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Someone once told me that the life of a teacher is easy peasy — that it is a no-sweat job, that all I have to do is “lecture” a little, “sermon” a lot, and sit down in the “most comfortable” chair in the classroom because the students have to do school tasks “independently.” INDEPENDENTLY.

How did I react to that comment? I just smiled and said, “Let me write about that.” So here goes, Miss.

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My alarm clock wakes me up at 5 a.m. (Thanks to my big sister who does the breakfast preparation; I would probably be late every day if I would do it myself.) Then I immediately go to the bathroom to take a bath. I have to do it fast. I have to be in school before 7 a.m. and I still have to ride that elusive bus.

There in the bathroom, I run down in my head what I need to do in the four different grade levels that I am handling, plus the urgent things I should remind my students about. There were times when I completely forgot to apply my hair conditioner!

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After taking a bath, I wear my beige (or pink) uniform while still thinking of the letter to the parents I have to write. I have to eat my breakfast hurriedly. I clutch my bag and get ready to go. Ooppss, I still have to put on my lipstick and apply pressed powder, because I should look presentable, right?

School, here I come! I arrive in school at 6:25 a.m. and, yes, my students are not yet around. Who will clean up? I hold the soft broom, do my favorite hip stance, and begin sweeping the floor. The students come in at 7 a.m. and start the area cleaning, but we have to stop for the flag ceremony.

At 7:15 a.m. until 4 p.m., I have to go to each class with a big smile on my face, utter the overused “Good morning/Good afternoon, everyone!” and tackle everything in my lesson plan. Or I have to modify some parts when the need arises. Yes, I should be a “mindful” teacher. While delivering the lesson, of course there will be interruptions or disruptions, but as a teacher, I should handle them effectively and efficiently, or else I’d be frustrated at the end of the day.

They say we have free time in between classes. Well, let me tell you: In our “free time,” we check students’ works, record students’ scores, prepare for the next lesson, and so on. After the class, we still need to monitor if the students have cleaned the classroom, or hold remedial or tutorial classes.

I look at my watch and it says it’s time to go home.

While riding the bus or multicab, I close my eyes and make a mental note of all the things I need to do the following day.

When I’m home, I lie down on our couch, close my eyes, and think of all the good things about being a teacher. I count all the good mornings, good afternoons, goodbyes and thank yous I receive, and the smiles of my students. I count the hands that are raised when I ask questions. I recall the faces all looking at me with excitement and awe when I tell a story or discuss something. I take note of those who ask questions—they will be the leaders someday.

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Being a teacher is both a rewarding and an exhausting job. I will be a hypocrite if I say it’s not exhausting. You’ll be tired to the core. Sometimes, you’ll even cry out of frustration. You’ll be physically sick at times. You’ll be heartbroken. You’ll feel unappreciated. But at the end of each lesson, at the end of each day, at the end of each semester and at the end of each school year, only one thing matters: the reward of being able to help your students be the best that they can be.

And to that someone who said being a teacher is easy peasy: Yes, it is—but only with the abundant amount of love, care and sense of responsibility that teachers give.

* * *

Zynara Gubat Sareno, 27, is an English teacher at Bugcaon National High School, Bugcaon, Lantapan, Bukidnon.

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