A new academic year, new subjects to be taught, new colleagues, new students, different experience. Here are the things that I have learned for the past 10 months or so:
- This is a confession. I admit that when I was at school, when I was the age of my students, I used to despise some of my teachers – especially those who do not teach well. And now that I am a teacher for one-and-a-half years, I see my old self with some of my students. And I find it amusing, entertaining, and inspiring. I think that is the secret on understanding our students – by putting ourselves in their shoes. Empathy, if you may call it. Or metaphysical and psycho-emotional transcendence. I love students who challenge their teachers, who are not afraid to speak up and ask questions. And I am thankful that this school year, I already found some and they are also the reasons why I won’t leave this institution after this school year. I love challenges. And I love to speak with intelligent and brave students.
- Fight for what you think is right, not for yourself, but for the future generation and the younger ones who look up to you. Last August 26, together with thousand other concerned taxpayers, I joined the so-called Million People March in Luneta, a protest against the pork barrel issue. It was a memorable experience for me as a concerned Filipino and as an educator of high school students. I used that experience to teach my students, especially in my Religion classes, the virtues of justice and honesty and the sense of social awareness. Before I became a teacher, I have this blog called Juan Republic and I used to contribute for different websites about my opinion and stand on different socio-political issues. And I have to say that my articles on the internet gained popularity and influence among young professionals and teenagers who follow my blog. And I told myself that I should use that influence to inspire the still-malleable high school students. Because I believe that these lessons will be carried by my students as they grow up, that they will remember life’s practical lessons more compared to Algebra, the different elements in Chemistry, and the memorized things inside the classroom.
- Rest, if you must, but don’t quit. This academic year has been more tiring and burnout-inducing compared to last year because I hold 4 subjects on 8 sections. And I have less vacant periods this time (just one hour per day, usually the first period reserved for Class Advisers). I admit I almost gave up and ask for a relieve because doing 8 classes per day is exhausting and draining; I cannot do other responsibilities (doing lesson plans, checking test papers, and stuff) and I am always knocked out at the end of a day. But then I thought of my students, I thought of the young ones who are looking up to me as their teacher and their inspiration. So I decided to carry on. I think the secret of this craft is to use our time wisely (which, I am glad my 8-year stint in the Seminary has taught me), to balance work and other stuff, and to look at the students as an inspiration on everything that we do. At the end of the day, all things will zero in to our students. I vowed to teach them, to be an inspiration, to share my knowledge, talents and skills, to be of service. And that is one hell of a big responsibility. Who am I to give up and leave the future of the Patria Adorada hanging in mid-air?
- Pursue your passion. When the Priests asked me to undergo the regency program, I told myself that I will continue to do the thing that I always like – to write, to talk, and to inspire young people. This profession, or shall I say, this vocation is not financially rewarding. I may not get rich by teaching but this dictum has been my mantra for some time now: Choose the job that you want and you don’t have to work for the rest of your life. If I work just for the money, I have long abandoned this institution. But life is all about happiness, and as long as I am happy with what I am doing, I will still stay on the same ship.
- Thank God for everything. This school year has been a blessing for me in all aspects. And I thank the Lord for giving me an opportunity to stay on the institution and to continue to be of service to the young generation.
This academic year has been a fun ride. I thank my students, colleagues, superiors, and friends who in one way or another, has accompanied me on this journey.
I’ll see you soon. And by that time, we will start writing again another chapter of this fun-filled journey called life. Au revoir!
Note: This article is originally my year-end report for this academic year. I have decided to share this in my blog to give the readers a view of my life as a teacher - and the lessons that I learned from it. Some parts have been tweaked for brevity and clarity but more or less, this is the original report.