AS I SEE IT: Teaching is not just what I do. It’s who I am – Dr. Jill Biden

I received an email from long-time educator Dr. Jill Biden (you must have received one too) about her insights on what the classroom meant to her. I want to echo this to everybody, especially to my peers in education, who love teaching as a way of life… not for money.

In her email, she said: “I’ve always loved the sounds of a classroom. The quiet that sparks with possibility just before students shuffle in. The murmur of ideas bouncing back and forth as we explore the world together. The laughter and tiny moments of surprise you find in materials you’ve taught a million times.

Then, the email ended this way: “That’s because teaching is not just what I do. It’s who I am.

I love it! I remember my late brother priest Rev. Fr. Leonardo R. Estioko, SVD, who have been an educator and author who told me – “I will die in the classroom!” He was a distinguished Philosophy professor of the congregation and even if he was already on a wheel chair (suffering from terminal lung cancer), he was still teaching. He only stopped when he was already in the hospital bed ridden and can no longer travel to the classroom. He eventually died in the hospital, not in the classroom though.

Just like my brother, Dr. Biden said “I always felt most at home in a classroom. There’s an optimism amid the worn books and clean white boards – a sense of possibility. As educators, classrooms are where we live out of a kind of faith: a belief that with patience and care, we can shape the next generation – help them build everything that’s come before us to keep our world better.”

As I See It, educators are some of the greatest change-makers in the world. They make miracles happen in their classrooms and change the world through each child. They are the backbone of our communities — and we must keep investing in them and their work.

I chanced upon Engr. Khalaf Alenezi, Engineering Instructor, LinkedIn post today where he said: “Teaching is my passion. I teach because, for me, it’s the most effective and most enjoyable way to change the world. That’s the bottom line: We need to change this world, and this is the way I’m choosing to do it. Teaching allows me to work on hearts and minds, to guide people in becoming empowered, literate, engaged, creative, liberated human beings who want to join in this effort to change the world. I’ve seen it happen. I always believed that my students could transform and find themselves, in addition to becoming literate people and graduating from university, but now I’m witnessing it. Every student has the power do the impossible but they need time and help from us as teachers. I always knew they could do it, and now they’re doing it.”

Just like them (Dr. Biden and Engr. Alenezi), this is what keeps me going… doing what I am doing in the classrooms for more than 35 years now (Philippines and US teaching experience combined.) Actually, it’s a way of life as far as I am concerned. I’m happy to belong to this breed of professionals wanting to make a difference in the lives of the students. I am sure there are other educators, who, just like Dr. Biden and Engr. Elenezi, who are and what they are in education. Kudos to all of them!

In the Philippines, I taught at the University of the Philippines in Diliman (UP-Diliman) at the Institute of Mass Communications (IMC). I taught public relations and public information. Then at the Arellano University in Legarda, Manila as department chair (BSPR) of the Department of Public Relations, College of Commerce.

After setting up the new BSPR department for 5 years, I moved to the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) as it’s Public Affairs Director and in the evening taught at the College of Languages and Mass Communications (CLMC) with the rank of Assistant Professor 1V teaching journalism, PR and communications subjects.

Then I taught at the Graduate School, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) until my family and I immigrated to the US in 1997.

Here in the US, I retired from De Anza Community College in Cupertino, CA after teaching for 10 years as an adjunct faculty teaching Reading, ESL and English Writing (EWRT). I also taught at the Axia College, University of Phoenix (UoP) business writing and communications subjects as an adjunct online faculty for five years and a semester in San Jose State University (SJSU) teaching essay writing.  I also had a brief stint with the Milpitas Unified School District (MUSD) Adult Education program teaching ESL. At present, I am still teaching in high school at the San Jose Job Corps Center (SJJC), a Department of Labor (DOL) program for marginalized youths ages 16 to 24, where I’m in my 24th year of teaching.

That’s what I do, that’s what who I am, to borrow the words of Dr. Jill Biden!


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