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Sir, Coach, Tatay

Tatay Dindo 1

Lester Tabada talks about how a talented and passionate teacher taught his students and trained his athletes, and why he deserves to be called the best teacher in the world.

Tatay Dindo 1

Many kids claim that their father is the Best Dad in the World. However in my father’s case I am not really sure if I can give him that title. He spends more time with other kids than us, his children. My father is a very talented man and this is his story.

Tatay Dindo, is a public elementary school teacher in our hometown. He teaches arts, physical education, agriculture and various shop classes. It’s always an exciting class when Sir Dindo is around because he has a good sense of humor and he doesn’t hold back on sharing his wisdoms. Sir Tatay loves to get our hands dirty in the garden rather than let us learn through books. And during art classes he is a maestro who draws and paints not to impress but to inspire us to be creative and be happy with what we are doing.

After classes, instead of going home to drink coffee he stays to train twelve boys on how to play baseball. He was my very first coach in sports and probably the best I’ve had. According to Coach Tatay it is an exciting game that balances strength, skill and mental toughness. No wonder for more than two decades, he still trains his players in a high level that demands us to be strong, smart and fair. We used to wake up early in the morning to jog and do exercises, the same goes in the afternoon after school and on weekends. Nowadays, whenever my former teammates and I get together, we sometimes thought how fortunate we were to have Coach Tatay who trained us hard not to win games but to enjoy playing with heart and sportsmanship.

Much has been said about Tatay as a great teacher, artist and coach but not everybody know about his humble beginnings. He was raised from a poor family of eleven children and at six he lost his mother. He spent most of his childhood and teenage years working odd jobs to support his studies. Tatay could have easily become a tambay who smokes, gambles and drinks the rest of his life. But he did not. He knew better. He always tells us siblings that when he saw our mother for the very first time (she was already a teacher), he figured out that his future kids deserve a good life and his future pupils deserve a good teacher who can teach them about sacrifice, hard work and the values in reaching their dreams.

Many kids claim that their father is the Best Dad in the World. But for me, I don’t have to claim that recognition, he already is. He is always there for us in time of needs and taught us valuable lessons in life. He gave us a beautiful home, education and a better life. But what makes me so proud of him is his devotion to help the little children fulfil their dreams, even if that means spending a little extra time with his students. For that, Tatay Dindo deserves The Best Teacher in the World award.

This is an official entry to The Learning Site’s Christmas Carnival

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The Heart of a Teacher

group hug

Charmaine Endaya-Cuartero shares a heartwarming group hug experience in one of her days as a gradeschool teacher in a little, sleepy town of Los Banos, Laguna.

group hug

Monday morning. Again. Another weekend passed by without some semblance of real happiness. It was rushed. It was plainly driven by a need to rest. I don’t even remember the last time I had a “real” weekend. You know, those Laugh-So-Hard-It-Hurts Days, the No To-Do List Days, the Sleep-All-You-Can Days. They’re all gone now. Probably forever. I don’t know…

“Good morning, Teacher Chamie…” my Little Early Bird Girl greeted me the moment I opened the door. Even before I entered our blue-and-yellow classroom. Every Monday. Actually, every single school day. They own one of the school shuttles, hence, the consistent punctuality.

“Hi Sweetie. You’re early…” I mustered a generic comment and a weak smile. I was too sleepy to be more creative.

“Teacher! I’m always early!” she widened her eyes and placed her small hands on her waist, like a doll which has come to life. “You’re funny!” And she covered her mouth to stifle her giggles.

“Hey, that’s me. The Always Funny Teacher Chamie…” I laughed along with her as I shrugged my shoulders and proceeded to fixing my table and unloading my things into the drawers.

And just then, as if on cue, shrill, tiny voices filled the hallway outside our classroom. The rest of the gang has arrived. Small but quick footsteps came rushing closer and closer, getting louder and louder, still with the shrieks and laughter. Suddenly, the door burst open and four breathless boys came rushing into the room, almost tripping on their own feet.

“Hey! Cut it out, boys. Slow down. You’re gonna get hurt…” They all stopped running and stumbled into their own seats, without throwing a glance at me. There goes my good vibes. I messed it up again. I haven’t even said “Good Morning” to them and the first words that came out of my mouth were orders. Nice one, Teacher Chamie.

