I don't call out my students on their first names. It's hard for me to distinguish the John Paul's from the Mark Joseph's and the Joshua's. Even harder to differentiate the Michelle's from the Maria's and the Jolina's. I am so used to calling them by their surnames. But then it would also be hard to classify the Reyes' from the Dela Cruz's and the Santos' (those students can form a new section with all of them bearing the same last names). With that, it will be easier to have a very unique name if you have a common surname or a generic name with that "unfamiliar" surname.
The facial features of a typical teener can be tricky. Approximately, I get to teach and interact with 500 students per year. I'm sorry but I really don't remember each one of them through face or name. It's either you are the bully or the geeky one who answers every question even before I ask them to qualify in my memory bank. Forgive me but it's that difficult. Mediocrity has no face.
Last school year I handled 4th year students and I never get to see them after they graduated. I don't usually add my students on my personal FB account so I don't get updates on their whereabouts. Two weekends ago while inside a drugstore (I was there to buy some lozenges for my itchy throat) I was struck when I saw a familiar mascot character. The famous chocolate covered pretzel was introducing its chocolate drink version. My eyes were stuck on the mascot until someone shouted my name, "Ma'am Carla!".
I immediately searched for the person behind the voice and immediately saw a familiar face, It was Vega (her surname), my student last school year. I knew her very well because she was not hesitant to come to me for advice on heart matters during her senior year. She also has this very unique voice that when I asked someone to sing for the whole class she would willingly volunteer herself.
She's 19 and apparently the "promotions lady" for the choco drink with the guy on the mascot costume. I looked at her (almost hugged her) and messed her hair up a bit. We both got excited that our shrieks and giggles were heard around the drugstore. She went on with her stories about her ex-boyfriend/classmate and how she didn't get to pursue her college education. At that point I dunno what to feel.
Looking at Vega, I can't help but think if I would be happy or sad for her. Happy because she has her own way of supporting herself. I am actually proud of her for being so independent. I asked about the nature of her job and the pay she receives. She also told me that she is happy where she is right now and that she have plans of pursuing her college degree. The sad part is uncontrollable I guess. I wish further education for all of my students who graduated. I want them to experience how it is to be a college student. The knowledge and wisdom you get inside and outside the classroom are priceless. It is where they get the life skills they needed to "survive" the real world.
I wanted Vega to be in school which is difficult in her present situation. I urged her to look for a sponsor or apply for a scholarship to sustain her college education. I told her to not stop pursuing her dreams and to be a good girl (whatever that means). She asked if we could have a souvenir photo with the mascot - I told the guy inside the mascot to not involve themselves in a romantic relationship (very intrusive). I bought some of her items and went on to go with my regular day. But with too much going on in my mind.
I maybe am over analyzing things or maybe that is the essence of my "job" or my "life" in general. I want all of my students to be well with their chosen paths. More than the lectures and activities, it is the hidden curriculum that is more vital. It's not finding the variable x in an Algebra exam, not the velocity of a falling ball and not the rules in playing Volleyball. It's how they value life in general - how they answer the question "What is life for?". Period.
Whether or not I imparted the right knowledge, values or skills that are needed in my course, I would be more happy to see my students doing what they love and unleash their potentials as a human being.
Dramatic I know but that is how I view my "job" or my "life" or both. I can't distinguish one from the other anymore.