Being a Fine Arts graduate with nary a course
on teaching, being accepted to the academe as a teacher was never a career I
ever dreamt of having. I have always
seen myself as a Graphic Designer in some acknowledged Advertising firm or a well-known
painter independent of any organization without a care in the world of what my
place is in a capitalistic society. However, for some reason unbeknownst to me,
I ended up to be a teacher. I may attribute it to karma for I was the teachers’
nightmare when I was still a student. Nevertheless, I was asked to teach and
had to accept and embrace it for that was how the dice rolled. With neither experience
nor proper training, I was left with nothing but my sheer guts and with the
most basic sense of logic I could muster. I plunged ahead and taught middle
school Art thinking it would be a walk in the park.
When confronted with a task unprepared for,
what one can do is to search within the deepest recesses of his/her psyche and
remember the things that transpired during one’s learning years. What did my former teachers do right and what
did they do wrong? How did I learn? How
much time do I prepare and how much time to I allot for every project and
concepts to be learned? How would I know
that the students have learned what they are supposed to learn? What concepts are important for them to know?
among the concepts are more important?
These are some of the questions that beleaguered my then young and
first impression of teaching was that I am supposed to be the source of all
information. I am the know-it-all,
come-to guy who has the answer to every query my students have, be the solution
to their problems, etc. I cannot say “I
do not know” for that would only mean I am not a competent, learned man which I
am supposed to be. I should be a sage of
some sort, almost a prophet to some degree.
I am way above the children for I know things they do not know and it is
my duty to teach them. After a year of
surviving the classroom, I began to doubt my concept. Several years after, I confirmed
it. I knew I was wrong - totally wrong missing the mark by more than a mile!
could not be the source of all information for I do not have a brain that works
like a computer. My memory could not
retain as much information as a computer can.
Even if I were the champion of some trivial game show, there are still a
ton of things I will not know. And to
think the questions coming from children are far from ordinary. Sometimes, they are not even related.
Oftentimes, they ask questions coming from nowhere, you would be amazed and
just wonder what this or that child was thinking in order for him/her to ask
such a question. I had to research a
lot, study my lesson so that there would not be a child’s question left
unanswered. And that is only about the
subject I teach. It was then that I
realized it’s alright to say “I don’t know! Maybe we can both look it up and
compare notes tomorrow,” or “why don’t we make that your assignment for
I thought that because
I was the master of the subject I teach, I could teach it with my eyes
closed. Never have I thought that there
were complexities that would arise based on the different personalities of my
wards, experiences based on the social strata where the students come from,
demographics, among other things. I
would have to watch my language, make sure that my words are not too
complicated and have to be within their learning level. Most of all, I learned that teaching is like
acting onstage. You have to enunciate,
make yourself interesting and be understood at all times. Otherwise, I will
just be a blabber of inconsequentially irrelevant information.
I had to find ways of
teaching the same concepts based on the age level of my students. And this is not only because of the fact that
I had to teach the same subject to students from Grs. 1 to 12. That was the easy part. The harder part was to teach it to the same
Grade level, of practically the same age but of different learning levels for
chronological age does not equate to the same learning ability. I should make lessons that would not be too
hard for slow learners but not too boring to the more intelligent ones.
Another impression I
had was that the students should learn how to accept what I was saying, hook,
line and sinker. I was wrong. Most of my wards are just there because they
have to. Society dictated that they have to be in school. This is where I learned about the word
“motivation”. I should make my lessons
appealable to these kids. Short of
begging them to do their tasks, I had to find ways that would make them work. A teacher could not make a student
learn. Not by force or bribery. They
have to “like” it like a candy appeals to them.
A teacher needs to make learning fun and that is a relative word. Fun is not a word that has an accurate
meaning. It changes according to
Another life learning
lesson I have about teaching and which is probably the best one of them all is
about respect. One cannot demand
respect, it shall be given to you, if you know how to play your cards right. One cannot impose respect from another
individual even from a toddler. One has
to earn it. Try to impose getting respect
from someone, you may be able to on the surface but this is all gone when you
turn your back.
I can go on and on but
I know everything will lead to only one message. The comparison between my pre-conceived ideas
about teaching is very far from my actual experience in the classroom. No one is prepared enough. The challenge the classroom brings is
limitless and change from time to time.
I have been teaching for nearly thirty years and in all those years, I
still continue to learn. Now that I am
nearing retirement, I will not be ashamed to admit that I have spent half of my
years of teaching as a learning phase just to know the ropes hoping that at
least, one or two in my class learned something from me.
Labels: education, teaching