teaching and teaching blues

it started with a call.

a schoolmate in college called me up early june last year and asked if i was interested in handling a comm120 (law and mass media) course at kalayaan college. the idea never crossed my mind until he brought it up. surprisingly, i got excited about it. i've been doing some private tutorials for several years but handling a college class is totally different. i didn't know i wanted to teach all along.

my first sem went well. i taught 13 students. this sem, i'm teaching comm140 (communication theory) to supposedly 4 but in reality 3 students.

while teaching is a fulfilling job, there are just some things that get to you sometimes.

last sem, i almost flunked a student for plagiarizing guess what? a reaction paper on a movie. the moment i read his paper, i just knew there was something wrong. i got convinced it was cut and paste after i finished reading it. it was no reaction paper at all. it was...bitin.

so i searched his article online, encoding each sentence on the search toolbar. the results led me to wikipedia, where i found parts of his article posted there, word-for-word. he did some rearranging, and some editing, but there's no denying it was the same article he submitted.

i confronted him the next meeting, allowing him to air his side. he offered no explanations, admitting the charge outright. i told him i was giving him a 5 but that he could still attend my class so he could learn more.

perhaps i said it in a fit of anger, but i did try to be as calm as possible the whole time i was talking to him. what upset me was not that he thought little of me by supposing that he could get away with it; rather, it was the thought that he's a journalism student for crying out loud, and that paper was to earn him extra points only. it wasn't even a requirement. and of all websites, wikipedia pa!

in the end, i never had the heart to flunk him. he came to class til the end of the semester and passed the finals. i gave him a 3 instead, but i did tell him the next time we met that i was giving him a chance; he better not do it again.

now just this morning, another student almost pissed me off. i had already finished giving the midterms exam to 2 of my students and i was on my way to the bank when i spotted student no. 3. i asked him if he was taking the exam. he said yes so i told him to wait for me in the room for 15 minutes.

when i came back, he was nowhere to be found. lo and behold, it was me who waited for 30 minutes before my prodigal student came, apologizing for being late. i allowed him to take the exam nevertheless but only until the end of the period scheduled for the exam.

i don't know if i'm too lenient on my students but being a student myself, how can i afford to be more imposing when i know how it is to be at the receiving end? then again, how will they ever learn unless they learn it the hard way?

tough balancing act i suppose. but a tough act definitely worth balancing.

simulblog with pics at: driven 2


survived a 2-hour, one-man recit

glad to be alive, still.

yesterday, i volunteered to recite in my "favorite" prof's class, just to preempt an unexpected recit and just so i could spend the weekend studying for the midterms exam of another subject.

it wasn't entirely the most conducive of circumstances. got home the night before at around 12mn after celebrating 18th monthsary with rhea (very late dinner because she had class til 9pm; other details, personal hehe). slept at around 3am, at just about the same time rhea was leaving for the airport on the way to davao.

with just 3 hours of sleep, i attended labor 2 at 8am, without finishing the assigned readings. spent the rest of the day preparing for civpro and, at 3pm, i stood up in class, and volunteered for a recit.

normally, there would be 2 or 3 people on deck for a particular meeting. but since no one else volunteered, the terrifying one said, "ok, we're satisfied with mr. navallo for now." that now stretched into 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours; she did not call anybody else.

so i was left answering one question after another. if you know the professor, her questions are never easy. at some point, when i could no longer even wager a guess, my blockmates were whispering the answer (a phenomenon called radyo; tv refers to notes). too bad i could not hear a thing; the prof just had to say, "louder."

how i survived it, i don't know. she seemed nice to me that day. she didn't ask me to recite the provisions word for word. she was patient as i searched for the answers in my notes. and she did not make me sit down no matter how moronic my answers had been.

but if you ask my blockmates, what could be harsher than subjecting one poor fellow to two hours of questioning, complete with emotional attacks like "mr. navallo, we've already discussed this a thousand times..."?

then again, i always try to look at things positively. the fact that i was still standing when the bell rang is enough for me to conclude that she has been kind, at least to me.


that 2-hour recit must have done more harm than good to my brain that my head was badly aching when i got home. i tried sleeping with little success; you can't really sleep when you have a bad case of cough pestering you.

woke up at 1 am to welcome a cousin who had just arrived from abroad, while attempting to study for admin. slept at 3 am and so on goes the routine of waking up at 6am to get to class.

exhausting, this lifestyle is. but as rhea's friend once pointed out, we complain about it on the surface but truth is, we are secretly enjoying it. we must be crazy or something.


given this schedule, there could not have been any other answer when alyansa asked me to run for usc councilor this year: NO. sorry, but there are some things i cannot afford to give up. i can always serve in other ways, sans the position. i've had far too many constipations already for eating more than i can chew and my sins as a glutton are piling up; i'll try eating just right this time.

