TEN YEARS

Ten years.

A decade.

That’s how long I’ve been teaching.

My first day of teaching was on September 8, 2004. It has been ten years, 12 days since I handled my very first English class. I remember my very first day. I wore a green Akita boat neck top and black slacks. I remember because it was Mama Mary’s birthday, so on my very first day I remember being out of place because instead of blue, I was wearing green. I didn’t have first period because it was used for the prayer service for the grade school. After that prayer service I don’t really remember much.

What I DO remember is making a whole ton and a half (and more!) mistakes not just in my first year of teaching but also in the years that follow. Until now, I admit I still make mistakes. Proof would be in my yearly performance appraisal. There’s always room for improvement.

September 8 2014, the date that marked the tenth year anniversary of my teaching life came and passed with nary a thought in my head. It was only now when I was recalling a conversation I had with a few students this past week that I remembered I’ve been teaching ten full years. The realization was both amazing and, well, challenging.

I was amazed that I could dedicate ten years of my life to one passion. Yes, teaching IS a passion. I’ve never been able to fully see myself in any other job. I’ve seen myself as a secretary, as an executive, as a clerk, as a writer, as a researcher, as a newscaster, but none of them stuck. Only the image of me as a teacher has remained. If–heaven forbid–I find myself suddenly separated from my current school, I believe I’d still look for teaching jobs or anything that puts me in a position of teaching, like maybe a trainer for a call center like my former roommate.

The challenge I give myself requires a bit of backstory for you to understand fully.

My mind works in images. Everything I’ve been able to do, I’ve been able to see in my head. I distinctly remember thinking in grade 3 (I kid you not) that my goal would be to graduate grade school with honors. I did it. I saw myself as a CAT officer in high school, and I became one. I saw myself growing to 5’1″ to reach the CAT officer physical requirements and I did it (well, whatever). I saw myself graduating with honors in high school, and I did it (although it wasn’t as high as I wanted it to be). I saw myself getting into my dream school, Ateneo, and I did it. I saw myself winning that Japanese speech contest my roommate’s org sponsored, and I did it. I saw myself going on dates, and I did it. I saw myself as a teacher, and I became one.

My mind has always been able to show me in images the next stage of my life. The problem now is that my mind keeps drawing a blank. I seem to have reached a dead end. Am I stuck forever as a teacher?

There is nothing wrong with being a teacher, I know, because it is a truly noble profession, but I can’t accept that there is no next stage for me. Sure, I’ve made changes in my career such as making the move to a new campus and teaching grade 2 for one year after teaching grade 6 for the longest time, and then teaching high school and then… I don’t know. These don’t seem ENOUGH.

I’ve taken graduate degree units for education so that I could apply for a teaching license. I shifted to a literature course after passing the licensure exam for teachers, but I never got to finish it. This, then, provides me with my challenge: to finish my graduate degree.

Ten years of working as a teacher. Ten years of passing on knowledge and skills. Ten years of trying to help kids become persons for others.

I think it’s time I start receiving knowledge and skills again. In a formal academic setting as a student and not through peer discussions, mind you.

Apprehension and excitement fill me, but if I’m ever going to meet my own challenge, I’m going to need tons of determination and zero laziness. (Yun yun e.)

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