Exeperiences and mussings of a classroom teacher*

I teach Mathematics at the Government Secondary School Minna.

It has been for me a mixed experience, but by and large I enjoy my work. Seeing the curious faces of these young men who form two groups of people I interact with daily in the class room for most of the passing year, light up in understanding makes me happy. Thus I go to great lengths to ensure I understand the material to be considered in class well ahead using several sources of information including: What I remember of the topic, what the school approved text book(s) says of the topic and what some online sources say about it. I put all these together and try as much as possible to hit the issue from all angles and sometimes going to the classroom with personally sourced teaching aids to help with my delivery and help this boys understand the material – one motivation for this was my poor foundation in mathematics thus my fear for the subject thus my poor performances in the subject most of my life…and then suddenly realising  in my dying days as an undergraduate that mathematics like physics is just principles and applications without many exemptions to the rule as is with English Language – ‘use of’ and all its other renditions  ( which I loved and always passed well) and Chemistry (which I never really liked but also passed anyways) and can be passed—oh my God I wished I could go back and improve my mathematics, trust me my undergraduate transcripts do not bear true witness to my understanding of the subject now.

Ok so much ado about that.

I just completed grading of examination scripts for my two groups of students for the first term of the 2008/2009 academic session (one I may not finish with them, because my volunteer period ends in Feb., 2009 and I intend returning to the classroom pursuing an advance degree in Educational Technology and eLearning, or getting a job as a trainer, HR practitioner or an IT/ICTs person in a world class environment (those are competencies/interests in bold face). And again the feeling of triumph pervades through me and sometimes it is doused by some disappointments.

Reading through their texts and working through their calculations I noticed that many took the liberty of creativity and understanding in solving the problems while some just gave me back my words. Some students present me facts that I have to carefully review to understand and some simply break down the problem into modules of solutions like I taught, assuming they are teaching the examiner how to solve this problem – this often brings smiles to my face and the feeling of accomplishment could not be submerged. But then there were the disappointing few whose delivery were poor that I wonder where on earth they were when I taught the principles in class and when their colleagues asked questions and clarifications and during the several extra mural classes I hold during break and shortly after school hours to drive home points and interact with students. In fact a student wrote as answer to one of the problems in the exams I just completed grading: ‘I am not taught sir’. I was upset and wondered what an indictment, but then carefully reviewing the class records I kept I realised he was indeed not taught as he was not in class on the four occasions I randomly obtained class attendances and missed both tests which I delivered un- announced to students in order to measure their level of understanding and he never turned in any of the many take home assignments I dished out. All these pointed to an absentee student wanting the benefits of attending classes and blaming his teacher for his woes.

In any case my experience as a teacher in the last 8 months has shed plenty lights on the many feelings and utterances from my teachers from all over the past.

There are many categories of students, those who learn quickly and do so much to learn you think their lives depended on it, those who are slow to learn and but willing to learn and those who do not seem to care but want the benefits of learning.


This post was originally written on:  14th December, 2008
Corrected for spelling and grammar (not quiet) 16th August 2010



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