I actually don’t know how to describe how I feel at this moment. As of this writing, I had completed seven days of being a public school teacher. Tomorrow, there’s no class since it’s the annual celebration of the Philippine Independence Day.
It was said that teaching has four stages. Fantasy. Survival. Mastery. Impact.
My decision to join this team is a clear indication that I had gone through the Fantasy Stage. The trainings, inspiring speeches, seminars, luncheons with great leaders and prominent advocates of social change had thoroughly boosted my spirits that I can make a difference. I can leave my mark.
Until the first day of school came. June 3rd. I was dead tired the night before- moved out of the dorm, moved in to the new house, mom had to rush my uniform, prepared materials for the next day’s early morning shift. Yes, I chose to be on the AM shift-Monday to Friday, from 6:00-12:10 PM.
Presenting my big goal to the children had been very great! Asking them what they want to be when they grow up?, who wants to help their parents in the future?, who wants to be rich?... all those sorts.. They were all nice until the next day.
The moment of Survival had began.
I am handling 55 total number of students. Most of them from underprivileged, a few had mentioned that they are under the 4Ps program of the government, wherein their families are given monthly cash subsidies by the government to sustain their living, provided that their expenses are monitored and that they attend required activities such that of Brigada Eskwela. There are also a number of Muslim kids. Ages ranging from 8-13 years old, with the number of boys higher than the girls.
I honestly have a hard time delivering a lesson without interruption of a student-there’s crying, petty fights, lost things, worst of all, non-readers who happened to also be the rowdiest in class. I don’t know if their being non-readers explains their unruly behavior.
I had presented rules, procedures, routines to follow and even a reward system. All would work for a few minutes then their gone wild again.
Today is probably my worst day so far. I was really agitated while in class. I easily lost control of my temper, I almost wanna shout, Time Out! I almost did. I tried to put up my sunshiny attitude, but it didn’t work. I can see the shocked looks in their faces as they stare at my sudden monstrous transformation. I had dry cough and runny nose. I just wanna go home, lay in bed and sleep. Worst, I wish to go back to my previous job- my peaceful workstation, fast internet, cozy ergo chair. Looking for affirmation if I really did a right decision. But then, when I took a few seconds of silence, stared at their shocked faces, I know that I made the right choice of being with them I just need to learn how to connect with them. I don’t wanna be a control freak to them, I want them to be free while inside my classroom. Free to express themselves while showing respect for everyone, that is the culture I want them to build in my classroom.
This had been the cycle for the entire day. I am very thankful for my partner veteran teacher who is always to the rescue whenever it seems that I cant take control of the class anymore.
What’s more frustrating on my part is that I am already there. I am already able to get a hold of their attention but I can’t hold it long enough for them to learn. It’s like I am so close, yet so far. One day, I brought my laptop to class, I showed them a video of what we called the I Wake Up Song. They were all so lively, it was actually my best day. I even had it filmed and saved on my phone, so every time I am down and disappointed about how I deal with them, I watch the video.
The challenge is on. As we had started teaching content on them, I am admittedly having a hard time where to start with everything. I know I can do it. I just need to keep that vibe. I can do this. I am not alone. Together with all the other public school teachers around the country, I had high hopes for my kids. I don’t wanna change the whole public elementary system. I just wanna leave a mark on the lives of my little 55 angels. If I still cant do it to all of them, I know I can do it to one of them:
First, make them believe that everything is possible if only they persevere.
Second, they can dream big.
Third, they can work hard toward their dreams, one step at a time.
Yes, I have to remember it always. One step at a time. I can do this. My kids and I can learn together side by side. I just need to figure out how. Soon. Very Soon.
Starting Thursday, I put back my smile of my face, my motherly affection to all of them and that confidence that they will follow me as their teacher. I can do this.