I continued to fix my table and started bringing out the materials I would be using for my first class. I’m making homemade clay with the first-graders upstairs. That would be fun. I don’t know but for some reason, there seems to be a decade-long gap between first-graders and second-graders. First-graders are like babies. Very sweet to everyone and they never hesitate to show it too. Second-graders, like my own class, are teenager-wannabes most of the time. Say something “uncool” for them, for instance, declare that you’re not familiar with the newest cartoon craze on TV, and they’ll roll their eyeballs at you. And they won’t even try to hide it! Oh well…

The door opened and in came my Little Miss Sad Eyes. That’s probably how I look like when I come in after realizing that the weekend was over and it was Monday again. Only I knew it wasn’t totally like that for her. This girl in my class hates the weekends. Her mom left them when she was practically an infant. She “grew up” in this school, practically “raised” by all the teachers together. It’s heartbreaking. She can’t hide those dried-up tear stains on her cheeks, as she walked to her seat with her head bowed down, dragging her bag along with her. She looked up.

“Good morning, Teacher..” she managed half a smile for me. I had to bite the insides of my cheeks to control my own emotions. I just smiled back. A huge one at that.

One by one, all eleven seats in our classroom filled up. The hushed murmurs got louder by the minute. Everyone except Little Miss Sad Eyes was talking, exchanging stories about their weekend adventures, the movies they watched, the new toys their parents bought for them, some even showing off their new stuff… and many more. Monday has officially begun. I checked the clock. Seven minutes before first period begins. I stood up and gathered my things. I walked across the room towards the door.

“Bye guys. I’ll see you later. Be quiet while you wait for your teacher, OK?” I waved and closed the door, not waiting for anyone to answer.

My first class with the first-graders turned out to be a success. I was right. They all loved their homemade clays. It was a very simple experiment but the smiles on their faces were priceless. If only we could do this every day, for all grade levels! It will be recess time after the first period so I’ll probably get a 20-minute power nap before my next class. Those twenty minutes can give me the battery life my brain and body need for the whole day.

Suddenly, a loud voice and footfalls were heard from outside the classroom. A rapid succession of knocks on the door followed suit. I put down the empty basin I was filling up with used supplies, wiped my hands on my apron, and opened the door. It was my supervisor.

“Teacher, your class…” Her voice trailed off. I didn’t even have to hear the rest of her sentence.

“I’ll be right there,” I answered. I quickly gathered all the materials that we used for the clay-making class and rushed out of the room. Somebody could get hurt in all the ruckus. And I’m going to get in trouble with my supervisor for sure.

I was running down the stairs two steps at a time. I met the first-graders’ homeroom teacher on my way down and gave a quick wave. I didn’t even have to say anything. She knew what I meant. She made her way to her classroom as well, to watch over her own kids.

True to my supervisor’s report, the room was in a fiasco when I came in. In fact, they didn’t even notice me. The Rowdy Boys were running around, chasing each other. Three of the girls were seated on the floor, playing a game, dolls and toy cookware scattered all around them. A couple of boys were gawking at one of their classmates, Little Boy Genius, as he explains some new intergalactic discovery he read God-knows-where. Little Miss Sad Eyes was reading quietly in the corner. Little Early Bird was furiously drawing on a piece of paper, standing over her desk, with one foot on the floor and the other one on the chair. Another one of my little girls, Little Dancerina was, well, dancing alone near my table, twirling to a beautiful tune in her own head. Her eyes are even closed. It was a magical sight.

I was glued to where I was standing, just a step inside our door. I realized that I had been watching them for a few minutes already. And tears had started to form in the corners of my eyes.

The Rowdy Boys passed by me and one of them saw me staring at them, holding back the tears and smiling. He stopped running and so did his friends.

“Teacher! Are you alright?” He ran towards me and hugged me. Quickly and tightly. I put down my things and wrapped my arms around the boy too. He let go of me and shouted, “Hey everybody! Teacher Chamie is crying!”

And just like that, it was as if somebody hit the Pause button on a movie player. Everyone froze in their positions and turned to look at me. Little Dancerina stopped in the middle of yet another twirl and stared along with the others, her arms still raised like that of a ballerina. After about two seconds, she dropped them and ran towards me, hugging me even tighter. As if it was the signal the rest of the kids were waiting for, they all rushed towards me and I found myself in the middle of an awkward group hug. With everyone pushing and trying to find his or her corner in the loop, our huge, tight ball of bodies collapsed onto the floor, with everyone giggling nonstop.

“We love you, Teacher Chamie…We love you very much….” Little Miss Sad Eyes said. I smiled to myself and at that moment, I knew the reason why I was there.

We all flopped into a pile on the floor, the laughter left ringing in our ears…

And in my heart. Forever…

This is an official entry to the The Learning Site’s Christmas Carnival.

