The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”—C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
How does a young couple of aspiring teachers review for the LET? Go back and take a look at what I found fit for a title for this sharing of Fiona and Francis’s LET journey.
Fiona and Francis were one of our first enrollees for the January 2014 LET. They enrolled almost simultaneously at MindGym’s MyReviewCoach online LET review. I snooped into their Facebook About pages and saw matching happy couple profile pics. I couldn’t help it; I asked and confirmed from Fiona that they were indeed a couple—MindGym’s first couple (since all of our couples started out as mere batchmates).
Interacting with them personally during Biology specialization weekends, power coaching days, and LET victory party “sail-ebration” proved to me that they complement each other in many ways and are meant to be. Read how they separated and succeeded together in their LET journey.
Fiona and Francis, thank you for sharing your LET journey with the MindGym family. ~mo/am Alice
“Inseparable, Separated, Together”
We are John Francis Guevarra and Fiona Karla Carmona, Registered Nurses from the University of Santo Tomas. We have been a couple since 2009 and we are here to tell you about our LET journey.
Since graduation (Francis graduated 2010 and Fiona graduated 2011), we have had several futile attempts in practicing our profession. We worked at hospitals, gathered licenses, attended seminars… pretty much like your run-of-the-mill fresh Nursing graduate.
We explored other career choices here and abroad and we even went to the extent of bugging our relatives for employment. To no avail, we landed careers in the BPO industry.
Not that we hated to work in this industry, but we wanted to take advantage of the years we spent in college and apply, if not practice, what we learned (hey, studying to become a nurse isn’t easy!).
We talked about it and later found out that we both had subconscious desires of being an educator. It was the perfect time to start our journey in becoming a licensed teacher.
From nursing to educating
Working part- and full-time was the biggest challenge we had in our journey. We went with UP Open University’s Professional Teaching Certificate program because it allowed us to work and study at the same time.
Every weekend was dedicated to completing school work, and we only had time for each other whenever we come out from work (our offices are a jeep ride away from each other). Our dates were cut short if an exam or finals requirement is coming. For the lack of time, we’d even consider exam day a date day as well.
Come August of 2013, we managed to complete the course. Feeling fulfilled, we said that we needed to rest and prepare for the LET. We anticipated that the exam would take place on March 2014.. Only it did not take place on March 2014.
One fateful September evening, we learned that the LET has been re-scheduled for January 2014. We were literally panicking upon learning this because we only then had four months to prepare for the exam!
Aral nanaman! Walang pahinga.
Fortunately a classmate of ours from UPOU told us about MindGym Philippines, and it was perfect because they were offering LET review online. Distance learning was not uncharted territory for us, so we signed up immediately.
We also purchased the LETer’s Choice Review Book which definitely helped us in planning and setting our goals.
Our goal: pass the LET with one take. We were able to pass the Nursing boards, so taking a state examination should be easier the second time around, right?
It was not.
The December (and LDR) Challenge
What made studying difficult was the fact that it was the Holiday season, so we had to make sure that we were spending our time wisely. We must admit that we only seriously started studying about a month before the exams because we were only granted a 30-day leave from our jobs.
Our casual dates went on a sabbatical and we shifted to a long-distance-relationship (LDR) setup—Francis lives in Cavite while Fiona lives in Rizal.
We’d only talk during lunch and before we sleep, and we avoided Facebook. We’d text each other LET questions and new knowledge we gained throughout the day.
I guess this separation was our winning strategy; we cannot study when we are with each other! If we’re together, we’ll bug each other 15 minutes into studying and we’ll end up talking about sweet nothings, books forgotten.. 😉
Two weeks before the exams, we attended MindGym’s 3 Day Power Coaching. Our fellow reviewees, who attended live sessions, were already tightly bonded so we had to adjust. This was easy to do since all of them were very accommodating and kind. In addition, our coaches made sure that we’d fit in and feel comfortable. Their lectures were also very informative and fun.
Throughout the review, we can hear our fellow reviewees vocally answering the drills and all of them pretty much know the things being discussed. They seem to be really ready for the LET while there we were, sinking into our seats. It hit us: there’s still a lot we do not know!
