Long summer vacation with salary, weekends off, no work on special and regular holidays, field trips and teachers’ outing! How lucky we are to have these benefits and privileges! That, we often hear from others, but there are many things many people who are not in our field don’t know.
1. MULTIPLE ROLES
We are not just teachers. We are also parents, managers, peacemakers, clowns, singers, dancers, actors, actresses, drama queen, fashion model, mother, father and of course, a friend! Imagine having your students requesting you to sing first just for them to work on a particular activity you assign. Imagine thinking about the dress and make-up you will wear in a specific event. Everything that we do in and outside the class, we do it as teachers. We switch from teacher to adviser to being a mom when our students need advice about his problems with his crush or friends. We are mentors and disciplinarians too.
We are office workers. We finish hundreds of paperwork every month. Imagine the lesson plans and the multiple pages test!
We are doctors too! We compute and adjust the grade of our students just for them to pass.
We are an artist as well! We inspired students to send off poetry and short stories and cheered on the sidelines at basketball games and volleyball games.
We have to be instant forgivers. We have to have a long line of patience. We have written up the student that called us a not nice word and the next day give them a clean slate.
It is tiring going from one role to another, but we do it! It is because we love our students and we will love them forever!
We work with different types of people! The most amazing ones! We deal with the parents, supervisors, managers, business people, nurses, doctors, and politicians as well. And meeting different people inspire us. The respect they give to our profession is something that no one can buy!
Our coworkers, our fellow teachers, go home with the same task. That is to grade papers and understand that Sunday night feeling more than anyone else, even your spouse. Our coworkers make us laugh and comfort us when we cry. Pull aside students that we have problems with and we do likewise because we are all in this together. We are a family. We are mentors, and forever, we’ll be!
3. VACATION IS NOT VACATION AT ALL
Well, only the students enjoy the summer vacation because even though we are not required to report to school anymore, we are pushed to because we need time extension to finish ENDLESS PAPERWORK such as grade sheets, students’ progress report and many more! In two months’ vacation, we are lucky to have a whole week spent without loved ones without thinking about school work. Numerous training and workshops eat out vacation time too as we are obliged to attend to upgrade our knowledge about innovations in education. SEE!
4. ‘FREE TIME/AVAILABLE/RELAXATION TIME IS NOT FOUND IN OUR VOCABULARY
Seriously, YES! As our free time is spent computing grades, checking students’ work, writing a lesson plan and preparing instructional materials. And when we are available, we spend our time tutoring or coaching and even advising our students about their LOVE LIFE or any personal issues. Yes, we do that! As we are also a parent to them. We give up our relaxation time to help mold out precious students.
5. OUR STUDENTS’ FEELING IS OURS TOO
Well, it is true! We deal with young people who are not emotionally stable yet and who are very vocal about their emotions. The stress they share and the heartbreak they feel when they tell us stories about them also sink into us, and it makes us feel like we are in their shoes. That’s how we are easily affected. We carry our students’ emotions. Whenever we hear about heartbreaks, we feel heartbroken too.
When our students experience victory, we are even more joyful too! How can we leave a situation like “I saw my dad with another young woman again and I don’t want to tell my mom” and report this and push it from my mind? How can we teach grammar, geometry or Philippine history when we know why the boy in the back is near tears? I wish we could figure it out. We carry guilt with us. It is hard to balance work and home with just one or two kids to worry about. Imagine having to worry about fifty or even a hundred!
6. FEELS LIKE PAPARAZZI IS ALWAYS THERE
A teacher is a teacher whenever and wherever she goes. And so we are expected to be a model whenever and wherever we go. We cannot go to malls in shorts, no make-up, and a pony-tail. We might run into a student and parent, and then we will have to have a parent-teacher conference in the cereal aisle. Or a student might see that bottle of wine or beer in our cart. Then Monday comes and surprise, MA’AM or SIR X is already the topic of the students’ conversation telling how drunkard he/she is.
Social Media has also become a dangerous place for us. Just a post of disapproval on something will be taken out of context and misinterpreted. Yes, everyone says we have freedom of speech, but I don’t think we have. Anything can be considered out of context and lead to a dismissal.
7. BEING SICK DOESN’T EXEMPT US TO REPORT TO SCHOOL
The thought of missing work or not being in the school with the students during regular school days make us even sicker. We have more than 50 souls to help every day and to look after. Thinking about what they have to do for an hour without us trouble us. We must make a way to keep them busy when we can’t make it to work just for them not to disturb or cause troubles to our co-workers in case something unexpected happens. If a teacher is absent, we have to give up our prep time to cover that class. Then we have tons of papers to grade, that were rushed through and more than likely, incomplete.
8. YOU NEED TO BE LIKE A ‘DUTERTE TYPE OF TEACHER’
Yes, sometimes, though you don’t want to, you need to use some harsher methods. And most of the time, more rigorous methods pay off! Teachers do not really like giving so much discipline and imposing extra work or marking a substantial red mark over the students’ paperwork– but the kids will eventually understand why you were a bit of an ogre, and they will thank you. Which makes it all pay off.
9. WE NEED MORE CLOTHES… CLOTHES… CLOTHES!
Of course, students also judge us and categorized their teachers according to the way they dress and being compared to someone or something that you do not like it probably the most insulting thing. Teaching is not a fashion industry as you need to wear something comfortable. And comfortable means simple dresses or clothes. If you’d ask yourself: “Can I wear this shirt?” If I were working in an office, there would be no question with the kids no, I can’t. Put it back. You can always tell a first-year teacher because she wears formal clothes.
10. STUDENTS TEACH US INSTEAD
The students can sometimes even teach you more than you show them. Sometimes, teachers have that ah-hah moment too when they have just been informed of something that is “in” to the taste of their students. Every teacher has had that moment where an innocent comment from a student has changed their perspective and like. Also, you come to discover the new song by Ed Sheeran and all the members of Allmo$t.
11. YOU CRACK WALLS!
That moment where a student finally gets it. You’d been hitting a brick wall with this lesson but suddenly that look of realization dawns on their face, and you know you’ve cracked something. You’ve earned that rushed lunchtime sandwich crammed down your throat in between playground duty and chess club.
12. IT GETS TOO TIRING BUT FULFILLING
The sheer chaos of a classroom. Noise, mess, laughter, excitement, and pandemonium. What isn’t there to love?
13. WE BUILD THE WORLD
Yes, we do! And so we are proud not to have a normal life. We are proud to be teachers! We direct our students’ lives and prepare them for the bigger world that they have to mold. We train them on how to fit the world which they will be responsible for. We don’t have superpowers, but our students see them. We are thanked after many years and hear words of gratitude from our previous students telling us how we changed their lives.
That’s why teaching is harder than one can ever think! Teachers build the world. And to create a world takes many years and knowledge. Through our combined power, we make it possible every day! To accomplish the hardest job ever!