Sense of Possibility: Teach for the Philippines Week FLIPPED

“When we talk about giving kids a ‘sense of possibility,’ it used to be a vague and lofty term for our team. With events like FLIPPED, that bring our whole community together, we get to experience first-hand what it means to change perspectives, expose ourselves to different realities, and at the end of the day, strengthen relationships. This is applicable to both our students and our champions.”  

 Jerome Intia, Director of Marketing and Events, Teach for the Philippines

In an innovative twist on last fall’s Teach for the Philippines week, during which professionals from various industries visited the classrooms of Teach for the Philippines Fellows and shared their knowledge and experience with students, the organization hosted Teach for the Philippines Week FLIPPED earlier this month. The event, which was inspired by a similar initiative piloted by Teach For Malaysia in 2012, brought students and Fellows outside of their classrooms and into local businesses and cultural institutions with a goal of expanding their worldview and sense of possibility about their future options.

Implementing FLIPPED on a large scale was a high priority for the Teach for the Philippines team. “We involved as many of our Fellows and their students as possible,” explained Director of Marketing and Events, Jerome Intia,  “and because one of our values is about building communities, we also reached beyond our Fellows to the larger school community—inviting school principals, master teachers, and even some of our students’ parents to join us.” In the end, this commitment to inclusivity meant that 233 students, 17 Fellows, and five parents and faculty members participated in the event.

The establishments visited by Teach for the Philippines classes ranged from large factories and financial institutions to independent retailers and museums to a government office and an award-winning chicken farm. In several cases, the destinations were a direct result of the positive experiences of visiting professionals during Teach for the Philippines Week. The Chief Operating Officer for HSBC Philippines, John Nicholls, for example, specifically requested that the class he spent time with at General Roxas Elementary School visit the HSBC national headquarters. Similarly, an executive of Coca-Cola FEMSA’s visit to a Teach for the Philippines classroom led to a trip to the company’s local bottling plant. Students from Holy Spirit Elementary School visited the Global Forwarding office of Teach For the Philippines and Teach For All supporter Deutsche Post DHL, where they toured the various freight departments and met with Country Chief Operating Officer Stephen Ly. The students also visited the Meralco Museum where DHL Express Country Manager Yati Abdullah addressed the students.

In the weeks leading up to FLIPPED, many Fellows took the opportunity to incorporate the experiences their students would soon be having into their curriculum. Fellows Danny Ang and Myrtle Almando, for example, had their students follow the news on Senate hearings about a high-profile government scandal a week before they visited the office of Senator Bam Aquino. “This resulted in a number of interesting and tricky questions for Senator Aquino,” says Intia, “who we think left the table with a profound respect for the acute intelligence and perceptiveness of 10 year olds.”

The response from the businesses involved has been overwhelmingly positive, and many have expressed that the event was a welcome opportunity to meet with students and talk about their work. “It’s a good way to expose young children to the workplace and inspire them to study hard in order to secure a job in the future,” explained Jenny Yance, Corporate Events and CSR Specialist at Coca-Cola.

For students, the FLIPPED experience was powerful on many levels. “For the kids, the journey was just as thrilling as the destination,” says Intia. “For many, it was their first time to ride a bus, see the Pasig River (a major river that winds in and around most of Metro Manila), and simply take in the view from on top of a major flyover. On every trip, each time the bus went through a tunnel along the highway, the kids would go, ‘Oooooohhhh…’” 

“These were things I see every day on my commute to work and I would simply sleep past them every time,” agrees Teach for the Philippines Marketing and Events Officer, Angel Ramos. “But to these kids, they were new and magical, and being with them for all six trips made me realize how jaded I have become as an adult, and how life could possibly be more joyful if I would look at things with as much fascination as they do.”

In describing his own class’s visit with Senator Aquino, Fellow Danny Ang sums up the general reaction of all 233 Teach for the Philippines students who participated in FLIPPED:  “The students will remember this experience for the rest of their lives!”

See more photos and learn more about Teach for the Philippines FLIPPED on Facebook.