Teaching is described by different teachers in various ways and one which made an impact to me is that, “Teaching is the noblest of all profession”. My cousin, Ms. Gertrudes is now a mathematics teacher in Muntinlupa city. We studied in the same university where we shared together many great things including teaching. According to her, teaching is the most noble among all the professions since all professionals underwent education with a teacher. Through the internet I arranged an interview with Ms.Gertrudes where I gained more insights about her view of teaching as a noble profession, furthermore it opened up a new realization on teaching in relation to our society today. From this point of view, I will lay the foundation of my reflection on the interview with basic education teachers.
How teachers mould the minds and hearts of every learner reflects the kind of society we have. Inside our classroom for instance, fast track students represent various responsibilities in the society – teachers, nurse, house wife, policeman, and engineer, among others. Some of us are passive and some are active, having different background and different reactions, yet we were here for the desire to learn how to teach. The teacher not only facilitates learning but could influence the mind of future politicians, engineers, doctors, policemen, priests and nuns, educators, legislators, and ordinary citizens among others. In an interview with Ms. Mondragon she said, “I considered it (teaching) as a means for which God used me as an instrument to touch lives and in the process, I myself is transformed by my students’ lives”.
Indeed, teaching and learning is a collaborative process which exemplifies the unification of a problematic society that we are experiencing now, yet continuously striving through difficult times in finding solutions to the problems. A teacher must assume this tremendous responsibility if we still aspire for a more livable society: a responsibility to be formed and be transformed so as to form and to transform the lives of people. A teacher seeks to transcend the ordinary limits of him or her by allowing the ultimate good to use that life as an agent of transformation. This role of a teacher is highly dignified as Ms. Gertrudes puts it, “every individual is a prime mover in our society however, the teacher is noblest since he or she teaches how to be noble”. Such phenomenon in teaching and learning permeates from one individual to the other like a hoop that never end as Henry Adams once said, “A teacher affects eternity; no one knows where his influence stops”.
A society consisting of good citizens, according to Socrates is a good society, and the highest end of every individual is to become good. Aspiring to be an educator is learning to become a good student first. Only in this manner I understand that learning is a process of becoming; a good teacher influences students to become good if not the best teachers to become educators of a society who stretches its vision farther towards the future. However, going through this process is a painful one. An intricate silk cloth is not made overnight such as an effective teacher is a result of years upon years of rigorous training. Evidences of this are testimonies of teachers especially those at the beginning years of teaching who would describe teaching as “difficult”, “not easy to be an adviser”, “a thankless career”, or “challenging” among others. In a conversation with Sir Sapul he said, “…it is not even acceptable that a teacher can commit mistakes, in class or outside”. It is a reality that the society has set the highest standards of how they would look at teachers – they should be perfect.
It is an expectation that every individual is called for but the challenge is directed specifically for teachers to respond. I believe that each one shares the same responsibility to strive-to-learn to become a better person who is humble enough to accept undergoing a painful process – a process which describes the beauty of our purpose. The more experienced teachers would say, “I choose teaching as a profession for love of the youth”, “the early formation of the youth is important to prepare the future of the nation and the church”, “teaching is my ministry”, “teaching is my passion”. Teaching for them is a mission already carved in the soul of a teacher, a value system stabilized through time…how beautiful! The younger ones will marvel in the same path as they go along the way saying, “it is my destiny”, “I want to help children to become better persons and be successful in their life”, “I believe that teaching is God’s plan for me”, “I can change the life of every person especially the younger generation”, “this is what I want, this is what my heart says”.
Life will eventually give more meaning to every heart’s desire as it grow and ripen in due season. When that time comes, a teacher only counts his or her blessings and continues to grow in grace. The entire life cycle of a teacher, can be likened to a butterfly. One has to be an egg and undergo the stages to become an adult. Weeks after gloriously fluttering its wings the butterfly dies leaving behind new eggs, but a teacher on the other hand is immortalized by the life that he or she have led. The teacher takes the more crucial role in shaping the individual human person and the world. As the famous saying goes, “you cannot give what you do not have” therefore, every teacher has to be well prepared for that great endeavor that lies ahead. The domain of personal growth and professional development in the NCBTS emphasizes the ideal that teachers value a high personal regard, concern for personal development, and continuous improvement as teachers.
According to Corpuz and Salandanan, “the personality that teachers project determines the impression they make upon students and colleagues”. Asking some teachers about their idea of how students perceive them they responded, “well prepared”, “has principles”, “strict”, “loveable and caring”, “patient”, “honest”, “sympathetic”, “approachable”, “friendly”, “possesses a good sense of humor”, “punctual”, “dynamic and creative”, and “compassionate”. These responses determine the teacher’s self-awareness in relation to his or her work and to his or her role in the society.
