During the hullabaloo of the first quarter, while I was busy running after students for their late projects and whatnot, someone asked me why I chose to be a teacher. I chuckle because I often ask myself that same question. Not to question my sanity, but to remind myself of the bigger picture.
I remember distinctly when I realized I wanted to be one. It was during one of Ma’am Margele Andres’ communication class at NEU. I remember looking at her and really listening to her. I could feel the wealth of information just flowing out, just waiting for us to digest. Do you know that feeling you get when you read a good book, and you feel like you’re just watching a movie and not really reading? That’s what happened in that class. She was confident, her words flowing out like silk. I could visualize exactly what she was talking about. She was in her zone and I had my moment of clarity.
I knew I wanted to be like her.
I wanted to ignite someone’s imagination, to help someone realize their potential. I wanted to be an educator and nine years later, here I am: making tests, grading essays, and planning lessons. Everything I’ve done academically from that day: the extra education courses, my M.A., the TESOL certification, the board examination and my PRC registration… I did all that so I could be a teacher. Someone who can make a difference. Idealistic, I know. I learned the hard way that teaching is not always a bed of roses and that it was so much more than just a job.
For one, teachers are often overworked. Time is such a precious commodity when you’re a teacher. While I personally don’t bring home papers to grade, I do make my lesson plans, exams, handouts, and rubrics at home. We teach six full hours (sometimes eight or more) and still manage to orchestrate elaborate cultural events in school. We evaluate, calculate and tabulate . We act as guardians inside the classroom, knowing full well the role we play in shaping the perceptions of the young minds charged in our care. We listen, advice, admonish and keep the peace within the four walls of our classroom. Teachers are human beings, juggling too many hats to count.
In addition to the grueling workload, teachers are often under-appreciated. Most of the time we are painted as the villain in some young person’s life. Honestly, nobody really wants to fail a student. However, teachers are not the only ones responsible for a child’s development. Learning is a two-way street and so it’s not always a “teacher factor”. Learning has to take place both at home and at school. Students need to review, to balance their time, to prioritize activities that will benefit them. I try my best to teach my students this nugget of truth.
But all that pales in comparison to the feeling you get when you see your students bloom into confident young adults. As their teacher, I cherish their triumphs and victories as if they were my own. There are moments I won’t ever forget, like that time a parent approached me to say “You’re my son’s favorite teacher” or when my students graduated from college and sent a thank you note. It made me happy knowing that I made a difference. That’s why I chose to be a teacher.
And so I leave you with this food for thought:
“Your role as a leader is even more important than you might imagine. You have the power to help people become winners.” ― Ken Blanchard.
Teaching is not just a job and a teacher is not just a teacher. To my mentors and co-teachers, Happy World Teacher’s Day!