Retiree’s classroom tips
My fellow PUP-Santo Tomas, Batangas professor, engineer Ariel Tuazon and avid Inquirer reader Romy Sanchez, advised me to write the way I taught in college. I had given the idea some thought before, and now that I’m retiring, it seems right to do my share.
Teach listening and reading. I cannot see how students will learn without proper listening. Train them to listen well and to come down to the habit of reading. It’s every student’s verb and noun.
Never fraternize with your students. Be imposing and strict at first, yet spread humor in the room. As soon as students have minded their p’s and q’s, it’s time to slow down. (When the class is all ears, and with only the soft sound of pen marks on worksheets in the air, I break the silence with humor to punctuate it with sudden rumbles of laughter.)
Students learn more from strict, disciplinarian teachers than from easygoing teachers, a UPLB survey said.
Be English dominant. Don’t allow your students to speak or write in Filipino when the subjects must be taught in English. They won’t have an ear for English if you tolerate them to use the mother tongue.
Do we look down and snicker on Filipino college students whose English isn’t good? Not really, but what will the world expect when Filipinos are touted to be the largest English-speaking Asians and have 8-10 years training in English? Yet, most of them fail to defend an opinion in English, fail a job-search interview, miss a local or overseas work due to poor English communication skills. Read or hear this: “I’m truely so bless, I’m the most talent of singing, I’m fond to be with; Feel like a home, my mother will cook you everyday except holydays.” OMG!
Let students do the talk. In speech or any English subject, call every student to speak for a minute in English during individual oral communication drills.
Encourage everyone by relieving points of difficulties on vocabulary, grammar, syntax, before the short talk. Commend the better and best speakers, and at the end of an activity, correct the general mistakes, not the individual’s, and delight them to listen to their recorded speeches at some permissible time.
Use essay over rote-memory, objective-type test. With this, you will know how far they’ve developed content, grammar and intellect, and how they’ve trained themselves to think analytically and organize thoughts. Students prefer actual practices than memory work.
Be creative and adaptable. In teaching Philippine literature, UST Prof. Josephine Bass-Serrano taught us to tell a story to drive a lesson. Assign students to select and dissect popular TV dramas or ads, within or beyond reasons. Conduct dyadic groups to sing folk songs and introduce the benefits of playing kundiman in writing classes, citing Dr. Reynaldo Reyes’ research study at the Paris Conservatory of Music. He said, “Listening to classical music produces more brain cells, develops more neurons and makes young minds more active and intelligent.” Korea, Japan, and Singapore use native classical music in classrooms to promote culture and produce better citizens. Take advantage of other available resources on campus to enrich learning economically.
Inject values into any subject. While the community highly expects teachers to do miracles and mold students to be good, disciplined, civil and slick in character and well-trained in their careers, many a time teachers are quite plugged into lectures and only parrot instructions instead of beefing up on OJTs (on-the-job trainings).
In shaping classroom life, take up firsthand and practical exercises to make learning easy, fun and useful, not those costly, off-the-mark strategies. Don’t just pass or fail students, make them feel special. (My end-of-term “You-Are-Special” letter reduced students to tears—for always.)
Thankfully, I give back the gift of God in teaching as a lifework. It’s liberating—the more I give, the more the students learn, and I feel better.
Pit M. Maliksi, 64, was Most Outstanding Professor for 10 years at PUP-Santo Tomas, Batangas. He founded Mga Apo Ni Tomas, a civic society of 1,000 young professionals.
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