I taught preschool in an exclusive private school for boys in Alabang, Muntinlupa City for S.Y. 2001-03. One time, after Prep-A’s Art class, students were getting ready for P.E. class of another teacher. Students at 5-6 years old were trained to change uniform by themselves and arrange things in the classroom.
Students had to fix their things first from the previous subject before getting their P.E. bag from their cubby holes. They started changing for P.E. uniform and hung their school uniform on the back of the chair. One of the daunting tasks kids face is either tying their shoelaces or keeping their things tidy, in order and complete.
Kids were given five minutes or less to do all these things – wearing their P.E shirt, shorts, tacking in their shirt, wearing rubber shoes, putting their P.E. bag and other things in order, cleaning up their table and arranging their own chair. So that when the P.E. teacher arrives at the door, they must be ready and already lined up inside the classroom facing the door.
Oftentimes I would stay in our classroom to check papers and workbooks while waiting for my next class. When the P.E. teacher arrived and announced with the sound of his whistle, “Are you ready, boys?” Kids excitedly answered, “Yes, we are ready!” But Chico was already crying and panicking. So I asked him, “What’s wrong, Chico?” He said, “I can’t find the other pair” (he was referring to his white rubber shoes). Chico was helpless while his classmates were already prepared to play at the gym.
Chico already looked all around the classroom but still couldn’t find the partner shoe. So I asked him again, “Are you sure, you brought it to school?” (Whose mommy and yaya would only prepare 1 shoe?). Then he replied, (still sobbing) “Yes, Mr. Ello. I just took it out from my bag awhile ago.” So I helped Chico looked for the left pair, but to no avail. And I didn’t want him to miss his P.E. class either (which is only 40 minutes a week!).
All his classmates already went down to the gym, while Chico and I were still in the classroom hoping to accomplish a task. We checked on all corners of the room and under each table. Then suddenly, a lonely shoe has shown its presence. I saw that one white rubber shoe (for left foot). I gladly handed it out to him, “Here, Chico. It’s here!” Still weeping, he replied, “No, it’s not mine” So I checked his right shoe and discovered that the two shoes were not meant for each other. They just almost looked alike, both with straps. Then I started to wonder what really happened.
I told Chico to wear it than going to the gym playing soccer donned in one rubber shoe, “You’ll be late for P.E. Hurry! I’ll help you. Come…” We sat on two kiddie tables separately and I helped him wear the shoe. Surprisingly, it really couldn’t fit in. What are we going to do now? I thought to myself. “See, I told you, it’s not mine,” Chico asserted. Then I laughed! Nonetheless, I still encouraged him, “Let’s try again. 1-2-3 – ugh!…”
His pudgy left foot finally got in! But he was very uneasy with that shoe because he could hardly move his toes. “Chico, we’ll just check later who got your shoe by accident when your classmates come back. Stop crying now, ok. You’ll be alright. Go now to your P.E. class. See you later,” I assured him, tapping his shoulder. “Thanks, Mr. Ello. Bye!”
When the class returned, they were also given five minutes or less to wipe their sweat, change uniform plus drink water. They had to place back their P.E. shirt, shorts, face towel and rubber shoes inside their P.E. bag. Students learn early how to be disciplined and responsible in taking care of their health and their things. A moment later, Carlos approached me, holding one rubber shoe, “Teacher, this is not mine.” I said, “Yes, that’s Chico’s. He’s been looking for that. Kindly get your shoe from him.”
I asked Carlos, “Was it (the shoe) very comfortable?” Carlos answered, (laughing) “Yes, Mr. Ello, it just fit right! Hehehe.”
Good thing, I was there to save Chico!