Have you seen me lately?

I am not a good multitasker and yet I get so many things done. Focusing on one thing at a time is more my style since I can’t seem to sustain divided attention for far too long. Anybody who has ever crept up to me and startled me knows this to be true.

When the year began I promised myself that I won’t get burned out. I was teaching just the right number of SS2 classes — four is perfect — and though it’s no joke handling a batch and a club at the same time, I made sure that it was all about management. Early on I made it clear to myself that in all my functions, I am not alone. The moment I do everything is the moment I fail as a leader.

Thus my approach has always been to make sure that everyone I’m working with is able to do their job while offering a coherent direction and vision all throughout. This strategy is incredibly effective with the PTA since the President and I share the same philosophy. There are more mixed results when it comes to students; some are still in the mode where they prefer to take direction from me while those independent minded ones I prefer are often swamped with as much responsibilities as I am. I’ve come to trust in others’ abilities, initiative, personal drive and self-motivation. Hence problems emerge when they aren’t as confident in themselves as they should, or I am unable to keep them motivated enough to keep working.

All this comes to a head now as the third quarter is about to end and the fourth is literally a month away. That is when everything I’ve been working hard on come to fruition. But it hasn’t been a smooth ride. I teach, advise and advise. My job is to keep three trains running. Two of them are going splendidly while the other got derailed somewhat. Here’s where things stand for me.

On the SS2 front, I’m incredibly satisfied with how we’re going along. This year’s theme was getting back to basics and interestingly, it allowed for me to do some interesting stuff. I’ve cut out the useless gimmicks and threw in simpler, less intrusive ones like the quiz tournament. The modular approach is also working great. The open source timeline is a step in the right direction. The Asian conference, I think, I’ll do every year given the chance. Sure, the debate preparation could have used one more week but I’m impressed with how my students are rising up to the challenge.

Not blogging about teaching and SS2 also helped a lot. I was no longer telegraphing my own moves — once I used the metaphor of a magician telling how his trick works before he does it — and so I was able to manage expectations better. I also no longer feel like an overexposed open book to my students which, quite frankly, hampered my own teaching. Now I just let my performance in class speak for itself, as it is supposed to.

When it comes to the batch, I too am very satisfied. As the batch adviser, my attitude is that the students always come first — within reason. If they want something, they work for it and if they can’t quite get there, there will always be people who will support them. It helps tremendously that the PTA shares the same stance. So effectively, I am the facilitator between the Batch Council and the PTA. I see myself as a small gear in between two larger ones, making sure that the two move together direction, a direction which I have set as the batch adviser.

Of course, this does not mean that I bow to my students’ every whim — far from it. They would be the first to tell you that I make them work really hard. To them I speak the language of trade-offs — if you want something you have to give something up. This helped ensure that any proposal we make to the PTA or any other body in school has to be clear, viable, and also in the partner’s interest.

Also, my approach does not mean that the PTA moves only when I say so — far from it. They are also very autonomous actors who are blessed to have very amazing leaders who happen to share my philosophy. They remain watchful and vigilant of school policy and, quite frankly, dealing with them has become a useful exercise in accountability on my part. That we are able to move in concert when we have to is amazing and for that I am eternally grateful.

Lastly, there is AKSIS. I think we started out very strong. Recruitment was impressive and the weeks leading to Humanities Week proved that I have a very good leadership team who can get the job done. Everything culminated in INTERAKSIS which I thought was pretty successful and since then I looked forward to nothing but a great year. But then we somehow got derailed.

Sigaw! is in limbo and Pisay Voices is struggling to find its voice. I think Sigaw! stumbled when we tied our timeline with the Filipino presentations for Humanities Week, and from there it just fell through the cracks until our momentum was finally devoured by the faculty fire. As for PV, I think I’ve either miscalculated the school’s blogging culture or there are simply too many requirements for students to contend with that it kills the free-sprited creativity that blogging needs.

Of course, we haven’t given up on either one.We will be looking at a timeline that will put Sigaw! back on track for a February 20 finals, though we may have to scale down our initial plans. As for PV, we are currently rethinking it and are deciding between either fully opening it up to the entire PSHS community or sharpening its focus and keeping a dedicated team of writers. If only my writers could earn credits in their social science classes for writing in the blog to help sweeten the deal. Perhaps.

However this doesn’t mean that things aren’t happening in AKSIS. As a matter of fact, there is a new development that could really put the club on the map. It’s something we stumbled upon last November 12 and it’s really promising. It integrates a lot of the club’s goals — both internal and external — and has the potential to ensure we keep running for a long, long time. My challenge to the club now is that we make this happen. If we end the year as strongly as we began, I will be incredibly happy.

And that, in none too many words, is where I have been lately.

I am happy with the work I’ve been doing. That’s quite a thing to say considering that I’ve just weathered quite a personal financial crisis and my personal and social life are both non-existent. I know life requires a healthy balance and thus far that balance revolves primarily in the work I’ve been doing with the students and the fun I’ve been having in the classroom. But this only makes me hungrier from the life I know I’ve been missing, but not what you may have in mind.

With a closing like that, you know this post begs a sequel.

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