Through the course of the process, a teacher accumulates values that he or she feels important to be nurtured and to be developed. Teacher responses include hard work, compassion, creativity, simplicity, service, responsibility, commitment, patience, honesty, generosity, kindness, humility, love, commitment, tenacity, courage, and self-discipline. These are personal values that they wanted to have as teachers yet in the interview, they mentioned that teachers should possess attributes to become an effective teacher:
A teacher should have integrity and good moral values.
A teacher should be able to motivate in making the students able to love the subjects.
A teacher should have passion for teaching.
A teacher must be full of energy and enthusiasm.
A teacher should be globally competitive, flexible and work oriented.
A teacher should be honest, hard working, generous, committed and dedicated.
A teacher should have love for students.
The teacher has personal values that they uphold but it is also very important that we hear from the students what they value from their teachers since it is the learning of students which is the foremost concern of teachers, only that the process of learning is controlled primarily by the learner as pointed out by Corpuz and Salandanan. “In order to teach effectively a teacher should consider certain principles of teaching and learning. The principal elements that make teaching and learning possible and attainable are the teachers, the learners, and a conducive learning environment. The learner is different from one another in terms of their demonstration of cognitive and appetitive powers, multiple intelligences and varied learning styles, children with special needs and children of indigenous people’s group”. This is the reason why a teacher should have a good stock of positive personal and professional attributes to be geared up for battle.
A teacher to be effective must possess a sense of service as a professional teacher, dedicated to the job and wave that missionary spirit since the teacher himself or herself is one of the elements in making learning attainable. As Ms. Mondragon quoted St. Marie Eugenie of Jesus, “Education is allowing the good to break through the rock that imprisons it in order to shed its radiance”. It is not only the student that is imprisoned in the rock but sometimes a teacher lacking in proper preparation for the life of a teacher is imprisoned in steel, when the students are free enough, they absorb the negativities that they are exposed into and their light fade out altogether. But an accomplished teacher would say, “I am a successful teacher since I see my former students effecting change in the lives of people they are working with”. It is indeed a personal commitment that a teacher should develop a philosophy of his or her own.
According to Sir Montilla, “Education is a journey towards a holistic and vibrant transformation within a human person. Molding and preparing one’s life to be more equipped, outfitted, and comprehensive towards the pedestal of success, with strong conviction to the triune God in contributing for the betterment of the community and for the progress of society”. As the famous saying goes, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” such that personal change is required in order to move forward towards the ladder of success; offer to God all accomplishments, and create concern for the development of the society. Another teacher said, “Every individual is able to strive for success in their academic performance and their life”. It is difficult to fathom what one child is capable of, the assessment and evaluation in school are but ways to estimate what the child is capable of having in that specific moment.
When a child is free, he or she is able to soar in great heights unimaginable to us. If we allow a child to dream, we allow him to see what he or she is capable to dream and so we guide them that they develop trust in themselves until they will one day realize that dream. Sir Soriano has this to say, “Teaching is in the heart of the educational process”. The educational process to me is an extensive continuum which extends throughout an individual’s life span. It involves things that we can say about learning and teaching. The very core of it is on the process itself. Such process allows us to experience the joy, the pain, fears, difficulties, danger, yet we strive to redeem ourselves and rise beyond our own limits.
As to Bro. Beuchesne, “Every person is a child of God, who has the right to be respected and properly educated, to develop his particular talent and use them for the betterment of society”. Our life is like a web or a fabric the thread of which are intricately arranged so that each one touches the other, its beauty is seen only as a whole. Each thread is as important as another, just as every individual has its own role in the society which affects the others and as much important as the other; even the flap of a butterfly affects the universe how much more with a human person!
Every individual is a gift from God that should be taken cared. There are ways that are done differently by one another which needs to be guided, respected and accepted. Teaching is: loving the learner. I can say that as a student, if the teacher makes me feel important, I can learn better and most inspired.
Learning to me is a lifelong process that improves with time. The goal of the teacher is to give the best he or she can and become an inspiration to learn. In a society such as we have, a greater responsibility lies on the hands of a teacher who is committed and competent in facilitating the learning of every unique individual human person. Enormous passion coupled with positive personal attributes and an undying missionary spirit is necessary for a teacher to sustain himself in answering the call to render valuable service and in influencing the students to love learning. As Saint Jean-Baptist de la Salle have said, “To touch the hearts of your students and to inspire them with the Christian spirit is the greatest miracle you could perform, and the one that God asks of you, since this is the purpose of your work.”
We can try to look at what is happening in our society today and I am personally sad to see it being destroyed subtly. If not now, maybe one day we will realize the contribution we made for that destruction. As a responsible teacher would do, a personal reflection is called for to ponder upon the role of the teacher that shaped this society we have today. Can the teachers redeem themselves in their role of reshaping our society? Indeed, only those who retained the zeal for the mission of teaching will carry on the spirit, and it is sad that they are only few.