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Of Threads and Teaching


Geek wrote a story about the memories he had with his first teacher. She may not be a teacher per se, but she has shaped his life beautifully. For that reason alone, he is thankful.


I will tell you a story about a very ordinary student and an extra-ordinary teacher. This story happened in a different school, in a different classroom. There is only the student, the teacher and her teaching materials. No blackboards, no chalks but an old colored pencil. Papers, yes. But they are mostly old newspapers. And there is a notebook! There she scribbles names, numbers, measurements, deadlines.

I sat in her class, still in the clothes I wore the night before. She said she would teach me the ‘basics’. I was five years old and I was ready for my first sewing class. She first taught me the components of the sewing machine, its parts, where to put the bobbin, how to pedal. I thought that machine is a one-man factory. Amazing, I said to myself. After a few minutes of demonstration, she gave up her ‘throne’, that was my term for the old wooden chair where she nailed herself for most hours of the day. Yes, one could call her queen. She would laugh every time I call her ‘her majesty’, she would look at me affectionately, her eyes gentle behind her glasses. I sat there and recalled what she taught me. It was easy, my hands had a life of their own, and the rolls of thread light on my fingers. The cloth soft to my touch. My feet nestled on the pedal, ready for their first press. I placed the bobbin case, inserted the thread in the needle, pressed down the bar lifter, put the piece of cloth between the presser foot and throat plate. I inhaled and pressed.

The first few lines were awkward, zigzagged. It was childish. Hey, one has to start somewhere. But she kept urging me on, to just follow the line she put on the cloth. Take it easy, she said, do not rush. I listened to her, followed what she was telling me. And then, the unfortunate thing happened. The needle struck my forefinger. I watched as blood flowed on the cloth, as it stained the needle, how it bleed on the white thread. I cried. With so much calm, the teacher pulled the needle, she bound scraps of cloth around my finger to stop the bleeding.

This is my life, she said. Sometimes you get pricked, you get wounded. You get suffocated by the yards of cloth, gets choked with the rolls of thread. You become tired at the end of the night, you wake up early to finish, there is someone waiting for their clothes to be worn the next day.

But I have children to feed, she continued. I have tuition fees to be paid. A roof to be fixed. So, I keep on sewing. I keep on making clothes not for myself, but to clothe strangers. You understand?

I said yes, I understand. The bleeding stopped. She wiped away the tears that stained my cheeks and said I will be okay. I smiled.

We continued our lessons. From the proper way to measure, to making patterns, how to put buttons, to designing. In between, she taught me words of wisdom, harsh realities of life, how to survive. Days turned to months to years and I became the dressmaker’s assistant. Not a grand role, but I earn my keep. What I earned then, I bought dolls and made clothes for them. My playmates learned of this, and suddenly I have clients of my own, a row of blonde Barbies. She said she was proud of me.

But as her children grew up, so was the need for a higher income. Her husband’s salary can barely pay the bills, hers just enough to provide food for their table. So she decided to leave her home, her children to sew clothes for more strangers abroad. It was August 1998 when she left for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I will spare you the tearful goodbyes.

I am used to ‘sewing words’ nowadays. As I ‘sew’ this story, a sudden nostalgia hit me: how my fingers miss the curves of the sewing machine, the smoothness of the needle. Or the feel of pedal under my feet. How I miss all of them. But above all, I miss my first teacher, the dressmaker, my mother.

This is an official entry to the The Learning Site’s Christmas Carnival. / Photo source

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Rookie Sem


Darwin Moya narrates how he started and finished his rookie sem as a teacher in college. 


I used to imagine myself on the first day of classes, speaking in front of students, explaining to them the requirements of the course and what to expect for the semester. I really don’t know if I fit the mold. I had a really weak voice, I tend to talk too fast and I’m prone to spaced out moments. But in spite of all those, in me was a real desire to teach. Come November 2010, an opportunity to realize that desire popped up. And so I stepped into the role… not knowing that it was way different from what I imagined.

First day of classes, I felt intimidated. I was like a poser, putting on a show while at the back of my mind, I deeply questioned my credibility to teach. Do these kids even believe half of what I’m saying? Or do they see me as just another kid forced unto them by the college for lack of instructors? And it didn’t really help that I could pass off as one of their classmates: guards accosting me, searching for my ID or professors barging in on my class simply because they thought I was a student.

It was a recurring theme throughout the semester: self-doubt and trying to act nonchalantly about it.

