There are nearly two million teaching job openings in the US when I was 15. That was the statistics that randomly flashed on our TV screen while I was still unsure what course to take in college. I didn’t have a strong leaning back then (Because who has a clue what job she’s going to love ten years after?)
So, I chose the university with the lowest tuition fee and the best track record in training teachers (Thanks, PNU). I didn’t think I would hate teaching. It was such a noble profession and every child has imagined herself or himself a teacher of some sort.
But during my practicum, my high opinion of the occupation changed.
I barely slept to plan detailed lessons for each subject (yes, Elementary teachers need to know how to teach all subjects). I saw seasoned teachers hitting children. I saw lazy teachers punishing lazy students.
These were not new sights to me. A product of the public school system, I met a few teachers who did not love their job. Only when I started my practice teaching did I realize how grueling the work involved in nurturing 50 or so young minds and hyper-active bodies.
I was mortified. I couldn’t imagine going through the same routine, day in and day out. I thought I’d age fast plus I wouldn’t have enough money to support my father in sending my other siblings to school. (Back then, teachers were not well compensated.)
But I Did Love Teaching
I knew I loved teaching the moment I stepped into the campus.
My borrowed pupils would come rushing to carry my bag. During the class, a wide-eyed girl would slip candies in my drawer. And when boys were about to get into a brawl, I could break them up by simply holding the fragile hand of the aggressor.
Some of the fifth graders in my class would ask if I knew any good ghost stories. My mom told me a few good ones so it was a breeze. I just had to use my haunting voice, my serious face, and some sound effects for more thrilling scenes.
Girls would confide to me about their crushes. Boys would tell me where they played computer games. Some would invite me to their houses on their birthdays.
It made me think I was a part of my students’ lives. I got so much love from the simplest, smallest things I did. It was bliss of a new kind.
I Loved It So Much that I had to Let It Go
After passing the licensure examination, the principal of this school contacted me for an informal interview. He was new and just heard about my performance from my critic teachers. He offered me a full-time position in the school. But I had to decline it.
At that time, I was juggling two jobs to earn at least P35K a month. I had doubts I would be able to take home the same amount if I started teaching full time in a public school. I wouldn’t be able to add a second job since I had to focus on molding the minds of the future generation. (Sorry for the cliche.)
Also, a statement from one of my college professors stuck with me. She said we should try to see and experience as much about the world so we could bring them in the classroom. Professor M said that teaching is a huge responsibility that involves sharing of experiences. Teachers have to accumulate real-world experiences to share with impressionable learners.
I still believe that teachers are primarily social workers. We give everything we can. We don’t work for the pay. We work for the intrinsic reward of raising better people for our country and our world.
For now, I’m in the state of planning to see the world. It’s a long way to go. Yet I know where I am headed: teaching again.
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