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Young Blood

Teacher’s shoes

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Every time it was said that teaching is the noblest profession, I half-hardheartedly nodded, thinking that was how I was supposed to react. But what I really wanted to do was raise my eyebrows because I thought the description was truly exaggerated.

Let me say that since the start I had been aware that I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher. Teaching is not my calling, I insisted. Isn’t there a passage in the Bible that goes, “Many are called but few are chosen”? I could not avoid wondering how I could possibly belong to the chosen few who would enter the kingdom of teaching when I didn’t even belong to the “many” who were called. Well, in the first place, being a teacher was the very last thing on my mind, to the extent that I did not even bother to think about it. What for? It was not my cup of tea, or coffee, or even water.

When you are a teacher by heart, at this point you’re probably hating me for looking at this job in a different light. Oh, pardon me, isn’t it that teaching is not even considered a job? While lovers have their own terms of endearment for each other, teachers have theirs, too, with regard to their work: “service” and “labor of love,” just to name two. How sweet! But do I sound insulting? I guess you now hate me even more, and you would want me to stop.

Anyway, in my five years of taking an education course (I shifted from political science to education, so that explains the added year), I can’t remember even just one time that I felt assured by what I had taken. There was confusion in my mind, a growing feeling that I could not name. I often told myself that after graduation, I would be free to pursue what I really liked (and obviously it was not teaching). I would say that taking up education as a course was the most foolish decision that I had made—but then I had no choice because it was what my parents wanted for me.

When it came time for the practicum, I was so unsure of where I was heading to. I couldn’t believe that I was about to take the highlight of my course. It was like I was in a wonderland except that I’m not Alice and the battlefield is more of a wonder than Alice’s land. So, every time our teachers asked us to read an article about teaching and write a reflection on it, I would immediately think, Oh, no, another one. The author is just spicing up the article just to inspire the teachers. No, thanks.

But of course, my heart and emotions were not as hard as the hardest metamorphic rock in the universe. I also felt touched and inspired—somehow. But mind you, it was not enough to convince me to open my eyes and accept the beauty of teaching.

Good thing that I was still able to survive the arena of practice teaching, which allowed me to graduate. But it was not yet over for would-be teachers; we still kept coming back to school to review for the LET exam. I told myself that if I didn’t pass the exam, I would never take it again because failure would be a surefire sign that I was really in the wrong profession. But then I passed the exam, and before I could totally grasp it, I had become a permanent secondary teacher in public school.

I won’t be shy. I will admit that ever since my first actual experience in teaching, I had been eating all my words critical of the profession. I had to get into a teacher’s shoes to finally understand that teachers have been right all along. I can now totally relate to them, and now I appreciate the world of educators.

I’m totally aware that my profession is both great responsibility and right attitude. So, definitely, it’s not that easy, or what they call chicken feed. But how hard is hard, and how difficult is difficult? Allow me to count the ways.

Let’s start with the lesson preparations including visual aids that cause us sleepless nights. I had almost forgotten how it was to wake up early, but through teaching, I relearned.

Then there are the different kinds of students, and let me name a few. There are those whose names we immediately memorize because they are really born hungry for attention. How about those who have a late body clock? Or worse, those who see school as a tourist spot which they will visit only when they want to? Then there are the energetic ones who seem to take all the vitamins on the planet. What about those students who are like ghosts—one minute I see them in front of me, and the next thing I know, they’re sitting in the middle of the room, then at the back, all the way to the end of the period? I’ve also observed a student who is always sleepy… The list can go on and on.

Checking the output of students is like watching a movie. My emotions constantly shift: I get irritated, sad, inspired, frustrated, stimulated, amused, and everything else in between.

And even if our daily schedule is, say, 7 a.m.-4:30 p.m., it doesn’t automatically mean that our work begins and ends there. Definitely not. No questions asked. I realize that this full-time job is just like being a parent. Am I talking too much? Yeah, I know. The papers are already piling up like a mountain of laundry, so sometimes we don’t have time anymore for our loved ones, let alone ourselves. So, who would like to give up?

