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Painting a Picture of Science


This week on Insider’s Look, get to know Teacher Agape Riveza. We talk to her about her career as a science teacher, navigating the changes brought by the pandemic, and the things she misses and looks forward to doing once we can safely be together again. As an educator, she also shares what she thinks the future of education will look like in the new normal.


What made you pursue teaching as your career?


Itong question na ‘to, pinapa-reflect ako. Dalawang gabi ko siyang inisip. Regarding that question, if I really wanted to become a teacher, I cannot say na 100 percent. When I graduated [high school], uso noon ang Nursing. It’s a nice course and [you can] become a nurse abroad. Parang gusto kong sumabay sa bandwagon. The first thing that I really wanted to become was a doctor. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, “nakiki-bandwagon lang ba ko? Hindi, gusto ko talaga siya.Kaya nung nag-aral ako sa PNU—that’s where I graduated, at Philippine Normal University—I took up B.S. Biology for Teachers. Nag-enjoy naman ako. I really loved it. I enjoyed that part ng mga rad biology, ecology, pero ‘yung mga part na magtuturo ka na, hindi talaga pumasok sa isip ko ‘yun e. Kahit nung nag-practicum na, hindi pa rin. Nasa isip ko pa rin, “Ah, magpi-pre-med ako after nito.” Pero nung first job ko as a teacher, doon ko na nakita na okay siya, okay siya. Hanggang sa tuloy-tuloy ko na siyang ginagawa, nag-e-enjoy na ko. Hanggang sa ayan, ten years na kong nagtuturo! Nakita ko ‘yung joy. Iyon lang naman ang important sa’kin, makita ko ‘yung joy sa pagtuturo ng subject na hawak ko which is Science.


What’s the best part about being a teacher?


For me the best part, ‘yung feedback ng bata. The first teaching job that I had, nasa elementary ako tapos ang handle ko ‘yung mga batang ang kukulit na talagang kung ano ‘yung sasabihin mo sa kanila, maniniwala sila! So for me, kailangan kong itama talaga. I really have to paint a beautiful picture about science that they would really like, that they would really love para ma-enjoy nila ‘yung subject. So ‘yung mga feedback nila na—“Teacher! Teacher! Can I be an astronaut? Is it easy?” For me, you have to teach it to them na ang dating, dapat kaya nilang maabot. Ilalapit mo sa kanila ‘yung Mars. Ilalapit mo sa kanila ‘yung moon. Iyon ‘yung best part for me, na you get to paint a beautiful picture about science. You make it [reachable] for them. ‘Yung mga hindi nila nakikita, feeling nila nata-touch nila, feeling nila everything is reachable. The moon is reachable, you can go there.



Pero ngayon sa Grade 9, parang ang hirap mambola ng Grade 9! Sanay na silang binobola! Lalo na ngayon, it’s hard for me to convince them that science is easy, na physics is easy to understand, biology is not just imagination, chemistry is not just formulae. Iyon ‘yung pinakamahirap para sa’kin ngayon. Pero na-e-enjoy ko naman. Lalo na kapag chem, kailangan mo mag-isip ng ibang approach, so na-challenge din ako. Kapag tinuturo ko ’yung mixtures, ah! Magdadala talaga ko ng gin! “You’re not going to do it inside the school, pero alam kong ginagawa niyo ‘to! I’m going to teach it to you para hindi kayo malalasing, para makakauwi kayo ng bahay.Gano’n ‘yung mga style ngayon! “How to make a Frappuccino?” Gano’n ‘yung paraan ng pagtuturo mo ngayon sa higher level. Kasi kapag puro formula, mag-drawing ka pa diyan ng kung ano-ano, hindi nila maiintindihan. Pero kung tuturuan mo ng mga murder mystery, gustong-gusto nila ‘yan! “Sinong pumatay?!”, “Nakaiwan ng bakas!” Iyon ‘yung gusto nila sa chem. That’s how you get their attention, to be honest. At doon ako nag-e-enjoy, amazing palagi kapag nagkukwento ka sa kanila.


How was your job as a teacher affected by the pandemic?