But minus all those personal dramas, there were very rewarding moments in my rookie semester: those very real moments of silence that made me believe my students were actually listening to me (or so I thought! lol), the pleasant surprise of insightful comments during class, and reading papers that progressed from mere regurgitations to actual independent thought! Of course, reading students’ comments on Facebook and seeing my pictures taken by them were quite exhilirating… that is until they booted me out of their FB group and deleted those pictures with rather hilarious comments.

And that’s another thing that added to my impostor side. I don’t take myself seriously, how could I possibly expect these guys to take me seriously?! Glad the semester’s over. Ang-hirap kaya mag-panggap.

Fast forward to March 4: done checking the final exams, currently encoding grades on my class sheet. I’ve said it a couple of times throughout the semester that I don’t really care if some of them fail to graduate because of my class. My grading system was very transparent and it was all them. But that Friday, I was quite surprised with how I felt as I punched in the numbers and saw the changing figures in the spreadsheet’s final column. I was rooting for everyone and praying, “Dear Lord, let it be 65 at the very least.” Funny, but that’s really how it went.

And I’m just relieved that I don’t have to explain a failing grade to anyone. I leave my rookie semester with great moments in my memory bank and an army of graduates.

This is an official entry to the The Learning Site’s Christmas Carnival. / Photo source

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Teaching Sucks


Karla Singson explains the hardships of a teacher, and how it is always turned around by the natural rewards of teaching.


Let me tell you one thing: teaching sucks. But let me tell you how, and of course, how much.

Looking back, I couldn’t believe I spent a huge chunk of my life teaching. Of course, not professionally, but it was still, in its very essence, teaching. If your criteria is a visual aid and lectures, then my activities all fit.

From 2nd year to 4th year high school, I taught catechism every summer at our local parish. From 2nd year to 4th year college, I taught debate and public speaking in different schools. After college, I taught Marketing in Ateneo de Davao University – such rowdy college students – and also taught for JoBS Academy, another IT and Business school. I am not teaching now, but once in a while, I get projects that let me play teacher for a day or two, for PR, Marketing or Public Speaking. And yes, that sucked.

First of all, teaching sucks your energy. Mostly, you wake up early and/or sleep late. You are paid for the time that you spend inside the classroom but the actual time that you spend in delivering what you’re supposed to deliver takes more time than that. Imagine this: for an hour’s worth of lecture, you might need more than one hour of research and preparation, and when these kids take the exam, you’ll need another hour to check their papers. If it’s an essay exam (ones which I usually give to really measure the depth of understanding) I’d take an extra hour and 3 chocolate bars.

Next, teaching sucks your money. You don’t want to be late for school so you’d take the cab. If you work for a company, you’ll only be subjected to the judgment of your immediate superior. However, if you’re teaching (and a decent one at that), you’ll feel ashamed about going to school late so you’d spend 2 hours worth of your salary just to get there on time. Also, most teachers spend for their school supplies from their own wallets and what’s more, sometimes you’d even find yourself stressing over NOT having to repeat outfits. There you go.

Sometimes, teaching sucks your self-esteem. Your students are not listening. They did not do their assignments. Three quarters of the class flunked your exam. Are you a bad teacher? Well, if you got all three you might want to rethink your career but most of the time, it’s really not your fault. And yes, there will be gossip and haters and you have to face several judging people (Adolescents? What horror!) in a day. So really, every day for a teacher is a gamble on his/her self-esteem. You have to be bulletproof for that.

At rare and memorable times, teaching sucks out your stress as well. Once in a while, you get a student who adds you up on Facebook and tells you what a difference you made in his/her life. Or how you helped him get the job that he eyed. Or even those superficial girls who flunked your subject but only remembered how you wore your outfits excellently. These are the little things that make your day. These are the minute consolations that we work hard for and let us lick our wounds and get ourselves ready for the next day. These are the times when you actually forget this article’s first 3 reasons on why teaching sucks.

Teaching sucks your pride. This is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, we all know how humility is rare and precious nowadays. In teaching, there will be times when you realize that there are truths greater than the ones you thought you know, and that the students that you’re facing are actually, also, your teachers too. Many times, I always look at my students with pride and I am humbled by the fact that they can go so much farther than how far I’ve gone when I was in their age. And yes, there will be people who look down on you because you don’t have a shining corporate job and you shrug it off because you know that teaching and having teaching as a career is like having a secret heroic mission. And if you know that you are working hard to fulfill this mission, that, most of the time, is truly enough.

So there. You better look at teachers in a different light. Now you know how awesome teachers are, I’ll leave you to comment with your praises. 😉

This is an official entry to the The Learning Site’s Christmas Carnival. / Photo source