Biology: The Study of Life

I TAUGHT BIOLOGY for a while at the High School department of Siena College QC. The sister of an orgmate at Buklod had a miscarriage and they needed someone to take over the lessons for the classes she handled. Being ready and available (I was graduating, with only 6 units on load) I substituted for 2 months. Those two months were to change my life.

I was tasked to handle two sections, and the order of the next two weeks was to teach them the rudiments of Mitosis, Meiosis and the concepts of Sexual Reproduction and prepare them for the upcoming third quarterly exams. Tall order, if I may say so, considering my audience was your bright eyed, exclusive-school bred sophomores who were the least interested in Biology, or the first two topics (though I could see they were fairly interested in the third ;) and Siena College, sister school of my HS alma mater, breathed heavily of my Dominican sister orientation. In other words, while I was already a UP liberal, and tempted to deliver my lessons matter-of-factly, the matters of fact had to be delivered tactfully and with matters of Catholic school orientation considered. The sisters were watching, and I cannot disgress or offend. :)

Anyhow, much to my disdain, class participation in the first few days left much to be desired. Clearly, the kids weren't reading the books their parents spent hard-earned money for (and mind you, being Iskolar ng Bayan this offended my sensibilities no end), and the previous lessons I tried to review/refer back to occupied space, but had no weight in their minds. Goodness gracious great balls of fire.

There I was, your 19-year old rookie, facing two sections of 30 14-year olds on a daily basis, armed with nothing but my stock knowledge of Bio, my experience of once being a 14 year old, and my idealistic views of what teaching should be. I had two choices: play hard ball, get conventional and limit myself to the expectations tied to my P4,000 a month salary; or get creative and answer the higher calling of proving my worth as a teacher, the measly salary and the daily hassle of commuting from San Pedro to Munoz, Munoz to SFDM, and back, be damned. Which path do you think did I choose?

The road less travelled, of course. I knew that it was not my job to feed them information, but that it was my higher calling as a teacher to create the atmosphere that will stimulate their desire to seek, digest and retain information.

So, I decided to get creative. Drawing from my sophomore experience (where Marsha and I spent countless times in the library poring over foreign language books to learn to say "I Love You" in as many languages as possible) I made a deal with my students. If we could finish with our lessons early, say 15 minutes ahead of time, I'd teach them French in those extra 15 minutes, I said. To seal the deal, I would have to see active class discussions and do well in the daily quizzes for the next three days. I closed my pitch with "C'est presque Valentines. Ne ferait-il pas beau de saluer votre petits-amis en utilisant une langue romantique?" (It's almost Valentines. Wouldn't it be nice to greet your crushes using a romantic language?) They all nodded excitedly.

And so in the next 3 days, I had the time of my life, excitedly discussing the concepts in the way I learned from one of the best teachers in the world, Mrs. Madrinan, being peppered with questions and comments and then giving quizzes in the fun and interesting formula I learned from another great teacher, B-Ann Echevarria... crossword puzzles, draw a smiley face if true, sad face if false, complete the story, etc., and in between tests, a romantic or funny movie quote or cartoon is there to motivate the students to go on. It was the first time I heard a room full of students giggling while taking a test. And the first time I've actually been asked excitedly, "Miss, kelan ang next quiz?"

Needless to say, the next seven weeks were a blur...time flies when you're having fun. In the course of academic discussions and teaching them "Je m'appelle Sabine, comment vous s'appelez vous?" and "C'est un beau jour. Aimez-vous faire un tour avec moi?" I got to know them better, being treated to the priviledge of learning their dreams, feelings, sentiments, crushes, love quarrels, homo relationships (which shocked me, coming from a CoEd school), family problems... and we ended up friends. There were tears on my last day...theirs openly, mine secretly as I gathered my things in the faculty room.

While we managed to keep contact open in the succeeding months, getting frequent phone calls and letters, the demands of school life (for them) and graduation (for me) separated us temporarily at first, then life's changes eventually broke our ties. I still miss them though and wonder what have become of the class that taught ME many things about life.

June 01, 2005

Wishing I was in that class. :D
Posted by: Jolette June 4, 2005 10:37 AM

Now, this part of your life I did not know. I'm sure there's more and thank God for your Blogs I'm learning more about you. It is a pleasure knowing you Anne.
Posted by: Sheryl June 27, 2005 06:20 PM

Thanks, Che and Jolette for the nice comments, I hope I deserve them. :) It's also a pleasure knowing you, Che. You're one of the reasons I feel blessed. :)

Posted by: Anneski July 4, 2005 06:20 PM


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Why AnneThology?

Anthology means a collection of poems, short stories, plays, songs, or excerpts. My name is Anne, and this blog contains a collection of my thoughts, musings and writings (poems, short stories), some songs I like, plus a sprinkling of excerpts I find worth sharing --hence, AnneThology.

Did you know?

Anthology derives from the Greek word ἀνθολογία (anthologia; literally “flower-gathering”) for garland — or bouquet of flowers — which was the title of the earliest surviving anthology, assembled by Meleager of Gadara.

Look, what I have -- these are all for you.