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Happy birthday Nanay!

Today is the birthday of one of the most influential persons in my life… my first teacher.

I remember when I was about 3 years old when she taught me the poem “Once I Saw A Little Bird” and she’d show me how to say the poem with actions and feelings. Until now, I could still imagine how she’d wave her hands in the lines “… and he shook his little tail, and far away he flew..”.

I was four when I started going to her class at a public elementary school. She’d fetch me at home and we’d walk to school together. She always let me sit in front of the class and she’d often call me to answer her questions. I was just a “visitor” then but she’d put me in charge of the class when she went to meetings, which I enjoyed a lot. =)

When I turned five, I was officially enrolled as a grade 1 student in her class and she was always proud of me for getting  better grades than her other “older” students. That is why when I turned six and was a kindergarten student at John Bosco, she was so upset that I didn’t get into the honor’s list. Once, when we were at a party, she saw my kindergarten teacher and asked her why I was not on the honor’s list. She said that I was a good student and performed well when I was in her class. She indirectly accused my kinder teacher of “favoritism”. I got mad at her because my kindergarten teacher humiliated me the next day in class because of that incident.

But somehow, that incident also motivated me to do better at school because she believed in me so much that I didn’t want to disappoint her again…

I remember a lot of things about her. She was great at the kitchen and would call me from her window when it’s time to eat. She made the weirdest – but delicious “kakanins”, salads and juices (fresh pipino, guyabano, ..). She also brought me to prayer meetings, Bible sharing, and masses. I was oftentimes reluctant to come with her but always ended up enjoying and having a great time.

She went to my high school graduation and promised to attend my college graduation too.  She was already old by then but she was still energetic and full of life. I looked forward to that day when she will be proud of me and see me receive my college diploma and medal.

But it didn’t happen because she was brought to Cebu and was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks before my college graduation.

She was never the same again after the chemotherapy, medications, and tests. She was not able to make the delicious salads and juices like she used to. But she was still able to teach me about other poems and prayers that she memorized. We’d sing Christian songs together and she’d tell me about verses and stories from the Bible. She’d tell me stories about her life as a teenager, how she brought up her children, and how she managed to raise all eight of them to become professionals.

It was painful to see how she suffered from cancer and how she grew weaker and weaker each day. Even at her weakest, my first teacher taught me about the important things in life – God, family, … love. She died on February 14, Valentines Day. I will always be grateful to her for being proud of me and believing in me. To my first teacher, my friend, my fan, my grandmother, Happy Birthday Nanay! We miss you and we know that you are somewhere in heaven watching over us… 

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5th and Last USEP Monthsary.

The Fifth and the Last…

Life is really full of surprises. Of twists and turns. I never thought my stay with USEP would be brief. I once wrote on my journal that my vision is : to be one of the best IT educators/practitioners in Davao City… I wrote that with a promise in my heart that I will be with a university in Davao that will help me fulfill my vision.

USEP has not failed to teach me the things I needed to learn. It was not a smooth ride right from the start. I had to adjust to the new environment, the culture, and the people around…

Though it was really a brief stay, I will still miss the people who made my life easier – my officemates and students. Some of the students may hate me for failing them, for not being able to give my hundred percent, or for notbeing able to meet their expectations.

I admit I was not at my best this semester. I was stressed and tired almost everyday that I had to literally drag my feet to my classes. Every time I see or notice disappointment in the eyes of my students, I always felt incompetent and unworthy to be standing in front of them. I felt that if my previous students could only see how I performed here, they wouldn’t be so proud of me anymore…Haha. I tried my best to regain my strength and show some enthusiasm but I failed many times. If I have one regret in my stay with USEP, it is that I wasn’t able to really give the best of me coz I allowed stress and pressure get in the way.

The Fourth at USEP

FOURTH.

My little cubicle is a mess. Yes, I’m happy that I no longer have to prepare for my six different subjects but I’ve got a lot of papers to check before I can finally say that the sem’s over. Sigh. I wish I could just skip the checking part and just call the random function to generate the students’ grades. Haha..

Ayy.. four months..

Happy with some of students’ mobile projects

I’m really quite impressed with the projects presented by some of my students. It’s really great. I am glad that despite the very short time that we were able to discuss about midlets, they were able to come up with original and entertaining mobile applications. Hopefully, they will not forget what they have learned about J2ME and be able to make use of the skills that they have acquired and later on make money out of it. However, there are still those that disappointed me a lot. There were students who presented mobile applications that they have downloaded from the Web. What irritates me most is that they don’t even understand the code! Argh! Good thing that (so far), those who made original projects outnumbered those who just downloaded source codes.

Teaching Servlets with NetBeans 6.x & TomCat 6.0

I was a little embarrassed with myself when I discovered what went wrong with my NetBeans-TomCat-servlet application. My gosh! How could I have not known that?! Gosh, after years of teaching Web development.. Hehe.. It’s really funny. But anyway, what matters is that I was able to realize my mistake. Handling too many subjects has left me with only an hour (mostly) to prepare for my subjects. I know it’s not something to be proud of. And I’m really disappointed with myself because I wasn’t able to foresee these problems when I accepted the subject load. Anyway, I just want to document this learning so I’ll avoid committing the same mistake in the future.

