The Finish Line

Relief.

This is what I feel every time I finish working on my course tasks this term. Finally, just a few hours ago, I was able to submit the final requirement for the last course I need to get my Professional Teaching Certificate.

It has been a tough term, what with adjusting to a modular curriculum for the subject I teach, which meant going to and from different buildings to get to my classes. If that weren’t enough, I was diagnosed with herniated spinal discs starting from my mid-back down to my sacrum. I was in pain most of the time and had limited movement. It kept me from doing things I liked like working out so it affected my performance as well as my moods.

I was unhappy, or at least, unsatisfied with how I went about the course this term. My mantra in life was to always be passionate about everything I do, even the smallest things. The last nine months or so challenged this very philosophy as I found myself entering depression because of my health.

I had seriously considered leaving school by August because of my spine. I did not want to short-change my students so I forged on. I decided to use my health problem as a challenge so that I can inspire my students; especially those are going through difficulties in their studies.

Teachers, whether we like it or not, become instant role models to students. That is why it important to be mindful of our actions and to make every situation a learning experience for students, be it inside or outside the classroom.

Effective teaching does require a good grasp of your subject matter so that you can teach it well. But aside from the cognitive aspect, teachers must also nurture the affective aspect by using real-life examples and experiences in order to teach values to their students.

I have now reached my finish line. There will be other races to run next time. For now, my greatest take away from this course is that it reminded me on how I should always be mindful of my words and actions – to practice reflection so that I can be an effective teacher and role model to the children entrusted under my tutelage.

A Distinct Sense of Community

Building learning communities requires a shift from the paradigm of schools as bureaucracies to a vision of schools as communities.

– Roberts & Pruitt, 2009

I attended a private Catholic school for both my elementary and high school education. I remember how, back then, parents have little involvement in the planning of activities.  They were allowed to air out opinions only during Parent-Teacher Conferences and the closest thing to a home-school partnership was every quarter during Report Card Day.

As a teacher now, I can say that parents have become more involved in their children’s education. Sure, there are still Parent-Teacher Conferences and Report Card Days where they are expected to attend.  But nowadays, parents now have their own family council which help foster a strong home-school partnership.  In my school, events and seminars are regularly organized by the school and by the family council, either joint or individually.

Due to the current shift in curriculum, parents have also been actively updated by the school and a system of transparency is more evident. Parents, alumnae, as well as retired personnel are also often invited as guests and resource speakers in many of the school-wide activities held throughout the shool year.

This contributes to the sense of community spirit that pervades the academe as this promotes a sense of inclusion of all stakeholders: administrators, faculty, staff, auxiliary personnel, parents, students, as well as the nuns who originally run the school and the board of trustees down to the retirees.

As part of the faculty, we are given formation sessions that allow us to grow spiritually, personally, and professionally. Sharing of best practices is encouraged and is typically part of workplace conversation. Recently, we have looked into the conduct of action research to help guide instruction, especially as we prepare for the opening of the senior high department next year.

All this creates our own brand of a professional learning community that seeks to carry out the school’s mission and vision of a transformative Christianized education.

 

Reference:

Roberts, S. & Pruitt, E. Z. (2009). The professional learning community: An overview (Chapter 1). In Schools as professional learning communities: Collaborative activities and strategies for professional development (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press, pp. 1-25. Available from http://www.corwin.com/upm-data/27683_Roberts_Chapter_1.pdf