When I was an elementary student, I already desired to be a teacher. But when I turned high school (back when there’s no K to 12 yet), I stopped wanting to become one.
That’s because, as for most of us, high school is the best chapter of life. And that’s also when we’ve built really close friendships with classmates and teachers. But then come graduation day, the students leave and the teachers stay behind at school. #SepAnx (separation anxiety)
I thought to myself: “I didn’t want to be left behind. That’s so sad!”
But now, after deciding to do full freelance work while taking my second course, I got offered to teach part-time at my school. And man it is an amazing eye-opening experience!
Teaching per se is not new to me.
As a resource speaker, I did corporate training. I taught at call centers as a soft skills trainer, taught business English online to European working professionals, at kids church and at small group Bible studies for young professionals, and taught conversational English and Tagalog to foreigners.
Before I started, I thought I’d enjoy teaching English to college students more. But as the weeks went by, I find myself exerting more effort preparing lesson plans and having more fun teaching Philosophy to senior high school students.
Maybe because Philosophy is not really my field of expertise, but also because my twice-a-week encounter with them reminds me of these life’s valuable lessons:
1. Teachers need to be creative and attentive to the learning needs of their students.
Since I’m now an academic teacher myself, I’m doing my best to imitate one Algebra teacher we had in high school who made me love Math despite my lifelong hatred of it.
I’m spending several hours online to research for interesting and fun class activities especially for my senior high students. (I employ a different approach to my college students.) It gives me joy when I see them enjoying (and occasionally, getting misty-eyed with delight) while we’re having our lessons.
As a college student myself, I’m amazed at how some teachers seem to have forgotten how it is to be a student — to be bored-to-death while sitting at a class.
As teachers, we need to be inventive inspiration-makers as we develop young minds.
2. Changing for the better is required at all stages of life.
I’m honored when I hear some of my students refer to me as their “idol.” But I know too what an immense responsibility that entails.
Whenever I can, I show them that I’m not perfect. That I’m also a work-in-progress. Teachers make mistakes too.
Some days I shudder at the thought of some of the things I said in class that I should not have said. And whenever I do, I’d often remind myself to make it right with them in our succeeding meetings.
That’s probably why I’m learning how to love being a school teacher. Because I also learn from my dealings with my students.
I, too, am constantly changing for the better along with them.
3. We all need to be listened to and loved.
Yesterday, as application to our lesson on “Love and Inter-subjectivity” I had my 30-student class do three activities. This became a day of revelation for me.
Below was my teacher’s log in my lesson plan:
Activity #1: Write like Sarahah version 1: Hate Note (Duration: 5 minutes)
Get 1/8 sheet of paper and anonymously write who you don’t like in the class (using “sandwich approach”: positive-negative-positive) and why you don’t like this person’s traits.
Activity #2: Write like Sarahah version 2: Love Note (Duration: 5 minutes)
Get another 1/8 sheet of paper. Anonymously write the name of the classmate you admire and “specify” why you admire that person (ex. looks, traits). After collecting their notes, publicly read about 10 students’ paper. [Rioutous teasing and laughing filled our classroom.]
Activity #3: Group Think and Discussion (20 minutes)
In another sheet of ¼ paper, write what you hate about what people do or don’t do to you at home and at school, and be ready to discuss this in your group. Group students into 5 groups. Select a leader/facilitator. The leader will ensure each student gets to talk and after another student will give his/her suggestion to a fellow student. The leader will summarize the 5 concerns and 5 resolutions/realizations of the group.
Aside from sharing their classroom concerns, this third activity allowed the students to vent their complaints about their family situations.
While checking their papers at home last night, some of their notes really tugged at my heart.
I felt like embracing them with brotherly compassion, while at the same time giving them appropriate teacher guidance.
The late great philosopher William James said: “The greatest need of every human being is to be appreciated and loved.”
At any age, we all need to be listened to and loved.
Yesterday’s Philosophy class turned out to be one of my most memorable days at school as a teacher.