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Friday, December 14, 2007

Wearing different masks

There have been students of mine who would tell me that they have just read my blog. I view this as both an advantage and a disadvantage. Ut is an advantage because I believe I can explain myself better in written form, as a matter of fact, much better than when I am, say, spelling out the lesson for the day. While I do not discount the possibility that the deficiency may result from my own shortcoming to explain the lesson well, there are other factors which affect the effectivity of the presentation of the lesson. It is not just a question of efficiency for just like in a two-way communication, a lesson is presented to a recipient who may be receptive or not. The greatest factor of a lesson being not received well is partly due to the lack of interest in the receiver. This is where motivation sets in. When a teacher do not get the attention of his students and all their attention is elsewhere, the lesson is lost forever.

On the other hand, my students reading my blog is disadvantageous in the sense that it limits the parameters of what I can blog. It somehow makes me vulnerable for I usually post my thoughts, rants, and whatever strong emotions I have at the time. This is the reason why I have to restrain myself from posting anyuthing that would be detrimental to my own well-being or any matter that would refer to my place of work.

Having said that and out of the way, let me share with you an amusing story I had yesterday. There is this student who always tell me that she has just visited my blog everytime we get to talk. What was extraordinary about yesterday was her succeeding question. "Sir, how come you seem to be very nice in your blog?" I smiled and asked, "Why? Am I not nice in person?" She seem to have calculated me first, then said something like, "You're so strict and frightening everytime we are inside the classroom." Then she added, "Last year, I was very afraid of you but not anymore." Isn't that amusing?

At the risk of exposing a "trade secret" I would respond by saying that what students do not understand is that teaching is like acting in a play. It is a role I have to play, and play it well. Imagine yourself before 40 or so students at a single time, with raging hormones, learning secondary to socializing and having fun, etc. Now,you do this at least four times a day. HOw do you think should one behave? Actually, we all play different roles everytime. I am a father, a teacher, artist, VP of a teacher's union, VP of the homeowners' association, driver,etc. In all these roles, there is a different me. But in all of them, there is one unting factor. I can be a friend. I am a friend to my children, for example. But at the same time, I cannot be a friend all the time. I have to draw the line when it comes to discipline. The same thing with my role as a teacher. I can be a friend outside of the classroom but when inside, I should call the shots. Not the other way around. Reason with me, try to persuade me, but never forget that I run the show. :-)



Blogger Bugsybee said...

Ha ha ha! Tito Rolly, reading this post made me feel like you were reading my thoughts.

First, I wouldn't want my students to read my blog. (Some of my former students - the graduates - read my blog though.) You're right - if they read it, we have to be very careful about what we say especially when we talk about our students, how we dealt with some problems, etc.

Second, inside the classroom, I am an entirely different persona and the most common reaction of my students is exactly what your student told you - I am strict, they are intimidated, etc. Perhaps it is a consolation to us that they know we have to do this to maintain discipline inside the classroom. So what they read in my blog is, to a certain extent, different from what they experience in my classroom. Thankfully, they appreciate the discipline and especially the "strictness" after graduating and I thank God that many of them take the time to write and express their appreciation even if I don't see them anymore.

Lastly, I have a growing apprehension that more and more people have the misconception that a teacher's role is to "entertain" his/her students. I am more often tempted nowadays to say "hello, I am a teacher, not an entertainer". It seems that many students come to class expecting not to learn but to be entertained. If you're not funny, they get bored and refuse to learn or to open their minds to learning.

You might also want to read this: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/motivation/2007/12/student_incentives_revisited.html

Happy weekend, Tito Rolly!

12:53 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

bugsybee I knew this post would interest you. I'm only too glad that we share the same sentiments about teaching. There are others who would not agree. But then, I have more than twenty years of experience and I know that once you let loose of your students, that'll be the end. They'll eat you alive. Besides, just llke in administration, you just can't please everybody and trying to do that will spell disaster for you and the organization you represent. Better use your own judgment, boping it is the best. I am teaching not to be popular but to impart whatever I know. You should see the student evaluation I get. Hahaha, some are really smug hiding in their anonymity. But of course, that's how the cookie crumbles.

Thanks for the link.

2:29 PM  
Blogger bayi said...

