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Source: The Manila Times, 

Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO)

Balikturo (1993)

BALIKTURO, which literally translates to

“Return to Teach,” is a missionary project of the

Association of Fil-Am Teachers of America, Inc. (AFTA).

The mission brings U.S. based Filipino

teachers to the Philippines to share and exchange with their Philippine counterparts valuable information,knowledge, experience,

and latest developments in different

areas of teaching.

AFTA Balikturo Webinar Caravan 2021

By Elma Sister ESister Macky

August 20, 2021

We call it the “AFTA Balikturo Webinar Caravan 2021,” coined during the term of Dr. Roxanne Cajigas, past president of AFTA (Association of Fil-Am Teachers of America), as a way of capturing the spirit of the caravan --journeying together-- to describe this far-reaching series of professional learning opportunities for teachers, by teachers. Drawing on their teaching experiences and expertise, teacher volunteers from the USA and the Philippines volunteered time and effort to develop and facilitate a series of 4-hour professional learning sessions for teachers in both countries from August 10-12, 2021.

What makes this endeavor reminiscent of a caravan is that everyone is on a journey together-- there are no experts and novices: everyone who participated journeyed from “here to there.” The facilitators, learned as they shared; the participants, shared insights as they learned. There is progress, there is movement, Together.

Indeed, a step forward taken with the help of colleagues, teacher mentors, and friends, is worth more than several steps taken alone. The destination? A virtual space born of collaboration where hope and resilience dwells; a place where both learners and teachers alike can call safe, joyful, and inspiring-- just what we need when we try to overcome challenges during a prolonged pandemic.

But here’s the good news. AFTA has a “never-ending supply” of teacher volunteers who make teaching during a pandemic look easy. They are creative, innovative, hard-working, and resilient. More importantly, they are passionate about what they do. Shout-outs to our AFTA Balikturo 2021 teaching teams! They are: Dara Valconcha, Rena Pedaria and Rodolfo “Jhun” Buensuceso, who developed and facilitated the session: “Project-Based Learning in Math: Empowering Students to Be Engaged Builders of Knowledge in the New Normal” ; Marcelo Inot, Emmylou Rosario, and Noel Menor, who developed and facilitated the session: “Improving Core Instructions in Mathematics: Mathematical Practices, Routines, Equity and Access”; Robert Jim Calungsod and Jocelyn Rabina who developed and facilitated the session: “Assessment Tools: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All”; Gil Baguio, Pops Singson, and Socrates Clamucha who facilitated the session: “Classroom Lesson Research Plan (CLRP)”; Dr. Gina Lopez, Josette Ticzon and Judith Bebora who developed and facilitated the session: “Metacognition Based Instruction and Assessment in Science” ; Kris Penas and Elma Sister who developed and facilitated the session: “The Innovator Mindset: New Ways of Teaching Science/STEM”; Lina Codeniera who developed and facilitated the session: “Improving Communication Skills to Avoid Pitfalls in the Workplace”; Sally Labanda, Nancy Samson-Reyna Gamboa and Mary Melody Y. Remorca who developed and facilitated the session: “Science of Reading: What Every Teacher Should Know.”

Additionally, AFTA is proud of: Cheruby Inot and Pia Santa Ana-Antoine who developed and facilitated the session: “Creating a Safe and Calm Classroom Environment for Students with Special Needs”; Araceli Beltran Young who developed and facilitated the session “Classroom Strategies for Certain Types of Students”; Cherry Ann M. Chishti, Ivy Sacay and Jojo Reynes who developed and facilitated the session: “The ABC in ABA - Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence In Applied Behavioral Analysis”; Ramil Buenaventura who developed and facilitated the session “Art of Facilitation”; Melvin Damaolao who developed and facilitated the session, “Exploring Equity in Education Through Protocols: The Educator Mindset”; and Norma S. Pareja who developed and facilitated the session: “PE in the 21st Century.”

Equally important are the participants of these teacher-led professional learning sessions. Bravo to the more than 1,200 participants from Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and the USA who enthusiastically participated in this endeavor! For as long as teachers don’t stop learning, they will always find better ways to overcome challenges. Congratulations too, to the more than 200 raffle draw winners at the culmination of the sessions! Thank you to the very generous donors and sponsors. May the blessings you shared return to you a thousandfold.

Also, a huge Thank You to those whose messages inspired us all: Rena Pedaria, AFTA president, who gave the insightful welcome address; Dr. Diosdado M. San Antonio, Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction, Department of Education, Philippines; and Secretary Francisco P. Acosta, of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, who both gave inspirational messages; Dr. Johjoh Demol-Jenae, VP for Teaching and Research, AFTA and this year’s Balikturo lead person, who comprehensively gave the AFTA Balikturo Overview; Ramil Buenaventura, Executive Vice President, AFTA, who competently read the Acknowledgment; Dr. Melvin Damaolao, Vice President for Operations, AFTA, who animatedly presented the participants’ certificates. A huge shout-out as well goes to our support crew: Leslie Malazarte, Josh Tabonda, Fe Montarde, Maya Borja, Kathy Cordial, Milyn Tuvilla, Doreen Cabillan and Analiza Floresca!

Finally, to the Core Team who worked tirelessly without fail to push this project to completion: Johjoh Demol-Jenae, Nitz Hingpis, Sally Labanda, Josette Ticzon, Mhar Inot, Melvin Damaolao, Ramil Buenavenura, Rena Pedaria and Ivy Sacay. Job well done!

Like all travelers who journey together, AFTA looks out for each other and helps those who encounter obstacles along the way. Journeying in a “caravan” is always better than traveling alone, for when times get tough, we can always use a little help from friends. This was proven to be true during the recently concluded AFTA Balikturo Caravan 2021.

Bravo, AFTA! Once again, for the second year in a row of online “Balikturo,” you have not failed to instruct and inspire.

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