I Studied at A ‘Normal’ Institution and Here’s What Being A Pre-Service Teacher Was Like

"Bloom where you are planted."
by Nicole Lindsay Ramos   |  Sep 14, 2022
Image: (LEFT TO RIGHT) Facebook/Ezra Delos Reyes Galauran, Nicole Lindsay Ramos
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When my senior high school teacher mentioned that she was a graduate of Philippine Normal University (PNU), I couldn’t relate to my classmates’ amazement. As someone who grew up in the province, I only learned why they had such a reaction when I was already studying at PNU.

ICYDK, normal schools are established to train teachers by instilling and reinforcing the norms or standards of education. Its tradition originated in Paris, France through the establishment of École Normale Supérieure (Normal Superior School). In our country, PNU pioneered the Outcomes-Based Teacher Education Curriculum (OBTEC). Under this curriculum, its students take general education courses in their first year as preparation for their desired program in the College of Teacher Development (CTD), Institute of Physical Education, Health, Recreation, Dance and Sports (IPEHRDS), or Institute of Knowledge Management (IKM).

Ahead, I’ve listed three of the lessons I learned while studying at PNU:

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There’s no specialization that is easier.

Like how people compare the senior high school academic strands, stigmas about some majorships in the university are also rampant. Aside from the admission test and interview, we had to apply to our desired faculties or institutes through majorship exams in our first year. Yup, just like how students at the fictional Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry have to be sorted out to their ~*respective*~ houses! 

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When I first got into PNU, I was eyeing their Bachelor in Social Science Education program. However, during the majorship examination weeks, its faculty did not offer any exam for the program which left some of us in limbo. When the majorship results came out, we learned that they don’t prioritize those who took exams for other programs. Although we can take an exam for reconsideration, I chose to settle with the result. I also thought taking up Bachelor in Early Childhood Education would be easier but my own experience taught me otherwise. It’s not about the grade level or subject area that you chose to specialize in but your competence as a pre-service teacher. “Bloom where you are planted,” was one of the most *important* pieces of advice that I got from our professor.

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Empathy is the most important trait we have to possess.

As beneficiaries of the Free Higher Education program, we are considered iskolar ng bayan. Despite this, we are still diverse in terms of our socioeconomic status. As we try to accomplish our workloads in a trimestral system, we all had our own hardships outside of the university. In my case, I had to commute from Las Piñas to Manila, and vice versa until the lockdown. I had no choice but to do most of my presentations and outputs in PUVs in the morning or in buses at night. Despite waking up as early as four a.m., I still ended up late in my morning classes.

By collaborating with other pre-service teachers, I’ve also learned that sometimes, grit is not enough for someone to achieve success. Someone’s grit has to be met with compassion. Thus, I considered it my responsibility to be empathetic toward my peers who are juggling their studies and work. Having an effective University Student Council also helped a lot in demanding equity from an administration that is willing to listen.

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It comes with constant pressure to prove ourselves.

When I was in my second year, one of our professors told us not to settle for being mediocre, especially once we’re already in the field of teaching. As pre-service teachers and/or alumni of the National Center for Teacher Education, we are expected to uphold truth, excellence, and service. Everywhere we go, there’s this constant pressure to live up to the institution’s name and standards.

One of the challenges as a graduate of the institution was to either top the Licensure Examination for Professional Teachers (LEPT) or pass it in one take. Another challenge is that even prior to graduation, most of my batchmates have already landed a job and it adds up to the pressure. I’ll admit, despite being an academic awardee, I’m still anxious about putting myself out there. I often doubt and ask myself, “what if I cannot give the same quality of education I received from our Inang Pamantasan?” Nevertheless, my experiences from my previous affiliations and journey at PNU remind me that I’m capable. I’ve also met a lot of educators who inspired me to be better. As always, para sa bata at para sa bayan.

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