7 Qualities of Filipino Teachers in Baltimore City, Maryland U.S.A

7Q

  1. Dreamers

We came to Baltimore City because we have a dream or should I say dreams? This includes the following:

  1. Experience teaching in the US and to grow professionally
  2. Help our families back home, send our siblings, children, niece or nephew to college
  3. Have a better future
  4. Be financially stable
  5. Find Mr. or Ms. Right to marry and build a family

We never stopped dreaming and regardless of age, we seek to improve ourselves more especially in the field of education. We have Filipino teachers who completed their graduate and post-graduate degrees at Johns Hopkins University, Towson University, Coppin State University and others. We are so fond of Arnel Pineda’s song “Don’t stop believing.” so we never stop believing and chasing our dreams.

  1. Dedicated and Loving

Filipino teachers are known for the quality of work that we do. Students will say that we teach differently, we love and care for them, you will hear praises from school principals and other coworkers because Filipino teachers are dedicated and hard workers. We teach from the heart and they see that we love what we do. To many of us, we consider teaching as our mission in life. We do it with the best that we can because we do it for the glory of God.

  1. Grateful

We are forever grateful for the people who were used by God to make it possible for us to be here in the Unites States like Dr. Avenida, Ms. Cheryl, Mr. Duque and Ms. Hannah. They opened the door of opportunity for us to teach and be a part of teaching the inner city kids. We are so blessed to have administrators who love and support Filipino teachers. We are eternally grateful for Baltimore City Public Schools because we have learned a lot about urban education. BCPS was indeed a great training ground for us all. Baltimore is our first home in the US and there will always be a special place in our hearts for this charm city.

  1. Inspirational

We always have at least 1 true-to-life story that we can share with our students and colleagues that will inspire them Let me share the story of one teacher. She told her story growing up she needed to sell bread, banana cue or any food before going to school just to have some money to buy the school supplies and pay for the projects in school. A lot of times she would come to school with her baon “boiled sweet potatoes” or corn. Growing up in a big family they could not afford to buy toys so they built their own: drawing a doll on a paper, cutting and coloring it to make it look pretty. To dress her up, she would do the same: draw, cut and color and put it on the paper doll. Students get teary-eyes every time they hear stories like this and it make them realize how fortunate they are because they don’t need to work just to get their education; it is given to them freely by the government including the food and even school supplies.

  1. Achievers

Filipino teachers are world-class teachers. We are known for our passion in teaching. Many of us believe that whatever we do, we do it all for the glory of God. As a result many of us go beyond what was asked for us to do and we excel in our workplaces. Many of our Filipino teachers achieved greater heights by getting proficient and highly qualified evaluations, some are working very closely with the administrators by serving as a school leader like department head coordinators or IST, IEP chairperson and team leader. Some are recognized as lead or model teachers. Many are awarded as teacher of the month, teacher of the year, teacher as a hero, best teacher, best performance, perfect attendance and others. We all celebrate each other’s success and we are truly “proud to be a Filipino”.

  1. Risk-takers and survivors

Filipino teachers put everything on the line to survive and thrive in teaching especially in an urban setting. We face challenges every day but let us remember that every challenge that we face is an opportunity for God to strengthen us. Remember our theme song: “I Will Survive” during our first year of teaching? Yes, indeed we survived and we say “if you make it in Baltimore you can make it anywhere”. Whether we choose to stay in Baltimore City or move to another state because of visa sponsorship issues Filipino teachers are risk- takers. We don’t want anything to hinder our stay in the US so we try to find ways to survive. We take the risk no matter what the cost is. The Filipino teachers in Baltimore City are scattered across the US. We have teachers who moved to Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Delaware, D.C, North Carolina, Virginia, and South Dakota to name a few. We have given up our high-paying job, best healthcare and other benefits just to continue working in the US. We risk everything for the future of our children…of our families. We have to be strong, take the risk of the unknown to be able to pay our debts and provide for our families.

  1. Full of faith

Cheryl Curtis (0ne of the HR representatives who interviewed us in the Philippines) known us for our strong belief in God and for our unwavering faith. She knows that we work hard but we pray harder. Working in Baltimore City especially during our first year away from our loved ones is very challenging and the only place where we find comfort is in God’s presence. We are blessed to have a very welcoming Filipino community that brought us closer to God. We were able to find churches and other religious organizations that treated us more than a family. As we go through trials and storms our faith is made stronger than before.

