Teachers often go to extreme lengths to provide learning opportunities for their students, and Shateen Seraña, a recent recipient of the Partners in Learning Innovative Teacher Leadership Award, is a prime example. Seraña’s school, located in a remote fishing community, serves poor students and lacks what many of us would consider to be basic resources. Seraña’s plan was to give graduating students the opportunity to use the Internet – for many, a first-time experience.
But after soliciting private funds to purchase Internet time, Seraña realized she could do even more for the community as a whole. Using project-based learning, and with minimal technology, she led her students in a project to plant Mangroves on the coastal shores of Zamboanga City. The students documented their project and held seminars for the community.
The result? The community – students and families from various Muslim tribes – began to care about rehabilitating their coastline. And just as important, the students learned basic ICT skills and the critical 21st century skills they’ll need to build a successful future. Seraña talked to us about her commitment to teaching and the exciting changes her work has brought about.
Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education?
Some teachers don’t have fire in their hearts for teaching anymore because of the challenges they face every day, and it seems that they already gave up, just teaching to earn their living. I never followed them. I tried my best to prove them wrong. I do not give up when challenged and I am still dedicated and passionate in teaching my students. I have shown to them that it is good to be an innovator and collaborator and to integrate technology in whatever subject we are teaching. I have become an example to my colleagues.
What has changed as a result of your efforts?
There were many teachers in our school and in the other schools here in our city who were inspired by what I did. Lots of them asked me how they could also do a project-based learning activity in their school, how to collaborate with others, how to integrate technology in their teaching and if I could teach them where to get the different Microsoft tools and how to use them. Most of them, including the principals of some schools, are now interested in doing projects similar to the one I did in our school. They now understand the importance of the use of technology in teaching. We are now looking into how we can integrate technology in all subject areas.
How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?
I know lots of teachers are facing challenges — especially in integrating technology in teaching. But they can do it. The first thing that they have to do is to accept change.
Face the challenge. Our learners are not the same age as us. We have to learn how to use technology. We have to be more advanced with our learners so that we can teach them the way they need to be taught. (Or else, we will only become their students.) Scarcity should not be a reason to give up. There is always a way. Just be resourceful.
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
I teach Filipino Language and Literature. I was not content with the lessons that my students could learn in the four walls of our classroom and through the chalkboard. So, I let my students go out and experience the real thing. I let them experience how to talk professionally to high-ranking officials to develop their self confidence. I let them facilitate a seminar. But I said, “The knowledge that you have gained is not yet enough.” I let them do research from the Internet, create a blog, form a Facebook group account, take photos, videos and use Photostory and Movie Maker for YouTube and their blogsite. I asked them to write a journal with the use of Microsoft Word. My students were able to do all of this with the limited resources that we have. My fourth year students who were involved in my project-based learning do not have computer class. So I just ask the computer teacher to allow my students to use the computer laboratory during its vacant period. I also asked his help to assist my students in typing their journals and in using the different Microsoft tools for their output. Since the 25 units of computers that we have for the entire high school population of 480 students do not have Internet access, we solicited funds from the community and my students used that amount to buy prepaid time. They also borrowed laptops and modems from the school and teachers, and they did peer coaching on the use of Internet.
What is your country doing right now to support education?
The government allotted a bigger budget for education. There are trainings for teachers, and in our region the Division Superintendent is really monitoring the performance of the schools.
What conditions must change in your country to better support education?
To have a better education in our country, all schools — not only the big schools — should have enough teachers, classrooms and facilities. All teachers should also be trained to use
ICT in teaching.
What advice would you give a new teacher?
Always consider teaching as a mission. Be ready with challenges. Do not give up on trials. Be strong enough to fight against negative influences. Be a positive influence to others.
Do not stop learning new, helpful things for your students. Just do whatever you think is right and always ask GOD to guide you in all that you do.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
because each child has a lot of opportunity to learn. They need it to be able to absorb those lessons and not stop learning.
Describe the most inspiring day you’ve experienced as an educator.
Being a classroom teacher for six years in a sectarian school molded me a lot, particularly in exposing me to teaching strategies of this elite group in the society. With my two years’ experience in a Muslim-dominated public school in Zamboanga City, I was forced to go outside my box to go the extra mile for my students and community by shifting my paradigm in teaching. I am earnestly grateful to the initiative of the Global Filipino Teachers and Coalition for Better Education for opening my door to this very rare opportunity through a capacity-building program in a more dynamic and participatory approach involving teachers to initiate the project-based program. It started with a humble beginning through a classroom-based instruction in a Filipino subject. I was able to hone the writing skills of the students and transform the project into a community outreach program where school-based management was also utilized. As the program was in progress, I was also touched with the interest and enthusiasm of my students to get involved and of their parents and other school stakeholders (particularly the community) to participate in “MANGROVE PLANTING AND REHABILITATION.” Every time I know that my students are learning from me, it inspires me a lot.
Join the Partners in Learning Network and experience global collaboration!
Innovate in the classroom, help your students build the skills they need for the future—such as problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity—with Partners in Learning.
You’ll meet other innovative teachers for collaboration opportunities, get access to free teacher resources, and learn about great ways to improve your personal teaching practice using technology.
Embraced by the theme ‘Your Ideas Matter’ the Partners in Learning Network is a community for you, by you, and further amplifies the great work that is being done every day by teachers and schools around the world. With this idea in mind, we invite you to try out this global online resource and community designed to encourage collaboration and the spread of ideas for the betterment of education worldwide.
The new Partners in Learning Network is the next generation of the global network
serving educators and school leaders in over 115 countries. To facilitate a truly global community of innovative educators, the site is now available in 36 different languages, thanks to the use of Microsoft Translator Services.
Sign in, create an account and start connecting with thousands of educators worldwide here.
About Shateen Danong Seraña
Teacher, Taluksangay National High School
Shateen Seraña garnered the top prize in this year’s Innovative Teachers Leadership Awards held on March 2 in Makati. Shateen bested nine other finalists from all over her country. Through the Globe Telecom Global Filipino Teacher Program, she received specialized teacher training on ICT via online collaboration and project-based learning.
Birthplace: Zone – IV Bunguiao, Zamboanga City, Philippines
Current residence: Cariaga St. Mercedes, Zambonga City, Philippines
Education: Bachelor of Secondary Education, Major in Filipino at Universidad de Zamboanga
Website I check every day: www.live.com, www.facebook.com
Person who inspires me most: My mentor – Ms. Luchi Flores and my family
Favorite childhood memory: When my parents gave me P1.00 for each perfect score on a test (along with advice to study well) when I was still in Grade 1
Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Athens, Greece to compete for the Worldwide Microsoft Partners in Learning Innovative Teacher Leadership Award
When was the last time you laughed? Why? The last time I laughed was when I watched a funny video clip from YouTube, because I am so busy these past few months with my work and my studies. I am presently taking up my Masters’ Degree. Now I
realize that I rarely have time to have fun. But I am happy with what I am doing.
Favorite book: El Filibusterismo and Noli Me Tangere by Dr. Jose Rizal
Favorite music: Classical
Your favorite quote or motto: “There’s no glory without sacrifice” and “It’s not bad to do our best first before saying NO to the challenges”