Monday, October 2, 2017

Teachers and Teaching

Our country’s celebration of Teachers’ month will end this week, particularly on Oct. 5, which is also the World Teachers’ Day as declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1994. The celebration focuses on the nobility of the profession itself and intends to promote the international standards for the teaching profession.

I was a teacher for some time (how could I forget).  I was an eager English tutor during college at schools for Koreans in Camp. 7, served as an ESL teacher at BSU-ILC after I graduated, a College Instructor at King’s College of the Philippines for three years, and I also had a very short teaching stint at Saint Louis University . When I was in college, I dream of becoming the coolest teacher in town. I also made it my goal to teach in my own alma mater even for a short period – I just have to cross that experience in my bucket list. I was inspired by the Anime, “GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka”, which tells the story of a former gangster who became a teacher for some deviants. With his unorthodox methods in the otherwise traditional educational system, he taught life lessons beyond the routine school work. In the real world, however, the teaching profession does not approve the ‘unconventional’ or eccentric methods. That is why teachers are imposed with standardized lesson plans, uniform method of teaching, regularly scheduled grading periods etc. One cannot simply pull out a class to a smoky bar and justify their exposure to such ‘real life elements’ as part of a valued lesson or strategic teaching.

On my first day of classroom teaching, I walked straight to the front chairs and pretended that I was just another student like them. That was simply no. 77 of my bucket list that I have to cross. Since I still looked like a teenager that time, I started chatting with my seatmates/students with a grin. After some twenty minutes, the class became agitated and some even started walking out of the room. Before, they could take their complaints to the Student Affairs or to the College Dean, I announced that I was actually their teacher. “Sure you are!”, the students nevertheless laughed at my proposal.  I looked around and it hit me: nobody would believe me with my gothic wear and earrings. Eccentric is cool, but not effective. I would have a memo that day for that useless stunt. But hey, I crossed some lines in my bucket list.

The most challenging and tiring work for any teacher is ‘grading’. A teacher can stand and talk in front of the class all day with a smile, but the grading job after class hours will suck all those energy away. Add the daily lesson plans and researches, and the teacher will age considerably. Add the required graduate school, and family life, and the teacher’s brain is fried. No wonder we all look like hell sometimes.

But teaching is really a noble job; it is not an 8-5 duty but a 24-hour responsibility, not a routine, but an everyday hustle to survive before the bell, and an opportunity to change people’s lives. Despite its comedies and tragedies, a teacher finds comfort on the thought that his or her students will take over the world someday. Who knows, one of our students might even become the future President of our country. At least the teacher can boast: “Insurwak dayta nga ubing!”

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