Thursday, February 9, 2006

Teachers need to learn, too

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, February 09, 2006

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Teachers need to learn, too

THIS is a continuation of what happened to the 4-day Accelerated Learning Workshop D3780 Rotarians are doing for public elementary and high-school teachers. Registration, books, meals, snacks and all materials are free; teachers need only to voluntarily attend, participate and learn.

Day 2. Again as early as 7 a.m., facilitators and Rotarians were already at the venue. Again, classes started only at 9:30 a.m. Several teachers mumbled in Tagalog, “We are already attending, you are still requiring us to come on time and participate.” “We will come here at the time we want.” “It is a Saturday and we should be with our family.”

Our facilitator started with an activity to group the teachers. Some blatantly violated instructions. They refused to budge from where they sat with their “group.” They refused to mix and were making many snide remarks about everything. After a while, a few groups started to present their group report written on Manila paper. Then one teacher stood up and grabbed the mike, “I just arrived. I don’t need to write down my thoughts. I will just tell you.” Her discourse was off-tangent.

The facilitator, summoning all patience, finished the morning session. In the afternoon, we tried to do an energizer. Half of the class refused to go to the designated place and heckled those who participated. Again, we had an activity to form new groups for them to get acquainted and work with other teachers and hear other points of view. Again, some mocked instructions.

I asked those who do not want to practice proper behavior to leave. About five teachers left.

One teacher stood up and angrily shouted on the mike: “We are already being pressured at work; we are being pressured here, too! Another teacher kept shouting, “I am the teacher here and I will say what I want to say! I will sit where I want to sit! I will talk when I want to talk!” I was told that one male teacher was about to approach me to physically express his anger, but was held by fellow teachers.

These prompted several comments from my fellow Rotarians and trainors: “These teachers lack self-discipline and good manners.” “Why are they heckling their fellow teachers?” “Can you imagine these teachers back in their school and classroom?” “Why are they bringing their political issues to this workshop?” “What is so insulting about reminding them about their attendance and punctuality?” “What is so demeaning with doing these learning activities?” “I am not a morning person, but as a Rotarian I am here as early as 7 a.m.; I contribute my own [and my family’s] money for this project; I am here instead of being with my own family; I contribute a lot of time and effort before and during this workshop preparing materials, coordinating schedules, etc. What are these teachers complaining about?” “I give my services as a facilitator for free. What kind of teachers are they?”

I read to the teachers the commitments they set at the start of the workshop: Maximum participation. Cooperation and support. Time. Effort. Knowledge. Experiences. Presence. Initiative. Willingness.

They continue to be defiant and verbally abusive. I dismissed the class. Some left while many others lingered. Those who left heckled and even forcibly dragged the others to also leave. They sent text messages prompting others to get out.

One principal-participant appealed to those who want to stay to stay and learn. She implored us to continue with the workshop for about 40 (out of 108) remaining teachers.

We reminded them about their commitments and continued with the workshop. We had a wonderful afternoon of sharing and learning among teachers who are genuinely interested in their own development. The class environment was clear of toxic attitude and political agenda.

We told them to tell those who were forced to leave that they are welcome back with no questions asked.

Day 3. Fifty-two teachers came back. We now have 92 participants out of 108. Tell you more next Thursday.

PERSONAL: Happy birthday to my mom, Nanay Ning, on her 80th birthday today!

Moje is president of the Rotary Club of Quezon City North, the major sponsor of the Accelerated Learning Workshop for Teachers. Her -email addy is

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