We recently learned about our midterm examination scores for Acupuncture I class. Sadly, only four out of ten students passed the exam. Being one of the six students who scored a few points shy from the passing mark, I took some time to reflect (although I did brood for a while) and to accept the fact about the examination score. What had gone wrong? I had studied well for the test and had submitted it with full confidence that I would pass. On the other hand, my fellow classmate was so affected about her failure that she skipped lunch and sulked for the rest of the day. For us, there were two obvious options regarding the results of the assessment: first, to sulk in one corner and to beat onself up because of the mistakes in the examination and second, to learn from those mistakes and to dedicate more time into studying and understanding the material (even if the content of the assessment method and andragogy was partially at fault). I chose the latter, since I had come to realization that one exam would not completely define my learning, knowledge, and skill in the matter since I did well on the practical exam – after all, knowing where to put the needle on the body can mean life or death (although not discounting the importance of theory). I noted the areas where I needed to improve and dedicated to studying more about the theories of acupuncture and point location.

The two options I mentioned earlier are indicative of two dominant mindsets when it comes to performance and assessment: there is the fixed mindset (no room for failures, intelligence is limited) and there is the growth mindset (failures are a means to success and learning). Of the two, the latter is more important in real-life: learning how to cope with failure and subsequently, adapting, growing, and persevering will make more resilient and productive individuals. Yet between the two, we all know that the fixed mindset is the most predominant in society and in the classroom. Occasionally, we can see a parent or two boasting on social media about their child with a high ranking or grades (which is natural), which fuels further the competitiveness and individualism that the system perpetuates. In order to be on top, there needs to be no failure or no mistakes because it would entail a lower score or lower performance. Hence, it is important for parents and teachers to teach children the importance and benefits of failure so that they can use them to grow as individuals. After all, studies show that EQ, more than IQ, is a better predictor of success in the workplace.

Given that there needs to be a growth mindset, feedback becomes an important part of assessment because it can help students improve their learning and help teachers improve their teaching. Whether non-verbal, verbal, solicited, or unsolicited, the importance of critical self-reflection, awareness, and action upon ones’ reflection must be emphasized in the feedback process for both students and teachers. Even in our interpersonal lives, it depends on you on what you do with the information you accept and receive about how you perform and act in relation to a particular goal. We also give feedback to loved ones and friends if we feel it would help them reach their own goals.

For now, back to studying to reach my life goals.


An Assessment of Assessment

For us fortunate beings who have been able to go to school, we have been subject to a lot of assessment tools since the day we’ve stepped into the classroom. You name it: short and long quizzes, long tests, multiple-choice/true-false/mix-and-match/fill-in-the-blank exams that never seemed to end, performative tasks like group reporting and demonstration, and a whole lot of stuff that usually ends up with a written grade on top. Little is known to us students why teachers subject us to so many assessments in the first place, and even more so when it comes to how teachers design them in the first place.

For most of my student life, studying for exams and other assessment tasks were a trivial task for me. I had never developed good study habits and was the ever-so lucky procrastinator who was able to breeze through high school and up until third year college albeit with a few challenges. Most often, the technique of studying what seemed to be the most important details in a lesson (backwash) and what was important to the teacher at the last minute was my strategy to prepare a few nights before a test or exam. I also developed a bit of disdain for such assessments since I felt it wasn’t an authentic assessment of what I knew, so I focused my efforts on my improving my writing and communication skills (and it paid off for essay-type assessment tools and performative tasks).

Fast forward to today and I find myself more dedicated and willing to study for my educational subjects than ever before, perhaps because there is more appreciation of the social value and financial cost of education and its importance in my growth as a professional researcher, mother and future acupuncturist/data scientist/educator. For the past months, I have taken a wide range of assessments in other different academic programs other than UPOU’s Professional Teaching Certification (PTC) program:

SMIC-TCM’s Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine Certificate Program

  • Acupuncture classes like Western Pharmacology I, Western Pathophysiology I, Acupuncture Points and Theory I stress traditional assessment methods like long and short multiple-choice exams because the nature of its learning begins with rote memorization or surface learning that requires familiarity with concepts for later application. In particular, Acupuncture Points and Theory I relies on rote memorization of human anatomy concepts so that students can better locate the points and be familiar with popular points used in acupuncture.
  • In the same manner, Acupuncture Points and Theory I also use authentic assessment or non-traditional assessment with non-graded point location exercises and graded practical exams that ask students to locate a random set of acupuncture points. This is particularly important since we need the experience and hands-on practice because this is crucial in actual acupuncture later (and certainly, we can’t afford to needle the wrong location!)
  • Acupuncture classes like Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Philosophy I, TCM Foundations I, and Medical Ethics place more emphasis on non-traditional assessment types like essays and take-home assessments because the professors understand that students can understand theories better if there is time for them to read, study, and answer questions