Rolly and Bugsy, I enjoy reading both your blogs because both of you are very dedicated and committed to your calling. Yes, your calling, not just your jobs. I believe your commitment and dedication will set your students in the right mindset when they read your postings.

Regardless the persona you tak on in different situations, the students will understand one day, if not now. And they will appreciate.

Dealing with people and trying to motivate them represents one of the greatest challenges of all times. The responsibility is enormous and heavy.

We need more dedicated teachers like you and I am sure there are many out there who are unsung heroes.

Whatever mask you may be rquired to wear for each situation, your sincerity will be the critical point that makes the difference. And I believe both of you have this quality in abundance.

3:29 PM  
Blogger cbs said...

was it oscar wilde who said we wear masks to reveal our truth?

la lang.

e-mail kita shortly, bossing...

9:22 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

Bayi How I wish that were true in my case. With Bugsy, that is undeniable for her committment to teaching is beyond compare. As for me, I am still learning the tricks of the trade. I will have to admit, sometimes I get frustrated and angry. Like as if I have the temperament of a 17 year old hothead. :-)

cbs Yes, Oscar Wilde said that. So did Lawrence Dunbarin a poem "We wear the mask"

We wear the mask that grins and lies/ It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes/ This debt we pay to human guile/ With torn and bleeding hearts we smile/ And mouth with myriad subtleties...”

Been waiting for yuur email for almost an eternity now. hahaha

1:11 AM  
Blogger ipanema said...

hahahahaha...i love that student's comment. so brave of her to ask you that. We do wear masks in front of them. One thing that I hate is when I see them outside. Since most of them are either working or still studying, and this country being small, everyone will know what you are doing in a matter of minutes I guess.

Once, I was out with friends and I smoke socially. I didn't notice that a parent is a friend of the host. Only when I heard someone's voice did I turn around and saw the shocked expression of my student's face.

Needless to say, the following day, my students were all smiling when I entered the room. "Teacher, is it true that you smoke and that you were wearing this and that?" I smiled and told them, "We are humans just like everyone and by the way, we do have a social life."

After that, they come to be open and it was almost like an ice breaker as they keep mum when it's me in the classroom I gathered. I think I am known as a terror teacher, so no one dare speak. :)

But that didn't change their impression as I still mark the same way. :)

12:55 PM  
Blogger Mec said...

naku tito rolly... as hubs usually comments nga, he never would have pegged you as the person you are (sa Berks) from his memories of you in Zobel :D

3:22 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

ipanema Yes, it is like we are living in an aquarium where everybody watches us all day. Mahirap din ano?

mec Shocked ba siya? hehe
Syempre, iba yung time na estudyante ko pa siya sa ngayon. Now he saw the other half of me :-)

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Shoshana said...

Tito Rolly, this is a great post. I think I can relate. I never tell my famiy where I blog. They get bent out of shape when I rant.

I think it's cool to read your teacher's blog.

When a teacher do not get the attention of his students and all their attention is elsewhere, the lesson is lost forever. What do teachers normally do then? When they realized this?

My blog: Just Say These Words

4:55 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

shoshana Welcome to my blog. I'm glad you like it.

To answer your question, what is there to do but to repeat the lesson again like pounding a hammer into someone's head, what else?hahahaha

5:56 PM  
Blogger cathy said...

would you believe na mga istudyante sa isang exclusive school ay nagdemonstrate para ako patalsikin an I was just handling two subjects.

pampered yong mga girls sa kanilang mga professor kaya nang dumating akong "terror" kuno, bigla silang nabulabog. What they didn't know was I was reallty invited by the Asst. Dean of the college to teach for accreditation purposes.

The sad thing about it, some professors stood by the students. Isang law professor na dahil sa pagtanggol niya sa isang istudyante regarding her absences, buking tuloy na overlapped ang schedule noong bata sa akin at sa kaniya. mwehehe.

I taught in different universities where I wore different masks and assumed different roles so that I can relate to this story.

9:01 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

Cath I know you could.

Mahirap din pag napagkaisahan ka no? Pano kung paniwalaan sila ng admi? buhay...

5:13 AM  
Blogger cbs said...

bossing, nag-emil ako s yo

7:05 PM  
Blogger ipanema said...

talaga! and they think we're antiquated beings. it's like we have no life outside of the classroom. :)

9:26 AM  
Blogger batjay said...

hirap nga ng situation mo sir dahil kilala ka na blogger ng mga students mo.

nabasa mo na ba ang teacher man ni frank mccourt? lahat ng mga sinabi mo ay naroon sa libro. i guess that just shows that good teachers have the same way of teaching.


