I have always envisioned the first day of class as a moment of love – I envisioned seeing my students slowly fill up the room and sit on the chairs I’ve just wiped clean and read the colorful welcome note I wrote on the blackboard. For the most part, the vision held true. I couldn’t help but smile as I saw each of my 49 students, I couldn’t help but slightly shiver because of the combination of first-day jitters and the excitement of finally being able to associate faces to their names. When the roll call was done, I smiled and said to myself: “This is it”. This was every bit of the first encounter with my students that I hoped I would have.
Then came the reality check and the gut check.
The reality check came as we experienced first-hand the problem of educational inequity. I personally gave out textbooks to my students that were torn and tattered from the use and abuse of previous years. I saw classrooms with no electric fans and broken lights, and students with no pencils and notebooks. I saw students without any money for food and would go on through six hours of class on an empty stomach. I saw students who were unable to read and write. Reality was harsh. I wished that I could provide them more. They deserve so much better than this.
The gut check came in bits and pieces throughout the week as we struggled to control classes. There were kids who were proving difficult and it seemed as if no matter what technique we tried to employ, there was just no stopping them from fighting, shouting, running, attempting to escape the room and just moving about. No training would have prepared me for that. After the first week, I knew how difficult the road will be.
Despite all the hardships that I have faced and will inevitably face, I have no doubt in my mind that I will stay for two years as a public school teacher or perhaps, even more.
- Because I believe that these students can be and should be given the best education possible. Socio-economic status should never determine the quality of education for a child.
- Because every child has a dream and as their teacher, one of my biggest roles is to make them believe that they are capable not only of dreaming and aspiring for something but also that they have the power to make these dreams come true.
- Because I know that these kids are smart and very resilient. Their stories can soften a hardened heart and can easily bring tears to anyone who cares enough to listen. All they need are people who will guide them towards the right paths and teach them to make right decisions.
- Because these students go to school with hopes of a brighter tomorrow.
- Because if you give them time and (a lot of) patience and these kids will surprise you with what they know and what they can do.
- Because I love the students. I’ve loved them the moment they entered our classroom.
Every day in the public school brings new challenges; but each new day gives us another chance to love our students and teach them in the best way possible. I fall in love every day with 49 students. I love 11 doctors, 8 teachers, 6 police officers, 4 engineers, 3 dentists, 3 stewardesses, 2 seamen, 2 pilots, 2 singing divas, 2 superstar actresses, 1 accountant, 1 mechanic, 1 nurse, 1 chef, 1 footballer, and 1 soldier. I love 49 students who will someday change the world. I’m just here to give them that extra lift, that extra push.
This was never my show as a teacher. The students are the real stars – and I know that someday they will shine.
Jose Miguel Francisco Zaballero, or Miggy, 26, graduated from Ateneo de Manila University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences. After graduating from Ateneo, he became a social entrepreneur and founded a training and development social enterprise, Frontline Social Enterprises Development Corporation. He is one of five Fellows teaching Grade 3 students in Sto. Cristo Elementary School in Quezon City.