Written by Anna Casiding
To a fellow Educator, whose joy is found in equipping the Filipino youth:
I took the LET last 17th of August 2014. I passed on first take, with ratings that others deem to be considerably good.
Yet — As Mr. Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr., who earned three Grand Slam titles in professional tennis, said:
Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is more important than the outcome.
Hence, I write this letter. I hope to share 3 lessons with you, gained when I devoted 60 days to prepare for the licensure exam for teachers.
LESSON #1: Must you enroll in a review center, choose the one who cares over the one who simply lectures.
I surveyed and conducted a background study of more than 10 review centers in Metro Manila. After 75 days, I signed up at MindGym.
“To you, who did not make it…” , a letter published on their website and the only article I took time to read, was the reason I invested my time and resources in MindGym.
While other review centers declared their ability to equip an examinee to pass the LET, MindGym sought to reach out to “the one” — that individual who envisioned to conquer a mountain; yet, somehow tripped miserably.
MindGym offered a sense of family, a semblance of home; an experience of learning through collaborative perseverance and hard work. At the same time, they sent out a message of hope, as if saying: “Yet, after all these and the goal remains unachieved, come back to us. We care for you. We will help you try one more time.”
Is it not the true heart of a Teacher?
I remember Mr. Christopher and Marivic Bernido, who both have PhD degree in Physics and are Ramon Magsaysay Awardees of year 2010. They established a school in a far-flung barrio of Jagna, Bohol; and educated students who come from very poor families and soon turned out to be the top 1% high school students in the Philippines. In one of my visits and conversations with them, they shared,
We put efforts so the average students in class—even the one who is having most difficulty and could be failing—be all driven to excellence. We are not after showcasing the brilliance of the few. Our goal is to fix not the classroom, but our country.
LESSON #2: Think critically. Do not be easily persuaded by a common idea.
When you begin to prepare for LET —or, at the very least, declare that you will be taking LET —these are some of the common statements you will hear:
Common statement A: “LET is easy; many passed the exam without even bothering to review.”
Study the statistics of LET’s history of national passing rate. By average, in every 10 examinees, only around 3-4 teachers pass the LET. This means, in micro-perspective, in every testing room, which has around 23 to 25 examinees, only around 6-8 individuals pass this board exam.
Keep in mind that LET is constructed by professionals who have excelled in their field of expertise. And when they designed LET, one of their primary goals was to determine an examinee’s mastery of and perceptive thinking skills about a subject area, at least within a set standardized reference.
Furthermore, given the broad coverage and the limitless possibilities of an item or concept to come out in the exam, you will hear countless of criticisms about how LET was written and constructed. We have two choices: (1)Be discouraged and influenced by these criticisms–yet, nevertheless, still take LET; (2) Develop a sense of value for a good preparation.
George Washington Carver, who led the groundbreaking research in plant biology,and known as one of the world’s most innovative and brilliant scientists said,
There is no shortcut to achievement. Life requires thorough preparation.
When I was preparing for LET, given my circumstances and work schedule, I studied thoroughly and faithfully. I did this with the faces of my students in my thoughts,constantly. I always encourage and challenge my students to excel in what they are good t and to, relentlessly, strive to overcome their weaknesses. I felt that I could only sincerely and effectively influence them of these values when I live out my words, practice what I teach.
Common statement B: “This is the correct answer.. because the reviewer’s answer key stated so.”
My co-reviewees and I realized that we learned more when we research, discuss, and debate about the most probable correct answer, instead of merely relying on the answer key. This is because research and discussions contribute more information as we learn about other concepts that are relevant and supplementary to our primary topic of colloquy. Also, because this type of learning encourages active involvement, we remembered the concepts more to a degree that these became spontaneously integrated in our casual conversations and, even, in moments of humor and fun!
This manner of learning will be very helpful on the day of the exam, especially when you encounter an item of which either the question or the choices of answers are unfamiliar to you. You will find yourself thinking critically by remembering and evaluating concepts relevant to the keyword of an item.