3:04 PM  
Blogger batjay said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Svelte Rogue said...

hi tito rolly

when i was a new teacher, i was very conscious about donning these masks in the classroom, especially after a rather "catastrophic" first year where i committed a thousand and one rookie errors, as it were. it's now that i'm on hiatus from teaching that i realise that as a teacher... you need NOT wear masks to conceal who you really are, but masks as you would at those famous venetian parties, to accentuate something in your person, be it your apparel, your hair, your eyes. the masks we wear as teachers can harmonise with who we truly are as people. then when we slip into different roles, it's not as tiresome as donning and discarding heavy masks, but an adventure in every changing. :)

8:48 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

Svelte I do not intend to wear a mask to hide who I am. Later in the day, my students will get to know me better. But for starters, I have to show them that inside the classroom, I call the shots. Wait, that may not have come out right. They can argue with me, as long as they keep to the confines of the lesson and not doing it in a disrespectful way. Sometimes, students lose their perspective and think everything is fair game.

11:31 PM  
Blogger R Panaderos said...

So true, Rolly. As a teacher, you have a vocation to uphold, not just a job. It's important that your students (and their parents) need to compartmentalize that role from your other roles as a friend, mentor, etc.

Let me take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Stay safe and stay healthy. God bless.

10:02 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

R. Panaderos Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones, too.

6:45 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

Batjay I just opened my blogger account and found your comment sitting there saying it needs to be moderated. Syempre, kinlick ko only to find out its here na pala kaya nadoble sya.

Anyway, hindi ko pa sya nabasa e. Will look for it. Thanks.

7:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

on cathy's comment --

students' rule that school. i had real good profs who were kicked out because some or maybe a lot of students don't like his style of teaching. sayang.

like you said, most of them are pampered.

hay nako.

11:15 AM  
Blogger BatJay said...

bwehehe. ok lang sir.

tama yung sinabi mo na you don't intend to wear a mask to hide who you are. sa tingin ko kasi, yung pagtuturo ay parehas din ng ibang propesyon - pag trabaho, trabaho. pag laro, laro.

i too have a different persona when i work and i relate differently to my co-workers (in your case, students) when we're not working.

12:17 PM  
Blogger amateur misanthrope said...

Hello, Tito Rolly, Merry Christmas!

5:10 PM  
Blogger samantha said...

One not need be a teacher to know what its like to juggle different masks, seems to be part of that set of coping mechanisms we're all equipped with. Anyhow, just dropped by to wish you and your family a very merry Christmas and a joyous new year!

11:57 PM  
Blogger Miki said...

haha, this is so funny. some of my teachers in med school are friends of my parents, and i always find it so weird when my parents attend a reunion and i see pictures of teachers, normally frowning and stiff in class, smiling and laughing with my parents.

personally, the thought of facing a big group of students (who more often than not are determined to tune out everything you say unless you make a mistake) scares the hell out of me. i completely understand the need for teachers to compartmentalize. ;)

11:22 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

miki Kitang-kita ba ang difference sa faces ng teachers mo?
I bet you we are all like that. And you're right right. Medyo nakakatakot ang humarap sa maraming tao na alam mong hindi handang hindi makinig unless magkamali ka. Lalo pa kapag hindi naman nila interes ang sinasabi mo. Ang hirap magmotivate.

12:10 PM  

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Twenty years of teaching must sure amount to something. A new friend in cyberspace suggested I ought to have a journal by now. I agree.

Taken by my friend Arlene Lawson in her room at Century Park Sheraton in May, 2000.
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Location: Bambang, Pasig City, Philippines

Jack of all trade, master of none. First a disclaimer. My students have discovered this blog and they might think that what I write is gospel truth. Worse is they might find an argument that they think they can use, for some reason or another, against their teachers. So, to set the record straight, it is NOT. As a matter of fact, I write and open it to feedback to get another view in the hope that somebody would tell me if I am wrong and reenforce my thinking if it is right. Not that I will accept anything thrown my way, though. Just so I can think about it some more and decide whether my original stance is right or definitely off tangent. So there. I hope that clarifies everything. Now, on to blogging.

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