I already installed TomCat 6.0 on my machine but I didn’t start it from NetBeans. Instead, I opened my html file from where it was saved (somewhere in my local disk). Anybody who has had a background on Web development knows that you have to execute your html files from the server (ex. localhost) and not from where it is saved so that you could execute the scripts, or in this case, the servlet.

I was now confused why my html file could not “see” or locate my servlet. So I tried: removing and adding my TomCat server in NetBeans, and duplicating the servlet class in the different directories of TomCat. Nothing worked.

When I realized that I hadn’t started TomCat from NetBeans, I tried to start it but now NetBeans would tell me that it failed to start TomCat because port 8080 is already in use. Argh!!! I searched the net for some answers and I learned that the error was due to multiple instances of TomCat that are running. I tried looking at the connections on my machine using netstat, and indeed, port 8080 was used. Whew!

I restarted my machine hoping that the service using 8080 would terminate. But, still I got the same freakin error! I was fed up and just tried using another port (8089) and when I started TomCat (inside NetBeans)… it worked!!! When I tried running the project, the browser was automatically invoked and the servlet did its job. Yey!!! Haha.

After all the confusion, my servlets are now running perfectly well.. 🙂

3rd Monthsary!

Wow. Three months have gone by and the semester is about to end next month! I really feel like I have grown so much as a teacher because of the experiences I had this semester. There were a lot of struggles, yes…but I believe I made some great achievements as well. There were major major mistakes I’ve made and I felt embarrassed in class (especially in Statistics), which made me hope that the earth would just swallow me alive. Haha. I really felt so dumb during those times. But well, I have forgiven myself and have gotten over it. Good thing the earth didn’t swallow me at all. 😀 Now I have a chance to do better. Pain is really necessary for growth. As they say, “No pain, no gain.. ”

This month I’m proud of myself because I de-cluttered my cubicle. Student papers are now neatly filed inside envelopes. Yey!!! 🙂 I have 2 envelopes for each of the subjects I handle – one for the checked/recorded papers and another for unchecked papers. You’d probably think I’m weird. Hehe.. But you know, this is already a great achievement for me. I was able to organize my stuff – student papers for the first time in the n years of teaching. Haha.. My table is a little organized now.. Hooray! It helps me have a clear mind too…

Another great achievement is that I have checked almost ALL papers…thank God for the holiday (end of Ramadan) and being stressed-free, sick-free, and problem-free last weekend. Though I wasn’t really able to prepare my lessons. Well..that was a tradeoff I had to risk.

I have also posted partial/final (Prelim/Midterm) grades using Google Documents. I just LOOVVEE Google! It makes my life so much better. I use Google Site to post my subject references, programming exercises, and other subject materials. I use Google Documents to save and post my grades. I also used Priority-based Inbox of Gmail to de-clutter my mails. 2 thumbs up to Google! Gosh. Do I sound like a Google fan? Haha.. I guess I am. 🙂

But as usual, Statistics and Trigonometry are giving me headaches. Grr..  I don’t wanna dwell on that.

The sem’s about to end!!! Yey!!! I’m so excited for the sembreak. I’m just not so sure if my students would be happy to receive their grades.. 😦 Did they learn something from me this semester???

Teacher, Teacher, Teach Us Well…

I got a very interesting comment from one of my students on my post How I Should Deal With Cheating in My Class:

Good day ma’am! students do cheat bcoz they don’t really know how to answer or they got a lacking informations in a certain subject. Maybe the effective way to avoid cheating in your class is to provide the students all the informations they needed in your subjects and letting them understand the lessons deeply. Through this, students will find no way to cheat because they can answers all the quizes and exams by themselves and they won’t bother to look at other’s answers.

It was a new insight. Yeah, maybe students cheat because the teacher (that’s me) was not able to explain the lessons well. It is a major (major – Venus Raj) responsibility of a teacher to “let the students understand the lessons deeply”. I admit that there are times when I teach half-heartedly and I couldn’t wait for the class to end. There are days when all I want is to wake up and be in another job, somewhere in a company where I am dealing with clients, or just making systems or programs that would someday save the world. :p But, reality check: I am a teacher. And I have a great responsibility on my hands to prepare my students for a bright future ahead. Whew.

That is why I have decided not to take any evening classes anymore. I could no longer put the quality of my teaching at stake. I have already received a tentative list of the subjects I’ll be teaching next sem and all of them are new to me so I really need time to prepare. And probably by next semester, I will be given an additional programming task so I really need lots and lots of time.

Teaching is not an easy job (especially when you’re handling Programming and Math subjects). I also admit that I still have a lot to learn, strategies and techniques to formulate and master. But I love the challenge. So, bring it on! 🙂

Happy Monthsary to Me and USEP!

Wow. Has it been just one month?

