July 23, 2024

Republic Act 4670, or the Magna Carta for Teachers, stipulates the role of teachers as surrogate parents to students while they are in school. This is captured in the phrase “in loco parentis” which means in place of parents. As such, teachers should treat their students like their own children showering them with love and care. Undeniably, we hear a lot of noble deeds and extraordinary sacrifices being done by teachers who go the extra mile in performing their everyday duties and responsibilities, and we thank them for that. Personally, I say that I am one of the lucky students who had been in the hands of such teachers.
Unfortunately, while there are teachers who are doing their best to live by the code of ethics of the teaching profession, we also hear so many teachers who are doing the opposite. With my 15 years of experience as academic manager, I am a witness to how some teachers can be cruel to students. Bullying, verbal harassment, and abuse that come in different faces committed by uncaring teachers and other school personnel are real. Common cases reported and proven true are teachers’ unkind treatment to students. When students ask their teachers for clarification about the lesson, they would answer: “O, akala ko ba magagaling kayo?” “Wala akong oras sa iyo.” These are even uttered in front of others. Some remorseful teachers would admit their mistakes and claim they said it because they are already pissed off with the students’ unruliness. Of course, as a teacher myself, I understand where these teachers are coming from but these are the times when we have to practice self-control and anger management. We have to remember, between the student and the teacher, it is the teacher who should think and act maturely. I always advise my teachers before to exercise maximum tolerance in these situations and still try to respond to the situation with grace and poise.
Simply investigating why a student was not able to submit a project or why the student is always tardy or absent before denying them a chance to make up for what they missed is more humane than simply giving the student zero coupled with a handful of sarcastic remarks. Understanding what students are trying to communicate by penetrating their inner thoughts and feelings and not simply relying on the surface meaning of what they are saying is showing concern to them. Personally, I would say that the best advice I heard when I was starting my teaching career was that, “as teachers, we must learn how to love even the unlovable because these students might be going through something. Talk to them and you will find out.” Indeed, dialogues with students and parents made me discover so many heartbreaking stories of school children. Poverty is common but more tolerable to hear than stories of sexual harassment, rape, domestic violence, and other family problems affecting the whole being of children. A female student who was brought to my office due to tardiness revealed that it took her time to sneak out of the house because the uncle would not allow him to for some malicious intent (The case was brought to the Department of Social Welfare and Development with the help of her parents). When you hear stories like these, you cannot help but ask, “Who else among our students are experiencing this?” Then, these hurting children come to our schools with a hope that they will feel more secured; however, they hear more painful words. If teachers keep doing these, where do these children run to? Who else will embrace them if we keep driving them away?
Dear teachers, these incidents should remind us that every child has a story to tell. They are fragile. They can be broken anytime if mishandled. We have to understand that very few students have the courage to report abuses to school leaders and to their parents. Sometimes, they just tolerate humiliations, embarrassments, or maltreatments they get from abusive teachers because of fear. Just like parents, we too, must be vigilant in protecting them from perpetrators, and perhaps even from our own biting tongue. If these were our own children, we do not want them to grow up damaged because we know that damaged people can damage others. If these children will become the future oppressive leaders of our society; we have to take note, we made them.