School heads, principals, and school representatives attended the Wellness Retreat Seminar-Workshop titled “The Power of a Teacher: It can change a student’s life. It can change the world” last October 17-19, 2018 at Tagaytay Haven Hotel Ulat.
The event began with a prayer, led by Ms. Mai Roble (Executive Director of The Teacher’s Gallery), followed by the singing of the Philippine National Anthem. The first speaker, Mr. Jun Cabochan, explained “The Whys of Us.” The session was understanding educators’ individual abilities, personalities, and limits – emphasized the importance of performing self-reflection and self-awareness.
“To know what you want to do, to know what makes you up in the morning, to always keep trying, and to never get tired of doing the right thing.”
Mr. Cabochan emphasized that successful people like Kim Clark to Jose Abad Santos, from Popeye the Sailorman to Che Guevara, people motivated themselves through their personal values and belief system. To know what you want to do, to know what makes you wake up in the morning, to always keep trying and to never get tired of doing the right thing. Further, Mr. Cabochan lectured on how crucial for educators to show their students their potential until those students see it on their own – teachers, principals, and school heads should show their students that they have intrinsic worth. Mr. Cabochan ended his session by leaving the participants with a quote “He who has a ‘WHY’ to live, can live with almost any ‘HOW.'”
Dr. Adam Saenz, the Keynote Speaker, and the author of the book “The Power of a Teacher”; he is also a psychologist and theologian. Dr. Saenz shared his expertise on the matter of creating and maintaining a holistic form of wellness (physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial wellness). He began his session by discussing the “SELF” as the core of the workshop. Further, he shared his story about being a troubled child – in which he reiterated that teachers or principals’ role in their students’ lives is a very important one. Dr. Saenz told them that the turning point of his life was when one of his high-school teachers complimented him and pushed him to do something with his life. He said that that incident was the first time that anybody believed that he can do something great; Dr. Saenz’s session revolved in giving emphasis on the teacher’s belief on their students and themselves.
The morning stress busters was led by Ms. Malou Aristorenas and two other fitness instructors, they introduced the newest exercise crave in abroad called Pound Fit. Volunteers were gathered from the audience to join the instructors and lead the plenary for the exercise.
The breakout sessions were done simultaneously at different stations with the participants staying at their designated rooms, and the speakers rotating. The breakout rooms were divided into 4 categories: Emotional Wellness, Spiritual Wellness, Physical Wellness, and Financial Wellness.
Emotional Wellness: Journey from Bitter to Better. The session was given by Ms. Kat Aristorenas, she lectured by making use of an acronym – JOURNEY. J for Just love yourself – focusing on the importance of accepting one’s imperfections; our imperfections make us human and what makes us unique. O for Own your emotions – one must be true to oneself, emotions in nature are neutral, but the way we handle our emotions decide if the outcome will be good or bad. U for Uncover your strengths – we must identify our own strengths and weaknesses. R for Reach out to the right people. N for Nurture the relationships with those people. E for Embrace your beliefs; spirituality and meditation certainly help in handling hard situations. Y for Yes to a purpose; one must have a purpose or at least one must identify a purpose for oneself.
Spiritual Wellness: Give Me Another Chance. The session, given by Ms. Mildred Garrido-Esguerra, highlighted on forgiveness, understanding, and ultimately being at peace with all the aspects of life. Ms. Mildred broke the session down to 4 aspects: first is forgiveness, it centered around the quote “Heroic forgiveness is hard, but it’s worth it.” Second is the Power of Words, she emphasized that the mouth speaks what the heart wants. Third, it focused on Faith and Hope – it is about the importance of having a shoulder to lean on and having God or a belief system to run to in times of difficulty. Lastly, the importance of Love in general. It tackles how important it is for students to feel loved by their teachers, because not all students receive the kind of love they want from their parents or families, and friends.
Physical Wellness. The session was facilitated by Ms. Malou Airstorenas. The session was about the importance of not just being physically well, but also mentally. Ms. Malou shared personal stories about her struggles and how she managed to move on and become a better person. People think of belief as something being applied mentally, but Ms. Malou told them that belief can actually affect them physically also. She gave proof of this by leading the participants in a small activity, where the participants are asked to stretch their arms toward the back and know the limit of the stretch. Afterward, she asked them to close their eyes and asked them to repeat the stretch, but only this time, they must imagine the action, not actually perform it – she then asked them to open their eyes and perform the action again and see how they were able to stretch their arms a little bit further than the first time, and that was the power of belief.
“The Ideal way of managing your hard-earned money is by saving first and spending later, rather than the other way around.”
Financial Wellness. The Teacher’s Gallery invited Sun Life Financial Philippines to provide Financial Literacy Talks during the breakout sessions. The session consists of sharing of Philippine data setting and how the majority of Filipinos do not have long-term plans in financial stability. Sun Life Financial gave a lecture on the differences between insurances and investments; how important it is to start early, and why people should think very wisely for their expenses; the ideal way of managing your hard-earned money is by saving first and spending later, rather than the other way around. Moreover, they provided knowledge on the differences of rates between banks, bonds, and the stock market. Finishing their talk, they emphasized that participants have the power and the responsibility to manage their finances, but financial advisors like them are available if needed.
During the last day of the workshop, Dr. Saenz focused on defining stress, and how to apply the lessons that the participants learned throughout the 3-day workshop. Dr. Adam started off by defining stress, and burnout. He identified three dimensions of burnout, which are: Exhaustion/Disengaging (versus energy), Cynicism (versus involvement), and Ineffectiveness (versus efficacy). Dr. Adam explained that one of the best ways to manage your stress is to identify if you are either being “Helpful” or “Hurtful”, he explained this by using a diagram Dr. Adam Saenz concluded his lecture on stress management by emphasizing to the plenary that Stress Management is a process.
For the last session, Dr. Saenz emphasized on why it is important to sustain wellness in all the dimensions in the Wellness Wheel and gave recommendations to follow in trying to achieve personal wellbeing in each of the dimension. He concluded the sessions by thanking them for participating in the 3-day workshop, and reminding them to tell themselves the phrase “I will” and follow that “I will” with an achievable, realistic action.
As a Culminating Activity, led by Ms. Malou and Ms. Kat, a piece of paper was distributed to each participant where they were asked to write down a promise or a contribution that they aim to achieve, then write down their action plan on achieving the promise or contribution. After, participants were then asked to stick their papers inside the big heart on stage while songs from The Greatest Showman played in the background.