It was our school’s Cross-Country Championships 2013 this year and it is the first time my form class actually won a trophy for being the Overall Best Class for Secondary One! Perhaps it should be mentioned that it is the first time a class I am a part of actually won anything, so yay!! In PL and NJ, our sports meets were always grouped according to houses, so it was rare to see our classes come together for something as singular as winning prizes at a competition.
This week also marks the end of our two years in the school. Two years ago we were posted here as practicum teachers, young, vibrant and enthusiastic, ready to conquer the world with our idealisms, prepared to hold onto them for as long as we could – for that could guarantee our victory. We were so full of love – to love and be loved, so full of hope – to touch and inspire, so full of dedication – to give everything we could to the profession. Two years later in the present day, we decided to gather for cheesecake and think about what has happened two years on.
Some of us have become more accustomed to the system, some of us have crafted out a comfortable cubbyhole where Another World exists, some of us have succumbed to its ridiculousness, and yet some of us have just come to, well, mature with greater understanding and insight. We always talk about ‘fighting’ it – fighting the system, fighting degeneration, fighting the loss of hope and energy, fighting the drone of the day-to-day, fighting. I need to think about what and why I am fighting.
One thing is for sure though. Two years on, I have come to appreciate seeing a different world and knowing different people. I love the friends I have made here. Over time, some of them have earned my trust and I hope I have earned theirs in return. When we do well in our careers, we are honestly happy for one another. When we talk about our strengths and weaknesses, we can share about them openly and honestly. We don’t have to worry about backstabbers or pretenders because amongst us there are none. I am filled with gratitude how some teachers care to stand up for you and hold the fort for you when things get tough. If I did not meet with such fantastic friends in the workplace, I would never be able to grow as much today. I really thank God for them.
And this is why I do not want my students to be snobbish brats who judge their peers and teachers in an unfriendly and ungracious manner. In the beginning they were very concerned about the different streams of other classes. Every confirmation I gave seemed to affirm their pleasure and pride at being an Express stream student. During one of those career sessions, I warned them directly that nobody is to look down to anybody, because all roads can lead to gold if we walk long and look hard enough. “There is no best route.” I told them flatly when they asked which is the best place to go. “I will not answer that question.” I insisted when they repeatedly wanted to know if a JC is the “best” option for them. It is strange the attitudes and assumptions some of these students have come into school with. Let’s hope they are no snobbish brats to the new teachers. They were concerned about them since a few weeks back – but we all need space and time to learn, don’t we? Even teachers are human. Let’s hope the little pep talk is working its magic and taking root in their hearts. I don’t expect a 180-degree change, but at least that the class is more cooperative and gracious towards new teachers now that there are just so many of them.
There is so much to learn, even after two years. It just never stops. The work also never stops. But the idea is to (1) plan my life such that I don’t see just the work and (2) remind myself that if I enjoy it enough, I do not regard it as work.