DOST-PCIEERD MOOCs Data Science Scholarship Program

  • Each module of the course on Coursera employs its own mix of traditional and authentic assessment. The first module (“Introduction to Data Science”) focused more on concepts so the ten-item quizzes embedded in each week of the module was based on the content of the video lectures available. For the three succeeding modules, it leaned towards authentic assessment as students were expected to perform what was learned without any time limit. The four short-quizzes became more complex because students were compelled to program and to run a series of commands on the software (R) in order to get the right answers to the questions. To add to the complexity, John Hopkins embedded several peer-graded assignments in the modules which required students to come up with their own codes in relation to a real-life problem using big data from the Internet. While the course is self-paced and resources are plentiful on the Internet, students must also be familiar with the language of R programming and must constantly practice to ensure that they do not forget the commands or functions that they are expected to know.
  • After the completion of each module on Coursera, the DOST sends a separate short online and timed quiz to scholars as an assessment to determine whether they will advance to the next module. A re-take examination is also given to scholars who do not pass the first exam to help boost their chances of promotion. After completion of the four modules, the top 50 scholars with the highest scores can proceed to advance modules on Coursera. This is what may be labelled as “high-stakes” traditional assessment because it ultimately determines if a student will be promoted and how many scholars are benefiting and will benefit from the program. With the conclusion of the last quiz for the third module last week, DOST must have assessed that their ten-item quiz which required actual application could not be answered in 30 minutes for most of the scholars, so their re-take examination was shortened to five-items and the administrator shared the content and required data so that scholars are better prepared.

In literature, much has been debated about the pros and cons about traditional and non-traditional/authentic assessment, yet it isn’t all black and white. As I’ve experienced as a student, traditional assessment works well for subjects and disciplines that require good familiarization on theoretical knowledge and concepts because they are important in practice or in the profession later on (e.g. human anatomy for doctors, ABCs for functionally literate citizens). On the other hand, authentic assessment works well with subjects and disciplines that rely heavily on performance and actual hands on experience to encourage deeper learning. Additionally, traditional assessment can be transformed into authentic assessment and teacher-centered assessment can be changed to become learner-centered assessment. Knowing the different types of assessment and their purpose will help teachers be assessment-literate so that they can better design their assessments in the classroom and align them with learning goals and their educational philosophy.

As a college student, I felt that traditional assessment was just another one of those requirements that needed to be fulfilled. As a lifelong learner, I now feel that it is not as simple as it looks like and it also serves an important purpose in the education system. Educators must use a variety of assessment methods to capture learning and must be able to justify their use and design. How we capture learning also depends on our own personal belief about how learning takes place in the classroom and how it is related to other subjects and the outside world.

Lastly, reflection is an important part of the teaching-learning process, so educators must know the differences among informal and formal assessment, assessment for learning/assessment as learning (formative assessment), and assessment of learning (summative assessment) and make an educated decision on what to use in the classroom. Equally important, reflection will help educators decide whether an assessment is effective, valid, and reliable so that they can act accordingly and make changes in the classroom.

For now, I will go back to studying because I face the following assessments this week: a 50-item multiple choice exam for Western Pharmacology, an online quiz and a programming assignment for the first week of Module 4 of Data Science, and a one-page reflection paper on medical ethics for handling terminal illnesses.

Learning has never been so fun.


Back when I was in college, one popular term among us was “GC” or “grade conscious”. One of my closest friends was exactly that: he would always be the first one to raise his hand, to achieve 100% of attendance, to schedule his tasks and activities for class, and to ask his teachers for more guidelines to ensure that he would always get the perfect uno in class. To be fair to him, he was a critical thinker and analyst and his hard work eventually paid off — he graduated valedictorian of his batch. Yet to put his motivation and achievement in perspective, I think it would be fair to state that his sole focus – as well as other students who are conscious of their grade – was on excelling in formative assessment and summative assessment. Yet while traditional grades give a picture of student achievement, do they really capture learning of content knowledge and life skills?