Too many things have happened already. It feels like forever. I’m amazed that I am just celebrating my first month with University of SouthEastern Philippines (USEP). I have learned so much in just one month. I am handling six different subjects… Programming 1 (C/C++), Data Structures (C++), Programming 3 (Java), Structures of Programming Languages, and… tentenen… Trigonometry and Statistics!

Well, I’ve always loved Math and I could have taken the course Applied Math if I went to UP. But gosh! It still took me by surprise… I never expected that I will be teaching Trigonometry and Statistics! I wish I took Ems, Mae and Ate Doli with me so I can just let them be my guest instructors.. Geez…. But of course, I still managed to… well, uhm.. teach the two subjects.

It’s really a struggle. Every single teaching day is a struggle because I have six preparations and four of them are new to me (Prog 3, SPL, Trigo and Stat). Thank goodness, it’s been a month and I’m still alive! Yey! God is good! 😀

I am really thankful that God has given me good health, a brave soul and tons of wonderful, generous, loving people. I am sure without my support group, I could have lost my sanity already. Hehe. I have someone to kulit when I feel so lonely already and he has been very patient and supportive (thank God!). I have a very loving family… Mommy (and Tito Leven) who cooks food and even prepares baon for me. I am so, so, blessed. Of course, my friends… Ems who always remind me I can do it, that I can reach my goals and fulfill my vision. Hannah, Laiza, Charisse, Mae and Ate Doli whom I miss so much send me texts to brighten up my day.

One of the major changes in my life is eating lunch alone but I’ve managed to live by it and just be thankful for the peace and quiet that I have in my cubicle. And I don’t have to check every once in a while if I have food stuck between my teeth. And I could chew my food well coz I don’t have to hurry so I can take part in the chika. I no longer have to worry if I choke due to uncontrollable laughter when someone says something really funny or stupid. Wow, indeed, you really just have to look at the brighter side of life and choose to be thankful. 🙂

My Institute of Computing co-teachers and staff have also been so supportive and helpful, going out of their way to make me feel welcome and sharing their books and tools with me. Even the students have been very friendly and cooperative. Most of them delight me because they have met my expectations and have motivated me to plan ahead and do my work better.

I still have a long way to go in fulfilling my vision but I believe that now, I am one step closer. May God be praised! 🙂 Happy 1st Monthsary!

How Should I Deal with Cheating in My Class?

I really hate it when I see students cheating in my class. Not because I don’t want them to pass the course, but because I want them to LEARN. Cheating doesn’t help them because they will be dependent on their classmates for their answers. More importantly, it won’t help me help them because I would not know in which areas they are weak and I could not assess if they really understood the lessons or not. =(

Corruption starts in the classroom. Cheating, even in its mildest sense, should not be tolerated, especially in the classroom. But I am confused on how to deal with it appropriately. Should I confiscate and throw their papers? Send them out of the classroom? That would be totally humiliating and they might never recover and just drop out of the course (Toink!). Or I could just stare at them until they melt. But some students are just so immune and makapal na ang mukha. They won’t even budge. Sigh.

I’m tired of telling them to keep their eyes on their paper, not to discuss their answers with their classmates… Hmm…

I should not tolerate cheating… but how???

Reflections

If I hadn’t surrendered my plans to the Lord, I am sure I would have felt hurt and really confused by the negative comments and pressures from the people around me regarding my resignation.

I have planned to transfer to Davao to be with my family since last year. In fact, I have submitted my application to USEP as early as February this year. I didn’t want to cause inconvenience to my supervisors and administrators in MSU. I knew that I had to submit my resignation before our chairman could make the teaching load for the new semester.

When summer has almost ended and still there was no word from USEP, I prayed and surrendered my plans to the Lord. Only HE knows what’s best for me. I even wrote these petitions at the Pink Sisters’ Monastery:
1. that I will be hired by USEP and
2. that the transition from MSU to USEP would be as smooth as possible.

Yesterday, the IT program head of USEP called to tell me that he has chosen me among the applicants for the Instructor I position. I felt so happy. But when the call ended, it suddenly dawned on me that leaving MSU during this time, when classes have already started, is going to be really tough.

I know some people would never understand…

They point out that I should have tendered my resignation 30 days before, etc.. Of course, I know that policy. That is why I applied to USEP as early as February. Sad to say, that they called me just a week ago – 3 months after I submitted my application – when classes have already started. Actually, it could have been a lot easier if I didn’t have a family to support. If I had it my way, I could have tendered my resignation last May and just leave everything to faith. But I don’t have the liberty to do that. I COULDN’T just be jobless! On the other hand, I couldn’t just pass up on the opportunity to have what I have been working and praying for. Or else, I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself.

I honestly feel bad for my students. I genuinely care for them and I didn’t want to leave them hanging. I never intended to do this to them. I just pray that I could find a suitable replacement who would really take care of and teach them well .

So far, I have heard almost all kinds of comments from the people around me. Some of them really have the potential to hurt me and make me feel bad, but fortunately, I have prepared for this.  I trust that no matter what happens, I know, my good God is in control. 🙂