This time of the year marks one of the most joyous times not just for students but for families as well. Aside from the most-awaited vacation being clamored upon by students all throughout the year, this month marks graduation rites and recognition day happening from one school to another. This was my perspective years ago when I was still a student, but now, I shared a different sentiment about graduation day. Maybe my job did change my perspective about it – I am a teacher.
Being a teacher is such a bitter-sweet experience every year. Cliché as it may sound; it is true that ‘teachers are second parents’. They are not just mere mentors or just educators; teachers are persons who interact with students daily, sharing the burden of child-rearing to a number of children – not related by blood but by bond. To those teachers who take teaching seriously, they understand that they perform a very crucial role because they know that teachers can either ‘make’ or ‘break’ their students. Teaching is a challenging task. The challenge does not just lie on how you would present and explain your day-to-day lessons but how you could integrate character education in your curriculum. Character education is already starting to become a ‘lost cause’ in our society and for most teachers who value their student more than salary; integrating character education in the curriculum is an additional challenge. It is not easy, it takes a lot of effort to touch not just the minds but at the same time, the hearts of students – but all the sacrifices are worth it. Horace Mann, an American Education Reformer, once said: “A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.”
Attempting to make learning a meaningful and inspiring activity is a challenging yet an enjoyable task. A number of my students are coming from affluent families wherein money is not a problem. All their needs and wants are being supplied for. During one of my end-of-the-quarter activity called ‘books ‘n chips picnic’, everyone was asked to bring their favorite book and snacks. We will leave the comforts of our air-conditioned classroom and spend our session outside, sitting on the ground with a mat, having picnic! I did it as a reward for my students after their hard work for the entire quarter with the hidden curriculum of enjoying reading at the same time, enjoying the simple things in life.
More than what I know, that experience meant a lot to my students. After one successful session of ‘books ‘n chips picnic’ one of my students went to see me in my office during my consultation hours. The young girl approached me with a smile as she say, “Teacher, thank you for the picnic”. Thinking that it was just one of the many “thank you” that I am receiving from students, I answered, “You are welcome. Actually, I didn’t do a lot. You and your classmates were the ones who brought books and snacks and made the activity successful”. She answered with teary-eyes, “No teacher, you don’t understand, this was my first time to experience having a picnic. We never had picnic in the family because my parents are both busy. Before, I just watch it on TV or read it in books, but now, I can say that I personally experienced having a picnic!” It seemed that my heart melted after hearing that from my student.
After that meaningful experience, I see to it that I make most of the remaining time that I have as their teacher. I put forth my best effort and try to make every lesson meaningful for them. We all enjoyed at the same time, learned a lot from one another. During the graduation rites of my dear students, I made a simple surprise for them and their parents. It was during the third quarter when I asked them to write a ‘thank you’ letter for their parents. I asked them to pour their heart out in that letter. All the while, they thought that it was just a part of the ‘formal theme’ writing that we have. They thought that I already misplaced those letters after checking them. With the help of my fellow teachers, those letters were distributed to the students together with white roses during graduation rites. During the thank you song for the parents, each graduate approached their parents and hand the letter and the rose as they hug and kiss them. Almost every eye in that room was in tears. At the end of the ceremony, my students with their parents approached me, and as I hug each of my students for the last time, I felt the gnaw of pain thinking that I would not be seeing them again in my classroom but at the same time, I felt happy that somehow I contributed something that made a difference in their lives.
As I leave the venue where the graduation rites was held, I ponder upon a quote by Carol Buchner – “They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
March 27, 2012