Archive for ‘Teaching’

11 January 2019

Questions the World Asks You

by misslampa

The thing about being a teacher by profession, everyone thinks you have all the answers.

And most days, thankfully, I do do have them.  Because the questions are easy: How old are you? Are you married? Are you Muslim? Can you speak Japanese? What’s your favorite food/animal/drink/whatever? Do you make your bed every morning? Would you rather be a boy or a girl if you were to be born again?


Just between you and me, though, I think it’s really Kyun Chan (the mascot of Hokkaido) who has the answers to all of life’s questions.

Occasionally, I’m caught by surprise, not because the queries leave me dumbfounded but more so because I never imagined I’d be answering them in this lifetime: What’s your favorite police car? Are you rich? What are the dimensions of a patintero court? How many bananas can you eat in one sitting? Do you poop? Do you like killer whales? What’s your favorite insect?

Ah, the perks of teaching! Kids are pre-programmed to come to you for answers to even the strangest of conundrums.

Some inquiries also come with the precarious territory of being straight and single and all of five-and-thirty, foremost of which are 1)if I’ve found the one and 2)when I plan to get married. What’s funny is, even if I answer the former in the negative, people still follow up with the latter. So to cut the interrogation short, I kid them about helping me find a wedding package that’s inclusive of the groom already.

Once, a divorcée asked me what I now think is the kinder question: Do you want to get married? I found it refreshing then and find in refreshing still, how someone who gave marriage a try only to discover it’s really not for her acknowledges that hey, it’s totally up to me if I want to walk down that path, too.

This other time, someone asked if I’ve ever considered adoption. I haven’t, really, so that’s what I said in reply. But I also said his question was making me think about whether I’d marry someone with kids, be they adopted or from a previous relationship.

I was also stunned into silence for a while when a colleague asked me to name one thing I absolutely believe in. We were mindlessly working on last year’s Halloween party when he sprung that on me as if he were only asking me to tell him the time.

For these queries, the answers don’t come easy. But I hope they find their way to me, eventually.


This one’s for non-millenials (!) Dat and Eric, who just won’t let me give up on blogging.❤️

1 July 2018

The Aunt who Glitters Learns to Love Spring

by misslampa

At the Bureau of Education here in Higashikawa and even in the schools I teach at, I’m probably best known as she who could not wait for winter in Hokkaido to be over.

Because for all its beauty, winter can and does zap your genki.

2018 Winter Doraemon

Even Doraemon doesn’t seem so crazy about it, see?


Or turn pedestrian crossings and sidewalks into skating rinks that make you fall on your butt.



How about we just slide to work today?




It’s pretty and all, but only if you don’t have to go outside.

But mostly, I’m not a fan because it gets freezing cold up here. The temperature outside ranges from -12 to -22˚C during wintertime in northern Hokkaido, and since I come from the Philippines where the average in Manila hovers just above 30˚C for most of the year, it really wasn’t a surprise that the cold got to me. Back home, we turn on the air conditioner to keep a room cool – and by that, I mean 21˚C. Positive.

People were amused when I started wearing scarves once the temperature dipped to low 20s. And then genuinely worried when I transitioned to thick down coats in November, when everyone else began using their scarves. (To be honest, I was worried about me, too.)

But when my kind boss told me in mid-May that I must be happy to be welcoming my favorite season, it was my turn to be amused. Because although I am not big on winter, I don’t ever remember referring to spring as the most wonderful time of the year. My thing is fall and its vibrant reds and yellows and oranges, and hearing the colorful carpet of leaves crunch under my feet. But I digress.


(Still digressing, sorry, but look at how pretty this tree in my town is in autumn!)



Truth be told, the main reason why I was looking forward to spring was because it marked the end of winter, which lasted for Seven Painfully Long Months this year. The spring flowers are a nice bonus, but I’m not really a flower person, either.

Well, I wasn’t. Until I am.

You see, one thing I didn’t see coming was how the park and the playground would once again be filled with children playing and coming up to say hi. Months of ice and snow that kept kids either indoors or on the ski slopes seem to have made me forget.

But the sweetest of the 3- to 5-year-olds compel you to remember. I pass by the pre-school playground on my way back from teaching an after-school English club and every week, without fail, they run up to me and ask to do a fist bump a la Baymax and won’t leave until we get to the fa-la-la-la-la bit. (My colleague and I taught them that, haha!) Or do a high-five but take my hand in theirs the moment our palms touch and just keep it that way just so I’m theirs for a while longer. Or hold my face in their hands and call me Oba Kira, which Google translates to “Aunt Glitter.” which is one nickname you won’t hear me complaining about because hey, it’s kawaii.

I am fully aware that those hands have been in places unspeakable before they were on my face, of course, but I try not to think about that.

It takes me a while to go through this routine with the kids, which isn’t really new since I did this back in autumn, too. But it’s springtime in Higashikawa now, so guess what the cute little munchkins scramble to give me right before I leave?

spring 2018 flowers

Some of this season’s super tiny flower bouquets, made up of flowers from whichever weed was closest to them when I start saying goodbye.


What an adorably cute way to be reminded of how simple and straightforward it really is to let someone know you like them back when the world has yet to train your heart to be afraid and hold back.

So from now on, yep, flowers are a thing for the aunt who glitters, too.




16 July 2013

Moments Teachers Like Me Live For

by misslampa

In this particular video, it happens twice. Once at 1:57, and then again at 2:02.

It’s always fast, fleeting, and barely noticeable, but it’s the first thing I look out for every time I’m with my students.

Because without fail, the moment they realize that they’ve just learned something they themselves believe to be genuinely worth their while, their faces light up.

And teachers like me? We live for that moment. Even more so if the learning didn’t come easy.

Eyebrows shoot up, pupils dilate, lips part just a wee bit and form the top half of an oblong. And everything in just a little less than a second because after that, they become aware of what’s happening, stop themselves, and revert to sporting the I’m-playing-it-cool look.

Some students I’ve worked with take anywhere from a few minutes to several months to get there. But I bet a lot of teachers will agree that for most, it takes years or decades even – long after the teaching has stopped. It’s not the learning that takes long to come, it’s getting them to become completely sold on the idea that what they’ve learned inside your classroom is actually useful and will continue to be so even outside of it.

And If you’re lucky, they find a way back into your life to tell you all about it.

I know it’s hard to believe given how adorably cute the young boy in the video looks every time he gets excited at the thought that he can read now. But I tell you, seeing a fully-grown man’s face light up like that over something you’ve taught him back when he was still in high school?

Equally worth the wait.ÜüÜ

This one’s for all those who have come back to say thanks.♥

I first stumbled upon this video via this awesome link on