Photo illustration: Novita Eka Syaputri
This article is part of the Teacher's Note series on the key moments of becoming a beginning teacher.
I've been through a lot for the past three years as a teacher. As a beginning teacher who still lacks experience, I am often underestimated or belittled by others, including the students' parents who are mostly older than me. So, how do I deal with this?
I take it as motivation and criticism to keep improving myself. As a teacher, I must be firm, confident, and capable of communicating effectively with other people, both with parents and students who are much younger than me.
At school, a teacher should be able to position themselves when dealing with people with a sizable age difference. To earn their respect, I must also respect them. For example, teachers often regard students as ignorant and don’t know anything. In fact, if the teacher can establish good communication with the students and listen to them, they could gain new information that they did not know before. Engaging with students, including during break time, can help a teacher understand their students’ characters.
Teachers must also be able to reflect and improve themselves. When a teacher advises students, the advice should also apply to them because students imitate the teacher's actions and words. Therefore, teachers must set an example first before advising others. Do not let the Javanese term jarkoni or iso ngajari raiso nglakoni, which means one can give advice but cannot implement it, be pinned on teachers.
Society, in general, assumes that teachers know everything. Teachers are often appointed to do tasks they never imagined before, including those they never learned in college, such as being a master of ceremony, leading a prayer, and others. Therefore, a teacher must keep on learning new things, especially soft skills that have not been mastered.
*This Note was written by WA, 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.