Etiquette for Bullies (Must Love Them)

Etiquette for Bullies (Must Love Them).


Is It Time To Say ‘Good Bye Class’?

I think I should get a new job.

I am starting to believe that I am not really for the classroom (hmmm… nobody’s negating this statement, I can see…). I once had the delusion of being a great sage but I guess, I’m just a moderately good to a plain moderate teacher- and that’s exactly the point. I never, EVER wanted to settle for just “good”, worse, average. Here are some hardcore reasons why I believe pedagogy isn’t the best thing for me.

1. My handwriting is hideous.

I hear a resounding YESSS!!! from all corners of the firmament on this one. Numerous times I was complained of having a penmanship so alien that it needs a cryptographer in order to be deciphered. God knows how I tried to improve on it- but I guess with sooo much beauty and intelligence bestowed on me, He must compensate it somehow with a uh… weakness?

2. My level of selfishness/b!tch!*ess can rival or even surpass that of my students.

I’m not perfect, I’m a snitch. But I can tell you sir Dennis’ a b!t*h. Lalalala…  Teachers are supposed to be understanding, giving, patient, and open minded with their students— like those you see in sappy infomercials and MMK episodes (Dear Charo, my teacher was a [series of pleasant adjectives, correctly placed in the proper series]…). But if “understanding”, “giving”, “patient”, and “open minded” were to be translated in my brain, these would register as just “blah-blah-blahs.”  I refuse to tolerate their “high-schoolness”(despite the fact that they ARE high school students to begin with and that they HAVE ALL THE RIGHT to be high school-ish—see, I’m terrible, really). I am easily irritated with their antics to gain attention. Many times I say to myself “they’re just kids” but I end up berating them all anyway. Students want things to be all about them— but turns out it will always be all about ME and things getting done MY WAY at the end of the day. I relish every second of “in-your-faces” that I give to them whenever they try to be funny by deliberately giving stupid answers to questions, or when they begin to act cocky and give me THAT face, or whenever they do an attitude with a capital A out of nothingness, or when they just simply piss me off (sometimes I am pissed without any apparent reason- and they get to experience my wrath.)

3. I am not affable.

I am a master of showing indifference, apathy, and plain disgust. I cannot grit my teeth and flash a hearty grin especially when I’m having a bad day. “Good mooooorning sir” they would greet me every day and they expect either of the following reaction:  A) a blank face+ response, B) lips arched a bit upward (still cannot pass as a smile) but eyes remain blank+ response, C) blank face+ no response, and D) lips purse + eyes roll (on special occasions). I have long tried to be nice- the type of nice exhibited by my colleagues who seem to be the happiest people on earth (high-pitched voice, squinting eyes, smirk reaching both ear lobes, and fondness of using name of student +“dear”, “anak”, “sweet heart”, or “darling”). They are so nice Mother Teresa is shamed, and whenever I attempt to be one too, I can only keep it up for ten minutes or so— then I go back to my old maleficent self again.

4. I am easily jaded.

And with that I would have to always psych myself up and recite the mantra “this is interesting… the topic is mind-blowing… the discussion is soooo spot-on even if things are moving at a glacial pace or not even moving at all. I wanted to teach topics— those only that spark my interest though I must lecture things that can potentially cause me to be fall into coma (and you think I so love teaching the S-TV-DOs???).

So if students give me THAT look they’re about to die of boredom— please realize that I myself has resisted the urge numerous times to stab myself, gouge my eyes, and skin my body just to stay awake.

5. I have authority issues.

Being the omnipotent entity in every classroom I enter in— I have concerns as regards to handling too much power as I have the natural tendency to treat students as if they were my serfs. With great power comes great opportunity to show who’s boss- that’s my motto.

Did the film’s plot just copied mine?

Teaching isn’t just about dishing-out information and giving grades— it is a life which transcends beyond the mere chalkboard, lesson plan, and the occasional meter stick. Teaching could either be the coolest or lamest job ever- of course that lies on individual perspectives. As for me? It ain’t easy being a teacher goddammit. This job’s just fucking HARD. Flinging yourself at each classroom, pretty much vulnerable to students’ ridicule and gossips (your clothes, your face—thank the gods I was not born facially-challenged, your hair…), requires a skin thick as a rhinoceros’ hide.

