Tuesday, 11 February 2020

When the Reality Doesn’t Live Up to Expectations

Photo illustration: Novita Eka Syaputri


This article is part of the Teacher's Note series on teaching experience as a beginning teacher.


I have been working as a teacher at a primary school in Bantul District since 2019. I was assigned as the homeroom teacher for Grade 4, which consists of thirty-one students. Every day, I give students assignments, attend to them, and facilitate their learning. I also score and evaluate their learning outcomes. As a homeroom teacher, I am responsible for the learning activities with all students, also the facilities and infrastructure in the classroom.

After experiencing working as a teacher, I realised that teaching primary school students was not as easy as I thought. I have encountered many challenges and have to have extra patience.

Every day I interact with thirty-one children with thirty-one different personalities. Some are quiet, some are active, and some are too active. Some children can complete assignments independently without asking too many questions. Some children lack confidence in their answers, so they have to ask many times to make sure their answers are correct. Other children are indifferent to their answers; they only aim to complete the assignment.

I have to be good at finding the best way to educate and teach the students. It was a challenge for me to make learning fun for these thirty-one students.


More Tasks

The school where I teach happens to participate in various competitions regularly. Consequently, I get more tasks than other teachers whose schools are not active in joining competitions.

Whenever a competition is up, my fellow teachers and I work together to prepare the students and meet all requirements. I even often have to work overtime at school.

Also, just like in other schools, as a young teacher, I get additional tasks from the principal. I am lucky because my principal always guides me in doing these tasks. However, there are times when I am upset with myself for my lack of knowledge and experience to accomplish the tasks.

It could be because young teachers generally don’t have too much on their hands yet, and people perceive beginning teachers as young, spirited teachers who are able to carry out these additional tasks.

In fact, one of the reasons I became a teacher in the first place was to have enough free time. I used to think that a teacher's job was less demanding than an office worker, so that teachers would have had more spare time.

But after working as a teacher, I realised that a teacher actually have many tasks. In addition to educating, teaching, and evaluating student learning outcomes, teachers must also carry out additional tasks. Moreover, I work in a fairly active school—consequently, I often work overtime or do the assignments at home.

The reality really doesn't live up to [my] expectations.


Developing Learning Experience

Being a teacher is my passion, so I always want to improve the learning experience in my classroom. At first, I always prepared my lessons well, such as setting up the teaching materials and learning media. But after getting additional assignments, my time and focus are often divided for doing these tasks.

The extra work from school really derails my focus. It might be because I can only focus on one thing at a time. Whenever I got additional assignments, I could not work well in developing learning materials for the class. I have to learn to divide my time and focus on developing the materials, and complete the additional tasks.

There are also many extracurricular activities outside of school hours. However, because my house is quite far from the school, I rarely attend these activities.

I sometimes feel bad towards the principal and other teachers. To compensate, I try to be active in assisting outside-of-school activities, such as competitions, camping, and others.


No Regret

If asked whether I regret being a teacher, the answer is “no”. I don't really like the extra work, but I do like giving instructions to the students at school.

I am still excited to experiment and plan activities with the children. I am still happy to see them understanding the lesson I teach. I still enjoy discussing with fellow teachers designing fun learning. I like all of that.

In fact, a teacher's job is not as good as expected. But for me, being a teacher is the best job.


*This Note was written by IK, a primary school teacher in Yogyakarta.

**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.

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