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MY STORY

I come from a lineage of educators. On my mother's side, both of my grandparents were teachers, and one of my mother's sisters pursued teaching as a profession. Even my own mother taught me math during my first year of high school. On my father's side, two of my aunts were also teachers. It's no surprise that growing up, I aspired to become a teacher myself.

My sisters and I resided with our grandparents on an island, alongside our cousins from my mother's side. Our house was situated by the beach, and we would spend our weekends and summer vacations swimming all day long. We would only return home to have lunch and then rush back to the water until it got dark.

When I was in the fourth grade, a school rented a room on the ground floor of my grandparents' house to use as a classroom. One beautiful summer day, I bought some candies and proposed to my sisters and cousins that I would reward them during break time if they played the roles of students while I acted as their teacher. They eagerly agreed, and in that moment, my dream of becoming a teacher unexpectedly came true. They listened attentively and actively participated in the "class." However, when the promised break time arrived, I instructed my students to return after 15 minutes before distributing the candies. And what happened next? You guessed it right. They never came back; instead, they spent the rest of the day swimming.

When the time came for me to attend college, my relatives advised me against pursuing education as a major. They warned that becoming a grade school teacher would likely lead to spinsterhood. My parents suggested studying accounting instead, with the option to teach college students if I still desired to teach after graduation. I heeded their advice, obtained a degree in accounting, got married, had two children, worked as an accountant, and tragically became a widow at the age of 29. Yet, my passion for teaching never waned.

In 2010, inspired by the memory of my mother who passed away in 2008, I started serving at church. I had never officially volunteered, but when asked, I couldn't bring myself to refuse. A few days after our new church was inaugurated, I went to visit and also prayed for my lottery ticket, which I had brought with me, to win. While I was there, immersed in prayer, the members of the Lector ministry were recording themselves while reading and providing feedback to one another. The coordinator spotted me and invited me to step up to the microphone and read. Though hesitant, I eventually acquiesced to her persistent request. Before long, she asked me to join their group, and being someone who struggles to say no, I accepted.

During my three years as a lector, I got to know individuals from other ministries within the church. In 2013, while assisting in serving snacks to the CFF (Christian Formation for Children) teachers during their yearly meeting, one of the teachers asked if I would volunteer to teach fourth grade. Without hesitation, I agreed.

I didn't possess a degree in education, nor had I received any formal training. In my first year of teaching, we were invited to a retreat where we received some teaching tips, along with the teacher guide, textbooks, and workbooks for our students. However, on the very first day of that school year, I found myself unsure of how to begin the class. Balancing a full-time job, I had limited time to create lesson plans, so I simply instructed my students to follow the directions in their workbooks. I had no understanding that each student learns differently, and the only teaching method I knew was lecturing. Consequently, my students grew bored, became disruptive, and made a lot of noise. After that incident, I was tempted to quit, but our Parish was in need of help as there were few volunteers available. So, despite the challenges, I chose to stay and continue teaching.

Among the volunteer teachers in our Church, some were professionals in the field. They generously conducted workshops for us during our annual kick-off meetings. As time passed, I discovered valuable tools for lesson planning and effective classroom management.

In November 2022, I unfortunately suffered injuries, breaking five ribs and my right clavicle. This compelled me to take a break from teaching and provided an opportunity for deep reflection on my teaching journey. I asked myself critical questions: Did my students truly learn and grow under my guidance? Why did I encounter struggles in my initial year of teaching? Was I the only one facing these difficulties? What could I have done differently to enhance their learning experience? Why did I contemplate quitting at certain points? Moreover, I pondered over the scarcity of volunteers and the reasons behind their departure.

 

Driven by these inquiries, I embarked on thorough research to identify the common reasons for teacher attrition. I delved into understanding what factors contribute to their happiness and commitment to the profession. I sought to learn more about both teachers and their students, recognizing that learning capacities vary across age groups and that there exist four types of learning styles. I discovered concepts like the "52 17 rule," the Pomodoro Technique, and the importance of primal break time. I also explored practical methods for preparing engaging lesson plans, incorporating age-appropriate exercises, employing attention-grabbing techniques, and utilizing effective assessment tools.

The culmination of this journey led me to write a book centered around teacher self-care. It aims to support educators in achieving a healthy work-life balance while enabling them to thrive as exceptional teachers.

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