In recent times, it has been discovered that emotional quotient (EQ) is a better predictor of success in work than intelligence quotient (IQ) and that employers are looking more for holistic graduates with the necessary soft skills (e.g. communication, attitude). Unfortunately, the exam-dominated educational system composed of “high-stakes” summative assessment system has a tendency to create students who often resort to surface learning (backwash) and strategy than learning and students who tap into the hidden curriculum so that they only need o know how to pass a subject but they do not understand it (Surgenor, 2010).

This is where teachers and their creativity and critically reflexive practice comes in. How can you encourage and facilitate learning if your students are performance-driven? From what I’ve learned, a combination of a range of assessment methods (assessment for learning – formative, assessment of learning – summative, and assessment as learning) can give teachers the upperhand in ensuring that students learn while improving the quality of their learning. Aside from the three broad classifications, assessment can be categorized as informal or formal. The big difference between the two lies in the fact that formal assessments, which often are standardized tests, are data-driven while informal assessments are content and performance driven (Weaver, 2018). The purpose of formal or standardized measures is to assess overall student achievement or to compare students’ performance with other peers, while informal assessments are criterion referenced measures or performance-based measures used to inform instruction (Weaver, 2018).

With these additional types and categories, the line that delineates formative, summative, informal, and informal becomes further blurred as either can be classified as the same as the other. Teachers, therefore, must be assessment-literate and know how to distinguish the types of assessment they use but most importantly, they must know the purpose of their assessment while aligning it with learning goals and objectives. Lastly, teachers can use the same assessment method but the interpretation of the information from assessment will determine if it is summative or formative.


Interestingly, when my GC friend and I met in one of our barkada meet-ups, he stated he was worn out by how GC his students where and that he had an inkling of how his former teachers must have felt (karma?). When I asked him whether he recalled how much he learned in college, he just shrugged and laughed.


REFERENCES (2010). Are Traditional Grades a Thing of the Past? Retrieved from

Surgenor, P. (2010). Teaching Toolkit: Effect of Assessment on Learning. UCD Teaching and Learning Resources. Retrieved from

Weaver, B. (2018). Formal vs. Informal Assessments: An overview of the two general categories of assessments. Scholastic. Retrieved from

Assessing Assessment

For someone who has been a student for more than a decade, it is interesting to look back and see how much I have been subject to different types of assessment for different subjects, classes, and courses without even realizing that their importance and purpose  in the teaching-learning process. For a lifelong learner like me, it is enlightening to know that educators must have an idea of why and what type of assessments they will use, but at the same time it is horrifying to know that most teachers don’t know that these exist in the first place.

Assessment in the classroom is very much like the way we do assessment of ourselves vis-a-vis our own personal goals and objectives in life albeit informally: we determine the next steps we need to do in order to advance our learning (assessment for learning), we internally reflect and monitor our own learning as we live day-to-day (assessment as learning), and we produce a collection of achievements to inform people around us of our achievements in relation to our personal goals (assessment of learning). Of course, the difference lies in the fact that assessment in the classroom involves more than an individual and that different types of assessment have different end users – yet ultimately, it is the teacher or educator her/himself who has the ultimate responsibility to choose the appropriate methods of assessment for his/her students in alignment with learning goals and objectives.

A teacher who does not have an inkling on how and why different types of assessments are used and who do not know how to align assessments with learning objectives or instructional strategies undermine student motivation and learning. Such is the case when students are taught to hone their analytical skills yet the assessment measures only factual recall. For example, my class on Western Pharmacology I has a learning objective for students to be able to identify major classes of drugs, their mechanisms of actions, and their side effects. Yet the multiple-choice examination for the subject is riddled with questions on specific names of drugs and their own side-effects (and there are many common side-effects across drugs). As a student, I feel dejected that I have gotten low scores because it did not adequately capture my learning. For me, the best teacher, regardless of the difficulty of the subject, would be able to make sense of how to best approach the subject and how to measure our learning. Hence, at the institutional level, there must be efforts to ensure that teachers without any education background must undergo courses on teacher education to help them align assessment with learning goals and to design better assessment according to purpose.





This week, I am observing and learning from a five-day Top Management Program for selected chancellors and university presidents of private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). The leadership development program is intended to help them re-think their role in society and to change their vision and mission statements to be more 21st century in this Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA) world. Interestingly, the  lectures, group discussions, and case methods are important but not as important as the frameworks being introduced through andragogy. To quote from the lead resource person and speaker from the institution, “Our traditional degree programs give you the information and you suit it according to your own needs. Now, in adult learning, you share your problems, facilitate solutions to your problems, and give you frameworks.”

