Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mentoring the Mentors Program

My article “Fomenting a Revolution in the Classroom” (Sunday Inquirer Magazine, June 12, 2011), which was on the Mentoring the Mentors Program (MMP) generated concrete and surprising responses.

MMP executive director Chinit D. Rufino got a lot of phone calls and e-mails. Good thing I included MMP’s contact numbers in the article, because if I didn’t I would not hear the end of it and I’d have had to keep forwarding messages to MMP. There were those who wanted to send donations so that more school administrators and teachers could experience the program, some wanted to volunteer their services (they have to go through training first), others wanted seminars for their schools – “ASAP, please.”

So here I am writing again about the program in this space so that more people would know about it and get interested. This is a much shorter version without photos. For the full version, read the magazine online at
MMP is taking the countryside by storm, but quietly. By storm, because it has unleashed so much energy and fire from both the catalysts and the catalyzed, the mentors and the mentees. Quietly, because those involved do their work without fanfare.
But the time comes when the light should no longer remain hidden under a bushel. To use another biblical imperative, they should get out there and shout from the rooftops.

MMP had low-key beginnings. It had a most unlikely main instigator in the person of journalist-publisher Eugenia “Eggie” D. Apostol, founding chairperson of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (1985) and the Foundation for Worldwide People Power (FWWPP). Apostol has a string of national and international awards for her daring in the field of journalism, especially during the dark days of the Marcos dictatorship. She was not a school teacher. But something so possessed her to go beyond journalism and get her feet wet in education. FWWPP embarked on a movement called Education Revolution which included an adopt-a-school and mentoring the mentors programs.

Adopt-a-school was an idea whose time had come and was promptly adopted by civil society, business and the government. But MMP also took on a life of its own and gave its initiators great surprises in the way principals and teachers took to it like ducks to water. There was so much thirst to be quenched and a watershed moment had come.

MMP is a program meant to further develop teachers’ skills in mentoring their students, open their hearts and broaden their perspectives. Its main targets are the public school system and teacher education institutes (TEI). It mentors teachers on the “new” teaching methodologies so that both teachers and students become not only learned individuals but also agents of change.

Education for social transformation is the ultimate goal of mentoring, so at the center of MMP’s work is to help people learn more effectively and “helping people to become the person they want to be.”

MMP is a mobile program designed to meet the participants in their own localities. Sessions are limited to 50 to 65 persons to ensure quality and personalized mentoring.

The topics in the mentoring program: Kambio sa pananaw from akin to atin (paradigm shift); principles and practices in mentoring; character formation; leadership for service; building win-win relationships and the art of loving; active teaching-learning strategies and designing effective instruction/understanding by design.

Rufino has had years of experience in values formation at the Marie Eugenie Institute in Assumption College. She was among the first persons who brainstormed with Apostol.

Snared into the “revolution” were my close friends, Drs. Evelyn Mejillano and Celia Adriano, education professors from the University of the Philippines. Mejillano became MMP’s national coordinator and trainor, while Adriano, whose expertise is instructional design and methodology, was trainor. Lirio Mapa of the Franklin Covey System also joined the team.

Today, seven years later, the MMP veterans look back on their trailblazing efforts: 6,450 principals and teachers mentored in 30 cities. Their cups overflow because of the profuse expressions of gratitude, the clamor for follow-ups and seeing change in teaching and learning.

An MMP seminar begins with a lot of heart-opening, soul-searching and hand-holding (the art of loving, leadership, character formation, win-win relationships), then segues into the innovative and effective ways of teaching, many of which were not taught in TEIs. Active teaching and learning are not merely lectured about, they are experienced.

Seasoned teachers’ teachers Mejillano and Adriano did not invent these new ways. Scientific research in education, they stress, have shown how effective learning takes place and that some old methods must go. Teaching may be one of the oldest professions but it does not mean that methods should remain Jurassic.

Adriano has rendered the old, wordy lesson plans obsolete and shows teachers how to make more focused, workable ones. Creativity is key and teachers must use new ways to make learning enjoyable and unforgettable.

Dr. Esther V. Tabaniag, principal of Tongantongan Elementary School in Valencia City, said: “MMP was different from what I had attended in the past because it made learning go beyond the exercise of imparting and acquiring knowledge. It emphasized that teaching children and developing their intelligences and skills should include a strong sense of community responsibility and moral values.”

Might your school need an MMP seminar? Be aware that superintendents have a budget for teacher training while mayors have a budget from their local school boards. MMP could also find sponsors for the financially challenged. Contact MMP at Tel. Nos. 8693292, 8938588 and

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