Today I believe that God is reminding us of the 7 qualities of Filipino teachers in Baltimore City. He is reminding us that we are world changers and difference makers. We’ve been here for at least 7 years and sometimes we are asking God why is it taking so long for us to get the stability that we’re praying for. Those teachers who stayed in Baltimore may have hidden fears because they don’t know how will the sponsorship turn out. Many of us tried different ways, may be moved to another state but until now we are not sure when are we going to get our permanent status but God is reminding you that you are FULL of faith and He is FAITHFUL to fulfill His promise. He brought us here because He has a purpose and we have a mission to fulfill. Hebrews 11:1 talk about faith…that is being sure we will get what we hope for. It is being sure of what we cannot see.

Whenever you find yourself worrying about the future, pray and return back to God. He will show you the first step forward, then the next step and the one after that until you see the whole staircase. Relax, enjoy the journey, take time to smile and be thankful for what He has done and what He is about to do in your life. Trust Him and have faith because He said in Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”

Don’t let the devil steal your joy or put you down. You are a world-class teacher. You are a world changer. You are a difference maker. You will reap the rewards of your faith and obedience to God is His time.

STUDY MORE (Letting Go from Frozen)

Study More
By Mrs. Mary Angel A. Flores
(In the tune of Letting Go, OST of the movie Frozen)

The school year starts I’ll make it all right
And my class rules very clear
The kingdom of education
And it looks like I’m the queen
I have been planning for this lesson to take place
All you have to do- listen well and try

Do let them know
Do let them see
You’re a good kid you always want to be
Just study hard and don’t give up
So you will learn

Study more, study more
Can’t hold it back anymore
Study more, study more
Stay inside our classroom door
I don’t care if it takes all day
I will teach you more
You can come after school every day

It’s lovely how some lesson makes everything seem cool
And the fear that once controlled you
Can’t get to you at all
It’s time to see what you can do to take the limits and breakthrough
No right, no wrong
Just try for me
You’re free

Study more, study more your grades will be A plus and fly
Study more, study more
You’ll never fail and cry
Here I stand and here I’ll stay
Let the learning flow

My teaching strategies will help you learn it all
Our class is inspiring and excitement is just all around
And your thought is as important as your effort and time
You’ll always come to class
You’ll surely pass in our class

Study more, study more
And you’ll rise like a break of dawn
Study more, study more
The perfect score is yours
Here I stand, I will help you more
Let the learning flow
You can come after school every day

Teaching in the Inner City Schools in the USA…A Truthful Confession from a Foreign Teacher

Yellow AngelTeaching in the Inner City Schools in the United States

A Truthful Confession from a Foreign Teacher

Teaching in the United States is no easy matter! Well, that’s an understatement to begin with. Let me start by boldly and truthfully saying that teaching in the US particularly in the inner cities takes more than guts and courage! Teaching is not a job; it is a mission! If you’re only for the money, you will not certainly last! Allow me to equate it with cooking. In any vibrant and a tasteful cuisine, you need some major ingredients to bring out the flavor that you wanted. In teaching, you need love and passion in order to strive in the teaching world itself, coupled with commitment and dedication to cater with the challenges and the wide-variety of issues students face on a daily basis. I along with the other teachers who have poured their hearts out into this profession survive the challenges of teaching in the inner city schools with love for the kids, passion with the job, dedication to learning, and commitment to make solid changes. I knew that teaching in the US, particularly in the inner cities, would be very different from what I used to have back home where students have respect and high regards to teachers; but I have always believed that if I would love what I’d do, and if I’d let my students feel the love I have for them, I would be able to pierce through the boundaries and breakthrough the barriers, ultimately making the difference— a ripple in the beginning, then transforming into giant waves. With God’s help, I have kept my mission and learn along the way. Let me share with you some of the challenges I have had, and how I have dealt with them. Others may have different experience either stronger ones or less powerful in many different ways, but they all meet at some points along the way.