Initially nagkaroon ako ng— “Hala, pa’no ko magtuturo?” Napaisip ako, pero nagkaroon naman ng ilang buwan para i-collect ‘yung sarili namin, to assess if we can teach online. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, “Kaya ko! Kaya kong magturo online.” Kasi I had an experience teaching basic English to Korean online students while reviewing for the board exam. Online classes is not new to me. Pero [that was] English. Pero ‘yung Science with experiments, how? Also ‘yung adjustment na sa bahay ako magtuturo, and I have a toddler na nandiyan sa tabi ko. Parang na-violate ‘yung boundary between work and home. ‘Yung maipaliwanag ko sa anak ko na [ganito na ‘yung set-up], kasi he is just 4 years old, that is the hardest part for me.


And it’s a two-way [street], kaya ko, ‘yung estudyante ko kaya ba? Iyon ‘yung sunod na tanong. Pero alam mo, there are really students who are putting effort into their studies now. Masipag talaga sila. Nagba-budget sila for it. ‘Yung ibang modular lang, nagsa-submit talaga sila on time. So makikita mo ‘yung dobleng effort ng mga bata. Pati ‘yung parents! There are parents na talagang ang sipag mag-follow-up. May mga parents na, gabing-gabi na— “Ma’am, pasenya na, guard kasi ako, kagagaling ko lang ng duty, pasenya na hindi ko po nakuha ‘yung module kanina.” Maiintindihan mo. Talagang na-open din ako sa life [nila]. Parang may curtain na na-rip-off nung nagkaroon ng pandemic, nabuksan ‘yung window, nasilip mo ‘yung buhay ng mga estudyante mo. Ang dami pala nila sa bahay, wala pala siyang space for studying. Doon ako nalulungkot. There are students who look at school as their escape and now it’s close. Pahinga nila ‘yung school kasi sa bahay hindi sila makatulog, sobrang init; hindi sila makatulog, walang kama; hindi sila makatulog, siksikan. Pag nasa school, kaya pala ‘to natutulog kasi doon lang maaliwalas. Nakakaiyak, nakaka-touch. Kaya ‘yung sipag nung bata, i-o-honor mo talaga.


This pandemic will reveal kung sino ‘yung makaka-adapt. Crisis will always give you two options, either you break through it or you break down. Mag-break through na lang tayong lahat, pero sabay-sabay kasi hindi pwedeng may maiiwan.


What do you miss most from teaching inside the classroom?


Ang hirap mag-rapport ngayon, even in my advisory class. Nami-miss ko sila, sa totoo lang! Lalo na ‘yung experiment time namin kasi nilu-look forward ‘yan ng mga Grade 9. Iyon ‘yung nami-miss ko kasi nakikita ko sa mata nila, sa mukha nila that they learn. ‘Yung mga “Aha!” moments nila. ‘Yung mga,“Ah! Okay! Gano’n pala!” Iyon ‘yung parts na nami-miss ko so much in teaching face-to-face [classes], ‘yung genuine interactions.


What are you looking forward to the most once face-to-face classes resume?

Excited ako to see my students again, to see my colleagues again. Pero kahit na nami-miss ko ‘yon, kinakabahan ako sa face-to-face hindi ko itatanggi, because I have a toddler. I have a son [who can’t get vaccinated yet]. I’m thinking of someone else very important to me. Pero nilu-look forward ko once na mag face-to-face classes, hindi na siya kagaya ng dati. There will be options for students if they still want to continue online classes or they could go back to school. Ako, if they ask me, I’m game [to do face-to face classes] pero kapag may option naman—and I think there will be options kasi nakita na kaya. It’s going to be flexible learning. Education is in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world. Kasama na ‘yun sa kailangang i-consider. And as a teacher I really need to improve myself. Isa pa ‘yun sa nilu-look forward ko, paano ko madi-divide ‘yung sarili ko na...there will be classes na online lang kami, nasa bahay lang kami; there will be classes that I have to go here in school. That’s one thing that I’m really— not really looking forward to, but I’m seeing it. It’s a possibility. Times are changing and we really have to adapt.


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