The overwhelming consequences of the pandemic that we have been saddled with up until today have resulted to a lot of disturbances in all aspects of our lives. These made everyone on-edge as these impacted not only our physical and mental health, but also the social, political, and financial structures of the world. And so was the educational system in the country. By this we mean that even the teacher’s roles and responsibilities have changed.
According to United Nations Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG) in their Policy Brief in Educational System last August 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education systems in history, affecting nearly 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries and all continents. Read more about this: UNSDG | Policy Brief: Education during COVID-19 and beyond
The abrupt shift from traditional face to face classes instant to remote learning the next has posed educational challenges for both teachers and learners across the world.
In a matter of months after the pandemic spread all over the globe, there had been paradigm shifts in education – leaving behind, for the time being, every traditional teaching and learning strategy which no longer translates to remote learning or learning delivery modalities employed by schools. Classes are no longer conducted in the classroom. Teachers become virtual mentors, employing information and communications technology (ICT) in their day-to-day teaching journey. Learners can no longer be seen within the school premises yet giving it their best shot to learn in the comfort of their own home, at their own pace and time, and through their preferred learning styles.
Truly, this catastrophe has been taking a toll on learners. And so does it on teachers. Every single day, teachers undergo pedagogical adaptations to ensure that learning can still happen even in their absence in the learning situation. The traditional face to face teaching-learning interaction does not apply anymore to remote learning. This makes it doubly difficult for teachers to get the lessons across to the extent that they need to adapt their practices to the “now normal” way of teaching while still ensuring that the most essential learning competencies set by the department of education will be attained by the learners.
With all these educational challenges posed by the pandemic, what keeps you going as a teacher?
Today marks my 4th year in the field of teaching. Since then, I have been grateful for each and every person who has walked with me in this journey; a journey which, I believe, is truly enriching and life changing.
When the pandemic reached my country, I have become increasingly concerned about the grueling situation that this catastrophe can put us, teachers, into.
With these extreme educational challenges comes greater responsibility on the part of teachers. Teachers have to make pedagogical adaptations or adapt their practices to ensure that learning can happen. Since being creative had been a common task for teachers even before this pandemic, all the more that teachers should think of every creative idea they can in order to keep the learners engaged in the now normal teaching-learning situation.
Here are some of the reasons that keep me going as a teacher. These may or may not apply to everyone in the field, however, I want to share with you what makes me stay as an educator. I know I haven’t been in the field for many long years yet, but with these educational challenges that we face head-on, I truly hope this can shed some light on what keeps you staying in the teaching profession.
Teaching is Rewarding.
Teachers do have a significant role to play in the community since education is considered as a social mobilizer. In a country where there are still many children who do not get a chance to be sent to school to study, education is a helpful bridge that can help people in the society with making significant changes in their lives.
More than the compensation itself that we get from this occupation, though some of you might point out the insufficient salary that teachers get in the country despite a wide array of responsibilities that they need to fulfill, what makes teaching truly rewarding is the very fact that they can help enrich learners’ lives.
I remember a quote from Christa McAuliffe which says: To teach is to touch lives forever. This quotation has become a motivation to me ever since I was in college. I remember seeing this on the back of our green department shirt. During those years, I knew what this quote really means. Only, I was not able to fully grasp it since I did not experience it firsthand.
Within my four years of teaching, though it is not that long enough to relate it to the quote, I can still speak about the magic that teaching has in the lives of the students. Teachers, apart from the learners’ parents, are some of the people whose influence resonates with a learner and lasts for a lifetime. I can attest to this for I acknowledge the influence that my former teachers in primary, secondary, and tertiary had in my journey of becoming an educator myself. Hadn’t it been for them, I would not have made great efforts to finish education and influence the future by teaching.
Teaching becomes rewarding when you see your learners get to learn things and lessons which they may take with them as they grow. When you see it yourself the positive impact you have on a learner’s life, when you get to see them improve, when you heard that their life has changed, you will realize that there’s nothing in this world as rewarding as teaching learners and enriching their lives.
When learners return to you and tell you how their lives have been, how they have improved and succeeded, it is as fulfilling as carrying out a responsibility to the world, to the future of this world to be exact.
