Being on the desk side of the classroom for most of our lives, our perception of a teacher can be quite skewed. Students each have their own definition of a teacher; very rarely they’re negative, but most of the time they’re positive. Although we do not always see their blood, sweat, and tears on our marked assignments and exams, the dedication of a teacher in each student is imprinted in every single mentor that guided us throughout our life within the walls of a classroom.
While we’ve had quite many teachers we’ve met and experienced over the years, there are only few mentors we’ve had in our lives. You know who they are; they’re the ones who spoke to you in the hallways of your old high school building, the ones who urged you to take the course that suited you best, the mentors who you shared you’re a part of your life with. These mentors are the ones you consider your second parents, the mentors that guided you. Very few teachers are mentors, and the ones that left a mark in your life are what makes the work of a teacher very important.
But then again, what is the essence of being one?
Mentors have the passion for their work. Despite the low-grade salary, the hours and hours of workload, the responsibility of a hundred students every year, and the negative assumption of the masses; mentors see past all of that. A teacher’s work is never finished, as they say, and it never truly ends after class hours. If you account for all the paperwork they must finish, all the grades that they must compute, you’ll understand why that quote makes sense for many teachers. But being a teacher is much more than title, and to be more than that, you should see beyond your work. They know that the weight of being a teacher, and that the work you do should be something that you love. A teacher’s career is more than just a work with a low-grade salary, it’s truly about the love for teaching and passing on that love to your students.
Mentors have the patience for their students. Teachers are known to be the second parent of each of their students; since most of their students stay at school for at least 12 hours a day, 5 days a week. Students see their teachers more than they see their own parents. Mentors then, know the hardship that they go through trying to round up students, catch their attention, and teach a subject (especially a subject that they’re not interested in). But a student, aside from being a student, is just a child still growing. They’re young and naïve, but they’re also confused about what’s going on in life. Being labelled as a second parent for your students, it’s a mentor’s job to nurture them in their growth. To see your students grow and become mature, amazing individuals is one of the greatest achievements to have as a teacher.
Mentors have the heart of teaching wisdom, and not just knowledge. In 50 years or so, we students only a remember a few of things that happened in school. Rest assured all those failed quizzes and embarrassing surprise recitation will not affect the rest of your life entirely, but instead you’ll remember the teacher that guided you, and the mentor that walked with you throughout the rest of your school life. In 50 years, the students will forget the lessons, but they’ll never forget you. What you teach them, whatever advice of wisdom you passed down to them will be part of their growth and their success in life. All that patience that you give to your students, that never-ending passion of teaching you hold on to are all a vital part in teaching students your wisdom, and hoping that they also teach you a bit of their own wisdom as well.
That’s what makes a mentor’s work so important, and why a teacher will not always be remembered for the subject they taught, but whatever life they breathe into the lives of their students. You ask any other mentor what they find best about teaching, and they’ll tell you that the best part was not during class hours, but after that. Seeing their students become doctors, engineers, teachers, businessmen; seeing all that hours of work and dedication pay off. These students who were once so young and naïve, now are a part of society that needs the brilliant minds that you helped create and mold.
The essence of a mentor is not how high they grade their students, but how high their students soar. It’s more than a career, it’s touching the heart of every student that they’ve met.
Illustration by Madel Crudo