Crazy Thing About Teaching

I can’t count the number of times I ranted about my love-hate relationship with teaching. I made a number of emotional posts about teaching here and in my other blog. However, despite the stress and occasional heartaches I gained from teaching, I still see myself in this profession on the next years. If my institution will continue to provide me  part time teaching assignments, I will whole-heartedly accept this noble and humbling opportunity.

At least in our school, students are given the chance to give grades to their respective professors. Students are required to assess the performance of their teachers using a questionnaire with a rating scale. Aside from the numerical ratings, the students are also given the opportunity to leave comments in the evaluation.

In God’s grace and my students’ mercy :), I have been receiving decent performance ratings over the past years. And I am more than happy, contented and thankful on the “above passing” grades given by my students. Let me take this opportunity also to emphasize that I am not one of those teachers who aim to be one of the statistical leaders in the evaluation ratings. I don’t teach to build a “sweet coated goodie” image of myself. I’ve said many times that the reason why I remain in the teaching profession is because it’s a dream or as they say, a calling,  that has been thriving in my blood. If given the chance to assess myself though, what my students remember about me 5 to 10 years from now,  is the real evaluation.

When the school year is over, this is only when we can view the assessment results we receive from our students. This morning, one of my colleagues informed me that our evaluation results are already available for online viewing. As I have said, I am thankful and appreciative of the decent evaluation ratings I received. More than the ratings though, I always look forward reading the comments from my students.

One of the sections I’m handling gave me these series of comments

But my attention was caught on the following comments

i love her teaching style, yung paulit ulit yung lesson para magretain sa silly-heads namin yung mga tinuturo niya :) ” (I love her teaching style. She repeats her lectures to ensure that the lessons are retained to our “sillyheads”)

My response:

My Dearest Student,

I beg to disagree. You are not a bunch of sillyheads. You only feel silly because you felt lazy to review our lectures. Sorry, if I sound like your mother or grandma, who keeps on reminding you of things every now and then.

Ma’am D.

i admire her patience, yung kahit konti na nga lang kami, pero sobrang kukulit pa, natitiis pa rin niya. ” (I admire her patience. Though we are only a few students enrolled in her class, she can still handle our peskiness)  

My Dearest Student,

I admit that there were days when I felt like I was losing my self-worth because some of you seem to ignore my presence. There were days when I felt like I was a promo/demo girl in a department store who keeps on talking despite being ignored by busy shoppers.

But then, I told myself that this was perhaps my karma too. On the other hand, you helped me to improve my patience. For that, thank you.

Ma’am D.

Oh my dearest college kids! You never fail to make me laugh, cry and get crazy. This is perhaps one of the many reasons why I remain in this profession.

Lousy turned extraordinary

A few weeks ago, I noticed a food stall flocked by shoppers and even employees of SM.  I can’t barely see what the stall was selling because of the crowd and really long lines.  I got so curious so as I moved to the upper floor I looked down to check what was selling like hotcakes in the middle of a weekend afternoon. To my surprise, it was unripe mangoes and bagoong sold in paper boxes.

The newest product to hit the local food cart industry is surprisingly the Philippine green mangoes and bagoong. Whoever thought of bringing manggang hilaw and bagoong to the food cart business must have surpassed criticisms and all forms of discouragement from other businessmen.

The challenge of generating real and feasible business ideas made me recall the days when I used to handle Business Plan subjects.  When our school first offered Business Plan subjects, I was one of the faculty members who were subjected under the baptism of fire. It was a period of experiments and adjustment for the entire school. As the subject professor, I was always the catch basin of all the rants and problems of the students. And did I mention that handling those subjects made me feel like I was enrolled to an expensive Fitness First weight loss program? I was shedding lbs every month. (Heck, can I be enrolled in this program again? The overweight me badly needs it.)

Students enrolled under Business Plan Writing are required to prepare and successfully defend a Business Plan.  As the subject professor, we are responsible for the initial screening of the student’s proposed business ideas. This made me remember an incident involved by a fellow faculty and a group who students who wanted to open a Tapsihan as their business venture. I overheard my colleague saying “Tapsihan lang ang gusto niyong maging business. I-b-business plan pa ba  natin yan?” (Your group only wanted to pursue an eatery that offers tapa (dried cured beef)? Do you think we have to prepare a business plan for such product?)

If another group of students told him that they wanted to open food stalls selling mangga ang bagoong in SM, he could have lost the last strand of his patience and fainted. Okay, I’m exaggerating 😀

If I would have been in that position, my response could have been the same. It’s just that I’ll do it in a more discrete and constructive tone. Okay, I’ll allow you to pursue that business only if you tell me what is the main difference of your tapa and mangganng hilaw, as against to what we normally purchase from the market. Is your tapa organically cultured and free of cholesterol? I would rather challenge my students to recreate a business that is so plain and ordinary.

The most feasible business idea will not necessarily pass the critique of business professors and experrts. Sometimes what is perceived as an ordinary and lousy business idea turns out to be a spectacular hit in the market. The ice scrambles we used to see in residential streets and oustide public schools follows the pattern of the manggang hilaw and bagoong. Who would ever thought that the cheap mixture of evaporated milk, artificial food color and some would say “dirty” crushed ice would soon cause long lines and other food cart owners to create their nothing new version.

I’m learning something from these ordinary and underestimated business ideas. Feasible businesses do not necessarily emerge from spectacular, unique and brilliant ideas. At the end of the day, it’s not the idea that would lead any business to its success. The secret key? CUSTOMERS! No matter how mediocre and lousy are your ideas and product offering, the customers would always save the day. As long as you are patronized and loved by customers then your underestimated ideas would soon turn to extraordinary profits and sales.