A FILIPINO math teacher at Barstow High School in Barstow, Calif. received multiple awards this year in recognition of a flipped classroom teaching style that incorporates digital presentations so students can complete lectures at home rather than in class.
Peter Esperanza, a Laguna native, was awarded an Apple Distinguished Educator for 2015, received the first-ever Filipino American Community Hero award from “Kababayan Today” and was recognized as the 2015 Barstow Teacher of the Year.
“It’s been a crazy year for me,” Esperanza told the Asian Journal. “Really, I did not expect this. Really, I don’t know what I did, but it’s like award after award after award and it’s crazy, but I’m really grateful and humbled with the recognition the school is giving me, and they’re very supportive of what I’ve been doing.”
Esperanza implemented the flipped classroom teaching method after a class schedule change at Barstow High School reduced class periods in 2013 from one hour to 50 minutes.
“I wasn’t able to finish anything [in that] 50 minutes, so I was forced to think of an alternative to be able to cover all the material so that my students [would] not be left behind in AP Calculus and AP Statistics [which I was teaching at the time],” he said.
The 35-year-old Filipino teacher decided to record class lectures on video to clear up class time and have students watch them and take notes at home. Doing this allows him to teach more by answering questions students may have had and facilitating more hands-on activities.
Prior to this method, Esperanza said he had one of his students pass the AP Statistics exam and two who passed the AP Calculus test; after incorporating the ‘flipped classroom’ teaching style, he said he had 10 students post passing scores on the AP Statistics exam.
Esperanza called the year he developed the method a “crazy” one. He made his lectures available on his website, Numberbender.com, which is accessible to his students and other teachers who wish to use them. Most videos are about five to 10 minutes long and are posted in English and Filipino. Each 10-minute clip took about an hour to complete: he had to write out the lecture on a whiteboard, film the lesson, edit the footage and upload the final product on YouTube.
“I wasn’t sleeping because I was recording videos for four classes…. I had no social life, and on top of it I’m finishing my coursework for my doctorate. But it was all worth it,” he said.
Awards and new goals
The Filipino American Community Hero award was the first Esperanza received in his string of recognition this year. Nominees for the award were made by the audience of “Kababayan Today.”
G Tongi, the show’s host and producer, said they wanted to give the award to individuals who aren’t really recognized for the work they do.
“Out of [the submissions], Peter’s story really resonated with us not only because he’s a teacher, but he’s really doing innovative stuff with technology,” Tongi said.
Esperanza was featured on the show in February, where he talked about how he came to the United States and his experiences teaching, among other topics.
“We wanted to do a tribute to Peter because his story was really inspirational,” Tongi added.
Esperanza said his receipt of the award from “Kababayan Today” opened doors that led to his application and selection for the Apple Distinguished Educator Program. The program began in 1994 and recognizes K-12 and higher education teachers who use Apple products to enhance their teaching methods.
With his recent recognition and the new connections he has made through the award, he hopes to help enhance the K-12 program in the Philippines, noting a lack of Filipino math tutorials. This is a reason he makes videos on his website available in Tagalog.
Esperanza has conducted research about the use of digital technology in his flipped classrooms, and presented his findings at conferences throughout the United States and at the Bett Show in London. He plans on visiting the Philippines soon to share the methods he is using in his classes at Barstow High School.
This summer, he will also be working on another research project.
The Distinguished Educator awardee kicked off his teaching career in 2001 after graduating from De La Salle University in the Philippines. He first taught in his home country, then went on to teach English and math in China for two years starting in 2002.
He began teaching at Barstow High School in 2005, after his friends from La Salle, most of whom were teaching in New York, suggested he try for teaching opportunities in America.
Esperanza is also an adjunct professor at Barstow Community College, where he teaches math using the same videos he presents to his high school students.
(Orange County June 5 – 11, 2015 Sec. A pg.1)