Then quit. What the hell are you still waiting for?—- some might say as they were repeatedly rolling their eyes till it hurt while reading this. I will, definitely. But probably not until I fully grasp what this job is all about. Not until I can leave the campus gates, saying to myself that I have truly become a teacher and not just some noisome tramp who just disturbed the psyche of these adolescents whose faces are erupting with pus-filled pimples… and got paid for it. (now, that’s real low)

I have just always  thought of it as a profession- a job where you do your thing, doing it well, and getting remuneration for it. I was wrong. Work doesn’t end in school. Teaching is a lifestyle. To be a teacher is to confine yourself in a box sealed with so many expectations. You become one of the moral watchdogs— and in turn become an impossible icon of morality yourself (why, WHY do teachers must always act like people from convents and monasteries? Is not teaching the difference between pure-bred and mongrel enough?). A teacher always go beyond the line of duty (ugh… don’t start with me on overtimes, take-home loads, and student-drama counseling). And teachers take the greatest pressure of churning out competent people to run the society someday. You want to make the world a better place minus the fat paycheck? I dare you to be a teacher.

Baaad Teacher, Baaad Students

“Yes Johnny? I’m sorry but no. ALGEBRA is not a country in Asia.”

Three years of teaching high school students does enable you to the ff: be constantly reminded how horribly insecure you are when you were a teen; learn new teen stuff (vampires glisten under the sun, what the???); and sing teen songs (okay, I admit I sang “Love You like a Love Song” while in the shower… “and I keep playing re-pea- pea- pea pea- peat.”).

Three years of teaching high school has made me the silent but revolted witness to my students’ outlandish and rebellious lifestyle. Not that my generation was Victorian. We also had our shares of misdemeanors and misadventures. We defied curfew, asked allowances for nonexistent “projects”, connived with friends to make paalam to our parents just so we could get out of the house, and cried when we are not allowed to join the free concert at the town square. Although now is a bit different. Kids would go to certain extents that border audacity and lunacy. While it is good that they are more expressive and prouder of their identities, how they do it is a different story. We are not thirty years apart but clearly, there are perceptible discrepancies between our timelines.

My students call me a liar pointblank (and even if I am, how dare they still). They relish every moment of embarrassment inside the room in my face (the youthful smiles, the cute laughs, and the angelic chuckles only transpire when you become the subject of their ridicule.) They deliberately test your patience and are very good in playing possum, victim, or b!%ch depending on the situation. Someone even told me that I look like “I’ve already done IT a hundred times.” Countless moments I was tempted to slit their throats with a rusted cutter (they die of tetanus if they are lucky to survive the assault). I even spend the whole afternoons imagining elaborate plots on how to creatively assassinate each one of them (example, [Name of student] crosses the street and is narrowly hit by a truck. She dodges it in the nick of time only to be mauled by twenty hungry, flea-infested, big black mongrels which jump out of the truck.) I should have not become a teacher in the first place. Body counts will rise if they keep on having me employed.

These kids are arrogant. They are self-centered. They are drama queens. They are cynicism-breathing dragons and they will eat you alive if you do not know how to defend yourself.

But then I guess that is just what they are.

And amidst their ingenious and uncanny ways to get attention, recognition, and admiration (SHOCK has been their main arsenal to achieve the aforementioned), I guess good things still come out from them. With the advent of globalization, post-modernism, and heightened narcissism (this is to be tackled in a separate column), these young people had developed a mindset of shunning themselves from living in a world that is either black or white. My students constantly remind me not to put labels and limits; not lose track of my most basic self while incorporating as many things in my system; and appreciate every shred of my humanity (they call it “par-teeh” though. Geez.) despite its numerous flaws. There are these few moments too where they could be as sweet as cherubs (I always doubt though they are hatching some plan- devious, malevolent, and malicious whenever it happens). Three years has passed.

Things now are not as horrible as before. I guess our constant skirmishes with the occasional truces and our never-ending love-hate relationship will never come to a denouement— but we have learned to deal with it. I was never the favorite teacher (although I do admit I have a few favored ones inside the class.) but I guess I’m not their biggest nightmare either. I would like to believe that somehow I have earned their respect, and in turn, expect mine. I teach high school students and I’ve never fully understood them… and maybe that will be the case until perpetuity. I know I can never be Teacher of the Year (employment mismatch, really), the “oh-my-gawd-he-changed-my-life-forever” instructor, or  “sir’s-like-the best-I swear”.. But I will understand them. I will be patient with them (don’t push it, I won’t say I will love them, yeck!) And I will do what I must that is why I reluctantly joined the academe in the first place: Reduce the amount of stupidity in this world.