Sins of a Teacher

Sins of a Teacher

The life of a teacher is quite rosy. Maybe it’s not, but that’s the idea I had about teachers. What do teachers even do? Come into a class, act like the know-it-all, dish out notes, classwork and assignments. Now that I’m wearing a teacher’s shoes, I see that there’s more than meets the eyes.

Let me first explain this “teacher” thing. I’m talking about an academic teacher in an official school environment – secondary school. Apparently I’ve been a “teacher” all my life, just not this kind of teacher. I’ve had to “teach” lots of classmates and juniors, but that only put me in the “explainers” cadre. Even three years as a bible teacher in what we called Foundation Bible School doesn’t compare to the expectations from a teacher. We had a study outline, all one had to do was to get familiar with the outline in order to explain the content for the students. We may have made some additions to spice the outline, but the outline was essentially a finished product.

One responsibility that I’ve been introduced to is that of creating lesson notes. Prior to this time, I’ve only prepared notes for training programmes while an undergraduate. A three-week skills-focused programme cannot compare to the content of an academic syllabus for a subject like mathematics or physics. If someone had told me that preparing lesson notes (correctly) was tasking, I wouldn’t have gotten into any confrontation with one of my maths teachers.

As a little-smart juvenile in the final class of secondary school, having run-ins with teachers was a bit commonplace–as long as those runs-ins didn’t constitute serious crimes. I remember challenging my maths teacher for using examples from the recommended textbook. My “wise” brain argued that since the textbook’s examples were already solved, the teacher ought to pick an exercise to solve, or set her own questions to use as examples. This challenge put me into that teacher’s bad book. Fortunately for me, I was serious enough to perform near the top. Otherwise, it would have been a double tragedy.

Now that I’m officially a teacher (temporarily), I see why my maths teacher copied textbook examples into her lesson note. When you have a ridiculous amount of classes to teach, it’s easy to settle for an easy way out. Each time I feel like dubbing examples into my lesson notes, I recall my confrontation with that teacher. Now I have a moral burden to avoid what I fought.

It’s damn stressful solving exercises before putting them in a note, especially when you have nine classes to teach (rural schools hardly have enough teachers). However, I know that the students would be better for it. They’ll learn from both the teacher’s examples and their textbook’s examples. I’m not enjoying this, but I feel NYSC is just serving me a dose of my own medicine. My sins have found me out.

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