The Power of We– Reverberating Through My Journey Home

By Marivi Lim-Castro

My experience in QUT Australia has been an opening door for me to fully embrace the opportunity to strengthen myself as a teacher, a teacher-leader and a better person who faces the diversity of my community here in General Santos City, Philippines.

I would never forget the very first time I stepped at QUT.

I have seen and observed how education has been enjoyed by students and teachers alike. It was a joy to witness how they would deal with people and nurture the camaraderie, friendship and commitment at work.

The humility and joy to serve others made me realise how being an educated person can make you all the more humane, more understanding, more patient and more humble.

Preparing to go home with all the learning, it was as if I was packing a Balikbayan Box full of blended learning, balanced leadership, collaborations, reflective learning, strategies, emotional performance and performance conversations… I could hardly wait to share these with my co-teachers and students. The box of learning was wrapped in colourful ribbons of hope, inspiration and energy to share, to teach and to make a difference.

As the gifts have been shared, the journey has begun.

2013 has been a remarkable year for me as the community experienced a transition in leadership. I was indeed grateful, that I went to QUT Australia. I have been shaped to become more resilient, more innovative as a teacher and more flexible in working with various types of people.

With what has been given to me, I was able to train more teachers, and have been active as a teacher-leader. I facilitated various training programs under Coalition for Better Education, Department of Education, and other foundations. In 2013, I was blessed to reach out to 35 teachers from Luzon and Visayas regions; 200 teachers in Socsargen area, 27 student-teachers from Notre Dame of Dadiangas University, and more than 200 student-writers and coaches.

On the other hand, in my school, teaching festival was materialized. This became an avenue where learning communities were created to help each one to enhance and learn new teaching techniques. Whatever I brought home with me was applicable to all teachers from pre-school since we were a complete special education-integrated school.

Being a teacher–leader now has given me more encouragement to do more. I was assigned in 4th year (1 class FL- grade 10) and 3rd year classes (Grade 9) with different types of learners. As a special education school, we would always see to it that children were given equal opportunity to learn.

The first short-film festival came to materialize as I introduced project-based learning among my four classes in that year level. We hit the target of 100% participation and output of the students amidst their special needs. I had 45 fast learners, 14 hearing-impaired students (4th year), and 138 students composed of children with orthopedic handicap, behavioural disorder (BP), mild retardation, mild autism and learning difficulties.

It seemed like I was working and leading with wonders, thanks to QUT for shaping me gradually as a teacher-leader.

As the impact continued, this year I already reached far-flung barangays in the region, to share with the teachers what I brought home with me. Project-based learning has been my way of sharing a wonderful effect of what collaboration was all about.

Presently, I was able to finish two PBLs. For 1st Grading: PBL is focused on a game strategy called Amazing Race: Across Asia. This is a multidisciplinary activity that covers the skills in mathematics, language, civics, MAPEH, values education and ICT. It gives emphasis on skills for value judgement, decision making, stamina, teamwork, leadership and honesty.

The next one for Second grading was conflict and resolution where I ended up collaborating with an international non-profit organization ‘Life vest inside for the 3rd Annual Dance for Kindness.” Everything was made possible through one of the school’s alumnus who was a group leader of Life Vest Inside in the country. A remarkable one since this was the first time that my country participated along with the other 25 countries around the world. (You may check YouTube; Dance for Kindness 2014, Philippines). This PBL in the activity part has reached other students in grade 8 and 9 as well as 4th year volunteer students.

The learning never stops. Paying forward has never been the same again.

Seeing these impacts in my life, I will be forever grateful to QUT Australia. The journey doesn’t only reshape me but also the community I work with.

Indeed, the POWER OF WE has created a better workplace for everyone.

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