Photo illustration: Novita Eka Syaputri
This article is part of the Teachers' Notes series on unpleasant teaching experience.
According to the rules, a professional teacher has to master four competencies: pedagogical competence, social competence, professional competence, and personality competence. Proof that a teacher has mastered the four competencies is to have a teaching certificate that matches their teaching field.
I am a qualified teacher as I have met the mentioned criteria, yet I still face challenges in my role as a professional teacher.
At my first teaching job, I was entrusted to be the homeroom teacher for Grade 2. At the time, two of my students had a hard time learning to read, write, and count. I felt challenged to teach them and gave them more hours to learn after school.
However, after three months, the result did not meet my expectation—many hurdles were faced by the two students. One of them was living with their illiterate grandfather, who could not help him study. The two students also spent much of their time playing, so they did not have enough time to study.
I did not know what to do, but I tried my best as a teacher. I gave them more hours to study and talked to their parents to support their children’s study.
Another experience I had never imagined before was when parents came to the school with a rude attitude as if they wanted to beat me up. I was shocked and confused for a couple of seconds. After I explained about the matter in question, the incident ended well, fair, and did not harm anyone. It was only a misunderstanding.
I also had the experience of taking care of the school’s financials, including payroll and charity, and the government’s Smart Indonesia Programme financials, all of which had their own a challenge. I had an overwhelming fear in dividing my time into my administrative role and my main job as a Grade 2 teacher.
Eventually, I realised that I have a family, colleagues, and a school principal to discuss and share their experiences when they were in my position. Sharing with them helped me to find solutions in managing my time at work.
Those experiences opened my eyes that being a professional teacher was more than mastering the four competencies required by the law, having a degree or a teaching certificate. More than that, a teacher must be agile in solving problems, facing challenges, and actively updating their knowledge through trainings.
Equally important, a professional teacher must be able to learn from experience, both their own and those of others.
*This Note was written by EW, a primary school teacher in East Java.
**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.