A Teacher’s Dream Book of Poems In Focus

As a year-ender for the Poetry category of my blog, I just want to put here my envisioned cover for my dream book of poems. I’ve designed my cover using Canva, and why am I doing this?

Just so I have something concrete to focus on. Something to motivate me to act on this dream of mine of compiling some of my best poems and verses into a book — those that have earned praises and comments from my readers on another site, Writing.com, where I go by my username Summerblossom. And some verses dear to my heart.

My dream book of poems will also serve as an impetus for me to compose new poems or verses, focusing on life, love, and faith…

Cover of my dream book of poems…

Looking back, I was glad that my best friend in college gifted me with a personalized blank book especially meant for my poems back then. So I immediately wrote down my earliest verses from when I was 13 — the good, the angsty, and the not so good (aka immature) — on that little blue book with its title, On Dreams and Realities.

A page from my 1st poetry collection
Another page from my 1st book of poems…

With that, I wish everyone a better year to come…May 2019 be as awesome, if not more than the year that is about to fade. May all your fondest dreams turn to realities. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Soliloquy – An Anguished Soul Speaks Out

You get stuck. Again. Something makes you stuck.  As ever.

And this perhaps is why you never can get your blog off.  Why you can’t attract as much traffic as you want to. As you need to.

Fear. Yes, fear is what keeps you from writing with your whole heart and soul. From conveying as much as you want to – in the way you want to express yourself.

You’re afraid of giving a piece of your mind about issues that matter today.

COURAGE – this is what you ought to have. Yet…

Now look at this quote — it’s supposed to inspire a trying-hard writer like you. Oops, never be too harsh on yourself. Please.

“The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.”  — Robert Cormier

 

But it doesn’t really apply to you, right? In the context this post is about?

All you can think of now is how saddening to see how much the world today is ripping itself apart. Hatred. Violence. Injustice. Destruction of the environment. Loss of respect. Enmity between kin.  Apathy towards others. So much division, disunity, disintegration. So much Evil…

Others may tell you – hey,  this has been happening since time immemorial.

Yes. So you push back and ask —  why then has humanity not learned anything at all from the lessons of history? Is humanity that hardened, dense, fragile, weak …or just plain overcome with EGO? Must we just tolerate the negatives within and around us?

You start to feel at times your faith – in God and in humanity —  slipping. Especially when you read the news. The bad news all over. Or reading ugly debates on social media. You try to avoid these as much as you can. Yet you cannot totally do so.

There — you’ve bared your soul. You’ve expressed somehow that pain in your heart.

This one seems to be a perfect guide for you — by Leonard Cohen

“Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering, There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in.”

And this is your reflection for now. You do NOT have to be as gifted as others nor try to be like them. For as long as you speak out your Truth. That’s your Life Purpose. Just be your Authentic Self.

For from Love and Goodness you have been created. SO it is upon you to answer that call to be the image of the ONE who has created you and the rest of the Universe. That’s being authentic.

Your authentic self is meant to provide light to those you meet on your life’s pathway. But it’s still your Choice.

To let the LIGHT from within you to radiate to others. And give Hope. It is upon you to share that hope. As you journey with others. You encourage others to grow into the best person they can ever be — by being the best you can ever be too because you have that hope in your heart. You choose to be that kind of person.

Yes you feel anguished, helpless, hopeless about the state of affairs in society. You even start to think that animals have become more civilized than humans, transcending their very nature of just living for themselves. You see how different species – enemies by nature -unexpectedly learning to co-exist peacefully and enjoy each other’s presence. You see and hear of stories of loyalty and love pet animals provide their owners.

Yet do not despair. Remember? Despite humanity’s brokenness and because of that very crack in humanity, the LIGHT of the World has come to save, to redeem us all.

It means despite our brokenness as  human being because we are not perfect – just like everyone else — there is that spark of Light within each of us. Within you.

Still in your own capacity, and with God’s grace – you can help bring the Light, and Hope, and Faith to others. It behooves upon you to rise above your own frustration and anger at what is happening in the world to spread even  a ripple of kind thoughts or deeds.