This coincides beautifully with this week’s module on frameworks for the assessment of student learning. Beyond the concepts and definitions of assessment, how then do we make sense of the process of assessment? How do the different components of assessment relate to one another? How should it be carried out? As seen in many examples, there are different frameworks to explain the process but it is clear that all of them aim to help students achieve learning objectives and to continuously improve teaching practice and learning.

In fact, if we step back a bit we realize that assessment frameworks are not only applicable to assessment per se but other aspects of education. For example, using Westminster College’s (n.d.) framework, do not we, as teachers and educators, continually and internally act and assess our practice as we 1) plan and set goals for ourselves (e.g. personal, career goals), 2) engage in the practice and do teaching, 3)  check and evaluate the correctness and appropriateness of our methods and pedagogy, 3) act upon the results of our self-assessment and revise/adapt/make changes in our practice, and 4) repeat the process everyday. A lot of us may already be doing it, but a framework puts a name into what we are doing and how we are doing it.

Another example beyond student learning assessment is that public schools are required to adopt and to appreciate a continuous improvement (CI) cycle in their planning and implementation of their individual Enhanced School Improvement Plan (E-SIP). This is in line with DepEd Order no. 44, s. 2015. The assess-plan-act framework in CI strives to make sure that school administrators and their School Planning Teams (SPTs) are able to assess the school’s situation with relevant, timely and necessary data; to use the evidence to plan appropriate programs and projects that are aligned to the schools’ Vision/Mission/Objectives; and to act and implement programs. Yet they do not stop at the approval and printing of their three-year E-SIP; ideally, the SPT must go through the cycle every year to make the necessary adjustments and changes in projects and programs in order to improve the quality of their education for their learners.

The point here is that the beauty of a framework of assessment (or anything for that matter) is that it provides a clear guide of an approach and process that should be followed. It is also a reflection of two things: first, an underlying belief that growth and learning in assessment can only take place if done in a cyclic manner and that a linear progression would result in a “dead end” of summative assessments with no growth; second, the underlying assumption that systems and policies are in place to support educators in carrying out the continuous assessment process from data gathering to using the results meaningfully.

As the week ends, I take note of how the educators of private HEIs being encouraged to adopt a “Blue Ocean” framework in identifying new markets in their localities and to revisit their VMOs using an Input-Process-Output-Outcome framework. I realize that the most useful things that they will be able to take home to their schools are not the readings, powerpoint presentations, handouts, and anecdotal stories but the tools and frameworks provided so that they can better inform stakeholders and lead their school. Likewise, assessment frameworks, as one important tool in teaching and school performance, should be understood and appreciated by all stakeholders – top management officials, school administrators/managers, administration, and teachers – in order to unite them towards one common goal. At this day and age, teachers and schools must be able to produce graduates with 21st century skills and competencies so that they are better prepared to deal with and to face a VUCA world.


Westminster College. (n.d.) The Assessment Cycle. Westminster College. Retrieved on 17 January 2018 from

The Perfect Start to Assessment

The year has just started and this is the perfect time to learn about a topic that has been closely related to my previous PTC subjects. First, critical and reflective teaching practice requires some degree of internal assessment, which would lead to improvement in teaching and learning outcomes (EDS 111: Principles of Teaching). Second, assessment entails learning or a change in the state of an individual – wherein the change can be both intrinsic (new skill, new knowledge, new understanding of the world) and extrinsic (behavior) – over time as a consequence of experience (Schunk, 2012; Roberts, 2013) so that teachers, supervisors, administrators, and higher level officials can improve the teaching and learning process in schools (EDS 103: Theories of Learning). Lastly, it is important to contextualize how assessment is being done at different levels within the Philippine educational system and to identify the hindering and facilitating factors behind the process of improving the quality of education for Filipino children (EDUC 101: The Philippine Educational System).

Before I took up the course, I had some expectation that educational assessment would be somewhat related to the discipline of my masteral degree in Population Studies, which placed emphasis on statistical and demographic data and analysis. In principle, it is fairly the same because it relies on valid and reliable measurement, evaluation, and testing. There are also numerous ways to measure one indicator, target, or achievement. In application, it is different because assessment is an integral part of a teacher’s life – within the classroom, within a department/program, and within a school. It also does not stand alone because it must be clearly anchored on the institution’s goals and objectives – because after all, why assess if you don’t know what you’re assessing?

