The following Experiences entry was written by Carmina Regine Fernandez of the 2013 Cohort. She originally wrote this essay in Filipino, while an English translation is provided below.
Sa ikalawang buwan ko bilang isang public school teacher, ipinangako ko sa aking sarili na mas tututukan at bibigyan ko ng pansin ang mga mabubuting bagay na ginagawa ng aking mga estudyante sa loob ng aming silid-aralan. Hindi ko man ito naumpisahan noong ika-1 ng Hulyo, inumpisan ko naman ito noong sumunod na linggo. Naniniwala ako na kaya kong maging mas kalmado at mas maging mabuting guro ngayong araw na ito.
Kadalasan, tuwing pagkatapos ng aming recess ay nagkakagulo ang mga bata; nagtatakbuhan, naglalaro at walang humpay na pag-iingay. Sa mga pagkakataon na iyon, sinasaway ko sila at sinasabihan ko na, “Huwag maingay! Puwedeng maglaro pero huwag na huwag magsasakitan. Puwedeng mag-ingay pero huwag maririnig ng katabing silid.” Kanina, marahil sa sobrang pagod ay napagpasyahan kong maging working recess ang kanilang break. Ninais ko ang isang tahimik at payapang recess.
Isinulat ko sa aming pirasa: “Magsulat ng isang liham pasasalamat/pag-hingi tawad sa iyong guro.” Binigyan ko sila ng sapat na oras upang lumikha ng isang liham. Makalipas ang takdang oras ay ipinapasa ko na ang kanilang mga ginawang liham. Sa totoo lang, sa sobrang daming pinagdaraanan ng isang public school teacher, minsan ay parang nakakapanghina na ng kalooban. Sa sobrang daming kailangan gawin, kahit oras para sa mga kaibigan at pamilya ay nauubos na. Sa sobrang daming kailangan ipasa, pati mga personal na problema, isinasantabi na.
Kanina, habang sumasagot ng isang seatwork, naisipan kong basahin ang kanilang mga gawang liham. Noong nabasa ko ang unang liham, may luha na tumulo mula sa aking mga mata. Naisip ko: Kaya pala ako nandito, kaya pala ako kailangan ng paaralang ito, kaya pala ako kailangan ng mga estudyanteng ito – upang gumawa ng pagbabago, upang maging isang inspirasyon. Ipinagpatuloy ko ang pagbabasa at ang isang liham na ito: (“Dear Teacher Carmina, thank you kay Jesus kasi ikaw binigay niya na teacher sa amin. Salamat po sa notebook at lapis na binigay niyo. Teacher, sana lagi kang maging malakas kasi mahal kita.”) ang nagpaalala sa akin kung bakit ako nagtuturo, kung bakit ako nandito, at kung bakit gusto ko maging mas mabuti, magaling at mapagmahal na guro sa bawat araw na darating.
Ang trabaho na ito ay hindi madali, ngunit, sa bawat araw na makikita ko ang mga mata ng aking mga estudyante na nagsasabing: “Marami pa akong gustong matutunan kasama ka.” – nagkakaroon ng kabuluhan ang bawat pagdilat ng mata ko bawat umaga.
Kasabay kong umaasa ang aking mga estudyante na may magandang kinabukasan sa Pilipinas. Hindi ako mapapagod umasa na balang araw, lahat nang bata ay magkakaroon ng magandang kalidad ng edukasyon. Hindi ako mapapagod umasa na balang araw, wala nang hahadlang sa mga pangarap ng bawat kabataan.
As my second month of being a public school teacher begins, I promised myself that I would focus more on the positive things that my students do in the classroom. While I was not able to start doing this as early as July 1st, I decided to start the second week of the month with my resolution. I started my day believing that I can be a calmer and better teacher from today onward.
Most of the time, my students are very rowdy towards the end of recess. They would be running around and playing, making noise to no end. When that happens, I usually scold them and say, “Please don’t be too noisy! You can play as long as you don’t hurt each other. You can be a bit noisy as long as the class next door doesn’t hear you.” Earlier, I was so tired that I decided to turn the class’s break into a “working recess”. To be honest, all I really wanted was a nice and peaceful recess. You see, with all the things that a public school teacher goes through, sometimes, it is easier to just lose the will to keep pushing. Being neck-deep in all the things we have to do, we run out of time for our family and friends. We have so many deadlines to meet that even our personal problems have to be put on the backburner.
During my class’s working recess, I wrote an instruction on the board: “Write a letter of gratitude/forgiveness for your teacher.” I gave them enough time to write their letters. Once the allotted time had ended, I asked them to pass their letters forward. Shortly after recess, I gave my class a seatwork to accomplish. While they were answering their seatwork, I figured I would read the letters they wrote.
I felt a tear well up in my eyes upon reading the first letter. It was at that moment when I remembered why my school needs me and why my students need me. I remembered my why: to do my part in making a change and to be an inspiration to these children. I continued reading the letters until I stumbled upon this particular letter from my students:
Dear Teacher Carmina,
I thank Jesus because you are the teacher He gave to our class. Thank you for the notebook and pencil that you gave us. Teacher, I hope you will always be strong because I love you.
This letter reminded me why I teach, why I am here and why I want to leave my mark as a kinder, better and more loving teacher every day moving forward.
This job is not easy, but every day, I see a look in my students’ eyes that says, “I want to learn more with you,” and that gives meaning to each day that I open my own eyes as I wake.
Alongside my students, I hope for a better future for the Philippines. I will not tire of hoping that one day, all children will have a relevant and excellent education. I will not tire of hoping that one day, nothing will get in the way of the dreams of each child.
Carmina Regine Fernandez, 22, graduated from St. Mary’s College, Quezon City with a Bachelor of Secondary Education Degree, Major in English. She is one of five Fellows assigned to Pasong Tamo Elementary School.