Sunday, August 17, 2014

Outstanding Teacher in the Community

This was submitted as a school project and I thought I wrote this quite well, so I am sharing this. 

I have known him for more than a decade now, since college years. Even then, he exuded a sense of leadership not common to most people our age at that time. As a young student leader he was able to put up student-socio-civic centered organizations that eventually changed the student life of many. He was strong-willed, goal-oriented, and empowering. Although he was not majoring on education, it may have been apparent that he’s cut to be an educator.

Graduation came. With millions going out of college, and just a few limited jobs available, it was no wonder when I found out that Mr. Francoise Noel Amaya, one of Adamson University’s most indispensible student leaders, turned his back at medical school and welcomed teaching. At that time, I thought it was convenient of him to do so. I know, because I was also one of those who segued to teaching for it was the only thing I could do – better than a call center job, I thought.

Years passed and we lost contact of each other. I heard from a friend that he quit his teaching job at a small Montessori to continue his studies. Good. He’s going to become a medical doctor, after all. Just imagine my surprise when I learned he was taking up Professional Teaching Certificate at the Philippine Normal University. So he must be serious in going on to the bend and turn to the line of education.

“Teaching has rewarded me in ways I can’t imagine”, I remember him telling me when we finally got to talk years after college graduation. “Maybe it was my dream to become a medical doctor, but it’s my vocation now to fulfill the dreams of those who want to become one.”

He likes his work environment. Assumption College has a supportive community. Just over a year ago, he was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia. Beset with what he may consider as his greatest tribulation by far, the school never abandoned him. The Assumption community was with him every step of the way to his recovery by raising funds, finding blood donors, and joining him in prayers. Some parents of his students covered almost half of his medical expenses that went for almost a year. “Thank you for taking care of our daughters, now it’s our time to help”, they said in a letter. “Kindness begets kindness” would be Noel’s epiphany. 

Noel, as he is fondly called, has been in the teaching profession for 11 years. He’s now on his ninth year at the Assumption College, Makati City. With demonstrated diligence, he was promoted to Coordinator of the Biology Department a few years ago. One of the challenges he faces as a coordinator is dealing with teachers with different personalities and making them work together. It is rather difficult to lead a team to achieve a certain objective without offending anyone, but he sees to it that he gives honest feedbacks, whether they affirm or hurt the people concerned. By objectives it means ensuring that the curriculum content, departmental program, K-12 implementation in the area of Science are appropriately addressed and delivered.

Being a department leader, he is a strong advocate of further professional development for teachers. Teacher education and training, according to him, “helps the teaching staff be more effective in their jobs, so pupils learn and behave better….” More so, “it contributes to a positive ethos where people feel valued and highly motivated.” Teacher education and training also makes for a learning-centered community in which not only the pupils are gaining something but the teachers and other staff as well.  

He is also a firm believer of change. The K-12 program is indeed a big change in the world of education. This change is needed to address the needs of the 21st century learners. The Philippines has long been the only country in Asia to have a 10-year basic education cycle. If we want to remain competitive globally, we have to sync in with the programs offered by developed countries. The use of mother tongue is one of the main differences of K-12 from the previous education system. Noel believes that this will promote not only patriotism and love of country but also love of one’s roots or origins. English should still be part of the instruction, as this has emerged to be an important language of international business. We have to make sure that as much as we want to produce graduates who are internationally competitive, nationalism should still remain as the core foundation of their values even when they are already playing in the global arena. He also stressed the importance of media education and environmental literacy to create holistic individuals who contribute to the development of the society and the world.

There are people who have taken to the education profession even when they did not plan to in the first place. Like Noel, I was among those who take this path out of accident. I have always declared that I didn’t choose the teaching profession. It chose me when a mail inviting me to teach at a certain learning institution landed at our home one fateful day around ten years ago. I ignored it at first but the call persisted that it got too loud to bear. So, I went ahead and heeded that call. And like Noel, I have come to love this profession.

“I like the attention I am getting when I am in front of a class.” one college professor said when asked why he chose the teaching profession. Though he was just teasing, that very attention he’s referring to is what makes this profession all-encompassing and challenging. Students look up to that leader in front of the class. That leader effects change not only on the lives of his students but also on those whose lives his students will touch, which in the process shapes the society in the most implicit of ways.

I dare say that teaching is a dangerous profession. Given with the perpetuity of his influence, a teacher must be careful in how he leads his class. Therefore, a teacher should be able to lead his class in the proper direction. To do this, he must be properly tooled with his own education and mastery of his subject area by continually developing his skills through further education. He must also be aware of what is happening in the society and the world, and keeps himself updated with the latest news, trends, and even fashion. Finally, his brain and his heart must be in full function, both in and out of the classroom.

Teaching here in Thailand makes me realize how much of an influence I am to my Thai students. In a way, I am part of shaping the future of this society. Like the many OFWs in other countries who were compelled to take care of other’s children, than taking care of their own, I feel like I am shaping the future not of my children but of others. But I am going back. When I come back, I hope that I will have prepared enough to face the challenges of being an educator in the Philippines. I am doing it one step at a time. And this, is just one of the first steps of my preparation.