Young Teachers’ Boot Camp

By: Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo January 06,2017 - 10:46 PM

Happy New Year!

By the time this column goes to print, I am already at the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) waiting for my flight to Manila. I was selected to be one of the 80-plus young educators/teachers to be part of the 1st National Young Teachers’ Boot Camp organized by YOUTeacH Philippines and funded by the US Embassy in the Philippines through its Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund.

YOUTeacH is a movement of young teachers committed to helping preserve each other’s ideals and pursue each other’s dreams. The boot camp is a weeklong gathering; and I was told there will be inspirational talks, school visits, interaction with teacher mentors and involvement (conceptualization of regional projects). The goal is to equip us participants with the necessary attitudes and skills and provide us tools in launching YOUTeacH in our respective regions.

The boot camp is quite interesting: no plastic bottles and straws will be served; hence, participants were asked to bring reusable drinking bottles, and the food that will be served will be based on Pinggang Pinoy, a food guide featuring the right proportion of food containing the right nutrients needed by the average Filipino.

We are following these to help in the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals, which succeeded the Millennium Development Goals.

The confirmation that I got accepted as a delegate came as a surprise because: (1) I am not teaching in a school; and (2) I’m a not a licensed/registered teacher.

But I guess the organization found my essays convincing when I wrote that the definition of a teacher is not anymore limited to the confines of a physical classroom. Over the years, the literal phrase “four walls of the classroom” has evolved into cyber and virtual classrooms where teachers and students communicate on an online platform. The University of the Philippines Open University, where I  finished my diploma in language and literacy education and now completing my masters of development communication, has proven that the physical classroom is not the lone venue for learning. Since its inception in February 23, 1995 and the fifth constituent University of the Philippines System, UPOU has welcomed thousands of students from the Philippines and abroad to pursue undergraduate and graduate studies without attending classes in a physical campus.

In my case, I answered my application essays with a clear statement that I am nanay (mother) and teacher to my children. True, I enrolled my twins in a local day care center so they can interact with other children and speak Bisaya, but I still give daily “classes” following lesson plans I learned to craft from research and from my graduate studies at UPOU. I was pretty serious at learning how to be an effective and efficient teacher because my pupils are my children. In the short three years that I have been teaching them, I realized that each child has different learning styles. I have frontline, all-exclusive access to the language development of twin children (and wrote a paper on this during the first semester of graduate school) and the faster language development of a one-year-old cutie pie who has two older siblings who boss him around.

I have learned that teaching should be embraced by everyone whether or not you are a professionally trained teacher. However, it is not enough for a person to have the heart to serve; one should also be keen and creative in updating and upgrading one’s knowledge and skills so that service rendered to the youth and children is properly planned and executed because we should be leaving the era of haphazard decision-making and mediocre implementation. I learned all these in the past 11 years of my life as a literacy volunteer for the Cebu City Public Library, the Inquirer Read-along program, CDN’s storytelling sessions and the Basadours’ I Love to Read and I Love to Read More projects.

Last December 30, I read Eugene Evasco’s “Rizaldy” to an audience of 50 children at the Rizal Memorial Library and Museum. It was a crazy crowd. The inmates were running the asylum. The adults in the crowd seemed clueless on what to do to manage the situation. It took some good old classroom dynamics exercise and warm up to calm them down — same routine I use on my children when they get hyperactive.

Last year, CDN organized four campus journalism workshops in the cities of Naga, Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu and I had the privilege to teach feature writing to young writers from different schools. I met several teachers who serve as coaches and mentors. Some were enthusiastic, others were just there because they didn’t have any choice. I was disappointed in some meetings/interviews but mostly, I was inspired.

One lesson I learned from the four workshops is the fact that learning should never stop and that as a learner you should always be open to any opportunity to expand your horizon and embrace new challenges and invitations to learn, relearn and unlearn.

Here’s wishing that the year 2017 will enable you to encounter people and experience events that will help you go, grow and glow as a human being!

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TAGS: bootcamp, classroom, conceptualization, education, flight, Journalism, Mactan Cebu International Airport, Manila, MCIA, Philippines, regional, YOUTeacH, YOUTeacH Philippines

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