Overcoming Challenges

  1. Students’ negative attitude towards school: When I plan my lessons I make it fun and interactive by incorporating technology, playing games, & using cooperative learning/group works, math stations, math projects and cross-curricular activities. I also stress out the importance of education. I encourage them to go to college and pursue their dreams and goals in life. To draw even the slightest inspiration, I even share my life story with them. As Walt Disney quoted “Dreams do come true if you have the courage to pursue them.”
  2. Lack of parental involvement: I see to it that I call parents in the first weeks of school. I introduce myself and give them good reports about their child. I constantly keep in touch with them via phone call, email or print progress report to keep them inform about their child’s class standing.
  3. Heavy workload: Aside from my full time teaching load, I also serve as a math department head and after-school activities coordinator. It is overwhelming at times but the keys to surviving are time management, organizational skills, and resourcefulness. It is also important to work smart. As the quote says “You don’t have to reinvent the wheels.” You should know where and how to find the right people and the right resources to do and complete the job.
  4. Higher school district and state expectations: Preparation and planning is the key to combat this and keep up with the overwhelming expectations. Always start with a goal in mind; it’s like going to a battle with a blueprint in mind. It is also important to make your expectations realistic and have an open communication with the administration. In that way, you can keep them in the loop of what’s going on in your classroom.

Above all it is our Lord Jesus Christ who keeps me going when I face tough times. When the work itself seems to be insurmountable, when the stress is too much to handle, I just kneel down and ask for strength and wisdom from the One who gives it all.

Recognitions

 

I am very blessed to have my life featured in “The Learning,” (directed by Ramona Diaz) a documentary film featuring four Filipino teachers from the recruitment in the Philippines to the actual teaching in Baltimore City. I received special recognitions like Most Influential Teacher in 2015 (Uniffied, Inc Filipino-American Educators), Teacher as a Hero (National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia),  Rising to the Challenge of Excellence in Education (Uniffied, Inc Fil-Am Educators), Hall of Fame and Outstanding Performance Recognition Awards (Filipino Educators in Maryland), Special Recognition as Community Service Coordinator (Engine 7 Ladder 10 Outreach in Philadelphia), Outstanding Performance Award and Special Recognition as Multicultural Committee Chairperson (Truebright Science Academy Charter School), Teacher of the Month (North Bend Elementary/Middle School), I also served as Middle School team leader, Multicultural Committee Chairperson and First in Math Coordinator (North Bend Elementary/Middle School).  I am currently  serving as a Math Department Head Chairperson and School Activities Coordinator (Truebright Science Academy Charter School).

I consider teaching my very own mission in this life, and it’s all because of God’s grace and mercy that I endure and overcome the challenges it comes with. All the glory belongs to our God Almighty!

I love teaching because it’s my L.I.F.E.

L- Love

Without love in my heart I will never survive the challenges of teaching in America. I am a Filipino math teacher and I started teaching in America last 2006. After 5 years of teaching in the Philippines, I accepted a teaching job offer from Baltimore City through a teacher exchange program. Teaching in the US is one of the biggest decisions in my life because I have to leave my family who is at least 8,600 miles away from me to live alone by myself in a foreign land but I love teaching and I want to gain new experiences and insights to help me grow professionally.

I know that teaching in the US, especially in the inner cities, will be very different from what I used to have (where students have respect and high regards to teachers) but I believe that if I love what I do and if I let my students feel the love I have for them I will be a good teacher or may be a great teacher. It is the love that I pour out in planning the lessons, finding creative and innovative ways to teach Math, inspiring and challenging the students to do their best in Math and in life. As I let love rule in my heart, I can help hopeless students do Math, forgive disobedient students, be patient with difficult students and genuinely care for students inside and outside the classroom. It is love- that will keep me going when I face tough times, when I feel like giving up and when I feel so stressed out. I always look back and remember the “love” and passion I have in teaching and that I consider it my very own mission in this life.

 

I-Impact

“You never know when or how greatly your words and actions will impact someone else.” As a teacher, we have the opportunity to inspire and touch the lives of our students. What mark do we want to leave in our students’ hearts and minds?

I always try to encourage my students to reach their maximum potential inside and outside the classroom. I challenge them so they can realize that there’s more than what they thought they could do. In my 13 years of teaching, I am experiencing the fruit of my labor and the sweet reward of teaching. I have students who thanked me through Facebook, email or text message because I have touched their lives in one way or another. One of them said that she never thought she would be a very good leader until I gave her a chance and told her she had the potential to be one. Another one said that he became interested and loved math because I made it fun to learn math. I am so blessed to see my students succeed in their chosen field. It feels so great that I am part of their molding process to be the best person that they can be.

