TODAY, October 5, is World Teachers’ Day as proclaimed by UNESCO since 1994. With sembreak looming around the corner, children are excited to leave their classrooms and the backbreaking work these walls represent. But before freedom day starts, now is the perfect opportunity to give credit where it is due: “Dear Teachers, you pave the path to a better tomorrow. Thank you for the honorable job you do.”
Education is an advocacy that will always be close to my heart because my late-mom was a professor. She received her Phd and post-doctoral fellowships in the US; yet, somehow, she still chose to come home to serve in the Philippines. I often wondered why, when our life in America was much more comfortable, but she always said it was her duty to give back.
In some way, I find myself in the same position as her (I also teach). The way I see it, one of the ways we can uplift our country is to empower our youth through education. One of components of quality education is motivated teachers. We can start by appreciating, valuing, and taking good care of them. Because of teachers, other forms of occupation are made possible.
Anyone in this profession can undoubtedly say no one gets into this for the money. The pay isn’t spectacular! We teachers sometimes even find ourselves digging into our own pockets for materials. On top of that, teaching isn’t really easy and, often, our efforts are taken for granted.
The latter is rather ironic because, for the most part of the day, we are entrusted with each family’s most precious gifts...the kids. The workload is a lot, comprised of lesson plans that need preparation, papers that need grading, and meetings that need attention. The stress level is high—at times physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. The consequences are great because we are responsible for impressionable young minds.
And yet, somehow, a few special parents still manage to look down on teachers and think they can do what we do so easily. Some even question our credentials, forgetting that we often take seminars and postgraduate studies in our content areas so we can teach effectively.
The worst is when students act up, refusing to listen. Sometimes we wonder: are they even learning anything at all? Gosh, we can only hope so. We pray that our blood, sweat, and tears amount to something. Because as teachers, we try, try, and try to reach the students in the hopes of sparking something within. Failure is not an option!
Our days are filled with explaining concepts and answering questions. We work overtime preparing powerpoint presentations, tests, and other engaging activities. We dig deep to make boring facts interesting and relevant to students’ lives so they can apply them in the real world. At times, we feel upset and disappointed because we are emotionally invested in each child; and we genuinely want them to succeed, not just in the classroom, but in life.
Teachers have the capacity to touch and mold hearts and minds, and yet we will never get paid as well as actors, doctors, or lawyers. But our love banks are full thanks to the children! Choosing a career in education is really not just a job but a life's calling or vocation. Personally, I can only teach with the passion that I do because of my husband’s support. In a way, it is also a privilege because not many are called by God to serve.
This vocation may have its discouraging moments, but at least one life touched is more than enough reward. A few days ago, one of my students came to thank me; and she said the lessons in my class paved the way for her first prize win in a division meet. Oh how she made my heart sing with fulfillment! Seeing students’ passion ignited, critical thinking challenged, and imagination stirred are already little forms of thank you. This is something money can never ever buy.
At times, teachers get figuratively burned, but the most important thing is we continue to strive to bring light and warmth to the children's lives that enter our classrooms. Teaching is more than academics. It is opening minds to love learning, to thirst for knowledge, and to develop wisdom. It is opening eyes to the beauty of the world and the good of the people who live in it. Most of all, it is opening children’s hearts to be compassionate, caring, and kind to others so that they may also open their hands to serve and give back to the world with passion and purpose.
Make a teacher smile today. Happy Teacher’s Day!
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Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 05, 2017.