Another interesting intersection between the course and my work is that I have often attended a lot of training for civil society organizations (CSOs) that place emphasis on results-based management and management frameworks (logical framework, design and monitoring framework, etc). These frameworks place heavy emphasis on assessment (or more popularly known as monitoring and evaluation) because projects need to be able to prove that they have reached their goals, outcomes, outputs, and inputs using data. However, one important question of development workers is always: How do I systematically assess so that I can achieve my target? What tools or mechanisms must be in place so I make sure that my beneficiaries are benefiting from the project? After the project, what are the lessons learned that I can apply in a different project or so that we do not commit the same mistakes? In the same way, teachers use assessment to see if they are achieving their targets in the classroom, utilize various tests and measurements to make sure that their students are really learning, and gather feedback to improve their teaching process.

As I string new connections with these ideas, I find myself constantly in awe at how we can use our previous experiences and learnings to connect to seemingly isolated concepts – so in the process of learning about educational assessment, we should always self-assess and reflect on how new constructs can improve us as individuals, teachers, parents, citizens and so on.



Roberts, G. (2013). “What is Learning?”. YouTube video. Retrieved on 02 May 2017 from

Schunk, D.H. (2014; 2012). Chapter 1.  Introduction to the Study of Learning. In Learning Theories: An Educational Perspective. MA: Pearson.

Conclusion: Principles of Teaching

Just recently a good friend of mine resigned — or rather, stepped down — as one of the executive assistants of a well-known Undersecretary in the Department of Education. I had always known her to be of the ideal teacher type and who had the capability to make it as one of the best frontliners of the delivery of basic education in the country, yet somehow her circumstances have led her in the same direction but- not as an educator but an education professional in policy. I can somehow understand her perspective — she took four years to finish her undergraduate degree in Secondary Education — and she saw that the profession may be stable and secure but real institutional change needed to support our teachers comes from the top and not from the bottom.

“EDS 111: Principles of Teaching” has helped me contextualize the teaching profession not just on the ground but with how DepEd works and should work as a bureaucracy. It also helped me understand how it is situated within the broader socio-economic context of society and what individual teachers, schools, divisions, and institutions must do to ensure that they exercise critical reflective practice.  The concepts and principles in the course can help in educational policy and in the teaching practice. After taking the course, I  hope to pursue more research on teaching and teachers as part of the scholarship of teaching and learning as a student and as a researcher in the field of development.


Ah, how do you further dissect something that is already in your head and in others’? It’s quite the same as looking at yourself in the mirror and trying to look at others looking in the mirror as well – its uncomfortable, it’s abstract, and it takes a whole lot of thinking to get around the fact that we’re thinking about the knowledge our thinking is part of and where it comes from.

Epistemology and its doctrines are not new to me as they were present throughout college and graduate studies. I have come to a realization that different epistemological dimensions of learning depends on the discipline itself. Back in graduate school, our knowledge in demography and population studies are highly empiricist and positivist because we deal with demographic data and quantitative analysis. In this sense, a person has the ability to learn and apply demographic concepts and analysis with much effort over time. Certainly, basic demographic concepts and sub-concepts under migration, fertility, and mortality form the complex network of knowledge under demography, but the knowledge of its practical application comes as isolated concepts because of its empirical nature (i.e. regression, correlation, chi-square, odds-ratio, etc). Certainly, demographic data is assumed to be generalizable to the larger population and hence statistical analysis can prove the probability of an assumption to be true yet in some aspect it is relative because there are always outliers that do not fit in with population.

Moving from my personal experience and analysis of my discipline to the epistemological dimensions of learning, I believe that an individual must have the ability to control his learning (with no limited ability) and knowledge is a complex network of concepts. I think it would then depend on the nature of the subject matter whether the speed of learning is quick or a gradual acquisition over time and if knowledge is fixed or relative.  For example, once basic concepts are learned in mathematics, it can automatically lead to faster processing of more advanced concepts. Additionally, mathematics is a universal language and can be translated into reality. In contrast, history and other subjects that are built upon human experience require more time for learners to be able to construct, co-construct, and understand the concepts behind relative knowledge (it may not be true because it is socially constructed).


Creativity in the Time of Present Education

The role of an educator is not only to teach but also to deliver quality education for all. We must create a learning environment that is conducive and inclusive of learners from different backgrounds. How well do education institutions provide inclusive and quality education for Filipino learners? How well do teachers, the school administration, government and community provide for their needs?

