Three years ago, Cherry Rosete Genilla managed 69 children inside her small classroom at Kahaponan Elementary School in the Valencia City Division Region of the Republic of the Philippines. Even though that number dropped to 43 this year, she says the amount of children inside her classroom can sometimes feel overwhelming.
“It can feel like a lot to deal with when you are responsible for so many pupils’ learning,” the fourth grade teacher said. “That’s why I felt so honored to be chosen by the Philippines’ Department of Education and the United States Embassy in Manila to participate in TIEC’s Development Program, so I can learn the tools necessary to tackle any classroom.”
Genilla is one of 16 fourth-grade teachers from across the Philippines selected for the prestigious program, aimed at developing each participant as a future leader in English-Language Teaching (ELT).
The teachers received two weeks of professional learning in diverse settings and classroom observations in Austin. Upon their return home, they will guide and train other Philippine ELT educators.
“We begin teaching English in the fourth grade, so the dual language classrooms in Texas are very similar to those back home,” said Collin Gange Sales, another teacher in the program. “I’m learning strategies on how to address problems about literacy in a multilingual environment.”
“Teachers here are more student-centered and approachable with their kids,” Genilla said. “It’s so great to come and learn from English experts and to experience a United States classroom. Looking at the classrooms and experiencing their lessons, it made me think, ‘I can do this!’”
The program’s inclusion of in-person observations at Walnut Creek Elementary created an unforgettable experience for so many of the teachers.
“Getting to observe classrooms in Texas provided us with insight we will take back home to the Philippines,” Sales said.
According to TIEC’s Senior Director of Global Learning Heather Farmakis, PhD, this program strived to prepare teachers to integrate ELT techniques and methodologies, develop dual-language programs based on their exchange experience, and virtually collaborate on projects with U.S. educators.
“Our development program empowers educators around the world to study pedagogy and to learn tactics that can be implemented once back in their home countries,” Dr. Farmakis said. “TIEC’s Online Global Community, which all teachers are automatically enrolled in, will continue to engage our participants and connect them with educators around the world for years to come.”
In addition to focusing on pedagogy and classroom observation, teachers also experienced cultural activities ranging from country-western dancing to visiting museums and destinations stretching from the Capitol to the Alamo. As for Genilla, she says this experience is one she will not soon forget.
“I can’t wait to adapt the strategies that the teachers are using here in Texas,” she said. “I’m most excited to implement small group teaching to let kids learn from each other and build relationships. Texas is amazing, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have experienced it.”
To see more photos of the program, visit TIEC’s Flickr page.