The Perks of a Multi-grade Teacher

I was a mono-grade teacher with a minimal number of pupils for many years. But I never felt a sense of fulfillment the way I feel now that I am handling a multi-grade class of Grades I and II. These grade levels might be the most difficult and the most challenging grade levels to handle in a multi-grade set up nonetheless, this is where I became a better teacher.

I was transferred to Bendolan Elementary School as a Grade I teacher on January 1999. It felt great to know then that I could go home daily since the school is not really that far from the city proper. However, as the years went by, teaching became just an ordinary routine. There was not much challenge to spur me on and the feeling of boredom began. I prayed hard to God to help me be alive again and be happy in the profession that I have chosen, to perform my duties and function not only as employment but rather as a vocation.

The prayer was answered but not in the nicest way I could imagine. On June 2010, our Grade II teacher who was also the Officer In-Charge of the school was promoted and was assigned to another school. Although we were all sad because we’ll be missing her, a sense of excitement filled me to think that as the new Officer In-Charge of the school I’ll be handling Grade II which she had left behind. Since her item was not filled yet, I took over the two grade levels, Grades I and II.

That same month I found out that I was going to have a baby. I was so happy since my son is already 10 years old and at last he’ll be having a sibling soon. However, we found out that it was a risky pregnancy and I was ordered by my ob-gyn to have bed rest. Luckily, we were given a teacher aide at the beginning of the school year.

Teaching a multi-grade class is a tough job – mastering two lessons for the two grade levels; preparing multiple instructional materials; and handling a huge class of two different grade levels.

At the start, I really found it very difficult. It even took me quite some time to accept the reality that I really have to handle a multi-grade class. My health became quite unstable.

Luckily, due to the reshuffling of the Division’s School Administrators in the beginning of School Year 2010 -2011, our school was clustered with Laguitas Elementary School. Our new school head was the Division Multigrade Coordinator . She shared a lot about multigrade teaching since she was also a multigrade teacher before she became an administrator.

Moreover, she presented to us the new and updated budget of work in the different learning areas which is used in multigrade lesson planning. So I was not only taught of the proper way in making a road mapping during the lesson but also the updated processes used in a multigrade class. It focused on the process of determining the teaching scheme or way of teaching   before writing a lesson plan. It is quite hard to understand at first but ones you get the grasp of it, each of the five (5) schemes will help  make the planning of the lesson easier; the delivery of the lesson lighter; and enjoyable on the part of the children.

A classroom program was prepared for each of us in the school. The combination class of Grades I & II has two subjects each day, one in the morning and another in the afternoon which means that I was going to prepare only two (2) lesson plans a day – one in the morning and another in the afternoon, or only ten (10) lesson plans in a week. Other types of programs  were also presented.

Since I had to face the challenge, I learned to accept what was given to me, I opened my self to the reality and gave more time in making this tough task lighter to provide  wonderful experiences to the pupils. I learned to stick to the situation and upgraded myself. I made more attractive materials with the aid of technology to make the process easier. I provided the pupils colored reading materials with the help also of some materials given to us from the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) like cartolina, bond papers and folders. I made flip charts for the children to see pictures and read words more clearly.

Making these materials gave me a feeling of fulfillment knowing that I am gaining more ideas as I make these tools. It is also overwhelming to hear people’s appreciation of the materials that I made. I noticed that as I was doing these things, I have gradually embraced the multigrade advocacy.

I brought to school my own television set, bought educational CDs for the children to watch during free time, and made my own “Pangtawid Ulam Program” for those children who do not have “ulam” for lunch . Along with it are their favorite -sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, salt and catsup.  This may just be very simple act of sharing but it helped  my pupils. The passion of making the lives of these little children better grew even bigger.

There are more benefits which I gained in teaching multi-grade. One of these is pride of gaining the trust and confidence of the children who returned after dropping out or after leaving school.  Now, these children come to school enthusiastically and regularly.

Another bonus is this,  for the first time in my entire teaching career all the children will finish  school year  2011-2012. No one dropped out of school.

Furthermore, our new school head encouraged me to join  the district level Search for The Most Outstanding Multigrade Teacher for the School Year 2011-2012. She helped assess my documents.

During our second Division Training-Workshop for Multigrade Teachers which was held on December 16-18, 2011, I was given the chance to have a demonstration teaching which gave me more confidence. It is like taking steps in fulfilling my dreams. After the demonstration teaching several teacher-participants approached me and asked how I made the materials that I used in my demonstration teaching. The feeling was great. I was given a chance to share the things that I do, and the things that I never thought I could doing.

After the Seminar-Workshop, the group decided to form the Division Multigrade Teachers Club and the group chose me as president of the club. I really could not believe it! I only knew few of the participants, but this?!  Unbelievable! How could this big number of teachers put their trust on me. It was a first time experience. When I was asked to say something after the election, I just could not say anything. I still could not believe it.

The challenges which go with multigrade teaching brought deeper satisfaction to me as a teacher. It even made my dreams and aspirations come true. It is only this time that I understand how important my role is in the lives of the children. I believe it is never too late to excel.

I thank God for helping me through all  the difficulties. I thank God for answering my prayers and I will keep on praying for more challenges, strength, knowledge and wisdom to go on as a teacher .wherever I may be in the coming years.

– by Rulyn B. Crusio, Multigrade Teacher, Bendolan Elementary School