I have been for the last 7 years of my life.
But this is the first time that I am not.
I was not terminated nor did I quit the job, its just that I have been given a wonderful blessing that I needed to carry for nine months.
I am missing teaching but I am looking forward.
This "I-Miss-Teaching" feeling has got me reflecting in my experiences as a teacher.m For the past years, I have never been able to fully contemplate on what it means to be a teacher. This spare time I had gave me that opportunity. Its very timely, as well, that I write on the lessons I learned from being a teacher.
My Lessons Learned
- You have to be yourself.. but not so much. This is one of the important lessons I have learned in my years of teaching. It was only during the time I felt comfortable in my own skin in class that I felt my students accepted me and the lessons more. I remember the first time I taught in class, I was so cautious not to show my students my humorous side. I thought I needed to be very strict, does not crack jokes, and would always mean business when in class. But then when there are moment I let my real self to slip out, I felt a lot happier, a lot easier to talk to my students and convey the message I want to them. Although, I am myself in my class, I still put boundaries especially on my personal life. I would rather keep everything on the surface and not to disclose too much about myself. I think its also one way of preserving myself and putting a limitation on our relationship as teacher and student.
- You cannot force your students to understand or even listen to you. I think this is one of the basic lessons a teacher should know about teaching. Not everyone's going to listen and be interested in the lessons.Even the best students sometimes have moments they don't really care about the lesson (but would not let you know how they felt.:)) It gets frustrating, I understand that, but that's just how it is. There are moments we cannot force our students to get what we say or to take importance in the lesson. That is why, we are teachers, its because its our duty to make them interested and to make them care.
- You have to give compliments and also criticisms. This has actually worked for me for many time s already. Every time I encounter students who seems to not care about the class or their studies as a whole I would tend to talk to them and help them recognize their goodness. I would look into their potentials and highlight to them, straight to their face. I don't just write it on their works but I make sure I tell them their positive traits personally. Most of the time, it works for them, and it works for me. A word of caution, we give compliments to those who deserve it and give criticisms to those who need it. There are also students who feel entitled that they forget their limitations. That is the reason why I think it is important that we also point out areas of improvement to our students.
- You have to get to know your students. I have this conviction that it is essential and useful to also get to know our students. Its surprising that most students would feel proud and happy if their teacher knows their name. It's really very basic but it goes a long way. Why did I say that? Its because knowing a person's name is a recognition of their existence. That the teacher took the time to remember their names which means they are valued. Aside from that, its easier to get their attention in class if we know their names. ;)
- You can only try to bring your advocacy in class but can never impose them. In the same way that we cannot force our students to listen to us, we cannot also force them to acquire the advocacy that we carry as individuals. Keeping in mind that people have different issues and backgrounds which means there are things a person would want to carry with them or not. I also think that the present generation is too caught up and distracted with individual growth that they forget to care for other important things. This is the part that is very challenging for teachers, as we need to find a way to make them stand up for something. But if it means standing up or prioritizing something other that what we carry, then we should not be disappointed. The important thing is that they took a stand.
- You have to put values in everything. When I say everything, I mean everything. From the way we dress up to making decisions in class. The way we carry ourselves in class is a simple manifestation of how we value not only ourselves, but also our students. The time we take in preparing the way we look in class only shows we took also took the time for our students to see a pleasant view while studying. We all became students and we know how it feels to attend a class we didn't really like and to make matters worst to have an unpleasant looking teacher. Taking care of ourselves means we value who we are and our selves. As teachers, it's also important to make sure we base our decisions on what we value most. What is important for us. In example, do we scold our students just to show them who the boss is, or do we scold them out of love?
- You don't have to please your students. One of the lessons I had the longest time to overcome. I started teaching in 2006 when I was still 21 years old and fresh out of college. I was really shy during college and I carried that when I started teaching. That's the main reason, I would often give my first batch of students what they want. I'd say they were lucky because they had free time and early dismissal every time they would ask for it because I wanted to please them. But, come to think of it, I think they were more unlucky than lucky. Because I wanted to please them, I gave them temporary happiness but not long term lessons. I would say I rob them of the time they could have spent learning. Fortunately, I learned to not care too much if I do not please them as long as I know that they will get something out of the discussion or activity in class. I have learned to accept that students will reject me at times and dislike me, but that's normal. I am not a teacher because I want to please instead a teacher who wants to teach, whether they like it or not.
- Your excellence should extend even outside the classroom. Excellence is a way of life. It is not something we pretend to do when somebody is watching, or if there is a promotion awaiting us. Excellence means coming to class on time, bringing materials needed, preparing the lesson ahead of time, attending class even when you feel sickly, and maximizng the time spent in teaching. These are things we do in class but it does not stop there. Even outside of class there are responsibilities of excellence such as grades management, consultation hours, preparation of new lessons, keeping updated by trends, and checking paper. Being a teacher does not stop when we step outside the classrooms, it does not stop when our students are not looking. Being a teacher requires that we always keep in mind that WE ARE TEACHERS. That in anything we do, we make sure we give it our best. It means we extend ourselves outside the job descriptions that are given to us.
- You have to be passionate. In all there is to being a teacher, it is PASSION that makes a teacher a great one. Passion as a teacher for me means looking and working beyond the compensation. It also means not complaining if we need to extend the time we spend in school for preparing and checking papers. Passion is reading and re-reading papers that we cannot really understand. It means learning and sharing what we have learned with zeal and joy. We give a part of ourselves, our income, our talents and time because that is how much we love teaching. That is how much we love our students.
You see, teachers also learn inside the classroom. Sometimes its even more than what teachers teach their students. Students are also one of the best teachers anyone can have. They teach not only time and classroom management, not just simply patience, not just holding one's template but they teach life lessons. Its only a matter of how we, as teachers, take what is given to us, what is in front of us. Every student is a lesson waiting to be learned, a book waiting to be read, and a person waiting to be understood.
I am a teacher. I am a student.