But there are things that we, college professors and teachers, wish our students knew. More often than not, our students perceive us as the “Kalaban” or the “Kontra bida”. It hurts us and our reputation. We have sacrificed a lot for the sake of seeing you guys wearing your togas and that smile. We want you to savor the moment when your names are called on the stage. We sacrificed our weekdays and our precious weekends preparing for your lessons. We gave up birthdays, anniversaries, concerts and other important and personal matters just to meet your academic needs. We compromise relationships, get “friendzoned” and lose friends simply because our first love is teaching.
To our dear students, please understand that we are your friends, your second parents, your older sister or brother. If you are reading this article I pray that your perception about us would soon change.
1. We are here to help you achieve your true potential
Regardless of your beliefs, social status, religion, and sexual orientation, once you enter our classroom we are going to inject a lot of ideas in to those brains of yours. “Bahala na” is not in our vocabulary.
2. We sincerely care and love you
Contrary to your belief that we hate you and we love terrorizing you, well, think again. We care for you and we love you like our own. Not all teachers share the same insights but most of us do. We are willing to go the distance for you. We are willing to die and kill for you if it is necessary and if you are threatened or in danger.
Why? Simply because you are the future.
Imagine those public school teachers who were assigned in far flung places. Imagine their passion and their dedication. No matter how small their salaries are they will go the distance and even spend money from their own pockets to buy school materials. They’d risk crossfires and wars just to teach. All of those are done out of love.
3. Cheating is like playing with fire
I was a student before. Did I cheat? Hell yes and what did reap from it? Absolutely nothing. I have to review all those concepts again. It was painstaking and embarrassing. It was one of those things that can literally question the integrity of the pupil. It severs the trust between the teacher and student, but we teachers are martyrs and we can give second chances but only this time with more caution.
We are here to teach you about life and not just about the things we discuss in our books. We are here to teach you that life is about taking the long cuts rather than the short ones. That life is about giving respect and love. That the whole world revolves around honesty and integrity and that our country’s problem about corruption will not end, not until cheating inside the classrooms will stop.
Sa malilit na ningas nag sisimula ang apoy.
4. Plagiarism is a criminal offense
It irritates us when you give us substandard and plagiarized work—thesis, seat works, assignments, reports, case studies and other written activities—and claim it as yours. Do not, and I repeat, do not give us copy-pasted works from the internet.
Stop making fools out of us. We know too well how you construct your sentences. Yes, we know individually how you speak, write and deliver those phrases and words. If you choose to plagiarize your work you are now in direct violation of Republic Act No. 8293, known as the “Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines” specifically Chapter 10. We understand that your works may not go publicly but we are not going to risk it. As I have said, the world revolves around honesty and integrity.
5. We are humans too!
We take our breaks seriously. If you would see us during our day-offs don’t make a big fuss like: “Si sir/mam nakita naming sa mall at sa coffee shop.” So? We deserve that break and please our dear students. Lunch time is lunch time. Let us discuss your academic queries after our meal. If you’ll see us having a drink in a bar and having a cigarette with our friends, stop your dirty thoughts. It’s not as if we are wearing our ID’s inside the bar or gimmick spot or teaching you kids to smoke. We need to socialize too and it’s not as if we do this every single night.
We do not compromise our values and our stature as teachers and we will not do anything crazy that will ruin us or become bad role models to you. We are entitled to fall in love, date, eat, play sports and games and be with our families and friends and engage in other activities that normal humans do.
6. We are not afraid to fail you
Study your lessons, attend your classes, give respect, and do not cheat. Do not give us reasons to fail you because we are not afraid. It pains us to see you cut class or not participate in classroom discussions. You’re wasting your parents’ and guardians’ money and hard work. They are literally killing themselves to send you to school. What if in the future your kids will do the same thing to you? Will you say: “Good work, Champ! Keep it up! Ganyan din ako dati!” I really do not think so.
Let me repeat, do not give us reasons to fail you. We are not afraid to fail you.
7. We do not earn much
We all know that teachers here in our country do not earn well. We literally have to tighten our belts to make ends meet. But no matter how financially difficult it is to us, we are willing to step up and give you, not money, but our knowledge. We spent money on degrees and seminars just to give and update you on what is happening in our world. We sacrificed money that was supposed to be used to pay the tuition fees of our kids or a two months’ worth of groceries. We did this out of love for you. We do not ask for anything in return. What we ask is that you graduate on time, wear that toga and put a smile on your parent’s face.
8. We deserve your respect
Now you know we have given a lot. Give us the respect that we deserve. Respect comes in different forms. A smile will do or better yet talk to us and ask us how our day has been so far. Mababaw ang kaligayahan namin, so to say.
To end this article I want to quote U.S. Senator Joe Manchin:
“Every child should have a caring adult in their lives. And that’s not always a biological parent or family member. It may be a friend or neighbor. Often times it is a teacher.”
Jonathan Espiritu is a college professor and a registered nutritionist-dietitian by profession. He is a dad to two little princesses and a tattoo enthusiast. He is also a fan of John Lloyd Cruz.