[OPINION] A teacher's voice

I have been a teacher for a year now. When I entered this profession, I already knew that I would encounter a lot of struggles, and I was correct: teaching in a public school is not that easy. 

I am not sharing this because I am complaining about my situation as a teacher. I just want to share what a teacher like me goes through every day. Let's begin with the classroom. Ideally, there should be a maximum 40 students in a well-ventilated classroom but in reality, there are more than 50 students in a room that has no ventilation. Yet, the government has allotted a huge amount for the improvement of our classrooms. (READ: I am a teacher)

Some say teaching is a lucrative job compared to other kinds of work in government. But that's not the case. We receive  a salary of more than P20,000,  but this is not enough for our daily needs. We do not only spend on our personal needs, but we also help out our students, particularly those who need money so they can get to school.

Love of the job

We even allot part of our salary to contribute to some school activities, and also to buy bond paper, ink, school supplies, and ICT resources so that we can provide an excellent learning environment for our students. (READ: How is education being disrupted by technology?)

Teachers get the blame whenever we have students who lack certain required documents, such as birth certificates. Since this would affect our perfomance evaluation, teachers would rather spend their own money to help students get their authenticated birth certificates so that the students can have complete requirements. (READ: Teachers making a difference in a 21st century way)

Since we don't have transportation allowance, we have to shoulder the expenses for the required visits to homes of students who usually live in far-flung communities. After teaching more than 200 students a day, we also have to perform our responsibility of knowing the parents of our students. This way, we become better acquainted with our students.

With the no-collection policy, money for classroom supplies like brooms, floor wax, and other classroom decoration materials sometimes come from our pockets. Expenses for photocopying of examination papers, handouts, and other learning materials are usually shouldered by the teachers. This makes it hard for us to budget our monthly income. 

The current system has continually disheartened us but somehow, we just keep on going because we love our job and our students.

LOVE OF THE JOB. Some of the author's students at the Munoz National High School-Main. Photo courtesy of Robinson Valenzona

LOVE OF THE JOB. Some of the author's students at the Munoz National High School-Main.

Photo courtesy of Robinson Valenzona

Support teachers' professional growth

We love our profession so much that sometimes, we just choose to keep silent. But it's difficult. If teachers will not say what is truly in their hearts, we, the teachers, will be on the losing end. If we complain, higher authorities would say that we are free to leave because there are hundreds of others who would quickly take our place. READ: FAST FACTS: What you need to know about the PH education system)

Teachers should focus on teaching but we have so many other administrative tasks. Because of the nature of the profession, teachers are supposed to be precious. Their professional growth must always be the priority. However, in our country, the education system does not give full support for the professional growth of us teachers. There is no scholarship available for teachers who wish to finish or pursue a graduate degree. There are only seminars which, for us, are not effective because the topics are too ideal – they only apply the idealistic approach to teaching, without taking into consideration realities in the Philippine education system.

Then, there is the performance evaluation. There are so many indicators that try to measure the work we do. Some teachers become too conscious about this evaluation, too busy working on their accomplishment report, that it has kept them from truly embodying what a teacher should be. In our profession, every accomplishment must be supported by corresponding papers. In compiling all these documents, some of us forget that we are here for the nourishment and empowerment of our students, not for the recognition we can get.

We are teachers who teach from the heart. Teaching is the noblest of all professions, as the adage says. But despite the nobility of the profession, some are forced to leave out of practicality, and because of the unjust education system. If only teachers are treated properly, with respect, and our government is supportive of our professional growth, quality education will be at hand.

We all hope for a better future for our students but we should also hope for a better education system. If the youth is the hope of our future, the kind of future that awaits us lies in the hands of the teachers. So please. Treat us better. – Rappler. com

Robinson B. Valenzona is a senior high school teacher at Munoz National High School-Main, Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija.