What happens after three years? What happens when your whole life ends and the moment you have been waiting for finally comes to a close? The result is a bittersweet good bye, I know that for so long I've worked so hard and striven for excellence, passion, and dedication. For a long time I have felt the blood, copious amounts of sweat, and the seldom shedding of tears in Domuschola. Finally here I am resolving and brooding over the fact that my old routines are now gone, the faces I have grown with are no longer with me, accompanying me in my daily routines, and all of the jokes that I used to have are now no longer possible. The environment is different, the opportunities are new, and I know that I am now even more prepared to face these new challenges.
The question that now lies before me is: how do I simply let go of three years? For the past few days I found the answer, it is quite difficult, during training and seminars I would find my mind wandering over memories of my past experiences. The faces of my coordinator and my best friends would flash around in my head and I would fall into this depressive/manic mode and question myself if I had done the right thing. And then there would be another moment of self-doubt and self-questioning and I would just end up reassuring myself that I left because it was my own decision and no one else's.
What made my departure from Domuschola even more difficult was the fact that after three years of working with them, I only and finally got what I wanted on my last year. It was hard being a PYP (the International Baccalaureate's Primary Years Programme, the primary education program of IB) teacher and it was even harder when I had to do a whole paradigm/pedagogical shift from an overly traditional setup to a rigorous and challenging progressive one. My first two years were marked by a feeling of frustration and anger that I couldn't do anything grand as compared to what my mentors were doing. I was ill-prepared and I just felt like I had to blame everyone else. In the end it just came back to bite me and increased my already depressive mood. But were it not for these experiences, I wouldn't have befriended some of the truest and most upfront people in the world.
Those two years were the most difficult years I've ever experienced in my life. The whole paradigm shift, the sudden thrust into the world of progressive learning, the challenging program, and most especially the students who would become my homeroom was a far cry from the comfy and easy going life I had in La Salle Greenhills. Ultimately all of the experiences I gained from those two years made me an even more adept teacher when I was finally transferred to the Secondary Department. For years I had asked and clamored for a position in the school's high school.
As I moved on to my last year, I knew that it would be another challenge. From the one class I used to handle it was now multi-level, I was used to only handling one area of history (or in this case Humanities) but now I was handling four: Civics and Philippine society, Philippine History, Ancient Asian History (India, China and SEA), and 19th century World History. At first I was apprehensive but as I got into the motions of doing multi-level preparations and applying what I had learned from the IB, my life became bliss. I was no longer stressed, worried, and coming to class unprepared. I came to class with just a simple glance of what I was going to do for the week and my mind had already given me a dozen activities to work on. I loved it.
The biggest and best part of my whole Secondary life can be summed up into three experiences: a great team, field trips, and my homeroom class. It was already a huge gift that I was getting what I wanted but it was the team, from my coordinator to my fellow teachers, that made my last year even more remarkable and exciting. I never knew how much joy our shared experiences with our classes would bring us. My coordinator, Bing (who also joined the school the same time I did and is considered the founder of the school's high school), was a boss whom I could fully trust and depend on. She was always there and without her I wouldn't have made the best out of my year. The second part would have to be the field trips, one of the perks of being the Humanities teacher is I get to bring my students to places. Sure I had done those back when I was in Primary, but this time around it was going to be a very different ball game. I brought my students to Baler and that was fun. Then a couple of months later to China and that was even better. My only regret though was I didn't work hard enough to bring my older students to Belgium and France but maybe in another time I would.
The last experience truly made a difference. I never knew that I would love a class or a bunch of students until this year. I never knew that 18 students would bring me so much joy and happiness. For two years my homeroom classes were enjoyable affairs but there was never any meaningful connections and maybe because I wasn't happy that I really didn't open as much. But my Grade 7 class was different, they were no longer the immature students I met when they were in Grade 5, they had a sense of humor that jived with mine and I couldn't ask for more. My students weren't exactly the best nor the brightest, their class was known for doing mediocre work. But in some ways the class was like me, mediocre but brilliant, and those two combinations made it all the difference. In the end, this was the one experience that made me sad, that I wouldn't see them go up on stage, or see them grow up and along the way fail and succeed at the same time. In short if this is what fatherhood feels like then I would have to say those 18 students of mine were my children and I became very if not overly too attached to them.
In the end, as I move on to another institution I will never forget those three years. I realized just how important all of those experiences made me remember why I will continue to teach. I will never forget how Domuschola brought me to my limits and still managed to squeeze something out of me. But the most important lesson I will never forget is that people do make a difference in one's life and I wouldn't have it any other way.
My name is Alfonso your nerdy history teacher, bookworm and lover of all things cultural and exciting. You can find me in a weekend market, in a bookshop, or eating in Japanese restos during the weekends.