The many faces of the teacher
The Filipino teacher has many faces. For her/his learners, the teacher is more than just an educator. S/he is also a parent, caregiver, counselor, and healer all at once. We all have that one special teacher we can’t forget, who has touched our lives and contributed in a large part to making us who we are today.
In our society teachers have become pillars of hope and bastions of strength. There is no profession more widely respected than teaching. In every corner of the country we can find teachers who have made a special mark in their communities and schools. As we celebrate National Teacher’s Month this September and World Teacher’s Day on Oct. 5, more exemplary teachers come to mind—those who will be honored today at the annual Tribute To Teachers event.
Brilin Adalin is a grade school teacher at Tacurong Pilot Elementary School in Sultan Kudarat. She developed innovative learning techniques especially for slow learners in the school, reducing dropout rates and awakening the thirst for education among her students.
Bryan Rex Carreon and Brimbhot Eyas work as a team at Dumalogdog Primary School in Davao City, which serves the Matigsalog tribe in the town. The school has no electricity; it cannot be reached by motor vehicle, only by horse or carabao. The two teachers sleep on chairs in the school during the week and go home to their families on weekends. They have put their school and their students above themselves in pursuit of educating the children of Dumalogdog.
Estrellieta Peña is a multiawarded teacher from Kabasalan National High School in Zamboanga Sibugay. Recognized both locally and internationally for her work, she founded the “Bahay-Sagip” program, a shelter for at-risk students in the community. Recognizing the needs of those whom sometimes even society has forgotten, she gives her students hope and a better future.
Roderic Guinucay is a mobile teacher in Pallua Norte Community Learning Center in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan Valley. His students range from children and out of school youth to parents and even senior citizens. His passion for teaching and his commitment to education have allowed him to reach out to those who seek knowledge and inspiration.
The celebration of National Teacher’s Month and the coordination of efforts, through the National Teacher’s Month Council, to produce programs and activities to celebrate our teachers is a testament to the commitment of the private sector, along with the Department of Education, to give honor and recognition to our teachers. Certainly we are on the right track. But what are we missing? How does this translate to creating better and higher student performance?
Bill Gates once said that the key to making education better was in having great teachers. He also cited a study on teacher effectiveness, wherein teachers in the top quartile increased the performance of their students by 10 percent in a single year. How do we retain and increase the effectiveness of these great teachers whom DepEd and many of our local organizations—such as the Bato Balani Foundation, Metrobank Foundation, and Rotary Clubs—have identified and celebrated? We know that we have many inspiring and dedicated teachers nationwide. Many others equally deserving have yet to be discovered.
But just as increasing the number of schools does not automatically equate to an increase in quality education, hiring more teachers does not mean our students are getting more “educated.” It may make a difference, though, to invest more in retaining, hiring and multiplying (through knowledge transfer) all our effective teachers.
At the recent National Competitiveness Council Dialogue on Education, University of Makati president Tommy Lopez presented his institution’s innovative senior high school program and its position on breaking the standards for student-teacher ratios. Lopez emphasized the importance of the delivery of information and providing creative venues for learning, as opposed to traditional classroom learning. While other schools promote smaller class sizes for better teacher-student ratios, the University of Makati is exploring a more creative track, promoting individualized or grouped learning as a means to implement innovative learning and teaching. Notably, there are still organizations that push for smaller class sizes, such as the international advocacy group called Class Size Matters.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro says there is no better time for change than now. There is much to admire about Secretary Armin, with his unflinching stand against corruption and his focus on access to quality education for all Filipinos. By working together, and by staying on the right track to reform, we may be able to achieve our goals.
What better way to celebrate our teachers by translating the reforms and advocacies devoted to them into policies that can help increase their effectiveness and multiply them—all for higher student performance?
Ching Jorge is the executive director of the Bato Balani Foundation, lead convenor of the Young Public Servants, a fellow of The Asia Society, and a trustee of the International Center for Innovation, Transparency in Governance. E-mail her at email@example.com.
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