Everyday, I have to wake up as early as 3 a.m. to get ready for school. Getting ready means printing the daily lesson plan for my 8 subjects and other important school related documents. I also have to prepare for my pack lunch since there are no food stalls in the village where I am teaching. Lastly, I have to pay attention to my grooming because I am always surrounded by pupils of all grade levels. This is my early morning routine but this does not make the hardest part of being a teacher.
When everything is set and ready, I have to be at the central terminal as early as 5:30 a.m. to catch the first trip because the jeepney (public vehicle) leaves the terminal at exactly 6:00 a.m. There is only one jeepney that commutes early in the morning so the vehicle is jampacked or fully loaded with teachers always. These teachers teach in other villages that we pass by. If a teacher comes a little late than 5:40 a.m., he will surely lose a seat and have no choice but to sit atop the jeepney or on its steps or stand at the rear entrance while holding onto the rails attached to the roofing of the vehicle.
It takes almost an hour before I arrive at the village where I teach. I always take a few sleeps away during the ride but one can never have a full one hour sleep because the ride is like a roller coaster ride where big lumps and humps are strewn on the road. It’s always a bumpy ride on a rocky road. I always equate this ride to riding on a boat amidst a turbulent sea. The first time I had this ride, I was kind of dizzy and felt like vomiting. Now, being used to it, I can say that it’s not the hardest part of being a teacher.
Since I am handling 41 pupils where boys are greater in number than girls, the discipline should be the constant companion of my everyday lesson deliverance. It’s not hard to discipline village kids because they are not yet morally devastated by the destructive influence of the new technology. In other words, there is no internet there. The place is mountainous where signals are out of coverage. People live a very simple life devoid of sophistication and modernization.
The ride back home is sometimes a difficult experience. Since the village where I teach is second to the last village where the jeepney takes the route, it comes with a packed riders sometimes that I have no choice but to sit atop the vehicle. Again, there is only one jeepney that takes the last trip. Have you seen a teacher riding on the top of the jeepney? This is prohibited when the jeepney enters the metropolis but when the authorities see our uniform, they let the jeepney pass without delaying it. Lol, even the policemen are afraid of the teachers? It’s not comfortable to ride atop the vehicle. You can’t even smile back at those people who shout “Ma’am, be careful up there!” but it’s better compared to riding a funeral service car. Gosh, I experienced that , too when there was no available jeepney to take us back home. But this again, is not the hardest part of being a teacher.
Back home, after dinner, I have to devise, prepare and encode the daily lesson plan for my 8 subjects. I have to construct some short quizzes and improvise visual aids to support my lessons. After a long bumpy ride, my body can’t do much more than these. When the clock strikes 8:00 p.m., I can’t hold on anymore. Sleepiness takes over so I always leave the unfinished job to be done first thing in the morning. But this is also not the hardest part of being a teacher.
Last week, March 27 (Friday) our school held the last culminating activities, the Recognition Day where deserving pupils were given some awards and the Graduation Day for the Grade Six pupils. The Grade Four pupils kept on coming to my room and were so excited to become my pupils next school term. My Grade Five pupils were just silently watching them coming like a bunch of leaping kangaroos. I saw two contrasting worlds. The world of the rejoicing and the world of the mourning. I know that saying the last influential word means hearing a wail. To suppress the emotion, to hold back the tears, it’s better to nurture a heart of stone at times like this. Whenever our eyes (my pupils' and mine) met, there was a meaningful exchange of a fake smile. I saw some of them turning back and kind of wiping something on their eyes.
The naughtiest boy approached me and told me to retain him so that he would be in my class again next school term. Others followed suit. I know I heard this before from my previous pupils but it always touches my weakest emotion. I always tell them that they are just going to have a new teacher but this doesn’t mean that they can’t see me anymore. Throwing the last stern look at them, they know that I didn’t need another word from them. It’s okay for me to see them cry, but I am decided that I won’t let them see me cry. I have to be strong. I don’t know the exact reason but I think that this is the proper way.
Saying farewell to my pupils, knowing that the closeness developed all throughout the school year will be stagnated by this permanent parting, this... is the hardest part of being a teacher.
I know this is long but forgive me for I am not an expert when it comes to making series. A million thanks for reading it my EC friends.