Expectations and Other Illusions

In 1901, Silliman University was born unto this world. Ninety-one years later, as a consequence of a plethora of biochemical activities, I apparently was manifested into this existence as well. Four years after that, as far as I was concerned, it was the first day of whatever “nursery” was. Walking hand-in-hand with my parents as we crossed the threshold of the school’s colorful gates, I ran my eyes through what seemed like a massive meadow of lush greenery (it was actually a medium-sized patch of grass surrounded with concrete). There were dozens of them – of us: children, each with faces locked in an expression of confusion and with hands seemingly glued to the hands of parents. For everyone above the height of four feet, it was irrefutably a special day. We, the children, officially metamorphosed into pupils, the primordial vessels of human potential, entrusted to grow under the tutelage of a set of adults wearing matching clothes called “teachers.” For everyone else, however, it was about “new playmates, yay!”

Needless to say, I was one of the latter; given my age at the time, I had little choice. The only concern seemed to be was to have fun, and it was easy to actualize. Much to the irritation of the teacher, however, one of the major by-products of fun is noise. And when conjugated with an unruly class, this leads to lots of scolding. This was the first day I walked through the halls of Silliman. This was also the day I decided I would never teach.

Many years later, however, I would become a teacher. Yes, I realized my erroneous notions of teaching, and how exactly far off they were from reality. And yes, I also realized that irony has spit on my face. Nevertheless, this is an attempt at divulging the clashes between the realities and expectations of the professional life of a young instructor. The following is based on my experience as a 22 year-old, duly-licensed professional. This is to give insight to both students and teachers alike, and NOT intended to bash either parties:

Please talk to us with respect. Dear co-teachers, don’t expect your students to speak to you like how they speak to “experienced” instructors. Due to your significantly lesser age gap, students will feel as if they can speak to you in a relatively more lax fashion. Don’t take this as an assault on your authority. It is in fact, the opposite. Take it as an act of confiding in you. If a student speaks to you as they would their close friends, this means they entrust to you the task of understanding the position they are in. Not that I wish to sound as if I have a massive case of superiority complex, but as the more mature person, you are expected to act accordingly… which may involve adjusting your tolerance.

Dear students, try to also understand the position we are in. Know that this abrupt transition from student to professional is as much a jolt for us as it is to you. Please don’t abuse our clemency.

Failing you is a professional suicide. Dear students, as much as it may tickle your skepticism muscle, it is actually quite a daunting act for us to give you low grades. The truth is, low grades are not fun for anyone. For you, it makes a horrible stain on your credentials. For us, it’s a projection of teaching skills. I know I can say little to accentuate my argument, but please trust me when I say that we do not use our authority to channel our vengeance unto you (or make pahimalos). Do your best, and rest assured, we will do the same.

We are not exempted from mistakes. Dear co-teachers, please don’t act as if you know everything, even with starling credentials, it is impossible for us to remember everything. If you are skeptical of the information you are about to disseminate, consult your references. The goal is to mold students into even better professionals than we are. Please do not disgrace the sanctity of our profession in favor of something as petty as your pride.

Students, please be patient with us. We are merely human too – we can and will make mistakes.

Regurgitated Ramblings
Ben Cruz

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