Photo illustration: Tony Liong
This article is part of the Teacher's Note series on the key moments of becoming a beginning teacher.
I've worked as a beginning teacher for five years. There is one particular event that I think is important to share.
I started my journey as a beginning teacher at the age of 21 after completing my bachelor's degree in primary school teacher education with a cum laude distinction. Armed with the degree, I then applied to a public primary school in East Jakarta with confidence. I chose the school because it was close to where I live.
I dressed neatly like a teacher when I came to that school. A teacher named Susi greeted me warmly and asked the purpose of my visit. I told her that I wanted to apply for a job as a homeroom teacher. She then took me to meet the school principal, who also gave me a warm welcome. I told him why I came to the school, which was to apply for a teaching position since I had earned a bachelor’s degree in that profession. The principal asked me several questions, including about my hobby of dancing. I silently wondered why he was more interested in my hobby than my degree.
The principal said that there was no homeroom teacher vacancy, but he was looking for a dance teacher and offered me the position. I was silent and perplexed. What just happened?
However, considering the difficulty of finding a public school that accepts teacher applications, I decided to take the offer. I tried to be grateful for the opportunity given to me, even though being a dance teacher at a public primary school is ironic. I got paid 500,000 rupiahs ($34) a month without a regular payment date.
Two months into the job, I resigned. I felt that I have a responsibility to get a job that matches my diploma. Also, I was uncomfortable working in that school because of how the seniors treated non-permanent teachers like me.
Nevertheless, I was grateful for the experience, although unpleasant. My lesson learned was I’ve become stronger and more resilient. Both are essential for this profession. After going through some tough times, I'm sure a sweet surprise is waiting for me in the future.
*This Note was written by GY, a primary school teacher in Jakarta.
**All articles published in the Teachers' Notes are the views of the authors. They have been edited for popular writing purposes and do not represent the views of RISE Programme in Indonesia or RISE's funders.