I guess there’s a point in a teacher’s life when he/she thinks of giving up and quitting. I’ve already felt that. In fact, I can’t remember how many times I’ve thought of surrendering. But look, I’m still here. Alive and kicking, although sleepy.

After all I’ve said, I believe there’s no other work as fulfilling as teaching our students. There’s this saying that I agree with: “Though there are bad things that are happening, still, good things are as infinite as the raindrops when it’s raining.” For me, teaching is like being in love. You are in ecstasy. You feel great the whole time even if you’ve had a bad day. You know you are fulfilled but you can’t describe it, no words can truly capture what you’re feeling inside. Even if you’re tired as hell.

Honestly, I’m still trying to come to terms with the experience of being in a teacher’s shoes. I’m still in great amazement that if a student is learning just the smallest detail of the lesson, it’s such a big deal for me. Now who would understand that feeling? No one else but my co-educators, who would both sympathize and empathize with me for all I have been through.

Yeah, there’s no money in teaching—but the everyday connection with our students is just so priceless. Even if we gathered all the money in the whole wide world, it will never have value compared to what we undergo and are about to undergo. We may never be rich in our job, but our lives are getting richer every day.

What’s more is that I’m still young in the service. Who knows? I can be the richest teacher in the years to come.

C.P. Bolalin, 25, is a teacher at Don Servillano Platon Memorial National High School.


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Tags: C.P. Bolalin , education , opinion , Teacher , Young Blood

  • tra6Gpeche

    Teaching is the noblest profession because there is no pork barrel to steal from. Besides, teachers are busy teaching the children and the teachers have no time to look for something to steal unlike the Senators and the Congressmen. Now, even if in your mind, you are not cut out to be a teacher, that is okay. Why? You seem to be truly enjoying your profession by imparting your knowledge to your students. For me, that’s good enough. By saying you can be the richest teacher in the years to come, I doubt it if you meant rich in money and material things. But if you meant sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, yes, I agree with you 100%!

  • Fulpol

    the issue is always.. the reward of the job..

    sometimes, I wonder, why can’t people just stop talking rewards or compensation in their job.. it makes them pitiful or makes them arrogant..

    better, divide the system into two: the livelihood or job itself, and the financial reward coming from it..

    the job or livelihood itself: just do your best.. in teaching.. read, read, read.. think, think and think.. teaching ignorance is a big no, no, .. teaching stagnation is a big no, no.. you create a new method in teaching if that really makes learning easier and more fun..

    the financial reward: the salary is stuck to the level.. just waiting for bonuses as addition.. you can’t do something about it because the gov’t is poor or because of regulated compensation.. looking for more money? you can as long as you won’t compromise your teaching job.. you can write a book, an academic book and sell it.. you can get royalty pay from it.. do consultancy job in relation to your teaching job..

    teaching job is great.. its nobleness won’t decline just because of the little financial gain coming from it.. you get low pay as a teacher, that is not decent pay.. but the teaching is still noble.. but if you get low pay and you teach ignorance and mediocrity, that is not noble anymore.. you get high pay but you are an exemplary in teaching, that is noble and decent..

  • TheGUM

    It’s a good thing that your “pre-arranged” marriage to teaching has blossomed into a full-blown romance, after all. (I think it was after reading one of Erich Fromm’s books that I learned that romance, as a prerequisite to marriage, is a fairly recent social “invention,” something promoted by Hollywood-like cultural developments, of sorts.) It would be ideal, though, if teachers were compensated more decently. They have families to support, even their own children to send to good schools. If they can’t “reproduce” themselves as able workers, meaning their children following in their foot steps as educators or any other job with a socially redeeming quality, this natural asset of good teachers would be wasted, as time goes on. Let us love our teachers and pay them more!

  • buhay_pa_si_jose

    Happy to hear these words from a fellow teacher like you… Continue inspiring!

  • TGM_ERICK

    Any profession is noble just as long as you are true to the calling. No job is difficult if you are cut out for it and you love it. Best wishes and God bless you.



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