(A Personal Essay)
How much do I love teaching?
It’s so hard to describe in a sentence or two the love affair between me and teaching. Let me just tell you how many years have I been in this romance – 30 years.
Yes, I have been a teacher for three decades now. I began my teaching career at a basic education institution in the Philippines in 1988 and served my 30th year in the academe at a university here in South Korea. I have been in this country since 2013 and if given the chance (and God willing) I would love to stay here until at least 2025.
Despite the not-so-good comments I heard about teaching as a profession when I was young, I embraced it and I don’t regret having done so.
It is both surprising and amusing how lowly teaching is regarded by some people. It is one of the least popular jobs anywhere in the world.
Parents in the culture where I grew up would tell their children graduating from high school, that is once they find out that their children are of average intelligence (or even lower), to just take up an Education course and be a teacher.
To some professionals, teaching plays second fiddle. Teaching is their last resort. They would seek positions in the academe as teachers when in their chosen fields they could not get job offers. They would enroll in crash courses for teachers thinking that pedagogic skills could be acquired in so short a time. Some native speakers of English who had difficulty finding jobs in their own countries are working as ESL teachers in countries like Japan, China, and South Korea. Luckily for them, even if they are not graduates of Education courses, or they were not trained to become teachers, there are schools who would hire them for reasons that only those who hire them know. I consider this a disservice to the teaching profession.
I love teaching and I do take my job as a teacher seriously. I sought employment in the academe upon completion of my bachelor’s degree knowing that I am qualified to be a teacher. I became a teacher not because I have no other choice. I became one by choice.
I know that teaching as a profession requires a lot and I made sure I am apt to the task. I passed the licensure examination for teachers. I went to graduate school, attended conferences and seminars, took certificate courses (like TESOL), and studied by myself the application of technology to education. I also keep reading books and journals related to both my subject area and pedagogy. All of the aforementioned I did (am doing) in order to ensure that I could cope up with the demands of the profession and to give nothing but the best to my students. This is my way of respecting my profession as a teacher.
Why do I love teaching?
Search for the 25 best-paying jobs (or make that 50… or 100) and it’s very unlikely that teaching is included. This is what makes the teacher’s job not-so appealing. Teachers get paid low and on top of that – they are overworked. They work way beyond office hours. Such is the reality that I fully accepted. I never whined about it.
But for me, it’s never been the pay. It’s the happiness and the sense of fulfillment that teaching gave me. That’s what I love about this profession.
I enjoy doing the things that teaching requires me to do. Teachers need to read and write a lot. And those are my hobbies. Teachers have to do a lot of talking and leading and I so happen to love public speaking. I love the feeling of being in front of people… talking to them, making them laugh, and leading them to action.
Teaching allowed me do the things I love doing. It actually honed my skills and improved my knowledge in the areas where I could excel. It developed in me values that guide me both personally and professionally.
Teaching challenged me to strive for excellence and pushed me beyond my abilities. It became my way of serving other people. It made me believe in myself and it strengthened my faith in God as well.
As Jim Rohn said, “True happiness is not contained in what you get, happiness is contained in what you become.”
What I have become because of teaching is just amazing.
And the rewards for becoming what I have become are equally amazing.
The rewards – both intrinsic and extrinsic – are just awesome.
Don’t tell me that teaching is not financially rewarding. Teachers can be paid handsomely if they play their cards well and push the right buttons. It’s a matter of how they handle their career in the academe, how they build up their reputation, and what stuffs do they have in their professional portfolios.
Here is my advise to teachers like me, most especially to the young ones – don’t teach for the money. Don’t be a mercenary teacher. Become first what you ought to become. Be the best teacher you could be. Don’t be contended with your Bachelor’s degree. Aspire to have a doctorate. Attend all the seminars and training you could attend. Be certified in your field. Invest on yourself… not on gadgets and other material possessions. Plan well your career in the academe and make the right decisions.
If teachers would love their job and treat it with utmost respect, they will get the rewards they richly deserve.
In teaching you serve. And when you serve well, you will be rewarded.