to the kids; and come to school in costume (featuring literary characters!). The feedback from the students was resoundingly positive, and the students have given us more ideas and tips on what to do the following year.

Because of such a reception, I’m encouraged to continue promoting literacy and love for reading. Abner’s post made me imagine school filled with poetry from floor to ceiling. I saw “graffiti” on the walls and floor featuring lines from Shakespeare famous poems or plays, quotes from Austen’s or Nabokov’s or the Bronte sisters’ or Eliot’s works; I can see the canteen tables stenciled with lines from Dahl or Seuss or–let’s not forget local writers–Rizal or Joaquin. Grade school corridors would see paintings of local children’s book covers or characters from Darna or Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Raquel or any of Rene O. Villanueva’s stories.

"Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Raquel" Click to go to official website of publisher.

“Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Raquel”
Click to go to official website of publisher.

Grade 3 students recreated "Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Raquel" on their bulletin board using recycled materials for Literacy Month. Photo by Darrel Marco

Grade 3 students recreated “Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Raquel” on their bulletin board using recycled materials for Literacy Month. Photo by Darrel Marco

(Ooooooh I could pee in my pants right now from this excitement!)

This is a HUGE undertaking that possibly requires a HUGE amount of funds, which, unfortunately, we don’t have, but I’m not about to give this up just yet. I can wait and come up with alternative literary appreciation activities. I’ve got a poetry reading activity and Shakespeare street theater lined up for approval this coming final academic quarter, and a dedication paper roses suggestion (dunno how this is gonna work yet, but I’m excited!) from a colleague that we can use to both raise funds for the different school organizations and a way to promote literature. And then Literacy Month, National Children’s Book Day, and Buwan ng Wika (Filipino Month) are all annual events that we celebrate, so there is no shortage of institutional literary appreciation activities.

I believe this now begs the question of how do we encourage or foster a love for reading INSIDE the classroom? Heaven knows it’s next to impossible to get EVERY single student to love reading in just one school year, but a teacher can and will always try. This is one goal of teaching that I feel I have not fully accomplished, for I still have students who skip required reading material and go for online summaries or ask classmates for details on what happened.

Can you imagine if reading were promoted on a grand scale?! We’d have readers and readers and more readers!

This brings me to my second thought: my personal literary backstory.

However, given the length of this blog post already, I think I’ll save that for another day. 🙂

In defense of Lang Leav

Facebook is a haven for both the inspiring and infuriating. Today I saw the latter on my feed, and this particular one has spurred me to blog.
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   Obviously, this is a screencap of a conversation between two people. I paste it here because it was shared on Instagram and Facebook, which I take to mean it’s for sharing with people. However, since the accounts this was shared on are private, I shall not divulge the name of the person who said this nor of the one who posted it. I merely want to share the cause of my irk.
   One of the poster’s comments was this:
She’s “good” (in the sense that she reached the minimum requirements to be considered “good”) but the way that people are gaga over her work…..parang…people, she’s not THAT good! Her pieces are half-baked and are so….meh…. There are a LOT of better authors out there.
Parang si Cara Delevigne. Di naman ganoon talaga kaganda pero ang daming naloloka sa kanya. (Like Cara Delevigne. She’s not really that beautiful, but a lot go gaga over her.)
   I asked the poster what “the minimum requirements to be considered good” were, and the reply to me was the following:
I am not in a position to answer that since I do not find anything I like in her work And I was told that <college literary portfolio> people do not like her work
   I like Lang Leav’s work. You could say that I’m a fan, but in no way do I go crazy over her work. However, I do recognize the “merit” in her poetry. Her words are plain. Her rhyme and rhythm simple. Her metaphors and figurative language easily comprehensible. She is no Nick Joaquin, Vladimir Nabokov (have you read his love letters?), or Pablo Neruda, BUT her poetry is able to reach people, which is more than I can say for Shakespeare, who, for all his brilliance, easily alienates potential lovers of literature.
   Lang Leav’s work is great material for introducing people to the beauty of poetry. I accept that she’s not the be-all and end-all of poetry, but I believe it’s no reason to decry her work. My students have come to appreciate poetry because of her work, and they’ve opened up to the possibility of more complex literature because they weren’t immediately turned off.
   THIS, my dear friends, is why I will always defend Lang Leav.
//edit
Here are two other opinions on Lang Leav, her work, and of “accessible literature.”

Distress / Destress

It’s a bullet point kind of day.

  • Finished one entire set of papers when I woke up early. I finished it in one hour, which is the most productive I’ve been in a long time. I’m thinking of doing it again tonight: sleep early, wake up early. Let’s see where this brings me.
  • Class 1 was awesome. Class 2 was late but still awesome. Classes 3 and 4 were also awesome. White Obama made it awesome. (This pic is ridiculous, but I still laughed. I’m sorry.)
Click pic to go to source. Accessed November 9, 2014

Click pic to go to source. Accessed November 9, 2014

  • Plans ruined. No, not really. Just… will be modifying them.
  • Back pain still there. Salonpas didn’t work so well. It eased the pain from Level: Immobile to Level: Discomfort, so I guess it was okay.
  • The Science Lab is LOOOOOOVE. I don’t know why I ever stopped using it as my checking room. It’s the best place to focus on checking. ZERO distractors and annoyances.
  • I worry about my students.
  • I cry. My new favorite person left. Every time I approached her, I would find myself on the verge of tears. And then come meeting time, I found myself on the verge of tears again from what we were talking about. AND IT’S NOT EVEN THAT TIME OF THE MONTH ANYMORE. And now I’m watching a local telenovela as I type this, and I’m crying again. WHY do my tears fall so easily?
  • These two characters are talking about death and I think about how I feel about it. When we talk of mortality, we speak of our children. (Joan Didion). In my case, I’m thinking about my parents. I think about my siblings. I think about my friends. I… Hm. I don’t want to think about this now.
  • Ryan Chua on TV right now. Nippage, dude. Stop wearing tight shirts.