Back to teaching (school)

Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash

It was two years ago when I last taught online.

I had to brush up on the tools, my curriculum, and my Rubric for grading. I also turned to my favorite online resource on teaching: the Cult of Pedagogy, a blog that I stumbled upon in the University’s online course on hybrid learning.

The first order of the day was to fix my access to the University’s portal that has expired after two years. That was the last time I taught my students online.

Then I went on to upload my content for the next 13 weeks.

But first, imagine my excitement when the Department secretary messaged me: “Sir, are you free on Saturdays to teach this course?”

“Of course!”

Why teach?

So, why do I teach when I barely have enough time to spare during a workweek? Where do I get the energy and time to prepare for a 13-week course?

Teaching forces me to relearn what I know, and share that experience with students. The greatest reward in teaching is hearing your students land in jobs and pursue passions, which were partly inspired by some lessons they learned in class.

Hearing from former students talk about your class is golden:

“Sir, I used some of the lessons I learned when I applied for a job.”

“Sir, thank you for making us do those assignments. It was useful.”

“Sir, I love what you shared on your Instagram. I loved that book you recommended. I still feel like I’m in your class.”

The last piece of conversation was recent — and it came from one student who is both a creative director and a visual artist exhibiting her work in local art galleries and shows.

This sounds corny, but teaching is a vocation, at least for me. It’s currently a side gig. However, it’s also a deliberate action to connect with a new generation who will soon take over my job.

Years ago, I found myself working with one former student in my current organization. Work colleagues were surprised when a former student called me “Sir” during a meeting.

Screengrab from the @profFeynman Twitter account

If you want to learn, teach.

I picked this up from Richard Feynman, a famous American physicist and perhaps one of the greatest teachers of our generation. I am a big fan of Feynman not because of his physics, but because of his philosophy in learning captured in this quote:

“I’m smart enough to know that I’m dumb.”

Screengrab from the @Proffeynman Twitter account

I keep going back to Professor Feynman whenever I’m stumped. Teaching is no easy feat. It’s an opportunity to influence, inspire, and guide the young. Getting there has been to be fun and interesting.

No amount of facts, information, history, and concepts will make students pay attention if they are not inspired.

I myself learn faster when I’m inspired by something I discover on YouTube or read in a book. As one idea leads to another, learning is also like that. You need to plant those seeds of inspiration to trigger curiosity and creativity. And if you can show them how they can better express their ideas in any form — the key is for them to find a medium to express ideas.

(To be continued)

This is a series on teaching, learning, and communications that I wish to start and continue in the next 13 weeks.

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Erwin Lemuel Oliva

Erwin Lemuel Oliva

An ex-journalist. Teacher. Dad. Loves Guitar & Books. Writes when inspiration hits.