Teaching is Love.
It may sound so cheesy to some when you say that teaching is all about love. However, no matter how old-school it seems to talk about teaching as love, to some teachers, they consider this as a work of love.
I remember when I was in grade school. I already exhibited signs that I might be a future teacher one day. My former grade-school teacher whose name I am not going to mention here, always entrusted the classroom management to me whenever she had to carry through some reports and perform a task that needs urgent response. I always acted as a teacher back then, telling children stories with my classmates, speaking like I was a teacher, and even imitating them myself not to ridicule them but more of to show how I look up to them as my role models.
The reason I brought that up here is because I believe that it really shaped me into a passionate teacher that I am today. Of course, I also experience exhaustion. I also get fed up with stressful circumstances. But after a pause and a break, I also see to it that I step up efforts to help myself improve and grow professionally. This is, I think, the most powerful force that keeps me in the field despite the grueling situations we have right now in this time of pandemic -passion for teaching.
When you make efforts not because you have to, but because you value your passion so much. When you value your learners and you want them to learn something from what you impart them. When you are always driven towards providing learning opportunities for them, that I think what teaching as a passion is all about.
Teaching is Spreading Hope.
You might be wondering how a teacher can exhibit and spread hope through teaching. I mentioned above that teaching is considered as a social mobilizer. Even our government believes in the power of education in making significant progress in the country.
As you get to teach batches and batches of students every year, you are already displaying and spreading hope. It is the heart of numerous educational programs implemented in the country. More than that concept of touching students’ lives forever, these programs were intensified in hopes of providing a light to the darkest areas in the country which only education can shed some light on and bring positive changes on them.
When despite the educational challenges, you still cling onto that tiny hint of hope and faith in your learners that they can champion all obstacles in their learning journey. That’s where you begin spreading hope.
When amidst the stressful situations that pose challenges to you as an educator, you still have faith in the process, in the educational system. That’s where you display hope.
When waking up every morning seems as challenging as it is, you still find a hundred reasons to continue your teaching journey, to continue touching the future. That’s where you exhibit hope.
Teaching is Shaping the Future.
The victory of the future generations lies in the way you shape them and turn them into men of dreams, visions, and success. Cliché as it may seem, teaching is the noblest profession. I know it is kind of biased but when you look closely at the society, you may realize that teaching, more than the highest rank outstanding qualities that people attribute to it, teaching is the mother of all other professions in the world.
Remember this, every single hour you allot in teaching young minds is worth spending as you help with shaping the future generations. The very moment you enter the classroom or everytime you join an online class; you also get to shape the future.
When you give them the assistance they need in grappling with a most essential learning competency, you really are shaping the future. When you exhaust all your means and sometimes go extra mile to make your learners and yourself meet in the middle, when you do not allow your exhaustion and your anger decide your actions when dealing with your learners, remember that a part of what the future holds comes from you.
From among the classes you handle will emerge successful leaders of society. With this thought alone, there’s no way that your exhaustion and desperation will not be brimmed with fulfillment and satisfaction.
While some of us think of these educational challenges as a burden, we tend to forget that this paradigm shift of learning can also be an extraordinary opportunity to reset education and ensure the implementation of inclusive education; providing learning opportunities for all learners and getting as many children back to school as possible since the learning delivery modality is at their advantage.
Teaching during this time of pandemic can be too much of a worry and disturbance, remember the reasons that keep you staying in the field. Do not forget what placed you in the very spot you are in right now, be it your passion, fulfillment, hope and the future.
You are very much valued for simply becoming a person of great influence to our learners. Your contributions might be underrated. You might not be well-compensated. But there’s something else that you have and which no one else can take it away from you. That’s your undying influence on each and every young mind you stumble upon.
You are a teacher. Do not ever think that you are just a cosmic afterthought or from a mere addition to all other professions in the world that others had mistakenly forgotten to value.
Policy Brief: Education during COVID-19 and beyond. (2020 August) UN Sustainable Development Group. https://unsdg.un.org/resources/policy-brief-education-during-covid-19-and-beyond