The fourth quarter of the school year was about to start and we decided to move up some students who were academically progressing to a new grade level. I was delighted, excited, and yet a little bit nervous thinking that I would have a new student who is intelligent, gifted, and of course, well-loved by everyone both in school and in the shelter.
The first few weeks were filled with many things to adapt to, and I prayed that the new student would not be too overwhelmed by the change. Slowly, with the help of the responsive classroom approach we implemented, it supports the student to have an easy transition to a new environment.
In our school, we usually do our morning routines such as greetings, group sharing activities, reading of the morning message, and praying before we start our classes. One of the best memories of my journey with this boy was when he first greeted me with my name as his "new teacher" and hugged me. He even asked me about my morning. He was so excited!
The first day with him was not as smooth as I hoped for. There were a few bumps. This was the reason why we observed him in the classroom and modifications were made to suit the student's needs. He would always choose to be the first person in the line, but I explained that we have our rules on "taking turns," and he already had his chance. When I checked on him outside the classroom the next day, he sat on his spot and patiently waited for others to come. I realized that firmness and consistency are two powerful tools to achieve successful classroom management.
Another classroom scene that made my day was when we had our group sharing. Knowing that younger students are visual learners, I added fun pictures to make our sharing more interactive and to get their attention. As I flashed some images on the screen, I heard him laugh as if he was being tickled. It went on for a long time, and it certainly gave his classmates a stomachache laughing with him which caused a little bit of chaos in the class. So, I gave him 30 seconds, and he did stop. It was effective, then we began with our sharing. Since that moment, we've been working on calling the name of the next sharer. He was very observant and quick to realize that he needed to do the same to his classmates. To our surprise, he was able to call the next sharer without his classmate's help and use the phrase "Popcorn, student's name." Everyone in the class was shocked and happy, telling me, "Teacher Lyrah, have you heard him saying popcorn? He learns so fast!" Truly, success happens not just because of one person working as "the teacher," but it includes the students and peers who help one another and have a common goal to lift each other up.
Moreover, I have noticed that he is gifted and very clever. I had set aside things each morning and prepared different materials that he would need to stay focused in our class. These things will be given after each class activity. It was essential to remind him that he needed to finish his tasks then he could use what is prepared for him. Well, being firm with expectations and setting classroom boundaries are challenging at times; however, at CCHS we always do it with love and care.
He appeared to be adjusting into our classroom setting over the next few days. He also loves to participate when being asked. Though, he needed some reminders from time to time for him to stay on track. There was one instance in the middle of our discussion he stood up and asked for his dinosaur books. We stopped, and most of his classmates reminded him to ask permission every time he stands or wants to have something. He did go back to his seat and asked permission. But it was not time for him to read a book yet. So, he participated in our reading first and answered all the activities. Then he got the book for him to enjoy. Another strategy that was very effective to him was giving him a time frame before he could get his desired reading materials. These things didn't come easy, it requires hard work, patience, determination, cooperation, and above all, love. We made a lot of classroom modifications to cater for his needs and the rest of the class.
To be successful in the classroom, as teachers, we need to set clear classroom boundaries for our students.
As Colossians 3:23-24 says: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward."
"God has a reason for allowing things to happen. We may never understand His wisdom, but we simply have to trust His will." - Psalm 37:5
The year 2020 has been a challenging year and it carries over this year in 2021 for people all over the world. One area that has been deeply impacted is education. Countries all over the world have been using different approaches so their children can continue to learn. Here in the Philippines, modular distance learning and online classes are used to reach out to children and continue their schooling. One great thing at CSC is our ability to have our classes at the shelter. Our students have greatly benefited and have made substantial improvement in their academic and non-academic skills. We believe continuous learning, even in a modified setting, is an effective way for children to gain the necessary knowledge and skills to satisfy the requirement of their grade levels.
One special student has greatly benefited from a modified class. She started a grade lower when she first came to CSC but because of her determination to learn and handle the lessons presented, we decided to move her up and join a suitable level based on her age and performance. Her first day in August 2020 was full of excitement in learning new lessons and joining a new set of classmates. At first she struggled with the new material especially in reading and spelling. We provided her extra time to work on the skills that needed more attention and refinement. We are thankful that she never losses stamina to keep going in spite of the challenges that come her way. She persevered and is confidently working along with her classmates. She made excellent progress towards the end of the third quarter.
