The globalization trend that the world has been tracking should encourage me to pursue a career that will surely fit with the modern economy and social trend. I should be encouraged to become an electronics communications engineer, a medical practitioner or pursue a business course since these are professions that will somehow ensure my financial stability when the right time comes. Yet with my mother as a teacher, the profession that is generally the last thing on a high school student’s list of careers to consider, I am having the teaching profession as the only career to consider.
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Many believe that teaching is an easy job, a job that anyone can do but this just one of the many myths about the profession (National Education Association). Knowing how my mother prepares her lesson plans and teaching materials at night, the way she spends a couple of hours reading books and taking down notes, I believe that it is not as easy as others look at it. The fact is that 1a teacher has been symbolized by a wolf, an animal admired for its intelligence.
Wolf is a pagan symbol for wisdom, learning and loyalty things that teachers are directly related. Teachers do not come to school empty-headed or with just their books and lesson plans. One of the most important weapons a teachers carry along everyday is intelligence and for a good teacher, wisdom. Their profession entails the responsibility of imparting knowledge to children which can only be possible if they have something valuable in their minds that they can share.
Information can be acquired from books and other reading materials but to have knowledge is for someone to understand how such information can affect one’s life. If teaching profession is all about handing down information, then there should be no teachers now since internet and other modern media are already available to have those information with just few clicks. But teaching is not about information dissemination but of making people understand the basics of life. Wolves live a complex social life which includes their living in packs so they do not come out of the wilds alone.
They use a unique way of communication using their body and vocal languages to keep each other alert. They live a social life that secures their lives against enemies. Like wolves, teachers come to school to teach not just because it is their responsibility but because they too are concerned with the lives of their students. If they really don’t then they could just leave and secure another job that will somehow pay them more.
But teachers come to school everyday because they know they have the responsibility of preparing their students for future and more complex life struggle. They come to school as partners of the parents in ensuring a brighter future of their children. I have to stress that teachers are partners which means that teachers do not have the sole responsibility over the children but through education, they play a vital role of shaping their future.
Like shepherds, teachers look over the children by monitoring not just their knowledge but also their behaviors. As they say, teachers need to have both the passion and compassion in their profession (Academic Programs, Vol. 9. No. 1, January 2005). Teachers could have also been compared to an apple, a guiding star and a refuge but I am more convinced with teachers playing the role of a shepherd. A shepherd has everything that a good teacher must have: humility, passion, compassion and faith. What drives my enthusiasm to become a teacher is the parable of the lost sheep. In the Bible story, the main characters are the flock, the shepherd and the one lost sheep. The life of a teacher is more of a shepherd who primarily takes care of the flock.
I can see that the shepherd lives a simple life out in the grasslands, maybe living in a tent and sleep there during cold nights. The shepherd has to have the knowledge and skill of choosing the right place where he could lead his flock and let them eat. He has to choose the richest grasslands possible so his flock will be able to eat well. Teachers too need to have these skills. Teachers need to know first hand what are the things that the students must learn and how should they best learn. That is how the relationship of the shepherd and the sheep compared to the teacher-student relationship. The grasslands represents the healthy environment where the students will be able to learn the best things and at the best way possible.
As real life teachers say, “We are educators before we become teachers” (D. Sasson). Good shepherds do not just let the flock lose and let them go out to where these sheep feel like going. Likewise, teachers have the attitude of ensuring things before anything is done. That is the reason why teachers study first before they enter their classrooms and stand before the students to teach.
The skills of teachers, like that of a shepherd differ from other profession in a way that they are able to 2combine knowledge with the strategy of imparting such knowledge to classroom learners. There are intelligent people in other fields but they cannot all teach because teaching is not simply about handing down or sharing knowledge. The same is true for a shepherd. Not everyone can be a shepherd because tending flocks need not just knowledge but skills and passion for leading the flocks. The job of a teacher is as demanding as the job of a shepherd. Teaching demands time, creativity, carefulness and adaptability the way the responsibility of the shepherd over the flock does.
“There is too much in teaching that is contingent and uncertain” (W. Ayers, pg. 1). In the classroom setting, the events happen live away from films and theatre presentations which are scripted. It is true that teachers may have planned for what they are going to say about their topics but these are not necessarily scripted. But is contingent and uncertain about the setting is that along the way of discussion, there are unexpected questions from the students that may come. Teachers should be ready to answer these with honesty. Because students are learners, they will have to come up with something in their minds contrary to what the teacher might have said. It can also be that along the way, something in the discussion has made them remember something to ask about.
