Teaching, as some people said, is a noble profession whereas the teachers have the main job to educate students to become better persons, even to be better than the teachers themselves.
Teachers have lots of things to do and probably it is one of the most stressful jobs in the world. Don’t you think so? Teachers have the burden to educate, facilitate, develop, grow, … (you can add the terms) children/students to be the best they can become. They have the responsibility (or so to speak, the pressure) to, in a way, create the future of the world within certain boundaries and system established. They are paid to do so. If students fail, mostly people will criticize schools and teachers. If the quality of the graduates is not up to a certain standard, guess who will be blamed and criticized?
Knowing this condition, being a teacher has challenges and difficulties and often teaching profession is talked, discussed, and highly criticized by many parties. To be more specific, let’s try to write down some issues and difficulties faced by teachers, specifically in Indonesia:
- Long hours of work, often overtime, but underpaid
- Due to the underpaid, need to find additional sources of income
- Have to adjust with the change of curriculum
- Must accept and educate to their best the students entrusted to them, with all their being (broken home, unfocused, critical, smart, lazy, etc.)
- Deal with more demanding and vocal parents
- Deal with incapable (if not toxic) superintendents (vice-principal, principal, head of school, district officer, etc.)
- Well-being at stake
- Lack of school infrastructure
- Lack of teaching aid
You can definitely find more than these. Especially, if you are a teacher, you might even know better than I do, and you can elaborate all the problems that you have faced and are facing.
In this condition, I would like to ask this simple question: WHAT A TEACHER CAN DO?
1. STOP COMPLAINING, ACT ONLY
The very first thing we can do, that probably all of us do, is to complain. Yes, complain! However, we know that complaining is not a good thing to do. It drives our positive power away from our self. But we keep doing it a lot! In fact, we are addicted to complaining!
My suggestion is that we should redirect our mind and heart to not focus on the negative side but something behind that. Complaining does not solve any problem, but funnily, it could lead us to the intention to solve the problem(s). By complaining, we know that there is a problem that we actually want to solve but probably too lazy or we feel that we don’t have the capability to do so. Nevertheless, that is in a way a good step to start, isn’t it? The next problem is how we train our mind to focus more to the solution rather than the problem itself.
If your students are struggling and no one is helping, be the example and do what you need to do. Give remediation, extra class, more support and attention. Try to know your students more to be able to help better (try to watch Big Brother movie, it’s recommended).
2. DREAM IT. LIVE IT.
I have a dream that the vast majority of people are excited to go to school, learn, inspire and be inspired there, and go home fulfilled at the end of the day. This is my dream, and I am living it, and this is also the reason why I am working so hard as a teacher and why I write this.
Remember why you want to become a teacher. Or, search for it if you don’t have it yet. Once you have found that, it will drive your life, your actions. You will work so hard to be able to see your vision comes to life.
3. LEARN, BE INSPIRED
One ironic thing about being a teacher is that we ask and push our students to study and learn always, but we ourselves stop learning. We probably don’t stop studying, but we stop learning. It is absolutely fine if our goal is to only teach the subject content and help our students achieve good numbers. But if your goal is to inspire other (including students) and help them become great persons, then you must learn every day, learn every time.
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – William Arthur Ward, an author
Open up your mind and heart to your surroundings. You can learn from anything around you. You can learn from your own students and be inspired by their life and actions. In fact, that’s what keeps me being a teacher and wanting to inspire students. To see the students growing is my happiness, and their growth and learning could inspire me which help me to work better to inspire them more in the future.
4. PRACTICE LEADERSHIP
Every single one of us has the capacity to do good things. It is then a matter of whether we want to improve our self so that we can do and achieve greater things or not. And, to do good things in life requires leadership. We might often find that our boss/principal are not capable of leading us or managing the organization/school and as a result our school is failing and messy. We have a lot of problems unsolved and we are demotivated.
But, take these two quotes:
“Be the leader you wish you had!” – Simon Sinek
“Be the change you want to see in the world!” – Mahatma Gandhi
We might not have the power to change the school. We are “only” teachers, and “what can we do?”, we say. We can do as best as we can. We can practice our leadership. Probably, it is not for the sake of the school, (because we don’t care about the school which doesn’t care about us), and that is fine. You can dedicate every single action for the sake of our friends, colleagues, and more importantly students and parents. Or, we can drive our actions based on our faith and belief, that our actions are the symbol of our devotion to God.
Inspire your fellow teachers. Inspire the student. Inspire the parents. Whenever possible, help and inspire your bosses. Be someone inspiring you wish you see in your school. That’s the responsibility of a leader: help, serve, and inspire others. At the end of your journey in your school, surely you will see that you are the one who has changed, and you will witness the small changes in the lives of people around you, which hopefully also impact the school.
You might think that you are just an unimportant person, teacher, in the school you are working at. Yes, probably. However, it does not mean you can’t do anything. Your school might be failing, terrible in quality, messy, or else. Instead of complaining, reflect, ponder and do what you can do. Do it alone, do it together, I don’t care, but do something. Don’t let yourself be demotivated. If you have fellow teacher demotivated, help him or her. Don’t stop, never give up! If we give up, then why do our students need to strive?