In math, she enjoys solving word problems using the strategies she has learned. She loves math games, especially with math tools available like pattern blocks, pop cubes, and unit blocks. She is also excited to learn simple multiplication and division facts. Her favorite parts of the day; however, are art class and performing experiments during science class. It's wonderful to see how she has progressed this year!
We are so appreciative to all of the supporters, for your faithfulness to CSC in many ways. You are making a difference in the life each child. You have allowed them unlock their potential and show their God-given abilities beyond what we could imagine during this trying time.
(Note: In order to protect the privacy of the children in our care and to comply with Filipino governmental guidelines, our policy when sharing online is to list either a child's name or their photo but not both.)
God is good! And, He is good all the time.
Cebu Children of Hope School is a living testimony of God's goodness. Almost all schools in the Philippines are temporarily closed and students stay at home either doing on-line classes or answering modules but CCHS students are still enjoying happy times with their teachers and classmates even in the midst of this pandemic. Everyone is having fun and is learning something new. They look forward to being in their respective group every day.
Preschoolers are among those students who are experiencing God's goodness. Every morning they would show up with a smile on their faces. They are always excited about activities prepared for the day. They find every activity in class fun, especially playtime.
Preschool playtime has always been the most awaited time for every student. After eating their snack they usually hurry back to class for playtime. It is indeed a happy and busy time for everyone. The fun leveled up when four boys from the Toddler Group joined preschool playtime. These boys were overjoyed when they learned they are a part of this great group. Their smiles and the sparkle in their eyes show their excitement from deep within. At times they keep moving around the room because of so much joy in trying new toys and navigating how to use some of the things that are in the room.
It's wonderful to have these boys be a part of preschool class. Playtime would never be the same without them.
CCHS is constantly grateful for everyone who cares about our students and has allowed us to impact children's lives in the midst of this challenging time. May you experience God's goodness all the time!
Do you ever have those times at your job when you look around and you are simply amazed at all the wonderful things happening? When you see coworkers overcoming huge obstacles to continue to do their jobs with excellence? That is how I feel right now.
Amazed and thankful.
The teachers I have been fortunate enough to work with for the past three years are coming up on one year of being locked in at the shelter, one year of educating the CSC kids in the living rooms and offices scattered around the shelter. This is not easy but the teachers have not used this challenging time to complain or only give 50%. The opposite is true. These coworkers, my friends, have met this challenge with energy and dedication. They have helped me problem solve how to daily transform living rooms into classrooms and then back to living rooms, making sure that all the resources needed to help kids learn are present and mobile. They have supported each other when COVID or death has struck their family and they haven't been able to be present because of government restrictions.
They have thought of new ways to bring school lessons to life, enabling their students to understand concepts deeper through creative, hands on activities. As an example, last week our two third grade teachers worked together with their students to create the CCHS Mini Snack Bar. Their unit in math was on money and decimals. What better way to grasp these concepts than to run a little store for the day and interact with money in a real way?
Not only was this activity helpful for the third graders, but the other classes benefited by learning about money, making choices, practicing how to speak with confidence as they made their order, and understanding what you can buy with 5 or 10 pesos.
As schools all over the world are trying to decide how best to educate kids during this pandemic, be rest assured that the kids at CSC are continuing to make great gains and thriving largely in part to this amazing team of teachers. CSC is filled with these kinds of dedicated and knowledgeable people in every department!
It is funny (and kind of sad) to think back to late March of 2020. We were making plans to lockdown CSC for a couple of weeks, maybe even a month, to keep out this new virus called COVID-19. At Cebu Children of Hope School (CCHS) we were just starting our 4th quarter so a couple of the teachers volunteered to be locked in for those few weeks to help the kids continue with their school year at the shelter. Just a small detour, right?
We are now coming up to our 300th day in lockdown. I guess it is lasting a little longer than I first expected.
This past Monday we started our 3rd quarter at CCHS. All the teachers (pictured below) have been living and working at the shelter for several months, enabling us to have as normal of a school year as we can. I continue to be thankful for all the CCHS teachers as they put the needs of the CSC kids first.
Years from now when our kids will think back to this time, they will not talk of fear or anxiety but of all the people who moved into the shelter, of having school in their living room, and of God's goodness through keeping them safe.
Thank you for your prayers and support of CSC during this challenging time! Enjoy these pictures from our first day of 3rd quarter!