It is said that creative teaching becomes essential in the face of diversity because it entails developing and utilizing different methodologies and approaches to facilitate the learning process for all learners. Despite the many materials, information and trainings out there about how to employ creativity in the classroom so that learning is different and useful, teachers still would have to overcome two barriers: an unsupportive institutional structure and themselves. In the case of the public school system, anecdotal evidence points to teachers overloaded with teaching, administrative and extra-curricular work that simply gives them no time to reflect and that puts them into the position that they are frontliners but adhere to the policies of a centralized bureaucracy. Outside of this black hat of being devil’s advocate, I would like to assume that the limited resources, time and support has helped public school teachers be more creative in their practice (i.e. social media for support and admin work, the Internet for materials and information) and collaborate with their peers for support and pedagogical knowledge.

One thing that I think must be strengthened, in the quest to create creative and innovative teachers (and learners), is that they must be given enough time and space to critically reflect upon their practice and to share with others. Second, critical thinking and problem-solving also entails that teachers must be trained to engage and appreciate Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL). Given that a Bachelor’s Degree in Education normally does not have students write a dissertation or thesis, it is normal for them to be intimidated by the intricacies of academic language, which describe the nature of instruction in which most SOTL are written in. How can we verify the effectiveness of our teaching-learning practices and its impact on our learners if we do not appreciate and engage in scholarly work? In the US, author bell hooks has been able to transgress the academic language and to speak of transformative education in layman’s terms – perhaps this should also happen in the Philippines. While education professionals in DepEd provide support for academic research and provide support for professional learning communities (via LAC) in public schools), it is important to ensure that these really enhance teacher effectiveness and translate into better learner outcomes.


The principles of effective teaching – critical reflexive practice, creativity, strong knowledge bases, professionalism/professionalization – ties in well with the conclusion of the principles of effective learning. From the broader “-isms” on how we learn, the teacher becomes both a learner and a facilitator of learning by being theoretically grounded in his/her practice and by being critical and open about applying learning concepts in the classroom. How else can we create critical, reflective, and creative individuals if we ourselves do not practice what we preach or do not give them the opportunity, venue, and time to do so? How can we facilitate higher-order thinking if their foundations are weak and if so, how can we make it so that they can learn? At the end of the day, successful learning and successful teaching is not about having good grades and giving good grades – at this day and age, it should be equipping them with the life skills and concepts they need to survive in a dog-eats-dog world and ensuring that they have the intrinsic motivation to do good for themselves and for others.


Professional Development

What makes an individual a “professional”? In an earlier think piece I had delved into what teaching means as a profession and what a teacher is a professional. In essence, teaching is a profession that provides an important public service which requires that teachers have theoretical and ground expertise and a distinct ethical code of practice. They are also under an organization or structure for regulation and disciplinary purposes, which compromises their individual autonomy or judgement in their practice.

Teachers and teaching are not isolated from the entire social, political, cultural system that we are part of, which has an impact on policies that affect the teaching-learning process and our learners. One criticism with teaching, particularly for public school teachers under the large bureaucracy of the Department of Education, is that it is semi-professional because teachers have no full autonomy – while they can decide how they will and what they will teach in the classroom, they are governed by the curriculum, school policies, and directives from the division, regional, and central offices.

Yet if we want to be critically reflective in teaching practices and if we want teachers to grow personally and professionally, there must be opportunities or spaces in the school and in the system for us to individually reflect and to bring critical reflection to action so that it can transform teaching and learning. Research and studies show that continuing professional development improves the knowledge base and skills of educators and ensures that learners are given quality education. For this reason, it becomes also the responsibility of policy-makers and education leaders to ensure that teachers are given collaborative professional development.

In the Philippine context, I have yet to observe one of the venues for these learning communities in the public school setting. The Learning Action Cell (DO. No. 35, s. 2015) and the Teachers’ Quality Circle are opportunities for basic education teachers to come together to share content, experiences, and pedagogical knowledge aside from the various seminars or trainings focused on enhancing their skills. However, based on my own observations and researches, the very barrier to far-reaching changes and transformations in the classroom are some of the teachers themselves – some are comfortable in their own zone and routine, some have long graduated and are not familiar with new content and pedagogical knowledge, and some simply do not have the time or capacity to apply what they learn in various trainings and it becomes a matter of compliance and performance bonus. Yet for some of the teachers I have interviewed, sharing and reflecting with their colleagues have had a far more powerful influence over them in their practice than any other training or seminar. Simply put, without the support of the leadership, fellow teachers, and structures in place, we cannot expect teachers to grow to their full potential as critically reflective educators and subsequently, we cannot expect students to be critically reflective learners.