In whatever way you can. Through your writing perhaps. But remember  you can only do this with LOVE in your heart. Spread the message of love, hope, and joy, especially as it is almost the Season of that LOVE that has come to save.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear…  — 1 John 4:18

 

UNITY in DIVERSITY–Mantra for Teachers

A school of fish…one specie…different colors… I took this photo on an out-of-town trip south of Manila – TeacherMarich

A common ailment in the teaching profession is professional jealousy, which exists as well without doubt in any field.  In fact, at some point in one’s career, one may have been guilty of this malady. Thus, one mantra teachers can invoke in order to avoid the pitfalls of petty jealousy, is UNITY in DIVERSITY.

Simply said, unity in diversity is that sense of belonging we teachers experience even though we are of different minds, perspectives, or teaching methodology. The differences in teaching approach, classroom management style, and individual personalities that we bring into our respective work domain contribute to a stronger sense of community, free from fear of rejection.

Unity in diversity means there is acceptance, collaboration, sincerity and RESPECT, most of all. Respect for others’ ideas, boundaries and space.

Respect

Have you ever encountered a colleague who often tries to negate almost every idea shared during brainstorming sessions, or one who refuses to collaborate unless she/he can make any demands from the team, or someone who seemingly asks for everyone’s consensus, yet she wants to have her way; everyone should follow her suggested activities?

Respect for others means being open to what others have to say; it also means you can agree to disagree amiably, without having to insist on your own opinion, without disdain for anyone else’s ideas. Being humble, in short.

Respect also means knowing your limits and boundaries, and that includes respecting your personal space — like not going over co- teachers’ files then deleting them from a shared computer without the courtesy of asking permission or letting them know about it. Believe me, there are such teachers who do this, and it makes them pathetic.

As a teacher, you show respect for others by not talking ill of anyone behind their back — be they your students, fellow teachers, superiors and other staff. In other words, behaving in a professional manner even if some people get into your nerves.

I notice mostly individuals who seem to lack self-respect are more inclined to exhibit signs of professional jealousy as well as act immaturely. Now, I lead you to these helpful articles that discuss professional jealousy: Dealing with the five causes of professional jealousy, and Innovative Teachers Hindered by the “Green-Eyed Monster.”

Unity in Diversity

Thus, to keep track of ourselves whenever we feel beset with negative attitudes and feeling is to focus on our main goal: helping our students the best we can.

It should be all about the students first — that is why we need to constantly upgrade our teaching skills and knowledge, so we can effectively lead our students to their learning goals. We need to make space for creativity and innovation. But it is just difficult to do so without collaboration and unity from our fellow teachers all because of jealousy – that nagging sense that you have to be the better one.

Diversity is a value that each of us teachers should inculcate in ourselves and in our students. Diversity is a value that aims to promote peaceful accord with everyone despite differences in thoughts, attitudes, cultural background, lifestyles, gender, race, among other variables. In an ideal situation in any context, diversity is seen to be working when each member accepts, tolerates and respects one another.

Unity in diversity – a mantra we teachers should invoke if we are to keep the pangs of jealousy at bay.

A TRIBUTE TO MY DEAR STUDENTS

 The plum blossom is full of fragrance

Because it suffers the bitter cold…

The sword is perfectly sharp

Because it goes through the grindstone…

The eagle soars to new heights

Because it is not afraid to fall…

The ocean shore is reached

Because the captain chooses to defy

The cruel waves and violent storms…

The eye is never sad at the sight

Of dark clouds adrift

Because it knows the promises of light.

Thus, it is how you pursue rowing your boats

With vigor to the banks of learning

And scaling the mountains

Even if the way is torturous

You still follow your dreams…

And just like how a mother feels over

Her children’s relentless efforts to learn

Your struggles and pains are also mine

Your sense of fulfillment is my joy, too.

May all your aspirations and hopes come true…

May your happiness be as immense

As the deep eastern sea…

And remember the bright sun

Always rises high

In the east blue sky.

 
I wrote this poem in December, 2000, and ever since, I have been giving this poem to each and everyone of my students as my lasting token of appreciation for their struggles and progress in learning, and for having been there in my life.
I first shared this online in another website: Writing.com, where I go by the username Summerblossom. I have changed the title of this post – from my original title “A Teacher’s Tribute to Her Dear Students” because I discovered another piece online, in prose, with the same title.
 
