I started teaching back in 1992. Twenty years went by. My two older brothers were school teachers and I thought I can teach just like them. In all honesty, I left a pressure cooker environment of a public accounting firm (having worked there for eleven years) to join the teaching profession, a sort of escape.
I am at another crossroad and will be leaving my second career altogether. Twenty years is long and it is time for a break-away. I pen my feelings and observations on teaching in this blog post.
In order to get my foot into a polytechnic back in 1992, I quoted passion for teaching and willingness to share my professional experience with the younger generation to convince I was right for the job. It was idealistic and was over-used reasons why someone fit the job. Passion alone, though important, did not see me through the difficult and challenging profession. If someone thinks it is a piece of cake teaching, they probably did not know better.
Teaching requires more than passion. Perseverance, tolerance, a huge dose of patience, thick-skinned, cannot be meek, stay in pink of health, and a heart for students are pre-requisites.
Students I faced currently were different from earlier years. Their life experiences were shaped by technological advancements, advanced nation’s standards of living and stress level that goes with it.
So I saw students texting on their smart phones, playing electronic games and whole lot of internet distractions while attending lessons. They were not fully with the teacher because topics were technical and dry. Teaching staff must learn different skills to enthuse them and to engage them, but applying them in reality was not easy.
I had my share of “bo-chap” students (could not be bothered students) who appeared in class just to get their attendance taken. You will be “lucky” if they sit quietly and do not disturb your lesson. Some students (in the minority) do not respect their teachers and it is heartache to have to teach them.
Classes get very noisy nowadays and students talking away while you try to deliver a lesson. At the end of each lesson, it drained your energy and a sore vocal chord. The silent majority was fed-up because of these noisy students and they said that teacher was not able to manage the class well.
What kept me going all these years? Many students appreciate me and they made it easier for me to move from one semester to another. They often thanked me or just simply smiled and acknowledged after each lesson. Their student feedback on me was very positive and encouraging. On occasional encounter, they were always excited to see me.
The sense of mission accomplished came from student performance during assessment time. If the slowest passed the subject and when students did well, that is icing on the cake. All the troubles can be forgotten.
As I get on with age, I felt more acutely the generation gap between students (who will remain in their 17-19 years old in the system) and me. I am of the age that I can be their parent. Based on my perception and observations, students relate better with younger teachers. That can be challenged but that is how I feel.
So this where I stand: at the crossroad. The sweet memories will be there for me to treasure. I have many wonderful colleagues doing their bit in educating the next generation. Let me end by wishing all educators “Happy Teachers’ Day”!