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Opinions Thu, 1 Feb 2018

Becoming a better teacher: He who dares to teach must first be a student

Welcome to the opening session of our mini-series on how to be a better teacher for the year 2018. It is said that he who dares to teach must first learn to be a student. We are going to focus on the need for you to dedicate time to learning what you teach. How do you do this? What books do you use as your weapons against "very intelligent" students?

Teaching is one of the most brain racking exercise an individual can engage in. You use six or more hours of your day trying to impart what you have learnt from a book to another individual called a student. You try to modify the behaviours of pupils using tried and tested theories. What do you become when all of a sudden you stop learning? You become a lazy student then and, a lazy student can never be a good teacher.

As the term begins, you need to set goals for each individual student in your classroom. Normally, in a classroom situation, there is always the high achievers, the average student and the "down lists". Don't go about setting the same progress grid for all students. Dedicate time to research on that student who never gets what you teach. Then you may set a different objective for him/her. For example, in teaching students the concept of parts of speech (nouns to be specific) in English language, you can limit that not too good student to only identification of the part of speech without stressing him to know the definition. Once the student identify that A or B is a noun in the sentence, you can then proceed to types. Here you need not delay the rest of the class in explaining things that seem too cheap to them but too difficult to that one student. You can always use free periods, after school hours and even your rest periods to develop such a student. In doing this, you may have to look for books on how to effectively teach what you are teaching. It may be that your method is defective.

Again you need to interact with the pupils always and study their behaviour outside classroom. Thereon you may get an idea as to how to help the "Zuuku student". I know of many teachers who don't even smile when they see their students. Don't go that way. Be a friend to the pupils in order to learn more.

And to end this, you need to always revise on what you were taught at college or the University. This would make you smarter than your students and be in their good books as far as subject matter knowledge is concerned. A teacher who refuses to always learn new things would soon be given names by his pupils. Why? They would begin to doubt your credibility as a teacher. Don't over rely on the pupils' textbook to make notes for them. As a professional, your room should be stocked with at least three books on the subject you teach. One should be a book that suits the pupils' level. The other two should be books for higher studies (universities). This would help you have authority over your subject matter.

The monkey says that it is because of dogs that it has learnt to jump from one branch of a tree to another. Surely it is because of your students that you have to become a student before you can teach students. Confused?? Hahaha. Akubang?

By: Inusah Zanjina

The writer is a professional teacher working with the Ghana Education Service in Savelugu-Nanton Municipal. Contact me for more information on 0245613606.

Columnist: Inusah Zanjina