 
 

Journeying with My Students Through the Travails of Writing

 

Free Writing Exercise: Free write as if you are leaving your home and taking a journey you’ve never dared to take before.
 Source:http://www.deborahdavisauthor.com/writersworkshop.html#w4

I came across this site once while looking for fresh materials for my writing class. Although I had my own teacher-crafted lessons and exercises to give my students, I found the activities that Ms. Davis shared were very interesting. Thus, I decided to join one of my classes in doing some of her suggested exercises, so here goes:

August 2, 2013

Start: 11:07 AM

Here I am, one small overnight bag in my right hand and a backpack slung on my shoulders, standing at the threshold of my home. I can step forward onto the main gate, and out onto the street, or I can go back to the house while there is still time. I wonder what has led me into taking this journey into the unknown. I didn’t even bother telling anyone in my family, but I feel this is right for me at this point. I feel that at this moment in my life, I must go deeper into who I am and what I want from life. Unless I go away, and far from anyone close to me, I shall never be able to seek what I am seeking.

So with another small step, then another, I now find my way through the streets in my village. Time is running out as I feel my heart already aching to rush back to my family, so I must be brave and continue walking onto the terminal.

Finished: 11:14 AM; 176 words

 

My reflection on my freewriting exercise

In my experience, when I first started at 11:07, I was a little critical of my ideas, but I continued and after two minutes, I felt I was another person, no longer Marichu, so it was easier for me to go deep into my very short story. But after 7 minutes, I felt, I had to grope for ideas and words, so I stopped. Now, I will have to go back to it later in the next few days.

At the same time, while doing the exercise with my students, I could just imagine how it must be real challenging for them who came from non-English environments, and who were only beginning to appreciate writing in English.  Also, at the time,  perhaps because the topic was something I had not touched on previously, I realized my own difficulty — hence, I came to understand my students’ own struggles as well, more clearly.

The most important lesson for me here as a teacher is to be able to empathize more with students’ situation, their learning contexts and capabilities. This is indeed essential to avoid exerting undue pressure on them.

I have always found it to be truly effective when students observe me drafting examples on the board, and revising/editing along with them, yet I would just take this for granted. My own experience that morning, however, has given me a fresher perspective, and newer impetus.

The good news is my love for writing often spills over in the way I teach them to write. Hence, in no time at all, most of my students in writing come to enjoy crafting interesting, vivid compositions. Not only that, they declare that they have come to love the language itself. More so now, when they see me eager to learn more along with them!

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Activity

 

I wrote this as an example of a stand-alone descriptive paragraph which I often use in my classes (EFL Intermediate level). Students do benefit a lot from others’ examples: student-written compositions; especially, they appreciate teachers’ own writings, and articles by professional writers.

 

As far as I can remember, there is one special activity that I have always enjoyed doing, and that is stringing words together in a poem. I started writing poems when I was only thirteen years old, but even before that, the rhymes and rhythms of children songs and verses I was learning in school had already fascinated my young mind. The personal poems my parents wrote to each other, which I would chance upon, also delighted me so much that I would recite them to myself, in secret. Reading them aloud would make my heart leap with joy at their melodious sound, especially after I discovered in first year high school, that the beautiful sound they produced was brought about by the way different words were woven together. At that time, too, I remember, I was fond of reading love stories. Hence my very first verses were all inspired by romantic thoughts, even though I had never had any boyfriend. I also remember using the simplest words I could think of and just coining them together to form a very short but rhythmic verse. Here runs one of my earliest verses: “Love me truly…This I ask of you…Be sweet and sincere…Like I have been to you… Say you love me…Oh say you do…I love you dear… So love me too.” Seeing my thoughts on paper then, and listening to the way these words convey my feelings, thrilled me endlessly. Because they were like music to my youthful ears, my poems comforted me whenever I felt bored. Then too, I gradually discovered that for every fleeting thought or emotion I experienced, there would always be a phrase or two that would dramatically paint whatever I was going through. To illustrate, here is a part of the poem I wrote when I was already eighteen years old: “Suddenly, the whole world seemed to crush down on me; an all-confusing pain swept over me as my last straw of hope…Was taken away from me…While my whole being and soul ached for him…He, whom I desire so much, stood there desiring another! How I’ve winced at that gleam in his eyes as he looked at her…How I’ve recoiled at the hurt, at the stabbing pain in my heart it had brought me…How bruised and battered I felt…Oh, how I wished I’ve never seen him again!!!” Whenever I wrote, a great rush of blood would race through my veins, sending me to fantasy land. Pen in hand then, my mind would take me as far as my imagination would let me, and the result of all these are the several collections of my own poetry I have kept all through these years. Even to this day, my spirit won’t rest until I have composed a verse or two that mirror my feelings, thoughts and observations. Writing poetry has always offered me a never-ending excitement and a deep sense of fulfillment for having created something beautiful that records my life’s fondest moments. This is, therefore, the most significant meaning of my favorite activity – that of defining myself as a creative artist who is able to partake of her God-given talents and share in His creative powers.

