Recognizing educational inequality as a global problem, Teach for All is a movement to train quality teachers who will serve not just as role models but as an inspiration for students to become future leaders. With dozens of countries supporting the same cause, Teach for All is striving to be true to its vision which is “one day, all children will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.”
In our country, the program is called Teach for the Philippines. I had the chance to interview one of the teacher fellows in the 2013 cohort. Cris Tanjutco considers herself a bookworm and a grandma trapped in a twelve year-old girl’s body (find out why in her blog called Teacher’s Pet).
School (Former): Holy Spirit Elementary School ℅ Teach for the Philippines
Position (Former): Teacher Fellow
One word that describes your teaching style: Experimental
What mobile devices and computers are you currently using?
The devices I used were: 1 iPad (iPad 2 first gen model 32GB), computer speakers, and 1 monitor. Sometimes I would use my iPhone for WiFi connection.
Are there any apps for education you can’t stop talking about lately?
One of the apps I experimented with was Educreations. It allows you to make videos similar to Khan Academy’s tutorial videos. I taught a self-contained class with 52 students and admittedly, their skills were behind. I found myself reviewing and repeating lots of lessons. I discovered that using video tutorials was helpful for teaching procedures/process. I didn’t have to repeat myself or strain my voice too much. Creating video tutorials also helped me with my remedial classes. While I taught remedial reading, those taking math remedials would watch videos. This lessened modeling/explicit instruction time and I was able to focus on my students who couldn’t read yet. What I wasn’t able to do, though, was allow some kids to make these tutorial-like videos. It would’ve been a good exercise them and I would’ve been able to check if they can model the same thinking process.
If you can tweak or add a function to your blog, what would it be?
To simultaneously write or scribble the thoughts in my head. Sometimes thoughts and ideas race quickly in my head that I forget some of them. :p
What’s your teacher table like?
Always cluttered. I can’t seem to work without clutter!
What is the best time for you to write and generate ideas?
There’s generally no best time for me. These a-ha! moments just come and usually that’s when I start writing. If I can’t, I usually call or message someone who I feel will get excited about the same ideas, too.
What job would you have if you weren’t a teacher?
Maybe a social worker or doing work with a foundation, which I’m currently doing now. I guess it would still be related to education or training.
How do you manage your to-do lists?
Planners have never really worked for me. In the event when there are just too many tasks to do, I usually write a simple to-do list. I wouldnt say I’m a workaholic but I believe that much of my time is still taken up by reading, researching, or talking about things related to my work. I guess this happens because much of my work is just part of the things I like to do naturally.
What’s the best advice on teaching that you received?
It sounds simple but I guess I like what I read from one of my favorite YA books, Wonder, “Always try to be a little kinder than necessary.”
You have been part of the 2013 cohort of Teach For the Philippines. Can you tell us more about the project and what did you learn in the process?
Teach for the Philippines is a two-year fellowship program wherein fresh graduates and young professionals are given the opportunity to teach in public schools. Prior to the fellowship, I already taught in a private school. Many people comment that teaching in a public school must be a more fulfilling job. What I’ve learned, personally, is that it’s not necessarily a more fulfilling job. Teaching is teaching. The environment and stressors may be different but the job is the same. You are asked to care for children and help them develop their skills and achieve their dreams. Now that the fellowship has ended, I feel that I leave the public school system with more hope than before I started. There are many good people and teachers in the schools. We just need to hear their stories.
Currently, you are involved in an online community called Every Teacher A Reader. In what ways are you reaching out to the teachers through this community?
Right now, we’re still trying to establish more presence in the online community. We’ve been posting events (not necessarily ours), links, and books that teachers may find useful. The goal is to start more discussions about books, our profession, and how these can help us personally and professionally. We plan to come up with more events and join groups like NBDB, PBBY, etc. It’s about time that teachers have a stronger voice in the publishing industry.
Fostering Flight is about how teachers can guide their students in following their dreams. As an educator, how do you prepare your students for the future?
In my experience, many of the kids have forgotten how to dream. In a way, trying to open new experiences for them helps a lot. I’ve also tried getting the outside community to help more. Some of our classroom activities included the following: Open Classroom Project, Our Story is Your Story, and The Shoebox Love Project.
Give an educator’s name: I would like to see Bunny Luz answer these same questions.