A Teacher's Life · Teacher Voice

The Things My Teachers Did

I have a few role models when it comes to teaching in basic education.

I remember a teacher, Ms. Pramoso, who made me understand metaphors and poetry when she taught Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 to my third year high school class. She was probably the only one who wrote lengthy comments on my essays. I felt sad when I learned that she’d moved to the States.

I also had a Chemistry teacher, Mrs. Gomez, also my adviser in my third year, whose vivacity at more than 50 years of age was infectious. She was no-nonsense and did not hesitate to explain in detail why she gave me low grades (one word: stoichiometry). I met her a few months ago, and she told me that she was going to be retiring this school year. She still exuded the same joie de vivre I remember.

And then there was my Trigonometry teacher, whose name escapes me right now Ms. Allanigue (thanks, Kate!). She was plump and soft-spoken and yet always straight-faced, even when we were late or giggling when the platform in front of the classroom creaked under her weight. But perhaps because she was so commanding, in a way, she was able to make my class feel the gravity of having to learn about Pythagoras and those trigonometric functions.

And then there were some teachers whose examples inspired me never to emulate them. I’m sure we’ve all had those teachers:

There was the fifth grade English teacher who screamed “Tanga!” at me — spit flying and all — for failing to spell rendezvous in a spelling bee, thus failing to place. For the record, when she’d been coaching me, she’d pronounced it as REN-de-vo (so that it rhymes with go). I don’t even know why she was so angry — what did she have to lose?

There was the Science teacher whom I really liked because I thought she knew her stuff. But it turned out that she was so annoyed with my facial expressions — because I was a know-it-all and have a very expressive face, apparently. (I might have been merely giggling about boy bands with my classmates during her class.) So she spent a while telling teachers about it until the gossip reached my mom! I infuriated my teacher so, apparently, that one day, in front of the whole class, she dared me to perfect her first periodic exam. Which I did. She was nicer to me afterwards.

There was the English teacher who really did seem sincere about teaching, but who taught us how to use improper grammar. I’m talking about things like “aluminate” being the plural form of “alumni.” And I was always correcting him, almost pitilessly too — even my classmates had started stopping me from raising my hand in protest. (And now I teach English. What is karma.)

There was the English teacher who threw my classmates’ research drafts to the floor, but who gave me mine in the nicest way possible, even though I knew for a fact that my work was probably worse. (I cobbled it together in the last two days of our Christmas vacation because I’d seriously thought the world would end on January 1, 2000.) She was nice to me, I reasoned, because I was an editor of the school paper and she was the moderator. But my classmates were pissed.

There was the Values Education teacher in grade four who made us recite a poem, from memory, every week. So for a day a week, all she did was to grade us recite those poems.

I have so many teachers who had the class secretary or an honor student write her lecture notes on the board for everyone else to copy. I’ve done this dozens of times. I’ve also had teachers who had us check our classmates’ final exams.

And then there  was the Algebra teacher who confiscated my friend’s Nokia 3310, and told her that to get it back, my friend would have to buy her a pack of Choc-Nut. I witnessed this, but I held my peace.

From these teachers, I learned impartiality, competence, empathy, and dignity. We all learn from mistakes.

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2 thoughts on “The Things My Teachers Did

  1. I know that aluminate teacher hahaha. I wonder how he’s faring/if he’s chosen a different vocation/etc. ALSO — LOL who was our ~moderator? May ~moderator pala tayo? ALSO — LOL chocnut for Nokia 3310. NOKIA 3310 was the coolest thing (Space Invaders!) This was a great read, brought me back to a simpler time. 🙂

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