comparison of teaching then and now

6 Observations in the Classroom: Then and Now

8/26/2016,0 Comments

Image from tamedspaces.

I have been a student for twenty years and a teacher for a year and these are my observations of the then and now in the classroom. The then is about my experience when I was the student and the now is about my experience when I was the teacher. This post does not intend to offend anyone.

Disclaimer: These observations are personal and  based on my own experience as a student and a teacher. This does not necessarily apply to every student, every parent and every school.

1. Checking assignments

Assignments were assignments then. No matter how many pages of a book we had to copy, we didn't complain because somehow, we trusted the teacher that it's part of the learning process and we needed to do these things because it's how we would learn.

I was shocked when I became a teacher because an average of 40% of the class never bothered to make their assignments. When I called their attention and told them that they scored zero for failing to make their assignment, they replied with, "Okay lang yan madam." (It's okay madam)

2. Deadline of outputs

I remember a certain classmate, back when I was in first year high school, who failed to submit her project on time. She succeeded in submitting it on the same day but not during the subject period of the teacher. The teacher found out that she slipped her project on the stack of the ones the teacher collected. She was reprimanded for it.

When I became a teacher, at least a quarter to half of the total number of students in a classroom don't care when the deadline is, nor did they bother to submit. They would even ask me if they could submit later, or tomorrow, or even a week later!

3. Checking of outputs

When I was a student, every given activity must be finished within the period of the subject. The teacher would then collect the outputs before she would leave the classroom. Since collection of projects or outputs were not difficult and students did comply, checking would be no problem.

When I became a teacher, students failed to submit outputs that are up to the standards. An average of 25% would not bother to submit, 50% would submit with a just-for-compliance output quality, while only about 25% would submit on time and with satisfactory quality.

Checking outputs had been taxing because I would have to trace the students who didn't submit theirs and ask them one by one the reason why. The situation would then become reversed. The student would end up being the one to decide the time when he or she would pass the requirement (at his or her leisure).

Image from Giphy. Yes, I do just that. I remove my classes. Plus, massage my eyes.

I couldn't just give them a zero mark because it would pull their grades down and as much as possible, we were discouraged to give failing grades if we didn't give 100% of our effort doing the following: home visit with proper documentation, remedial lessons, and activities for extra credits (most students don't comply with this still).

It ended up with the teacher being more eager for the student to pass than the student himself or herself. Education isn't just the responsibility of the teacher. The teacher cannot teach a student when the student doesn't want to learn.

On the other hand, the students were given several chances to pass the subject and it's good in a way because some students just need that extra push.

4. During an activity

When I was a student, my classmates and I never asked a teacher to translate a Filipino word to English for us. We would ask each other instead or consult a dictionary when one is available. When I became a teacher, I was shocked that students would ask  me to translate words while an activity is going on. Or even when an examination is ongoing.

It's good in a way because the students are not afraid to ask questions (even absurd ones). And inquiry is good. However, I was amazed on how poor the vocabulary of the students is.

5. During lecture

Taking notes is a part of being a student. During my time, no matter how many times the entire board has been written and rewritten on with lectures that we were supposed to copy, we never complained. When I became a teacher, students would complain when they were asked to copy a page off a book. During PowerPoint presentations, some would even ask me which sentences they were supposed to copy.

6. Talking to teacher

During our time, teachers were strict and students, even my loud classmates, know the word respect. We never disrespected a teacher intentionally.

When I became a teacher, I was shouted at, questioned using harsh tones, rolled eyes at, wasn't taken seriously, and a whole lot more. I called their attention. I had to grit my teeth and remind myself that they are just kids and that they won't be like that 10 years from now.

Image from giphy. That's a bit too much. Anyway, I have experienced the following when I was a student: the sharp pinch on the arm and the sting of a long stick on the hand. Somehow, I don't hold grudge against my teachers who did those to me because I understand why they did what they did.

Employing student discipline now is like walking on tiptoes because of the child-protection policy. It's a good policy with a good aim. However, people seem to have forgotten that every right has a corresponding responsibility. The student often wins during a confrontation because, well, they're kids and a teacher is an adult.


It's not easy to be a teacher, especially in a public school. It's not a walk in the park. Reading books about student discipline, adolescent psychology, and classroom management failed to make me anticipate what the actual scenario is inside a classroom with 60-65 students -- each with different personality, with different family background, different socioeconomic status.

Being a good teacher is a skill honed by years of experience. You have to experience being one to know what a teacher really is. Every student will teach you how to control your temper, how to respond to their questions (no matter how absurd), how to react to their tantrums, and how to approach special students with special cases (with caution).

Some days are fulfilling, some are disappointing, some are frustrating. I feel frustrated and disappointed, more to myself than others, when they fail to understand a concept I am explaining. It means I have failed to teach them properly in a way that they could understand.

But when they finally understood:

On the other hand, I feel exuberant and inspired whenever a student gets perfect marks during an examination, when a student answers correctly a particularly difficult question, or even when they just say, "ah..." like they have suddenly understood something after I have given a lengthy explanation.

Teaching is really one of the noble professions. I don't want to call it the noblest because health care professions and a whole lot others are just as noble. I will miss being a teacher and, if fate will take me, I will go back to being one.

Do you have anything you have experienced that I have failed to mention? Share your experience in the comment's section below.

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