These are unguarded moments that teachers must anticipate and be ready at. For example a teacher might be discussing a topic on the ethical and religious considerations of suicide. A student can possibly ask what can possibly happen to the suicide bombers during 911 attack or what could have happened to someone he know who committed suicide. Teachers must also be creative enough how to explain the topic to students who have religious beliefs contrary to what is generally accepted. Likewise, shepherds are prepared and alert enough to anything that may harm his flock like wild animals that can possibly attach while the sheep are eating.
I wanted to be a teacher because I wanted to be the guardian of the kids. For someone to be willing to be a guardian must have the virtue of love and concern for the kids. A teacher does his work not for the sake of teaching but because he has not only the mind but the heart as well. Looking back at the parable, the shepherd discovered after counting his flock at the end of the day that one sheep is missing. If he has more than a hundred sheep, the one missing could have been immaterial for him so can just let the others locked in and does not care what will happen to the lost one. But the good shepherd, after securing the rest of the flock, went on his way to find the lost sheep.
What is also important is the faith of the shepherd that he will be able to find the lost sheep. Like teachers, they have a couple of students in just one classroom and these children do not have the same level of intelligence to cope up with the lessons in the same way as the others. If one or two in the class is obviously losing track, a good teacher knows what to do. A teacher who cares will not let such students just left behind. A teacher can measure how much his students have learned and he can always assess who is hard up or who is just not willing to learn.
By nature, sheep does have the sense of tracking its way back to where he came from so he does not necessarily have the ability to go home on its own when he is lost. Like a sheep, a child cannot go on with the learning process alone. He has to have a guide, he has to cope up, and he has to work really hard to learn. But since they are learning in group, meaning that they are taught simultaneously in the classroom, the assurance of simultaneous learning is not absolute. As I said earlier, the level of intelligence of the students is not the same.
The sheep might have been lost because it simply was not able to realize that it went too far away from his companions or it could be that it was not able to hear the shepherd’s voice signaling that it is time to go back home. Similarly, a student is left behind because he lacks the enthusiasm in his studies, has a learning disability or does not really care about learning. Whatever the reason is, the teacher, like the shepherd, cares about finding who was lost and cares enough to bring him back to the flock.
I also admire the mutual respect that teachers and students share inside and out of the classroom. I believe that the respect is not all about the power over the students but its all on authority. Authority as I understand does not necessarily connotes domination but it is of creating an atmosphere where students will be willing to cooperate and obey the teacher. “We are authorities because we do the research ourselves and we understand the nature of expert claims from the inside” (R. Cook). The keyword is “understand”. In the classroom setting, it is but expected that the teacher must understand what he is trying to discuss. This is because he has students who are being taught because presumably they do not know but wanted and need to learn. So authority comes because of the teacher’s knowledge and skills to the learners.
But respect is different. Respect in the classroom setting exists maybe because the teacher has the knowledge that the students need to learn and that the teacher is willing enough to impart such knowledge. I said mutual because teachers also respect the ideas and feelings of the students in the same way as the students respect the teacher’s authority.
In the relationship of the shepherd and his flock, mutual respect is also present. The sheep can recognize the voice of their own shepherd. When he calls, the sheep know what the signal means. The know by listening to the voice of the shepherd when its time to go home, when there is danger ahead or how close are they to their guardian. The shepherd’s voice is the authority for the flock and by recognizing and obeying to what the signal means, the sheep show their respect to the shepherd.
On the other hand, the shepherd by patiently looking after the flock is respecting the need of the sheep for guide, for shelter and for food. He understands that these sheep are by nature weak and are defenseless against attackers. So by training them to recognize the right signals, he is in turn equipping them the weapon against harmful elements. Like teachers, the knowledge they impart, the concern and love they show to their students, are ways of equipping them with the armor of war they could use in the battle of the future.
I wanted to become a teacher not just because I wanted to be like my mother. I wanted to pursue a teaching profession because I wanted to accept the responsibility of being a role model to my students. I wanted to become a teacher because I wanted to impart knowledge to students and I want that knowledge to become a valuable part of their future. As what Robert Cook said, when you teach, “You are also preparing them for the day when you will not be there to inform them.”
Teaching is actually more of teaching the “hows” not just the “whats” of life. What maybe is fulfilling about the life of a teacher is to know that you have actually played a vital role in preparing them in the battle of life and by being a caring, passionate, intelligent, brave and loving teacher. Teaching is not just about teaching figures, dates and facts but it is all about life.
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