Photo illustration: Novita Eka Syaputri
This article is part of the Teacher's Note series on memorable moments of teaching.
Being a teacher means interacting with other people frequently; with teachers, students, colleagues, the principal, and parents. Naturally, a teacher must have decent social competence.
Teachers are often regarded as students’ “second parent” at school. As a “second parent”, I take care of the students as their parents do at home. Keeping an eye on many students at once is challenging. Some students cry easily, and some younger students still need assistance to use the restroom properly. It takes tremendous patience to do these tasks.
When instructing the students, I don’t always stay in serious mode. Sometimes I make jokes to ease the children and restore their focus. I also think about when to empathise with the students, be critical, agree, and disagree. When a student commits a deviant act, I will advise them gently without hurting their feelings.
Maintaining Relations with Colleagues
In addition to interacting with the students, I am also friendly with my colleagues. In my opinion, if teachers have good social relations at school, they will be comfortable and excited to work.
In reality, relations with co-workers are not always smooth. Once, a fellow teacher sulked whenever he was at school. I just kept my distance so as not to disturb or joke with him. I waited until his mood improved to be friendly again.
I like jokes. Although trivial, I think telling jokes can bring teachers to respect and appreciate each other. Moreover, if my performance were unsatisfactory, I would be open to criticism, including from the principal, to do better.
At school, the teachers and the principal hold a small meeting or a sharing session once a week. In these meetings, homeroom teachers share about what happened in their class and related problems during the past week. If a teacher were struggling with the solution, fellow teachers would help find a solution.
I am grateful to work in an environment where people understand each other. Even though I don’t make much money, I‘ve made good friends at this school. The other teachers and I respect each other and do not look for each other’s flaws or faults.
Dealing with Parents
Another memorable experience was when interacting with the students’ parents, especially the mothers. Sometimes I feel they are more talkative and harder to argue with than their children.
With the children, they will listen after being told once or twice because they are courteous to their teachers. On the other hand, their mothers are much older and more experienced in raising children than I am. Talking to them is not as easy as talking to children.
To me, the notification sound from the parents’ WhatsApp group can be an inconvenience as it can chime at any time, from dawn to evening. Most are text messages from the mothers asking about their child's homework. On the other hand, I am excited that the parents are attentive to their children's learning and do not rely entirely on teachers to educate their children.
*This Note was written by GWA, 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.