Samantha Christel Chua Gaerlan, Top 1 in the 2017 March Licensure Examination for Professional Teachers – Elementary division, received a standing ovation for her PRC oath-taking speech below.
Sam is no stranger to achivements, having received Salutatorian honors in high school, as well as maintaining the same high standing during her university days (Summa Cum Laude graduate), being a finalist in the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines, and president of her student council, while being a member and later medalist in the De La Salle University Manila’s UAAP Judo team. She joined MindGym in her preparation in the Licensure Examination for Professional Teachers.
Some people are born to teach. I thought I was. When I was a child, I would tell my younger siblings what to do. When I grew older, I would help my friends out with schoolwork. Giving instructions, sharing your advice, teaching. It’s the easiest and most natural thing to do, right? Wrong.
It is true that teaching and learning happens every moment. Whether it’s understanding a new word, a song, a skill, or learning more about the people and the world around us, human beings are equipped with the ability to relay and absorb information. But although this makes teaching look so easy, I think there’s more to this profession than that.
To the Board for Professional Teachers, parents, guests, and fellow LPTs, good morning! It is a great honor for me to stand before you and share my heart with you. But before that, in behalf of all the newly licensed professional teachers here today, I would like to extend my gratitude to the Professional Regulation Commission, the Board for Professional Teachers, our parents, family, friends, and loved ones, our teachers, and of course, to our God and Creator, thank you for making all of this possible for us. We love you.
I find society’s view of teaching very interesting. It is a profession that is often underappreciated and looked down upon, and I’m sure you’ve heard of the clichéd comments na “teacher ka lang” or “madali lang maging teacher”, yet it is a profession with so many expectations and responsibilities.
We are expected to be second parents, curriculum developers, managers, referees, and mentors. We are expected to uphold the highest possible standards of quality education, take care of the physical, cognitive, emotional, and social well-being of our students, take part in community development, and provide additional support to students who may not perform at par with their peers, while at the same time take care of our families, continue our professional education, and maintain our social life, among other things.
Challenging, isn’t it? Kaya hangang-hanga po ako sa lahat nang mga guro sa ating bansa.
And that’s probably why over 24,000 licensed professional teachers are being welcomed into the profession this season. Over 24,000 bright, hopeful, persevering, and capable individuals who are eager and ready to take on this challenge. Regardless if it’s your first time, your second, third, fourth, tenth time to take the exam, you’ve made it. I am excited to share this new journey with you and I sincerely congratulate all of you.
Now, I know that you already know the importance of teachers — that without us, there could be no other professions. And you don’t need me to remind you to love our students. So instead, let me share with you something that may sound like an unpopular opinion.
To my fellow licensed professional teachers, and to anyone who aspires to be one, to everyone who is on Cloud Nine with so many bright ideas on changing the world, allow me to remind you to stay grounded. See, we often hear stories of teachers who have drastically changed the lives of their students. We look up to them as our inspiration, and we aim to be just like them — to have that deep impact on our students, to accomplish a 180-degree change in their lives and in our country’s educational system if we work hard enough.
But reality doesn’t necessarily work that way now, does it? We are always reminded to reach for the stars and dream big, and do everything we can to get there. We tell ourselves to do our best so that all of our students will love learning, so that we can change the world. And while those are very noble goals, too often, we get disappointed or burnt out when we don’t reach them.
When resources are not enough, when parents complain or don’t seem to understand, when our colleagues disagree with us, when our students still don’t get the lesson after a hundred explanations no matter how hard they try, no matter how hard we try, no matter how much we give of ourselves, we lose heart. We doubt ourselves. We ask, “Is this not the right path for me?”, “Am I not good enough?”, “Ano pa ba ang dapat kong gawin?”.
We forget that we are merely human. We forget that we have limits. We forget that we are bound to make mistakes and that it’s okay to make mistakes — it’s a part of life! We end up being too hard on ourselves because there is so much that we want to contribute. I think this is why they call teaching a profession of sacrifice. And this is why, after dreaming big, we have to come back to reality and take on the challenge one small step at a time.
You will want to be the best teacher ever. You will strive to become a superhero for your students. But you are not.
You are not book that holds all the answers to life’s questions. You are not a magic wand that could fix all problems, or a tonic that could heal all wounds, or a fortune teller that could guarantee bright futures. You will want to change the world. You will try. And fail. And try again. You will lose sleep, your voice, and even your sanity at times. Stress will become a part of your daily vocabulary. You will run out of good ideas. You will want to give up, and others may try to convince you to do so. But I know that you will keep on trying. You won’t be able to change the whole world, or the whole nation, or even your whole class. But you will change at least one life. And that will be enough, because you are a teacher.
You are a spark that ignites the blazing curiosity and creativity in each of your students, a drop of love and kindness whose ripples travel across the oceans.
You may not have all the answers, but you can become a guide for others to make their own.
And while you won’t be able to fix everything that’s broken, or heal all that hurts, or assure each student that they will make it big in this life, you can be a rock that they can lean on, a refuge where they can come as they are — to be known and seen and heard and loved.
You have the power and the opportunity to be someone who takes time to listen, someone who can tell them, “Don’t worry. I am with you. I am for you.” and with all honesty say, “I believe in you.”
You are not “just” a teacher. You are a teacher!
You do not settle for “pwede na”; You look for ways to maximize resources, abilities, potentials. You empower students to go beyond themselves and give back to the country. You train students to defeat their giants. You set a good example on how to live and love and serve and be good to one another.
Just as God has given us earthly parents to care for us, He has entrusted His children, our students, unto us. For a semester, a year, or more, we have the honor of loving, nurturing, and inspiring His children. You don’t have to be perfect. You are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them, just as your students, or anyone else for that matter, are allowed to do the same. For isn’t that the best learning experience you can get?
No, you are not a superhero. You are someone even better.
You are a teacher.
May we all keep our head up and be proud of our profession.
May we never lose heart when the going gets tough.
May we celebrate each small success and know that we are doing our part to make this nation great.
May we remember to take a step back every once in a while to breathe, and rest, and rekindle our passion for this profession.
May we keep our promise of doing our best for our beloved nation and students.
And may God be glorified in all we do.
Congratulations again Sam and to all new professional teachers!