Keeping the Spirit of Volunteerism Alive

by Annie C. Medina

” I’ve failed over and over and over again, that’s why I succeeded.”

Such words from the great Michael Jordan reminded me that if one doesn’t try; then, he will never have the chance to become successful for success is about developing personal wisdom and competence that will lead to self-mastery. You have to be determined that you can do the possible in order to conquer the impossible.

          Looking back on July 17, 2021, Brigada Pagbasa Focal Person Mr. Eduardo T. Valler Jr. conducted an orientation about school related activity at Amancio Aguilar Elementary School (AAES). Some future educators like me, who are willing to teach learners how to read, attended this orientation and decided to work as volunteer tutors for Amancio Aguilar Elementary School. The training was held inside the learning institution with then School Principal Mr. Alfredo R. Sese Jr. together with the Master Teachers Mrs. Jocelyn C. Yu and Mrs. Vilma D. Martin. They discussed the Marungko and Fuller Approach to reading. But, what is Brigada Pagbasa? How does Marungko and Fuller’s Approach help the learners? How do we handle learners struggling in reading? These were the questions that are running through my head as I listen to the presentation.

          During the training on Brigada Pagbasa, Mr. Eduardo T. Valler Jr. explained the Memorandum relative to the implementation of Brigada Pagbasa 2021. Brigada Pagbasa is a program established by World Vision in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd). One of the provisions in the Memorandum was that people can donate school supplies to the school and be part of the volunteer tutors who have the passion to teach students how to read and become functionally literate.

          On the other hand, Mr. Alfredo R. Sese Jr. tackled the “Methodologies in Teaching Reading.” He imparted different strategies and methodologies on how to make the tutees learn how to read. Mr. Eduardo T. Valler Jr. discussed two topics such as “What is Reading? and How to determine Reading Readiness?” The discussant pointed out that learners must be ready to read before they are taught how to read. It’s a long and tedious process, yet the participants are assured that the tutees will surely end up with flying colors.

          Ma’am Jocelyn C. Yu presented Marungko Approach. She stressed that it deals with “Sounding a Letter Out” or “Deciphering a Letter.” In this approach, the alphabets are sounded rather than named. Marungko Approach helps the learners especially the Grade one (1) pupils to familiarize letter names and sounds. It’s an effective way of enhancing English reading ability and comprehension skills at the said grade level.

          Ma’am Vilma D. Martin discussed the Fuller Approach, which is a combination of the alphabet, phonics, and whole methods of teaching word recognition. Fuller Approach also helps the learners to pronounce a word with 3-5 letters, to master names, and shapes of the letters in the alphabet.

          I became part of the Brigada Pagbasa volunteer tutor at Amancio Aguilar Elementary School. We regularly went to Reading Centers in Barangay Espinosa from Monday to Thursday to teach. On a working day, we spent two (2) hours teaching from 8:30 to 10:30 in the morning and from 1:00 to 3:00 in the afternoon. I was assigned to handle five learners consisting of two Grade I and three Grade III respectively.

          After the school conducted the pre-assessment, the results showed that most of the learners were in the frustration level or non-readers. Thus, I made a strategy for me to know whether they are improving in their reading skills or not. I proposed an innovation called “Rainbow Reading Road Map” which uses the colors of the rainbow. Each color represents 7 levels – Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red. Level 1 is violet these are the easiest stages in the reading materials. I found the innovation effective as I can easily tell if they are learning through the color-coded reading materials.

          It’s quite challenging to teach Grade I learners because they are just starting to learn and they have high expectations from us. So, I am very careful every time I open my mouth. It is also a fact that they are very observant of the way you pronounce a word. I used Marungko Approach in my Grade I learners so they can familiarize alphabet sounds and names.  In my Grade III learners; however, I started in the middle of the Marungko Approach and followed by Fuller Approach.

           Being a productive and creative volunteer tutor, the Focal Person of Brigada Pagbasa Mr. Eduardo T. Valler Jr. assigned me to teach other learners from other tutors because they can easily catch up with the reading approach that I used. I conducted close monitoring of their progress to know whether they were improving. I conducted home visitations many times so I could monitor and track their progress and teach them reading in an efficient and effective manner.

          Sometimes I find it hard to teach reading because they easily get distracted and bored, so I let them pause for a while to have a break, eat snacks, and do storytelling. Hence, these kinds of students help me to be more productive and creative. I set rules and gave rewards to make them even more focused. I gave them biscuits and candies as a reward if they read and learn.

          Obviously, the many twists and turns in my life plus the right, the left, the U-turns, and the circles I took as a volunteer tutor taught me many invaluable lessons that I will cherish. But what made learning interesting for me was not the process of learning but knowing the purpose of it. Application and being oriented is what kept the interest alive. Putting ourselves in the place of our students, by reflecting on our experiences as students, will allow us to develop an empathic approach to teaching. We will be able to look at things from our students’ perspectives and relate more effectively to their learning challenges. If we could do this in every session that we teach, we could surely make a difference upon the lives of our learners.

          As a volunteer tutor for Brigada Pagbasa, I am glad that my learning never stops. As I take my next step towards implementing my innovation dubbed as Rainbow Reading Road Map with a new set of learners and as I keep the spirit of volunteerism alive, I am confident that I can contribute to making every Filipino child a reader.

          If I had one main takeaway from this experience, it is the fact that RAINBOW always brings different colors to life and it will always appear after the darkest storms in life.