On Life as the DO, a Quarter and a Half Since

If it was tough writing before, it’s become a whole lot tougher now.

I clearly can’t be as candid or as loose as I used to be. I simply can’t babble on about the latest incident or case I handled during the day. And for sure, even my personal life now goes through a rather intense filter, given I’m the discipline officer and all. That’s why I’ve enjoyed microblogging more through Facebook or Tumblr these past months. Less words, less chance for error I guess. But more than that I’ve enjoyed the interaction – both serious and sabaw – that social media can provide at the end of long, grueling day.

A blog entry here on WordPress requires more processing. And often times I neither have the time nor energy to process. But we’re in the middle of a long weekend and I’m just done slugging through making my students’ grades, so let’s see.

So how’s life been like for me since I became DO?

I’ve gotten that question a lot these past weeks but I never really went beyond the cursory, “It’s great!” or “Okay lang…” depending on my mood. Let me offer a little bit more.

1. IT’S BEEN A REAL CHALLENGE TO COMPARTMENTALIZE

I’ve gotten pretty good at compartmentalizing my work these past years. I can juggle being Batch Adviser, AKSIS Adviser, and an SS2 teacher all at the same time without breaking a sweat. I really enjoyed the rush of scheduling meetings, setting agendas, and seeing projects through. I love working with people and watching my students grow as leaders, and that really kept me on despite the sheer quantity of the workload. I miss those days.

I can’t do that as the DO. It’s the kind of work that I have to dedicate my whole being to 24/7. Announcing stuff at the FlagCem and walking around telling students to follow the rules – that’s the easy part. What becomes consuming is when a case comes to my desk. The past weeks have been particularly busy for me; I went to having just one case to five. And for each case, I do my best to look at the big picture and see how each part of the school community can help me resolve it and address similar problems in the future. It’s been fun and I’ve been flexing a whole new set of muscles – those which could’ve made me a lawyer. I’m thankful for the great team surrounding me from my office assistant to the discipline committee. It’s really tough work what we do.

2. I ACTUALLY LIKE WHAT I’M DOING NOW

I actually let the word fun slip past me in the previous paragraph. So there we go.

As a person, I generally love doing new things at work and finding bigger ways to help make a positive contribution to the community I’m in. The first month where I got to do some real concrete things for the school was a great time for me. While I’ve been busy with cases these past weeks, I hope to get back to doing something constructive again. There is still so much we need to do in school and I’m increasingly finding more avenues to help. Part of my philosophy is that a good environment and a clear sensible system can promote and reward good behavior on its own. That’s what I still hope to work towards eventually.

3. I’M BEGINNING TO REALIZE I CAN’T DO EVERYTHING ON MY OWN

I don’t mean this in a team sense. Neither do I mean this in an organizational sense. In both, I know my place, do my best job in it, and extend a helping hand when I can. What I mean by not being able to do everything on my own is emotionally.

I’ve become pretty independent when it comes to my feelings. I’ve come to a point where neither criticism nor praise can affect me personally, and I can reduce emotions into an intellectual argument which I can then process, absorb, and ultimately eliminate. This may sound cold and harsh, but this is what helps me work the way I do. Now I’m realizing that there’s a limit to that armor. Without going into too much detail, a key insight I had this past week was this: I need to just hang out again more.

4. MY WORK HAS INSPIRED ME TO WORK EVEN HARDER

I began the year with a very hopeful, idealistic tone. It is cliché that idealism is often worn out as reality sets in, but that has never been my attitude. Dreams have always meant hard work. And that if you have a vision of a world you want to create, you work at it. It doesn’t come without effort.

This is why, despite the rush of cases these past two weeks, I still see my work positively. Now I see what needs to be done. And just like what I used to do before, I bring people together to help me solve it, I set a time frame for us to accomplish our goals, and I see everyone through until the job is done. I have no illusions about the size of the task before us, whether it be putting an end to bullying and peer pressure, or teaching our students to believe in themselves and their capacity for good.

A colleague told me at the beginning of all this that I’m about to map uncharted territory. At that time, I was an eager adventurer with a hunger for surprise. Now I’m starting to see the lay of the land, its environs and creatures, and I’m not about to head back to more familiar ground. I’m all in. I’ve always believed that our students need their teachers to go all the way for them and I’m not about to change that now.

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