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Good afternoon, teacher!

February 13, 2014


The 125 children in Grade 3 jumped to their feet and chanted. Just as they had forty years ago whenever I entered the classroom. I was back in a Filipino classroom once again. Some little boys were burning the “basura” (garbage) in a pile in back of the classroom. Fortunately it was not too “mainit” (hot). Vividly I remembered the sweat pouring down my face, neck, and back during my first days in a classroom here. I explained to the teachers that I would tell two stories: one Filipino and one American and teach a song. I had Xeroxed copies of the stories and asked one teacher to follow and translate into Tagalog if the children got confused.


In the first story, “Cow and Caribou”, the kids loved the comic interchange – in Tagalog – between the two. In the second “Jack and the Robbers”, an Appalachian folk tale adapted from the original German story, the kids became the animals – cat, dog, goat, bull, and rooster – and filled the room with boisterous animal sounds. They also liked “traveling” with Jack: (“jiddedy-jolting” with their hands on their laps) and going up and down the “hills and valleys” with their hands. But the real connection came in the final song, “We are all one”. I use this song as a finale because it is quiet and thoughtful and calms the kids down after the boisterous and noisy fun of the folk tales. And, as I watched, it worked it’s magic again.

“We are all the waves of one sea…”

As the children quietly raised their hands up and down to signify the sea, gradually, one by one they began to sense the meaning of the song. Every teacher has known the heart leap when a child’s face lights up with recognition.

“We are all the leaves of one tree…”

We repeated the song three times. On the third, I dropped out – and the students carried on, their faces glowing with pride at their ability.. I was, am, and always will be – a teacher.


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