Armed with endless pages of refreshers and mock LET exams, we dedicated the remaining days to studying. We intensively answered the questions posted on our online LET review and we had to focus on subjects where we had the most difficulty.
As Mo/Am Alice said,
Skip those that you already know and focus on those that have the most gravity on your score.
We focused on Professional Education and our Biology Specialization because this was the biggest and the hardest chunk of the exam. It was definitely our chance to make it or break it; of course, the latter is not an option.
This is it.. Make or break the LET!
Exam day came and we arrived early. We had everything blessed at Quiapo church the previous day (pencils, pens, calculators, envelopes, MindGym badges, even our NOAs) so we know that God was with us. To quote Coach Albert:
The LET is all about making 450 decisions.
God was there to help us make 450 right choices, and we knew that we did that because we reviewed with the best. We walked out of the exam room with anxiety but with a weird kind of excitement as well.
Three months later, the January 2014 LET results came out.
Unlike the Nursing boards where we heard the results from our peers, we were the ones who did the nerve-wracking task of searching for our names on the list. Although we were not among the top performers in the country, we were top performers in our own merit.
Becoming a teacher took a lot of time, effort and resources, and passing the LET was the final step. Passing the LET and becoming a professional teacher gives one a feeling of elation that just consumes you, and this we still carry up to this day.
The couple that studies together, works together.. stays together
What made this journey more special was we had each other to lean on.
For motivation, we’d daydream and think of how we’ll be as teachers, and we’d talk about how fulfilling it must be to work as one.
Whenever we feel lazy or discouraged (this is inevitable), we’d push each other and remind ourselves of our goal. We’d call each other “Sir”, “Miss”, or “topnotcher” in anticipation.
We’d talk about “teacher problems” like checking test papers, managing misbehaving students and whether or not we’ll accept Facebook friend requests from students. We’d feel excited thinking about the gifts students give out during the class Christmas party, Valentine’s day or Teacher’s day.
Although some of them are superficial and slightly materialistic, these conversations kept things fun and enjoyable for us. More importantly, it motivated us to strive harder.
As a couple, we also got to appreciate and learn more about each other. We learned each other’s study habits (this we were not able to explore much back in college since we were from different batches) and we got to learn new things as well. We became each other’s stress absorber and reliever. We learned to be more responsible as individuals. Our bond grew stronger.
And now, being teachers made us more secure and sure of our future as individuals and as a couple.
LET Tips from Francis and Fiona
Now to you, future LET passer / topnotcher, as LET-passers ourselves we have these tips to share:
- Recall — Most of the content you will be reviewing / encountering are things that were already discussed in your undergraduate / teaching certification studies. It is just a matter of waking up those brain cells and bringing back the things you already know.
- Strategize — The LET being scheduled at an earlier date was a shocker for everyone, including the MRC coaches! You have to make sure that you use your time wisely. Learn to prioritize, make a schedule, and stick to it.
- Rest — This was something that we told each other whenever we’d feel sleepy (again, inevitable.) The human brain can get saturated very quickly, and indulging yourself in short naps in between study sessions is totally fine. Allow yourself to wake up late one morning after a strenuous week of burning your eyelashes.
- Get support — Your family, friends, significant others and fellow reviewees will give you the motivation and drive to pursue your LET goals. Knowing you have people around you who are doing the same things will make you feel that you can do it as well.
- Practice what you learned — This is the most important tip, especially when you are reviewing online. Know how you learn, know what to learn and learn how to learn. As future teachers, we should know how to teach ourselves first!
- Aim High — Our goal was to merely pass the exam. After the whole MindGym experience, we ended up aiming for that sweet first spot. Your mind set transcends to your work, so go for it!
- Pray — Ask that you will be guided in your journey. God is there by your side, and it is up to you to do all the work.
We would like to thank our families and friends for being very supportive of our endeavor. We’d like to thank the MindGym Philippines team and staff for making the dream of being a professional teacher possible for everyone. Finally, we thank God for giving us this blessing.