besides, i also ran under stand-up back in college. enough said.

simulblog with pics at: driven 2


when you'd rather not hear your name

the terrifying one has been calling me frequently lately (every meeting lang naman this week).

monday: mr. navallo, you've recited twice.

wednesday: (after seeing me gesturing at the one reciting) mr. navallo, would you like to recite? (i shake my head to mean no...long pause) mr. navallo!

friday: (only 1 volunteered) mr. navallo, how many times have you recited? i said, twice ma'am. (faces my seatmate) ms. castro, how many times have you recited? (seatmate answers, once ma'am). would you like to recite? (long pause) it's ok if you don't want. (seatmate: ma'am, i want).

is this a bad thing or what?

i could only surmise that it's because those in front of us have all dropped out of the subject, leaving us, the people in the second row, at the frontline. as of today, 7 have dropped out of the course, 20 of us are desperately trying to stay. we're starting to curse whoever wrote those provisions, some of which are awkwardly phrased, making memorizing them all the more difficult. to think that the professor settles for nothing less than the exact words as they appear in the rule!

that explains why just before our class, we share 1 prayer: "lord, please wag ngayon. mag-aaral ako next time." it's not as if we don't study every time. this is one class where hearing your name called correctly isn't the most pleasant thing...and where we are forced to pray.

well, such is life in law school. i actually like the prof (plus the terror she inflicts on us), wag lang niya akong ibagsak!


an upper class (who happened to be the girlfriend of a former blockmate), asked me if the rumor she heard is true: nagfrat ka na raw? gumulong ako sa kakatawa. obviously not true, and i have no plans of joining. no thanks, i can manage by myself.

as it turned out, they were merely verifying the info. an organization is inviting me for something, and they're not particularly fond of fratmen. i was surprised at the invitation, but it's completely out of my plans. i said i'll give it a thought and will talk to some people. but i honestly don't think the job is for me, and there are other complications as well. let's see.

simulblog with pics at: driven 2


an encounter with the chief justice

up and up law paid tribute yesterday to chief justice reynato s. puno by hosting a testimonial luncheon at the executive house. cj puno is an alumnus of up law, who graduated in 1962. he is the 12th sc chief justice to have come from our college.

now, i'm not really a singer and i don't have illusions of becoming the next singing idol, but for a chance to meet the chief justice, i can sing anything, with coughs, colds and all.

as part of charivari, up law’s “organic” chorale in the words of prof. marvic leonen (i don’t know what he meant by that but the last time i heard the word organic was in chemistry and i always associate it with fertilizers), we sang here, there and everywhere of the beatles and the way you look tonight, and of course, the perennial lupang hinirang and up naming mahal.

the ceremony was brief, except that it started late. surprisingly, the dean’s speech was short. the chief justice’s speech was more of a tribute to the college, hailing it as the premier college of the premier university. “while the up college of law makes great lawyers, other colleges could only make notaries-public,” he said to that effect. this elicited chuckles from the crowd.

he went on to enumerate the achievements of his batch. apparently, 3 of the associate justices in the supreme court are his batchmates. haydee yorac also came from their batch, which i think is a statement by itself. their valedictorian and bar topnotcher (whose name i conveniently forgot) is now sought after by the bir.

in his speech, cj puno hinted at the direction his court will take in deciding major controversies. he said that he will neither take judicial activism nor judicial restraint as a policy but that he will listen to the people. how will he do that? he’ll turn to up, up having manifested on previous occasions that it knows the views of the people.

i don’t really mind bashing other schools. it’s school pride i suppose. maybe it’s just part of the tradition. but i don’t really buy the idea that up knows and can represent the views of the people. on what basis is the cj saying this? economic standing? last time i checked, there’s a disparity between the income of those attending up and the income of filipinos in general. political views? perhaps only in the sense that up is as divided as the whole country is on different matters. geographical representation? it’s a known fact that those who go to up mostly come from the metro manila area. and those who enter up law mostly come from either up or ateneo.

so much for that. he’s chief justice anyway so i’ll let him say whatever he wants. i was there not to critique his speech, but to see him in person.

when the time finally came to shake hands with him, alas, my terror prof was there! she too was just as eager to meet the chief justice, shaking his hands and meekly bowing her head before him. now that’s what i call a scene worth seeing!

fearing an encounter too close with the terrifying one might expose me to the risk of getting called in class (which was, uhm, 15 mins away at that time), i stepped back and waited until my prof left. too bad, i had to rush back to the college lest my prof gets to class ahead of me. oh well, there’s always a next time.

the good thing is that we did pose for a photo with the chief justice; the bad news is, i don’t have a copy!

simulblog with pics at: driven 2