 

F- Fun

Teaching can be very exhausting- meetings, professional developments, countless hours of working at home to prepare lessons, grade papers, contact parents and tons of paperwork. Guess what? With the overwhelming demands of this profession 24 hours a day will never be enough but in spite of it all, flexible teachers still see the “fun” in teaching. Fun is relative from one teacher to another. Some teachers consider it fun when a well-planned activity goes smoothly, or when a group of struggling students master a skill, or when the students learn through a game, or when the students discover what they are supposed to learn or it is fun when learning beyond the four corners of the classroom takes place.

I consider myself a modern teacher. I try different ways to teach a certain skill. I consider it fun when I see that students solve on their own or when we do fun activities like measuring the real objects in the classroom and finding the perimeter, area and volume, exploring geometric figures, play different games for probability lessons, calculating the circumference and area of different circular food then, eat and celebrate Pi day (March 13) after all the math hard work, math around the world (stations with different math problems with real facts from different countries), roller coaster project, doing exit tweets and a lot more. There are countless ways to make the subjects that we are teaching fun and exciting. There are interactive websites, apps and professional learning communities that can help us teachers plan to make learning fun for our students and teaching fun for ourselves.

 

E- Excellence

As the saying goes “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” We always remind our students to strive for excellence and to be in their A game. People might be thinking that teachers are delighted when the result of classwork, quizzes and exams are 100’s but do you know that a 70 may be equal to 100 sometimes? If a teacher working with students who have learning disabilities, that 70% might be the best that they can get and it will feel as great as a 100%. Don’t get me wrong…it is important to pass the tests and to get good grades but test scores and grades do not define learning. It is not just the concepts learned; but the learning process and the application of it is what really matter.

I remember a student  in  8th grade who could barely add or subtract single digit numbers. He stayed after school for coach class and sometimes lunch time to learn how to solve equations. After all his hard work, he got an 80% in his test and I rejoiced with him. I told him that he was an excellent student. After some more practice, he was able to solve 2 step equations and he even got 100’s. It was such a wonderful moment to see the joy in his eyes as he received his graded work. He couldn’t wait to show it to his mom.

As we remind our students to strive for excellence, we  teachers must also do the same and strive to be a good role model for our students as we make choices and decisions to cope with the demands of our profession and every day life.

I love teaching because it’s my L.I.F.E.

…and I can never image myself doing something else.    IMG_6299

Math Project #3 Math EggQUATIONS Project

solve eggquations pic 2Objective: the students will be able to demonstrate their skills in solving equations (One step and two-step)

Materials:

* empty egg carton

*12 pieces colorful plain plastic (toy) eggs

*Coloring materials, marker/Sharpie

*Colored papers

Procedure:

1. Design the egg carton and label  with :

Egg Equations (1 Step, 2 Step or Multistep) Project or Writing Eggquations Project

2. Pick two sets of 6 item equations /inequalities questions  from the project worksheet (provided by the teacher) and students make their own 6 equations question.

3. Using a marker  write each question on  each egg shell and the solution on each egg space in the egg carton.

4. Answer each question, show all work and write down the steps on a  paper .Fold the paper and put it inside the egg  with the corresponding question that was answered.

5.  The egg  project will be graded by their classmate (assigned partner) and the teacher on the evaluation day.

6. Criteria for Grading: 

Accuracy of the answer= 50%

Solving Process (show and explain  the steps)= 30%

Project Design (neatness and  completely labeled)= 20%

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Math Project #2 Math Clock

Math Project #2 Math Clock

Here’s a very simple but cool project. They may use a real non-working clock a cardboard or any material that they can think of.

Criteria for Grading
1. Evidence of skills learned- powers & square root, integers, pythagorean theorem, solving equations and inequalities 50%
2. Creativity & originality – appealing design, neatness & creativity 30%
3. Work Ethic- use of time wisely to concentrate doing the math project in the classroom 20%

Make sure to print out a copy of the Math Project info (description, criteria, deadline, consequence for not turning in project=0 grade, reply slip at the bottom for parents to sign) include the example (photo). This way you have a documentation and they are aware of the consequence if they did not turn in their project.

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THE HEART of SERVICE: A Special blog for the courageous firefighters of Engine 7 Ladder 10 in Philadelphia

In the month of April 2012, Philadelphia experienced “a great pain” because of the loss of two firefighters killed while battling a massive warehouse blaze last April 9. They were killed when a wall collapsed as they inspected a building adjacent to the burning warehouse. While in the line of duty, 60-year old  Lt. Robert Neary and  25-year old firefighter Daniel Sweeney lost their lives. The heart of these two courageous fire fighters is always centered on their service to others.

