Today marks my first year in the academe, and so far, it’s been one heck of a ride.
I guess I learned as much as I taught. I also realized that the experience is very much different from a teacher’s point-of-view than the student’s perspective.
Like my favorite quote from the book To Kill A Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” Now, I began to understand what it means to be a teacher.
I had my expectations and goals when I transitioned to this industry, and I guess sometimes things don’t go our way. I still have a lot to learn, but thankfully, my colleagues and my students helped in my development.
How I Got Here
I can still remember when I resigned from my corporate job. I’m determined to let go of my ECE license and teach in secondary school. I had my plan all laid out.
First, I will take an 18-unit course of professional education, apply in DepEd, pass the LET, and teach. Simple as it may seem, I thought it would go that way.
But it seems that God has other plans for me. I did complete my professional education course, but that was it. I failed to qualify for a teaching post in DepEd.
After receiving the result that I did not get in, pride starts to set in again. “How am I not qualified? Isn’t my credentials even more than required?” I told myself. It was another failure. I was so sure of myself, but I did not pass the requirements.
So I have to let it go and move on to check my alternatives. What other options do I have? At that point, my eyes were set on teaching. I had three choices, but none are sure, so I had to be decisive.
Then I remembered the job opportunity in the sole state college in our province. I soon asked around if they are looking for an ECE instructor – luckily, they were.
So, I submitted my requirements, finished my demo and interview, then waited for the result. It went smoother than I expected. So after almost six months of unemployment, I am back in the workforce.
The First Semester
The subjects handed to me were all Electronics and ICT-related subjects. Well, I guess I was more confident in those subjects than Mathematics – breaking the stereotype engineer image of being good at Math.
My very first class was Basic Electronics for 5th Year Mechanical Engineering students. I don’t know if they noticed it, but I was very nervous back then.
At that point, I was already five years out of school, except for my summer Prof Ed course, and I can’t remember how teachers in engineering should teach anymore.
But I had to project confidence, so I did. I greeted my students, “Good afternoon!” in which they reciprocated.
It’s as if things are moving in slow motion, then time stops. I vaguely remembered what I wrote and said, but I knew the class is about to end. When I looked at my watch, only 15mins had passed.
That was the longest hour of my life.
Then days became weeks, weeks to months, and I accumulated confidence when teaching.
Since most of my students were in their final year, I tried to be more casual with them, just like how my teachers in college did during my last year.
I firmly believe that graduating students should be treated as professionals already since they are only one step away from being one.
End of First Semester
By the end of the first semester, I’ve learned a lot from my students and my co-workers. I found teaching very enjoyable, but the admin tasks very daunting.
I came from a company whose business process management is one of the best globally, so the change was very drastic – but I had to adapt.
Before I transferred to the academe, I held a pen and paper only a handful of times at work. I think I almost forgot how to write at that point. Then I entered the academe, and suddenly there’s paper everywhere.
There is a significant difference between the work I did before and the work I am doing now. Hopefully, the divide between the industry and academia will soon vanish.
I also realized the potential and opportunities of working in this industry, such as professional networking and personal development, not to mention my family’s proximity.
Second Semester and COVID-19
As I enter the second half of the school year, I hoped that I could build on what I learned. What I was unaware of is the impending pandemic that will disrupt life as we know it.
The first two months went smoothly. I only had three subjects and my designation to worry about, then on March 17, 2020, everything stopped.
For the next three months, we were in community quarantine, anxiously waiting for what will happen next. Almost everything had to adjust, adapt, or stop – including school.
We finished the second semester in an improvised curriculum to prioritize our students’ and everyone’s safety. I admit that I was also worried and just placed my hope and faith in God.
What I’ve Learned during my first year:
1. Establish classroom management rules on the first day
The first meeting is probably the most important day of a new class. We make introductions and set our expectations. It is also the best time to provide the dos and don’ts for that particular subject.
2. Know your students’ names
The first thing I always try to do is to memorize my student’s names. I think it brings the teacher and the class closer. I also learned this from my previous manager to remember names.
3. Learn to Adapt to Your Class
Every class I handled had their unique classroom dynamics. Approaches that work in one class might not work on the next. I also learned to adjust my classroom management strategies.
4. Every Student is Different
As much as possible, I try not to judge my students early on. I knew from my own experience that students have their favorite and least favorite subjects.
Some students are great in theoretical principles, while some standout in practical applications. Either way, they should learn to play on their strength.
Knowing the theory of multiple intelligence also gives other avenues to understand how each student learns.
5. Admin Tasks are Harder than Actual Teaching
Unknown to students, teachers are often having more trouble with administrative tasks such as designations, advisory, or even checking the exams than standing in front to teach.
As I enter the second year of teaching, I know I will face a different challenge than before. Classroom management may be a thing of the past, and online management will be the new norm.
I hope and pray that we will come out of this global tragedy stronger. Not just physically or emotionally, but more importantly, spiritually.