Teaching is more than just a job. It’s a calling. If you don’t have the heart for it then you are doomed to fail. It’s not just about earning money. It’s about transcending borders and transforming lives.
This is one reason I could not bring myself to leave it and venture on new opportunities and much greener pastures.
I have been teaching for three years now and have already got accustomed to the ebbs and flow of this noble profession. And I would say being an instructor really isn’t easy.
I am a Communication graduate. I actually had no plans of being a teacher before and neither did I think of myself working in an institution helping other people write their own life stories and build better future for themselves. I may not be great in all things but I know I have different marketable skills that could have enabled me to get a good and satisfying job. But my strengths did not bring me anywhere. My weakness perfectly did.
I am not an eloquent speaker. The thought of speaking in front of a group of people used to scare me. When I am in front of an audience, I start to doubt myself and stammer. I am completely cognizant of my own imperfections so I was really surprised when I willingly accepted the offer to work in a tutorial/review center as a full-time teacher two months before I graduated from college.
The craft seemed so enticing that I grabbed it at once and eventually enjoyed the journey. I delivered lectures on review classes to high school students planning to take entrance exams in different prominent universities like UP and Ateneo. The experience was awesome and gratifying. I met various high-spirited individuals from different schools here in Pangasinan who have great dreams and plans. Encouraging them to chase after these dreams became a part of my job. I took pleasure in the idea of earning money to support my own needs but the journey became more meaningful and profound for it made me see my own worth mirrored in the eyes of other people – my students.
When your students stare at you and you can see in their eyes how much they trust and respect you, you feel appreciated. When you see their eyes glow with excitement and contentment because of one information you have provided them with, or because of one boggling question you were able to answer, or one wrong notion they used to have but you corrected, your heart too starts to sing and dance because of pure bliss. When you hear your students say “ahhh, ganun pala!” right after you have explained a complex idea to them, you also start to discover your own genius and feel happy about yourself. You become even more inspired to improve your craft and be a better mentor. After five months, I started to crave for a more challenging and a far more real teaching job. It was then that I decided to taste what a college instructor’s life has to offer; and when I was hired to teach in a well-known institution here in our province, I let go of my inhibitions and embarked on a new journey as a real teacher.
I was only 21 when I started teaching as college instructor. Though I was still filled with fears, I knew that whatever doubts and fears I had then should be deliberately shunned; there was no turning back. It’s either I falter and be sent home right after one semester or conquer this new world and earn a good name for myself as I try to earn a living.
My world has immensely changed from the day I stepped into the college’s premises. Preparing course syllabi, organizing seminars and trainings, serving as adviser for academic organizations, teaching students to write research papers, deliver speeches, make presentations, write news reports and create their own productions instantly became my tasks. At first, I thought that simply transmitting knowledge to my students was all I had to do. But after a while, I discovered that there is more to my job than just facing students everyday to teach them new things.
Teaching transcends merely reiterating to your learners what you have read and giving them quizzes and activities so that you’ll have something to write on your class record. Though it is just like any other job wherein you patiently wait for the 15th and the 30th to reap the product of what you have painstakingly worked hard and struggled for in between those days, the job isn’t about just entering classrooms and meeting your students to earn money.
The teacher’s main tool is indeed knowledge. But his or her job is not just to transmit this but to instruct students how to use it for them to be benefited and be better in their own zones. A teacher needs to help the students comprehend why on earth they are in school and what they are preparing for. Teachers, just like what a classic line says, are second parents. Thus, their task includes providing guidance, inculcating high-minded values to learners and inspiring them to do and be better so they too can reach their own dreams and moreover, partake in making this world a much better place to live in.
I have read from a book, teachers should help their students become more human. Therefore, if you don’t have the passion for it, teaching will only become tiresome, burdensome, and customary. But if you deem your work as one perfect way to touch and change other people’s lives for the better, then it becomes more rewarding, more interesting.
From the time I decided to become an instructor, my world expanded. I had to take on different roles every day – a mentor, a counselor, a confidant, a shock absorber, a critic, an advocate. Even the boundaries I have long established were pushed further to accommodate more faces, more lives, more memories. Helping my students has become my prime concern. I always have to bear in mind that having an active interest in my students is imperative if I want to reach their hearts and earn their trust. I give myself a chance to know my students well. Spending time in determining what their needs, skills and weaknesses are and even putting faces on the names I see in the class cards have become a must for me; because I believe that if I would be able to do such, it will be a lot easier for me to teach and assist them. When some students choose to open up and share some of their experiences or problems (which oftentimes happen especially during class discussions), I try not to discourage them but listen; for I know that when they are trying to make sense of their own victories and shortcomings, impeding the process is the least thing a mentor like me should do.
From being a simple Ate, I became Ma’am for those who considered me credible, reliable and trustworthy, for those who were deeply moved by the lessons I have imparted and for those whose lives I was able to touch.
The first batch of Mass Communication students I had taught and had come to love graduated last April 2011 and most of them still try to inform me about the paths they chose to take. They still try to keep in touch and send me text messages from time to time. And every time they do, they always come up with expressions of gratitude for, according to them, all the things I have shared– from the lessons to the stories they received from me, from the constructive criticisms to the words of encouragement.
One former student who’s currently working as a public relation officer in SM Rosales once told me that she’s no longer afraid of taking on challenging jobs because she now knows her worth, she now knows well how to believe in herself and that became possible because I believed in her. She said that if I had not trusted her abilities, she would have never seen the fact that she’s capable of doing great things. Of course, such statements really warm the heart of a lowly instructor like me. But moreover, it makes me proud being an instructor.
Most people would say the teaching job doesn’t pay much. Teachers rarely end up being super rich. You might raise your eyebrows and say I am just trying to be overly nice about it, but I will still say “teaching is a noble and a satisfying job”. And if I would be given another chance to pick a job, I would still do exactly what I did more than three years ago and choose to become a teacher. I may not earn a lot of money, but I will surely touch hearts and empower others – something which money can never amount to, nor even buy