By Marilyn Gan, a former ambassador teacher with Participate Learning from the Philippines.
Teaching in the US through Participate Learning is one of the happiest and most exciting things that happened to me, and it also created a great change in my teaching vocation. My teaching experience was something new and challenging. For the first time, I had a classroom with six computers, a television, and a projector that was readily available for magnifying activity sheets. I miss my classroom, and being in that kind of school setting helped me grow as a teacher.
Although I had been teaching in the Philippines for more than 13 years, I hadn’t encountered difficulty in managing students. The students I had remained on task even without my presence. In the U.S., though, I taught an inclusion class during the first year. There were four challenging students who required a team of special educators, assistant principal, guidance counselor, parent, and teacher. Most of the time, these four students needed special attention and had to be constantly reminded to stay on task. Sometimes, they also distracted the class with their misbehaviors and mood swings, so the need to improve my patience and teaching strategies was imperative.
I am so thankful that Participate Learning was there to give advice and assistance to all the ambassador teachers, asking us how we’re doing in the field, inviting us to have dinner, to seminars, and to outings where we shared experiences. The seminars on classroom management conducted by Participate Learning were a really BIG help! The school I taught in also sent me to attend district seminars which I believe were pre-requisites for ‘new’ teachers like me provided a lot of ideas, techniques, and strategies which up to now, I am still applying/using.
One specific memory from my time with Participate Learning was an international day at my school. I contacted the parents of students whom I have chosen to dance one of the Filipino folk dances, ‘Carinosa’ and we started practicing after school hours. I also trained the emcees who gave a brief introduction of the activity and the dance. The short program was aired on the school’s television. During the actual international day, I asked the students to color a world map using crayons, display various items from the Philippines, including postcards with pictures of different tourist spots. There were also products from my province such as native abaca sandals and bags, sinamay, placemats, ‘sungka’ (for indoor games) and storybooks from different Filipino authors.
My teaching experience offered insights and knowledge on what it takes to be a good, well-rounded teacher. Working with colleagues and students from international countries like Honduras, Peru, Mexico, Cuba, Japan, France, Jamaica, Romania, United Kingdom and the United States gave me an enriched knowledge of their customs, celebrations and cultures. Each person’s diversity added to my knowledge and appreciation of how each teacher could contribute vastly to the international education of students. Students need to know and be aware of other people’s cultures, so Participate Learning’s objective of bringing the international educators is highly commendable and worthy to be praised and appreciated.
I believe that the more students learn about other people’s culture and what it takes to survive in countries outside the United States is like preparing them to be globally equipped and competitive. Keeping students globally aware is tantamount to protecting them, and thanks to Participate Learning for the great endeavor in educating students of different cultures and bringing global education to the U.S. educational system.
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