In all of my teaching classes I always heard how important it is to know where your students come from. No matter what the outward appearance may be, whether it's the kid with ironed jeans and GAP t-shirts or the one with Goodwill shoes and no backpack, a teacher should look past the sometimes inaccurate outward appearances and have a realistic view of what the students' homelife is like.
This is defintely true for the schools here in the Philippines. It amazes me how economically diverse some of the residents here are, much like in America. From what I can gather in the short time I've been here, there are students attending the school that come from families in town that are very well provided for and then there are students from the barrio area that have to cross rivers to get to school each day.
So how have I learned the importance of the lesson from my education classes? There was a boy that I taught on Tuesday who was absent from his morning class. He's one of those students that is always smiling and one of the few in the school that doesn't giggle over everything I do... in other words, I really missed him when he wasn't there that day. However, at the end of the day during Remediation time, I noticed that he was there in the library reading the material with his mentor partner. I asked him why he wasn't there that day, ready to give the automatic "you shouldn't skip school" lecture.
He momentarily shocked me though when he said, "I had to help plant rice this morning."
Okay, so at that moment all of the reflections and papers I had to write in college about how to be sensitive to the students' situations came crashing back like a ten pound brick. Even with the little background knowledge I had of what a lot of the home situations are like for the students here, I was still taken aback to actually hear a boy tell me how he skipped school so he could help his family that morning make a living. He went on to tell me that they plant a hectare of rice, which is equivalent to 107639 sq feet (according to Wikipedia.) It's so interesting to hear the students talk about their lives.
There are some really awesome kids at this school... especially this one because he came back for my Remediation class! :)