Portrait of the Perfect Teacher

Students in the Philippines would go through at least 17 years of schooling. That’s 3 years in pre-school, 6 years in elementary, 4 years in high school, 4 or so years in college and if you’re lucky enough, a significant number of years in post-graduate studies.

Throughout these 17 or so year span of studying, we learn through the gamut of teachers from the terror to the I’ll never forget them kind. If one then wants to, this gamut can allow a person to perhaps paint a picture of what the perfect teacher would look like.

Preschool Years

Pre-school: The terror teacher

The first time one steps into school is either exciting or tremendously terrifying and perhaps like most of us, it was the latter for me. My first experience with a teacher happened while patiently (or rather impatiently?) waiting for me and my parent’s turn to be interviewed at a school in Paranaque.

I was observing for the first time what a classroom would look like and for a 7-year old, it was an exciting experience standing behind rows of jalousie windows and watching 30 or so kids sitting attentively in class listening to a teacher talk about some important fruit that starts with an A.

I don’t remember exactly what happened next but in the process of doing so I sent one of the jalousie panes crashing down and found myself the embarrassing center of attention with 30 pairs of a eyes and a very, very loud teacher channeling their attention towards me. The experience did impart my first ever generalization that all teachers are terrifying and needless to say we did not proceed in applying in this school (or perhaps the case was that they did not entertain our application at all).

Grade School

Elementary: The patient teacher

With my pre-school days spent somewhere else – and with a slightly diminished generalization that all teachers are terrifying – I suddenly found myself enjoying school. My favorite subject was turning out to be Math and English. I didn’t care much for memorization and neither of these required such. Math and English required conjugation, division, multiplication searching for synonyms, antonyms and least common denominators.

One didn’t need to memorize the multiplication table if they knew how to arrive at the value of 8×9. I also found myself hating to need to know which 3 ladies sewed the Philippine flag or what kind of genus and species crocodiles belonged in.  However history and science introduced me to my 2nd type of teacher: the patient kind.

There were endless repetitions, essays, reports, home works and flash cards quizzing us on these kind of memory problems and while I was yet to  appreciate why I had to know these details, I easily appreciated that these teachers were patient enough to deal with us day in and day out.

High School


High School: The all knowing teacher

Graduating elementary was easy, and with the terror teacher and the patient teacher in mind, I came across my third most favorite type of teacher: the all knowing teacher. This one knows everything or at least alludes to the fact.

This kind of teacher will be able to answer all your questions or update you on your next session with the answer. Sometimes though this kind of teacher will become annoying although you have to bear with him, specially since it does take a lot of memory to know everything.



College Life


College: The perfect teacher

Getting into the college and the course of your choice, you will often come across the three previous kinds of teacher: a terror one, a kind one or the one that seems to know everything – and if you’re lucky you’ll come across the perfect teacher.

She would be patient enough to handle students like you and terrifying enough that you’ll find yourself studying more than you wanted to. You’ll also find that while she seems to know a lot of things, she will never say she knows everything.

She will entertain the possibility that she might be wrong (but you may have to prove it) and she will do everything she can to ensure that you get the best education you can get.

For me, this is the portrait of the perfect teacher. It’s someone who teaches us not just what they know but what they have learned and if you’re lucky like me you’d have come across this teacher in your life.


Peter Tongco has been photo blogging about Manila since 2003. You can visit him at mymanila.net.


  1. I think I got lucky ’cause I met a lot of great teachers throughout my years in school. I admire not only the teachers whom I came across in my life though, but all the teachers in the world.. 🙂

  2. My favorite would be my Highschool and College teachers. They are easy to deal with and very understanding. They respect you and never embarrass you in class. I have this little dream inside me to be a teacher someday. A preschool teacher or a fashion design teacher. Hopefully soon! <3

  3. That’s a wonderful summary of your experience and in all levels of education! Fantastic! And oh, I had the same exact experience too. That window and eyes staring, LOL!

  4. I’ve had awesome teachers 🙂 I think they’re the ones who give not only academic lessons, but life lessons as well 🙂

  5. i think i met the terror teacher on all levels… LOL… but i also met a couple of perfect ones as well… but one things for sure… i met the villain of all villains back then… it wasnt a pretty experience and i hope no one else would meet someone like her

  6. This post got me thinking what kind of teacher I am. I may have my perception about myself but at the end of the day it’s my students who can judge what kind of teacher I truly am.

  7. I’m fortunate that most terror teacher’s I’ve encountered were kind enough to give ma a passing mark (2.00).

    When I got my hands on teaching, most of my students do consider me a mix of perfect and terror. 😀

  8. College education is really on a different level, there’s no spoon feeding na. And I really admire good educators sa college.

  9. I so admire the teachers. Where would we be without them. Though often neglected, their role in the society is very important. Hats off to the teachers!

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