Lessons from Teaching

Photo credit: Dan Dimmock @ Unsplash
This is my last semester in grad school with regular classes. I'm currently taking up Research and Statistics, prerequisites for Thesis Writing. This is also the semester that I taught for the first time. Somehow I was 'expected' to teach - like how it was always assumed that if I excel in my grades in college, I'm also good in heading student organizations (I hated that and I wasn't!), and now it seems that since I graduated with honors and luckily topped a professional licensure examination, there was an unspoken expectation that I was to teach.

I don't mean that in a negative way. I always thought that I would teach eventually. Both my parents were university instructors before their current jobs. I was also curious what it was like. As a student, I've always been an independent learner. I saw my teachers as my guides, but I set off to learn in my own way. I've always believed that I'm responsible for my own education and didn't rely on my teachers (or blame them if I don't understand something).

In fact, a tiny part of me disdained academic culture due to some experiences in a previous university. I felt (and still feel) that the best education can't be learned in school. What you get out of education also depends on how much effort you put into it. I set my goal in my mind before I stepped in CPU: I wanted to learn as much as I can and also get out of college as soon as possible. My college years went by fast and was done in three and a half years. I enjoyed it on my own terms. I was often impatient with my own classmates.

I'm still not sure what I feel about the job, if I'm going to pursue it. I learned that teaching is not as simple as it sounds, you need to be organized. There's many small tasks like grading, lecturing, activities, assignments, and assessments that make up the whole of teaching. The most challenging part? Dealing with students. How to communicate, motivate, and push them to do their best. Sometimes I found myself needing more patience with them.

I taught for two subjects: Reference and Information Services for undergrad LIS and the review class for those who will take the board exam. For Reference, it was back to basics on information sources and library services. I was a bit challenged and pressured in teaching the review class - but I've always believed that the board exam results largely depends on the student himself and his own effort. The review class or teacher is a very small percent of that. The most important thing in the board exam is logic and analysis in answering the questions - and that is more difficult to teach. I can tell them my own methods, but each of us has a different process. I always emphasized this on all my board exam tips: rely on yourself. Anyway, I'm glad that we had a 70% passing rate for the students under the review class.

In teaching, I found that you also need to study in a different way than the way you did as a student. You read something in the lens of how you should communicate it effectively to students to make them learn. You need to think of other activities that will encourage them to learn on their own. I learned that it was such a challenge and now that I have a few months experience I've found a new respect for teachers. If there's something I like about teaching is you also learn the subject in a more profound way. If someone asks me something, I can always answer because I taught it.

I still have to grade the final exams and their class output, submit it to the online grading system once I've checked and computed them all. I have decided not to teach next semester, as I need to focus more on my last year in my Masters' degree (comprehensive exam and Thesis writing) and on writing. Also, if I'm honest, I'm not that sure if I want to work as a teacher in my university for now. I'm thinking of going somewhere else that is not Iloilo City after I graduate. Who knows.

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