Photo illustration: Novita Eka Syaputri
This article is part of the Teachers' Notes series on “If you could go back and start all over again, would you still become a teacher?”
If I could turn back time, I would choose to become a teacher.
I never aspired to become a teacher. My parents forced me to be one. Being a primary school teacher was never on my plan.
I began to believe I took the right major in college during my fourth semester of study. At the time, I felt comfortable and started to enjoy learning to become a primary school teacher.
I did not need to work hard during my days in Primary School Teacher Study Programme because the subjects taught at primary schools are not that complicated—after all, it is only primary school. It was a job that required passion because I had to teach small children who would not be bothered by theories.
Being a teacher was like being an actress in front of the students. Everything I said and done must be strictly maintained because the children can “read” what their teachers are doing. Just like a saying in the Javanese language, digugu lan ditiru, meaning every word the teacher says will be heard by their students and everything the teacher does will be imitated by the students.
Degree versus Certification
I was once in a comfort zone as an administrative staff at a school because the work was flexible and I could do it at home. I could manage my target.
While being an administrative staff, I could take other jobs, such as helping other teachers gain their promotion and creating learning tools. I could even take birthday cake commissions and sell hijabs.
After three years in the job, my father reminded me that I am a teacher and it was such a waste not to use my knowledge. I then decided to continue my studies and took a post-graduate degree.
During registration, tests, and other administrative requirements, I found an opening for the Subsidised Pre-Service Teacher Professional Education (PPG) programme. I was in doubt because I thought doing both at the same time would be better, but it would also be very tough.
After thorough consideration, I decided to join the PPG programme and left my graduate course. Many of my friends enrolled in both the PPG programme and graduate course, but I didn't want to force myself. At the time, I thought I could continue my graduate course after completing the PPG programme. I decided to join the programme wholeheartedly and that's where my storyline changed its course again.
Teaching in a Classroom
The passion of being a teacher resurfaced during the programme. I enjoyed every peer teaching practice and never felt burdened. Everything went smoothly and I felt happy.
When I had fieldwork practice at a primary school, I got the feeling as well. Meeting with diverse students was brilliant, so was meeting with inspiring teachers with years of experience. I found a new challenge in facing students with different characters.
After completing the PPG programme, I was offered my previous job as an administrative staff, which I refused. I could no longer work as an administrative staff. I had to become a teacher and teach in a class.
I decided to move to another school that needed a teacher. In my mind, I had so many things to teach my students. I developed my skills so that everything I'd learnt from the PPG programme would not be a waste.
Refusing to be Underestimated
Another thing, I wanted to show that PPG programme graduates are qualified. I felt many people underestimated the Programme upon hearing that certified teachers (PPG graduates) immediately received a 100% score for their competency during the civil servant enrolment test.
I felt the burden on my shoulders got heavier as a PPG programme graduate. I had to show our quality, make achievements, and maintain my morale.
Being a teacher had always been in my blood. Every hardship was gone upon meeting my students. They gave me a positive mood. Seeing them making achievements at various competitions made me proud, emotional, but happy at the same time.
*This Note was written by DP, 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.