Resuming a New Academic Session amidst Dwindling Economy

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As the summer holiday draws to a close and teachers get ready to return to their duty posts amidst the harsh economic situation in Nigeria, some concerned educators and parents have said it will take a teacher that is ready to go the extra mile in the profession to meet the expectations of the students, school owners and parents in a time like this.Peace Obi reports

Time they say changes and it takes highly equipped individuals with practical knowledge, experience and self-determination to go against the tide and remain standing. Experts have said it will take committed, self-motivated, and disciplined teachers to remain focused and achieve results amidst the dwindling economic power of the people.

As primary and secondary schools in the country prepare to commence a new academic session, Concerned Parents and Educators (CPE), a body of parents, teachers, school administrators and educators in a recent forum where it brainstormed on some of the best ways to move the country’s education forward, reflected on the topic ‘Getting our Teachers Ready to Resume.’

The moderator, an educational consultant and Managing Director, Edumark Consult, Mrs. YinkaOgunde, who opened the discussions,said as people groan under the harsh economy, it becomes more challenging as parents and teachers wonder how to meet up with their children’s school responsibilities.

According to her, as the moaning parents wonder where school fees will come from, schools are equally worried by increasing costs as only very few can dare to increase school fees for fear of losing patronage from the already overburdened parents. “Some teachers are wondering if salaries would be able to meet the rising cost of daily living. And don’t doubt for a moment that the ever observant and sensitive children are taking it all in and making their own deductions.

“Obviously, special teachers are needed at a time like this. Teachers that will encourage, motivate, inspire and convey the message of a better tomorrow. And one of the key tools I believe is needed now is enthusiasm.”
To teachers, she said: “So get enthusiastic about what you are doing. I hope that in this new academic year, teachers would be able to inspire and encourage our children by the enthusiasm they will bring to the job.”

Noting that teachers play important role in nation building and that no nation can rise above the quality of its teachers, an educational consultant, Mr. AdeogunKayode, said the future of any nation depends on the standard of education obtainable in that nation which depends on the quality of the teachers in place.

Stressing that the destiny of a child lies partly on the hands of the teacher, Kayode said the quality and manner of lesson delivery by the teacher can make a child either drop out of school or develop strong interest in pursuing a brighter future through education.

“Effective teaching in the classroom can only be ensured by an effective teacher who arms himself with all necessary principles, methods, motivational skills and instructional materials.”

He said apart from the aforementioned working tools, a teacher is expected to possess some qualities that will facilitate his/her classroom activities, which include, personal interest, love of children, discipline, knowledge, commitment, among others. “For a teacher to be effective in the classroom, he must develop personal interest in the teaching profession. He should not see it as a mere means of livelihood in the absence of a better option of job.

“His personal interest will steer him to put in appreciable effort that can make his teaching effective and result-oriented. And discipline is an indispensable virtue for effective performances in the classroom. A disciplined teacher possesses self-control and sacrificial quality that guarantee quality service at all times.

“It is important for a teacher to have knowledge- two-fold nature. He must first possess a general knowledge which include a sound understanding and specific knowledge of the subject. On the other hand, he must have an in-depth knowledge of the nature of children. He must realise the fact that, he interacts with children who by their nature are inquisitive and curious thus, the incessant questioning. He should be able to cope with the virile and inquisitive nature of children generally. In fact, he should display a very accurate and cute reasoning ability in order to be able to cope with the dynamic nature of children.

Expressing his desire to see Nigerian teachers become internally motivated and personally encouraged, the educational consultant said that is what can propel them to put in their best in the classroom, to ensure that any child that passes through them does not become a failure in life and to set the target of producing students who will become great leaders tomorrow.

“No one on earth can pay a teacher enough for his services. It is a sacrifice and a great job. It is an indispensable job- the job without which every other productive activity in the society comes to naught.
“In spite of the unfortunate situations, the discouraging circumstances and the frustrating environment in which Nigerian teachers have been constrained to operate, it is my passionate appeal that the teachers should sacrificially labour for the sake of the Nigerian child.”

