- a mess
- full of surprises
- an adventure
Let’s not get into the validity of the supposedly test item above because that is not what I intend to talk about at this moment.
For the previous one and a half year, I have entered a battlefield every school day.
I believe there are no conflicts, but then I am only half alive when I leave the classroom. Unfortunately, I do not have extra lives and potions to instantly nurse me back to health. Idealism and my youth are what – and maybe, the only things – I have.
Front and center is where I should be. But does it matter? The room turns into a market, a jungle in a few moments. It becomes difficult to concentrate. Movements. More movements. The class just ended, and my students wanted to break free.
I never thought that teaching was going to be this difficult.
As a student, I worked hard and got tired like everyone else. In college, I would walk as fast as I could from building to building, climb up an awful number of stairs for my classes on the topmost floors, attend meetings in between classes and then organization activities after classes, trail people for interviews, sleep late to transcribe those interviews, catch up on readings and finish papers and do everything else. And by the end of each day (whichever time that may be) I would beg the heavens that I wake up on time for my first class in the morning. Coffee and vitamins helped me get through those days. Now, I need more than those. I need miracles.
It was definitely easier being the one sitting inside the room. But it’s now the other way around. I am still young, but I guess, energy bars can help me keep up with thirty heads per class. I met exactly 99 new faces on my first day of teaching. At that point I questioned myself on how I could match a name to a face successfully in the least possible time. Later on, I realized that it would be one of the least stressful tasks I’d ever have – the most would be trying my best not to screw up with my teaching and consequently, to an entire set of learners.
After each lesson we took, the faces that were once unfamiliar to me, started giving me little things to ponder on after each time the bell rang. And the first thing I observed in them is that they never – ever – run out of energy. They amaze me. I never wondered how children seemed to never tire themselves out until I got in close contact with them. I asked my experienced co-teachers who, by the way, cheered me on throughout the whole year, if they thought of the same thing I did, and they agreed with me. It should be good news for me to have such active children. So instead of dreading another streak of energy that I would lose per class, I decided to plan my activities well. I still did not forget to take my vitamins. In time, everything became more bearable to me, and I was once again reminded that I should enjoy what I do.
What is more amazing about students is the things they can think of and the things they can do.
I learned never to limit what people are capable of doing on the mere basis of the decade they come from. In the case of my students, I realized that they are the last people I should underestimate. I never intended to do so, but I could not help but be surprised to see and witness what they have done for class. Then I knew that I should be the one pushing them to do more than what they already can.
I am at least twice my students’ age, and I haven’t understood more things than they do. Knowledge does not necessarily translate to understanding. It has a natural propensity to lead me to confusion. With age comes not only wisdom but with uncertainties well. Younger people may look at things more simply and do things in a less complicated way, but they sure are a way lot more open-minded and imaginative than I am.
For my kids (or at least a bunch of them), any of the following statements may be true:
- They can have a cat for a classmate.
- An alien may just suddenly burst inside the classroom any time of the day.
- They are invincible until their bruises and bumps prove otherwise.
Another thing: my students definitely are more creative and more daring than me. And actually, I want to pick these qualities up from them.
I am not yet a parent, and I do not plan to become one anytime soon. But even to my students last year who were not related to me by blood, I already found it hard to let go and to let them do things on their own. Whenever there were class activities or school presentations, they would work by themselves with only a minimum supervision from me. I was proud that they were independent. But each time one of my students or the whole class got up in front – whether it was on a short platform or on a big stage, I would always wish that they do well. I did not want them to feel embarrassed for making a mistake. Of course, I would tell them that there is nothing bad with making a mistake and that everything was going to be okay just like what my own parents used tell me before. But still.
I discovered all these things before my first year of teaching ended. And I also realized the best thing about being a teacher. For me, it is that feeling of comfort that I get inside the classroom. I do not need to pretend to be someone else that I am not in front of my students. Inside the classroom I am confident about myself. And it was easy to please my kids. They laughed at the very few jokes I made. It was also never difficult to tell them that I made a mistake. They did not judge me even if I did not know everything because I really don’t. I told each of my class that at least once. And I will never pretend that I do. What I am only certain of is that I will do the best that I can to share with them everything I know.
I was told before that the first year of teaching was the most difficult.
I never cried during my undergraduate years but I cried more than once by my fifth month into teaching. I think I expected too much of myself. I did not want to disappoint anyone. And yet is this what I want to do? I had to ask myself this right after I submitted the final set of grades for the school year.
Yes, I do. I figured out that I want to teach and so much more. If the first year is the most difficult, then I’m looking at better days to come. I may not become filthy rich but I will always have the privilege to be surrounded by the sweetest, happiest, and most creative people in the world!