 

A Message for the Youth

Youth, you still have a long way ahead
Take your time but use your head
Life is easy if you work hard
Enjoy each day as it passes
Just be sure to leave your mark…

Never take anything, anyone for granted
Youth is not a license to do as you please
Be daring and adventurous —
That’s your privilege
You’ll learn a lot if you don’t
scoop yourself in
Just remember not to go overboard…

Be gentle and firm with yourself
And with others, too
Remain friendly, but be a friend loyal and true…

Look up, aim high
Discover yourself truly and honestly
It’s in accepting yourself as you are
That you’ll be able to see others
as they are…

Do not try to search for everything
For what is truly yours will surely
come your way;

As you go on with your life
Once in a while try to look back
at where you’ve been
Remembering the lessons you’ve learned…

Remember, too, to bring along some memories
Look at the past and remember
That once you’ve passed this way

Lastly, no matter what Life has to offer you
Give thanks and be humble
Know that if you walk with God
You will never be lost.

 

 

 

NOTE: I also  shared this poem on Writing.com under my pen name, Summerblossom.

 

 

 

On Academic Writing: Some Helpful Tips

As I was browsing through my Facebook, I came across this fascinating quotation:

“Life is like a camera…

Focus on what’s important,

Capture the good times,

Develop from the negatives. And if things don’t work out,

Take another shot…”

Suddenly, I thought this beautiful quote may also serve as an excellent guide not only for living our lives well, but also for improving one’s writing skills. Writing is such an important life skill to learn; in fact, outside school, a student like you has to write a great deal — when you write to your family or friends back home, update your superiors on what is happening to you in your present life away from your home community, when you apply for a scholarship or student loan, or even just to post something on your social network site such as Facebook, or Twitter. More importantly, writing comprises a great deal of a student’s academic life, so there is no way to avoid it. Surely, you would like your message come across clearly, and interestingly, as well.

Let us see then how each pointer can help you craft an excellent piece of academic writing.

  • Focus on what’s important. As you think of your topic, you also think about your main point, the central point that you would like to communicate regarding your topic. This is usually termed as the controlling point because it controls the flow of your discussion letting you avoid getting around the bush, or totally going out of your topic. When you think of the details to add “flesh” to your discussion, you just select what is important to make your meaning more clear.
  • Capture the good times. I should say, in terms of academic writing, this would mean that in discussing your main points, it is much better to think of the positive aspects of your topic; then write about them. On the other hand, if you are presenting an opinion, state it well in a positive statement rather in the negative. In this way, you will be able to have a lot of room for defending your view. Moreover, writing on the good points of an idea, place, thing or person that you are writing about, leaves a positive feeling on your readers. Stating your opinion in a positive statement can easier make your readers see your point and let them agree with you.
  • Develop from the negatives. In photography, pictures are developed from the negatives. In academic writing, these are the mistakes you make in form, structure and content: grammar, sentence and paragraph structure, choice of words and ideas that do not help communicate clearly what you want your readers to understand. In other words, as you go through each writing stage, you should patiently revise and edit until your composition is perfect. A helpful way to help you check out for the negatives and develop your topic from there is to discuss your initial draft with your peer, that is, with your classmate. Perhaps, you may ask your professor to take a look at your draft so he/she can give you feedbacks on how to better handle your discussion.
  • Take another shot, if things don’t work out. In taking photos with our cameras, we discard shots that do not capture well the scene we would like to have. This is especially easy to do nowadays with digital cams and phone cameras. Likewise, in academic writing, after you have spent a considerable amount of time on your paper, and you seem not able to get your points clearly mapped out for your readers, then it is time to start writing all over again — on the same topic, or on another. If you re-write on the same topic, you may have to consider looking at it from a different perspective or controlling point,  or try using a different approach in presenting it. Usually, for many students, it means looking for another topic that they can easily work out on a clean slate.

Each of these pointers, if followed patiently, diligently and with care, will surely give your readers a very interesting, clear and well-detailed picture of your ideas. Indeed, to paraphrase — writing is like a camera!

Note: I refer to these pointers as general rules to follow, and students should be aware of the other writing requirements needed for their specific task. (TeacherMarich)