I could not forget Coach Albert Basa’s statement during our final coaching, “You ace LET when you stop thinking that this is just a 450-item-exam. You ace LET when you beg into think that these are ‘450 decisions’ you must tackle with critical thinking, capitalizing on background information you have mastered prior to the day of exam.”
Coach Albert, one of MindGym’s mentors, was actually speaking of a life lesson. Indeed, in everything we do, a thorough preparation is significant. Our attitude towards LET reflects our response to what life requires of us to do.
Lesson #3: Care for others.
When the results were released on October 27, 12:00 noon, I was not delighted to see my name on the list of passers. I aimed to be one of the top 10 examinees. I grieved for 8 seconds. My absurd lamentation was interrupted by a phone call from a fellow examinee, Angelina P. Marquez. “Did you pass?” I asked her, then volunteered to look for her name.
I thought she did not hear me clearly as she responded,“The national passing rate! Look it up, Anna. I am thinking of those who did not make it.”
I was ashamed of myself! I was too engrossed in assessing how I fared against my established barometer of achievement. I totally disdained that more than 100,000 examinees were not able to achieve the required ratings. I imagined their disappointment, their probable thoughts on how their dreams and plans were delayed by just one exam.
I spent the rest of the day, until 12:00 midnight, contacting other examinees, whose names did not appear on the list of passers. I exhausted all means to be able to talk to them, with hopes that I could, somehow, encourage.
There were 6 batches of us, reviewees, at MindGym. Each batch has a designated time and day of review classes. I come from Batch 1. And 5 topnotchers come from Batch 2, the batch that is known to be most united, collaborative, and helpful towards each other. They came out as the best batch because they cared for each member of the team.
Indeed, when working towards an endeavor, our relationships with people create the atmosphere that shall greatly affect our performance towards a goal. Relationships remain as the most powerful motivator and influencer.
So, as you prepare for LET, reach out to your batch mates. Help a co-reviewee who is having difficulty at a concept which is relatively easier for you. More than competing and arguing, choose to collaborate and discuss constructively. Learn from each other. Encourage people to be better; and, in the process, you will discover that you are spontaneously striving to become your best, too.
As a closing note,
In the recent world wide academic rankings that reflected high school students’ practical competitiveness, Asian countries earned top ranks: China, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and Vietnam — besting the established schools of Europe and America.
I remember our Filipino students with pain, and worry about how equipped they are to excel in this fast-paced, toughly-competitive century… and compete, first and foremost, with their fellow Asians. While waiting for LET results to be released, I was invited to conduct a series of lectures on geopolitics for some of the most brilliant high school students in Malaysia. When we discussed academic rankings and performances by countries, an uncomfortable silence lingered in the room, as each of them became extra-attentive. As the lecture progressed, their eyes bore an intensifying look of anger and determination, their stare communicated courage to work harder and a resolve to bring honor to their country.
With such drive for achievement very alive in Asia, it is our duty to awaken our student’s timidity: refine their skills, sharpen their thinking, and lead them into a seeking of becoming a contribution to this century. Dear Educator, if you will enable them, your students could redeem our country.
The influence of a teacher extends beyond the classroom, well into the future. It is they who shape and enrich the minds of the young, who touch their hearts and souls. It is they who shape a nation’s future.
This was spoken by F. Sionil Jose, a prolific and brilliant Filipino writer, whose works have been translated into 22 languages, all of which is a declaration of his love and anguish for our Philippines.
Allow your taking of the LET to be a journey. Allow this experience to become an integral factor in developing a character of determination, perseverance, and excellence in you — and not just simply an endeavor to broaden your knowledge.
As Educators, our perception of life’s undertakings must carry a purpose and vision bigger than ourselves, because these are what we unconsciously and effectively teach our students.
From a fellow Educator,
whose joy is found in equipping the Filipino youth:
Anna Karina Heruela Casiding
29 November 2014
—Coach Anna Casiding is currently among MindGym’s Values Education specialists and motivational speakers.