It was the 2nd of November and while most people were going to the cemeteries to visit the grave of their lost loved ones, some rare breed of employees of the Department of Education were heading the opposite direction. Education Program Supervisors in Edukasyon sa Pagpapakato (Values Education), Guidance Counselors and Career Guidance Advocates from the fourteen Divisions in Region 10 were all headed for the National Educators Academy of the Philippines (NEAP) in Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City for some unthinkable assignment – the writing of lesson guide for Homeroom Guidance from Kindergarten to Grade 11.
To those who received the Memo prior to the trip, it came as no surprise, but they must have worried about the task ahead of them while they were on the road. I, on the other hand, only came to realize what sort of trouble I was in when I checked in at the reception and saw the memo at the counter. It said, Seminar Workshop/Writeshop on Lesson Guide in Homeroom Guidance from Kindergarten to Grade 11 Aligned with Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (Esp) Learning Competencies… to strengthen the implementation of Revitalized Homeroom Guidance Program. “So…” I thought to myself, “This is all about revitalizing Filipino values.”
Our School Head never told me what it was all about. He only said I had to get on a bus pronto; my presence was needed at the Regional Office early the following day. I hate surprises, but much to my surprise, my husband never hesitated to give me his blessing.
Amidst the cold and heavy rain, I arrived for the first time at NEAP in the evening of Wednesday, November 2, 2016. I had dinner at the pantry with a Supervisor from the Division of Oroquieta City, freshened up and, as the reality of what lies ahead gradually sank in, slept early for the long haul.
The Department of Education’s Homeroom Guidance Program somehow died a natural death through the years and this two-day workshop was meant to bring it back to life by creating lesson guides from Kindergarten to Grade 11 – all 12 modules in only two days.
I thought I understood the difficulty of what we were about to do, until a breezy middle-aged woman came in front to greet us and inspire us. The way she spoke told me she was someone of importance in the Department (forgive me for not referring to the program) and indeed, in the middle of her speech I was told she was no less than the Chief of the Curriculum Learning Management Division – Dr. Shambaeh Usman.
Never in my entire career in DepEd have I met someone so powerfully inspiring you can tell she spoke from the deepest recesses of her soul and as she worked her way to bringing out the best in us and empowering us to produce only what’s best for the children in the region, I began to realize the enormity of the task at hand and that what we were about to do can significantly impact the lives of thousands of children in the region.
LIKE A TRULY GOOD TEACHER
Even she was skeptical that the people inside that hall would be able to finish the lesson guides from Kindergarten to Grade 11 in just two short days, but I guess she also believed in “not letting them see you sweat,” and so as she masterfully concealed her fears, she worked on inspiring creativity and rekindling that patriotic spirit in each one of us in that hall as if she believed without the faintest shade of doubt that it will work.
Apparently though, it was not only a question of whether the lesson guides will be completed. It was also about whether they will be of good quality, effective, meaningful to the end users and will have sustainable results.
What Dr. Usman shared with us to guide us in the writing of the lesson guides did not come from an educator with a doctor’s degree in philosophy, but from a Filipino mother who passionately loves her country and cares about the Filipino children.
Here are the five unforgettable lessons I learned from Dr. Shambaeh Usman, and I will call them teacher’s lampposts in the daily performance of duty.
Teacher’s Lamppost No. 1. Highlight the heart side of DepEd. Dr. Usman recognizes every teacher’s excellence and capacity to teach; otherwise he or she never would have been hired. But the capacity to love each learner in the classroom on a day to day basis requires much more than a Ph.D. in any field of study. This is why in facilitating learning and dealing with our children at school, Dr. Usman encourages us to always include our hearts. We seem to have placed so much emphasis on developing children’s ability to learn and the importance of academic achievement, but we have neglected inculcating in them moral and spiritual values. She said an excellent curriculum seeks to develop and nurture the following aspects of an individual child: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual (P-E-M-S), and promotes inclusive education that responds to the diversity of Filipino culture to include not only the mainstream learners’ population but also the Muslims, IPs (indigenous peoples), PWDs (persons with disabilities) and OSYs/OSAs (out-of-school youth or out-of-school adults). No one gets left behind.
Teacher’s Lamppost No. 2. Promote a child-centered education system. In the daily performance of our duty, we follow certain guides that determine the content and mode of delivery of our instructions, but then would it not also be desirable if we constantly ask ourselves this one question – is this for the best interest of the child?
Teacher’s Lamppost No. 3. Take care of yourself first. While we always seek what’s best for our children and the learners we deal with at school everyday, we cannot disregard the fact that we cannot give what we don’t have. Self-love never equals selfishness. In fact, learning to love one’s self is a prerequisite to loving others. When we consciously address our personal needs on a daily basis, we somehow also become sensitive to the needs of other people around us. When we feel complete and confident of our self-worth, nothing that happens on the outside can shake or break us, and so we are better able to help others and promote a child-centered school environment.
Teacher’s Lamppost No. 4. Learn to manage your anger. Anger is simply one of the most common human emotions and no one is immune to it. At home or at work, there will always be persons, events or situations that trigger our anger. It’s only normal and we cannot control those external factors. What we can control though is the way we respond. We are always free to choose our response.
There will always be situations where we reach our threshold and find ourselves in danger of losing control. In times like these, Dr. Usman urges us to follow one very simple yet timeless instruction found in both the Bible and the Quran – spend some quiet time to get closer to God. In Islam, they are taught to perform wudu, which involves washing the hands and face with water, and praying. The same advice can be found the Bible. Christians are also encouraged to pray through their anger, until the hotness dissipates. As your head gets cooler, you will find that you are able to think and decide sensibly as well.
Teachers’ Lamppost No. 5. Examine your sadness. Another negative emotion we commonly experience almost everyday is sadness. Depending on its degree, sadness can almost always influence our decisions and actions and it can certainly affect the way we teach at school or deal with our children and spouses at home. Whenever we feel sad, Dr. Usman encourages us to take a look at the cause of our sadness. She said whatever the cause is, our sadness can only be one of two things: sadness that’s related to God, or sadness that’s related to the world. If our sadness has something to do with our relationship with God, there is only thing we can do – strengthen our relationship with God. If on the other hand our sadness is related to the world, we need only remember one thing – everything that is in the world shall pass. Nothing of this world remains the same and nothing has anything to do with the everlasting happiness we shall have when we seek to live only for God.
This one last nugget of wisdom, her unshakable faith in God, is what seems to be the inexhaustible fuel that drives her to be the blissful ball of positive and loving energy in the workplace whose enthusiasm is so fierce it’s contagious.
Love of country, love of humanity and love of God are perhaps among the basic values we need to revitalize among the Filipino youth today. At a glance they might seem simple and basic but in this age of globalization it’s very easy to lose our own unique Filipino identity and the values that unite us as one nation and one family. Teaching Values Education to children may be simple but listening to Dr. Usman’s speech brought us to the realization that it is actually the most difficult of all the core subjects in the curriculum. It does not only need to be taught – it needs to be lived.