Tall, not at all dark, and handsome. He may pass as a twin of a famous Korean actor whose drama series hit big time in many parts of the world, but no, he doesn’t belong in show business. He actually belongs in a prestigious institution where he teaches college education students and is the school’s Director for Planning and Development. It is our pleasure to have Mr. Rholeo Virata of St. Scholastica’s College in Manila for the fourth installment of our Teacher Interview Series.
To all would-be educators out there, this is a must-read! Here’s our very enlightening interview with him:
1. How long have you been teaching?
Hi. First of all, thank you so much for giving me an opportunity to become part of your blog. It’s an honor to be here. I have been in the teaching career since 2012 after I graduated from PNU, so that makes more than 6 years of experience.
2. Are there any other fields or profession which you want to pursue, or has it always been teaching for you?
Since high school, I have already made up my mind that I wanted to be a teacher, so you could easily say that yes, it has always been teaching for me. But having been in the field this entire time, I’ve sometimes considered jumping into some other careers as well. I’ve considered becoming a flight attendant at one point, since I also have the passion for traveling (and you could say for service with a heart), and I even submitted an application to some airlines! But that’s another story.
Teaching has opened my eyes to a lot of things, and I’ve realized that I might be staying in this career a little bit longer. I don’t say this with certainty.
3. Do you have a teaching philosophy?
Yes I do. Working at SSC Manila has awaken my social orientation. I’ve seen things in the society that I haven’t seen before, and I have become part of activities that allowed me to appreciate my role as a teacher in helping transform the society into something more equitable, welcoming and overall positive for people to be part of. Now I believe in the role of education in creating citizens that imbibe not only academic excellence, but also stewardship for all creation.
4. Is there a particular person or are there persons who had an impact on you and on your teaching profession? Why and how?
Somebody once told me that if you want to grow in your career, don’t just go looking for companies that give high paying jobs; look for one that puts you under the mentorship of a boss who is excellent, compassionate, and inspiring. Look for a company that would give you something more than money, and that is growth.
I was lucky to have been mentored by people I could label as excellent, compassionate, and inspiring, and they have given me lots of opportunity to grow not only in my field, but also as a person.
5. What’s the teaching method that you can consider to be most effective and should also be implemented by would-be teachers?
Honestly, I still consider myself a beginning teacher. And even until today, I still experiment on my chosen teaching methods. I don’t think there is one best and most effective method, but there are teaching methods for every specific group of students you come across.
In this case, as a teacher, one must be a researcher as well. Research in the field of education has given the whole education community a lot of possible methods and strategies to choose from; some basing on the strength of the teacher as an implementer, while others basing on the capability of the students.
I would say that my favorite ones are those that allow the students to exercise their ability to communicate well their thoughts in words, and give them an opportunity to express themselves in a social learning environment. The teacher will just have to help design a classroom environment that is conducive for all this to happen naturally. It’s a challenge, but I have generally found this effective.
6. How do you envision the educational system in the Philippines? What are the developments or improvements you’d like to see?
Whenever I get asked this question, I would only answer one thing: Teachers should be earning more. As a teacher myself, I find it heartbreaking that the teachers are always paid way less than they deserve. I hope and I pray that the government would give more priority in helping the teachers (both public and private) get a better quality of life, for they are the pioneers of the education system in the country. We need to understand how much these teachers sacrifice just to provide quality education to all their students.
7. Do you have any advice to young people who would like to become teachers someday?
Many people have told me this before and I would just like to repeat it: Once you graduate from the teacher education school, you would have learned only around 5% of what there is to know about the teaching profession. The other 95% is what you will get from real experience. So you have to choose properly the school in which you will apply. I can’t stress this enough: you have to make sure that the first or second school you apply in will provide you an opportunity to grow as a professional, and not traumatize you and forever impress upon you a sad picture of the education system. God bless!
8. You were a DOST scholar and one of the remarkable graduates of the Philippine Normal University. We’re proud of you! Do you have any advice to our current undergraduate scholars, and to the aspiring applicant-students who will be soon be taking the DOST exam?
I wouldn’t be who I am today if not for the DOST Scholarship. Simply put, this scholarship granted me the chance to learn, study, and grow in a prestigious university such as the PNU without ever having to spend a penny. I am hoping that this scholarship would continue granting the scholars all over the country the opportunity to go to school despite all their financial difficulties. A piece of advice I’d give to all scholars would be to always put your studies on top of your priorities. As a scholar, that is the only way you could repay the DOST, by ensuring to them that every peso they give you is worth it, that you use every bit of the privilege they grant you to grow and ultimately become a functional citizen in our society. See this scholarship as the government’s investment on you, and whether or not anything good comes out of this investment will depend on none other than your commitment to achieve.
9. On a lighter note, may we know how an intelligent and responsible person like you avoid pressure and stress? Would you give each would-be teacher some tips on how to balance work and personal life?
What I love about the teaching profession is that it gives me a lot of flexibility to pursue my other passions in life, such as traveling and studying. I get to see the world during my (strategically planned) vacations, and I also get to continue studying in grad school.
The teaching profession (or any profession for that matter) can really burn you out if you do not strike a balance between life and work. I figured that out around my second year in the career, so I decided to go out of the city once in a while and see more of the world. I started going out to local destinations in the company of my friends, and I also tried travelling abroad on my own (which enlightened me about so many things about myself). It slowly became a habit for me. Planning out my vacations ahead of time gave me something to look forward to during a very drowning school year. At any time I’m busy with work, I would always have something colorful and fun to anticipate in the near future, then the work wouldn’t be so difficult anymore.
It took me some time to realize that I can have passion for my profession and at the same time for the things and people that I love, my family, friends and of course myself.
So, I hope that more teachers and even other professionals out there would find passion in other things than just their work. I believe that it is good for one’s mental health, and physical and emotional well-being.