In our daily busy lives, we tend to forget the people who work with their lives always on the line. Their courage and dedication to risk their own to save others are always admired and look up to, and to give them their well-deserved special recognition is to say the least an understatement of their great contribution to the society. The student leaders of Truebright Science Charter Academy School along with Mrs. Mary Angel Flores  (math teacher) and Mr. Samuel Adams (English teacher) came up with an idea for the school to come as one in remembering the unsung heroes of our time. It was a memorable moment to see how Lakeeta Joyner (president of the student government), Brianna Rush (senior class representative), Zane’ Spence and Kashaay Brown (officers of the College Awareness Club) visited each classroom, encouraged and inspired the students and staff to extend sympathy to the families of the two firefighters and also to express gratefulness to the firefighters of Engine 7 Ladder 10 fire department. Truebright gave donations and created cards and posters to show their love and care to these people who are serving our community unselfishly.

Last April 25, we had a chance to visit the fire department. Fire fighters Joe Adams, Gil Newton, Vince Ortiz and Craig Howard, welcomed us and without hesitation answered some of our questions. Following is the Q&A portion of our visit:

Q: On the daily average, how many times do you help people?

A: Every day is different. We don’t just help people when there is fire. They also call us for other reasons like accidents. While waiting for the medics, the fire department mostly responds to the 911 call first especially if the area is closer to us than the paramedics.

Q: When did you know that you want to be a firefighter?

A1: By the age of 13, I’ve always wanted to be a firefighter.

A2: I was a paramedic for 10 years and I was working with firefighters. I thought their job is a lot cooler, a lot better so after 4 years I switched to be a firefighter.

A3: I started as a volunteer and I love it. It’s not a regular job. When I was younger, I already saw myself as a fire fighter.

A4: For me, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do.

Q: What advice can you give to those who want to become firefighters?

A; You have to be prepared to see the worst, in 20 minutes you will see someone’s life is taken away. This is a dangerous job but we love what we do. We have to overcome fear to save somebody’s life. You have to be quick to respond to the call. In less than 4 minutes, our fire truck must roll out when someone needs our help. One must be ready and flexible especially with the change of schedule. Sometimes we work days, sometimes night. You have to be ready to lose your life any minute to save somebody.

The firefighters were so grateful to our school’s outreach project. They were encouraged and their spirits were lifted up because of our love and support. They were so touched by our actions and deeds. The whole process of this Outreach Project taught our student leaders something and this was one experience that they would surely not forget. Here are some of their thoughts:

Lakeeta Joyner

Being a leader at Truebright Science Academy Charter School, I feel obligated to make sure our students are aware of what’s happening in our community. When I heard about the Tragedy at Engine 7 Ladder 10 firehouse in Kensington I decided that it was my duty to make it known amongst my peers. Yes, I am student government president. No, I don’t feel like it. I feel more like I am the voice for our students. I feel like when there’s an issue or a concern amongst the student community, it is my obligation to voice them out.

When Mrs. Flores came to me with the plans for spreading the word about the Engine 7 Ladder 10 tragedy, I knew I had to be the one to spread the word, along with the other student community leaders, Kashaay Brown, Zane Spence, and Brianna Rush. These three ladies were also leaders who amongst a few other students I see branching out and becoming positive role models for the school. As we went around collecting donations, making cards, and getting the banners signed, we noticed that there were many students interested in being a part of this outreach.

During this outreach project I have had the chance to appreciate the heroic duties of a fireman even further than before, everyday firemen attend work not knowing the outcome of the day. On April 25, 2012 when we went to the fire house we had the chance to explore the lives of the firemen, we got to sit in the fire truck, see their bedroom, and their work out center. Also we were able to have a Q&A and I personally learned a lot about them. They are like a family, sort of like the family we have here at Truebright!

Kashaay Brown

Being one of the leaders for the Ladder 10 Engine 7 Community Outreach has been a wonderful lesson and experience to me. I felt uplifted to help the families in need, it felt even better to show Sgt. Sweeney’s and Lt. Neary’s bravery throughout my school. I got to see how a whole school could come together as one to help someone else’s family. I know that the cards may cheer up both families and our donation will help the Ladder 10 Engine 7 family. It was a joy to see everyone sign his/her name on the posters that we created (Lakeeta Joyner, Brianna Rush and Zane’ Spence). I really hope that the Ladder 10 Engine 7 family will display them in a place where everyone can be inspired to also acknowledge their courage and service to the community.

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