Delivering his 10-point thought, Mr. OnikoyiAbiodun, encouraged teachers to enjoy what they do, make a difference, be creative, spread positivity and to embrace change, among others. According to him, the teaching profession is meant to be an enjoyable and rewarding career field, although demanding and exhausting at times.

Stressing that teachers need to understand the responsibility that comes with their profession, he said their goals at all times ought to be to make a difference in the lives of their students.

“Make them feel special, safe and secure when they are in your classrooms. Be the positive influence in their lives. Why? You never know what your students went through before entering your classroom on a particular day or what conditions they are going home to after your class. So, just in case they are not getting enough support from home at least you will make a difference and provide that to them.”

While urging teachers to always manage their personal problems in such a way that it does not affect the quality of their job, Abidoun said: “Bring positive energy into the classroom every single day. You have a beautiful smile, so don’t forget to flash it as much as possible throughout the day. I know that you face battles of your own in your personal lives, but once you enter that classroom, you should leave all of them behind before you step feet in the door.”

The educator added: “An effective teacher is one who is creative but that doesn’t mean that you have to create everything from the scratch. Find inspiration from as many sources as you can. Whether it comes from books, education, Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, blogs and many more, keep finding it.”

Acknowledging that in life, things do not always go according to plan, he said, “this is particularly true when it comes to teaching. Be flexible and go with the flow when change occurs. An effective teacher does not complain about changes. Instead of stressing about change, embrace it with both hands and show that you are capable of hitting every curve ball that comes your way.

“There is always something positive to be found in every situation but it is up to teachers to find it. Keep your heads up and teach happily for the love of education,” Abiodunstressed.

For another expert, Mrs. Rhoda Odigboh, to get the best from the seemingly difficult situation that teachers may be working in the 2016/2017 academic session requires effective time management, appreciation of the power of connections, class control, saving plans and keeping a journal.

While enjoining teachers to make time management one of their guiding principles towards achieving meaningful goals, she said, “stay away from that very tempting ‘last-minute-dot-com’ syndrome. Just do it.”

Elaborating on some of her ideas, Odigboh said: “Establish one-on-one relationship with your students. I mean know, schedule a moment every week to speak and hear every student of yours. It does magic for your work and their grades. Seek multiple strategies to control classroom behaviour. Use progressive language.

Admonishing teachers to cultivate the habit of saving a portion of their income, she said when adopted as a habit, it would help them to plan and take on new projects with less stress.

“Money makes everyone happier which leads to being able to plan to take on new projects easily. Join an ‘esusu’, ‘ajo’ or cooperative. Leave a standing order at the bank to a savings account. Start little but be consistent. You will be glad you did.

To avoid losing focus, Odigboh encouraged teachers to write their set goals. “Write your dreams, document your plans, make them short and precise. Task yourselves with simple, doable but uplifting tasks that can keep you on your toes.”

Corroborating other leading opinions, Mrs. ModupeAdesanya, said the current economic situation should not make parents and educators lose focus on the need to bequeath Nigerian children quality education that will enable them compete favourably with their counterparts globally. “No matter the cost of living and melting economy, the education of our children should remain paramount to all parents. The teachers should still believe in themselves and note that they are called to serve. No matter what comes up, the best is still expected from them because teachers’ rewards start right here on earth. All teachers will never labour in vain.”

While calling for collaborative efforts to achieve the optimum result in the forthcoming academic session, Mrs. NdidiAdekunle said “this is the time of seeking the most value out of little for both the school and the teacher and of course the students and their parents.

Advising teachers, students and parents to leverage on materials the modern technology put at their disposal, she said: “Luckily for us, it is the age of information. Already-made lesson plans and entire class sessions from the best of Montessori, High Scope, Waldorf, you name it, are out there to help schools, teachers, students, and parents buffer their practices at little or no cost in comparison. You cannot afford not to be online these times. It is too expensive not to be. You must rise above your circumstances and stay on top of your game,”Adekunle said.