This is the what I said few years back, when I was a graduating psych major, as a response to a statement given by our Career Forum speaker that psych majors will eventually become teachers.
“Hindi! Hindi ako magtuturo kahit kailan.“
Obviously, I ate my words.
Honestly, I never really wanted to teach. It wasn’t even in my plan to enter this vocation (I would call it vocation since psychology is my profession). Not once did I see myself as a college professor. Nor did it cross my mind that I would fall in love with what I am now doing.
How did I end up being here?
In 2010, I started working with Dr. Johnny Decatoria, my mentor. Working with him, I learned a lot and it helped me become a better clinical psychologists and a community psychologist. The mentorship he provided made me realize how much beneficial it is in helping me become a professional. It contributed to my personal growth as well.
One important thing I learned from him is to pay it forward. He taught me to pass on to others what I have learned. He showed me how to mentor others. This made me rethink my stand on not ever going to the teaching profession.
But I wasn’t ready.
Few months later I was told to apply for a teaching post in the University of Santo Tomas. I declined because I really wasn’t ready. I was enjoying my life then and I wasn’t willing to take a change in the course of my life by taking a teaching post. This proved to be, as I would like to believe, a divine intervention. It would be a good decision as turning it down offered better opportunities for me outside the University and, eventually, when I formally joined UST.
Things changed when in August of 2011, while I was on clinical duty at the Psychotrauma Clinic, a colleague told me to apply at the College of the Holy Spirit Manila because they needed a mid-semester replacement for a faculty. I was told I will only handle 2 courses (IO Psych and Gen Psych), so I thought why not try it. Besides, Doc J’s words (“Kung hindi mo susubukan, how will you know when you are ready?”) kept ringing in my ears that I knew it was the right time. So, I fought all my thoughts and indecision and went there to submit my resume. The rest is history.
Why did I continue teaching? I actually planned to finish just that semester (actually, it was a half semester). I really did not plan to stay in the profession because in my heart, I really wanted to practice clinical psychology. However, few weeks into the job, I started to fall in love with what I was doing. Even before that I knew that psychology is my passion and I found a way to nurture my passion and be able to help students reach their dreams as well. I knew I had to stay.
I was privileged to be able to develop the psychology program of the College. One thing I am grateful for because it is what I can consider my baptism of fire. A task to modernize and improve the program so the students can be at par with graduates of other schools.
My career had its boulders and struggles. I almost gave up and quit. I once questioned my own ability to teach and pass on knowledge. I doubted my own ability to deliver and be a competent instructor. But I was blessed with mentors who inspired me to continue even through all those difficulties. My students also served as my motivation to go on.
The joy and pride that I have when I see my students succeed and excel in their chosen paths cannot be explained with words. It is priceless. It is an honor for a teacher when his students are proud of him, but the greatest honor for a teacher is when his students make him proud.
Do I have regrets? No. I never will. Choosing to teach is one of the best decisions I made. I do not consider myself the best one, I still have a lot to learn and develop. I still ask myself if I am an effective teacher and I even evaluate myself. But as long as there is a psych major who wish to learn and reach his/her dream, I’d be willing to teach. I would even be happy to mentor anyone who would wish to be a psychologist.
Teaching does not simply involve passing on the knowledge needed in in a profession. For me, an effective teacher can inspire his/her students to discover their passion and help them reach their goals. You are a like a light house that guides ships to port; only that you serve as a beacon of light to guide the students out of the darkness of ignorance.
I have mentored a few individuals, some my former students (both undergrad and in the graduate level, some from the review center) and some acquaintances/friends, who have become teachers themselves. It is something I treasure because I know that in my little ways, I have helped them. I will always help.
I end this blog post with a statement from my student that really touched my heart (and my colleagues): “hindi lang natin sila prof, mentor natin sila“. Ang sarap marinig nung mga salitang ‘yun. Sapat na para masabi kong tama ang desisyon kong talikuran ang sinabi ko na kahit kailan, hindi ako magtuturo.
(Author’s note: I’d like to thank all my students, especially my ‘psychos’ and my two anak, for the strength you’ve given me through these years. Special hi to 1P7, 2P1, and 3P1 (all 2014-15), for helping re-light the flame of my passion to teach. I love you, guys!)