The lecture was opened by Ms. Apurillo’s recollection of her own teaching experience. She encouraged the participants to continue taking units in education by saying, “don’t waste time; try to study again and again because you are still young.” The speaker then posted a question to the teachers: “what makes you enjoy/ happy in teaching?” Immediately, responses were received—all of them were noble and comes from the heart: “You pass the value of learning, you foresee yourself that you gave learning to the children. It’s a fulfilment for every teacher to pass and give the learning’s and especially when we see that they apply it in their lives”, “when I observe that my pupils learned from me especially good manners and proper behavior”, “when they learned to read and write”, and “when they develop their attitudes and behaviour, applying it not just in school but also outside/ community, as it is important that they internalize all the learnings,” etc.
The next question posted was the opposite, “what makes you unhappy in teaching”? Common answers included, “when my teaching strategy is not effective”, “when my students are still non-readers”, and “when they didn’t apply the learning and when they cannot recall what I taught.”
Reviewing the NAT results of TYKES and Buyasyas Elementary School last 2012 and 2013, the average percentages were 74% and 71.4 % respectively. The goal set by the Department of Education (DepEd) is 75% which places the two schools below target. Ms Apurillo discussed how the exam is being conducted, “The National Achievement Test administered by the Department of Education (DepEd) in the Philippines is a set of standardized tests addressing the major subjects taught in school. These tests are given to Grade 3 where students are assessed in both English and Filipino (these two subjects comprise two thirds of the exam) and Math and Science (these two account for the remaining one third). A different set of tests is given to Grade 6 pupils where each of the following 5 subjects is assigned 40 items each (Science, Math, English, Filipino and Social Studies). Another set is administered to fourth year high school students (this is currently the last year of basic education in the Philippines since K+12 has not been implemented yet for the additional two years in high school).” She continued, “The NAT is used to assess not only the performance of the students, but also principal and the teachers. It is very alarming to know that there are schools which did not get the average score.” Based on the data, TYKES and Busyasyas Elementary School scored lowest in Mathematics and Science.
The speaker then conveyed the key issues and problems contributing to the dilemma. These are:
- Low Achievement
- Absenteeism, due to fiesta celebrations, tardiness, child labor, and distance from home
- Drop-outs, due to financial and economic status
- Non- readers
Drop outs and absenteeism due to child labour can be addressed by the ALS (Alternative Learning System), a free education program implemented by DepEd, under the Bureau of Alternative Learning System which adjusts to the available schedule of the less fortunate, those who cannot afford formal schooling. “The program provides a viable alternative to the existing formal education instruction, encompassing both the non-formal and informal sources of knowledge and skills,” said Ms. Apurillo. “Since ALS is a module-based learning system, students come in on a set time and choose a module to read. A quiz is given after each module to test their learning. Instead of teachers, facilitators are always present to answer any questions and sometimes lecturers would discuss a certain module. After several months, the students will take the Accreditation and Equivalency Test (A&E). If they pass the test, they will be given a high school diploma and can now enroll in college.”
Whereas, “the Philippine Educational Placement Test (PEPT) Program is a special form of educational assistance instituted by the Department of Education. The Program consists of a series of tests to evaluate the basic skills and proficiencies gained through formal and non-formal education which are equivalent to those developed in five (5) subject areas: Communication Arts in English, Sining ng Komunikasyon (Filipino), Science, Mathematics and Araling Panlipunan or Social Studies - from First Grade in the primary level to Fourth Year in the secondary level,” she continued.
Behavioral problems on the other hand, should be addressed by a more sensitive, and empathetic approach. “It is important to give attention to students because there is several factors/ reasons that may affect their behavior, show them that as a teacher you are willing to help and correct them, you need to pretend everything, so that no child will feel that he/she is wrong, helping them to analyze and conceptualize everything,” said Ms Apurillo. The same with Non-readers, which should be given more special attention. The speaker mentioned, “It is also important that teachers give them special attention, if possible teach them one-on-one if a time has. Reading is the food of mind it helps students to nourish and broaden minds and enhances concentration and discipline.” “To be able to read, a student should have mastery of sounds, so it sounds should be taught first before letters. A teacher and a student should be synergic for the common purpose,” she added.
The strategies and factors which contribute to effective learning were next examined. According to the speaker, teachers should practice the following concepts: Remediation, Reinforcement, and Enrichment. Ms Apurillo also ran through the expectations and responsibilities for each role in the education system. For example, a school head must possess ‘Instructional Leadership’. “Effective instructional leaders are intensely involved in curricular and instructional issues that directly affect student achievement,” she added. “For a teacher, he or she must possess:
- Knowledge. A teacher should possess knowledge or wisdom which he/she share to his/her students. Teachers should not stop from learning and continue to improve self.
- Skills. A teacher should possess skills which is effective, effectiveness of teaching strategies will create success of the students.
- Attitude, by providing a supportive environment.”
Ms. Apurillo expounded her ideas through a narrative, “At the start of every school year, students are hopeful and optimistic that they will have the best possible experience. They hope they will be lucky enough to get the “good” teachers, the ones who provide a warm, caring and supportive environment in which they can freely express themselves, grow and develop. Unfortunately, not all of them will be lucky. Some will end up in classrooms with an unsupportive teacher and an atmosphere that will make learning difficult.”
The participants were given a chance to raise questions. The main question raised was, “what is the proper guide for the pupils should we use in our classroom?” Ms. Apurillo was generous in giving her advice; a couple of her suggestions included:
- Outline lecture notes
- Always use visual aids, avoid writing on the blackboard
- Encourage students to participate on class
- Reassignment of teachers
- Continue studying; earn units
- The teachers should be knowledgeable, good communicator, patient, open-minded and flexible.
- The school head and teachers should have proper identification of problems
- Identification of the problem
- Finding of solutions
- Re- evaluation
- Classroom should have a space for student’s works
- Include in the teaching plan the “words for the week” and use it in sentence and paragraphs
- ‘Time on Task’ is the focus
Finally she concluded, “(the teacher) should have determination, hard-work, passion and character, ‘DO MORE, DO HARDER & SACRIFICE’.”