Photo illustration: Novita Eka Syaputri
This article is part of the Teacher's Note series on beginning teacher's greatest challenge in teaching.
People say the older the teak, the more expensive it will be. The same goes for beginning teachers, who take years before becoming quality teachers.
Quality is measured beyond an attractive appearance or a bright mind. A quality teacher is someone who has a complete package of knowledge, behaviour, and a well-tested character. External appearance becomes less significant once one has all the qualities.
As a beginning teacher, I recognise the lengthy process I have to undergo. I have many cases to solve and many students to understand.
Being judged by age by students’ parents is among my biggest challenges. I’ve met parents who thought I was too young as a teacher.
I began teaching at the age of 22. At first, parents’ judgement put pressure on me. My dream to become a teacher faded for a while. It happened long enough until I faced the greatest challenge during my five years of teaching.
One part of the process that I think was very profound happened several months ago. At the time, one of the students’ parents disagreed with the school’s regulation that does not allow students to ask their parents to deliver textbooks they forgot to bring.
The parent kept insisting that I allow them to give a book to their child. When I explained the regulation, the parent was unable to hold their anger. With a loud voice, the parent expressed disapproval of the regulation.
That’s when I learned to control my emotion and keep a cool head. It was not as easy as I would imagine. I ended up apologising for not being able to satisfy the parent’s request.
The incident made me realise that a teacher's job was never only about teaching students to be smart, but also being an example of someone who stands by the truth and abides by the rules. I learned about self-control, which obviously still requires a lot of practice.
The whole process was not easy, but looking back at my calling as a teacher, I became calmer and stronger.
Working Together with Parents
Another big challenge for me was getting parents to work together with teachers in educating their children and agreeing on how to develop the children’s characters. Many parents today tend to spoil their children. Parents want to protect their children from getting hurt, including when their children receive punishment from the school for making mistakes.
Such a situation makes it hard to develop a child’s character. I'm still struggling to make parents aware and work together to shape their children’s characters.
I realise this is a long and continuing process. Character development does not stop at primary school, but it needs to be constantly monitored to the next levels.
I cannot monitor my students for the rest of their lives, but I will do my best when they are in my class.
"If one fails to do great things, do small things with great love."
*This Note was written by RCA, a primary school teacher in Central 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.