I became a teacher three months before my college graduation. I wanted the money, though contemptibly small. Having a job is a badge of honor in the Philippines. I knew then, as now, that many college graduates don’t get jobs. Those who took Political Science must proceed to Bachelor of Laws so they won’t be tagged as jobless.
That was August 1996.
Teaching happened to me. And teaching taught me a lot about life.
They were looking for teachers and they could not find one. One teacher was pregnant and she was on leave. I have to substitute for her.
There was no orientation. There was nobody to tell me where she ended and how what to do next. She handed six Social Studies classes and two Values Education classes.
Contrary to what most people think, a teacher does not just appear in a classroom.
I had to read textbooks on Asian history, economics, and world history. And I am the kind of student who needs to read a book cover to cover to make sense of it. I am also the kind of student who looks for other resources to get an in-depth understanding of a subject. I kept that habit when I became a teacher.
I prepared three lesson plans each week for each of the four subjects. I submitted 12 lesson plans each week before use. I had a total of 345 students. That means, I checked 345 notebooks for assignments twice a week. I had to check two sets of quizzes. Checking quizzes takes much of my time because when I was new, my quizzes were essays.
We had regular emergency meetings with the principal. Another meeting weekly meeting with my subject coordinators. And not-so-exciting, sometimes infuriating, meetings with guidance counselors and parents.
A teacher is an employee in a corporation called “the school”. People who think they knew better check on him. Even the coordinators of other subjects think it is their duty to observe him. If he shows that he is very good, they will put him down. Office politics is as dirty as our national politics.
A teacher has to please everyone though he is seldom appreciated by anyone.
Many of us who are in the teaching profession are swept up in a frenetic whirl and forget that we are a teacher. We are too busy with things. Things that get the lion share of our time and contribute much to our stress.
Teachers do less teaching. Teachers spend more time accomplishing paperwork for people who need to show proof of good education. It is a pity.
Teachers and their school principal need to step back and think.
Being an employee of a school, a teacher must follow requirements. They must attend meetings. Meet with parents. Help in selling tickets for fundraising activities.
But let us not forget that teachers are teachers. Being a teacher in a school is the most important job of a teacher.
Let teachers teach.
One famous quote says, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”
Whoever made that quote famous is ignorant. He is very wrong.
Those who can, can do because teachers teach!
Those who can, can do because teachers keep on learning. Because teachers find ways to make every student, even the indifferent ones, learn. Being a teacher means doing everything to make someone enjoy a better life.
Teachers can do change the world.
I don’t know who you are and where you are. Remind yourself that you are a teacher. You have committed yourself to a path of growth that will benefit your students and yourself.
Your situation may not be ideal. It might be that people around you keep you busy about things that drive you away from teaching. It might be that you find yourself sick-and-tired of the system. You spend much time complaining. Please, do remember that you are a teacher.
You grow people. That means you need to cultivate a growth mindset. You need to keep on growing so your students can follow you. Remember, you cannot give what you don’t have.
Remember that you have the opportunity to become a great teacher. To do that, you don’t have to begin from scratch. There are teachers you can follow if you do care to look for them.
Remember that you are a teacher and you are in a unique position to make a great difference in the lives of others.