It is quite sad that they only refer to me as just a teacher. Am I not more than that? Does my task not go beyond teaching? Instructors, teachers or pedagogues, whichever way you may put it are more than what we perceive them to be. They do more than we think their roles are.
Basically, the teacher instructs series of lessons to the pupils he handles. We have all been made to believe that, the sole task of teachers is to teach. Is this really the case?
The experiences I have had as a teacher tells me that, I am more than instructor of lessons. Day in and day out, I have to accept my different roles in the teaching profession. I have met kids who are never interested in formal education. I have always been convinced that such kids are just forced to be part of the ‘fun of schooling’. Most parents believe that having their kids simply put on uniforms justifies their responsibilities. How proud they are to have their kids in school. But is that it?
Anytime I had to ‘be on duty’ I sat in the bus to pick up pupils from their respective homes. As early as 6:00am, we pick up the first set of kids. Sometimes I wonder how such kids between the ages of 3 and 8 could wake up so early. I once asked their dad and he told me, at least they must be up at 4:30 am in other to take their breakfast and the rest of morning routines. I was much surprised because even as an adult, the earliest I could get up is 5:30am. Do such kids really enjoy these routines of getting up very early, preparing and going to school?
Most kids find it difficult in that short transition. The cries become loud as the souls become sad. There is no zeal, enthusiasm in schools. Schooling is not fun to most kids. I have always been sad in the short transition of kids from parents to teachers. In other to reduce their cries, parents have to lure them with biscuits and toffees. Does this solve the unwillingness of kids to go to schools? That is where the very first and which I believe is a crucial role of the teacher comes in.
Teachers tend to be counsellors in efforts to convince kids to love school. They had to carry and pamper the smaller kids to stop crying. They have to make sweet promises to the kids in sorrow. They just have to try their ‘magical powers’ to reduce the loud cries of the kids. Mostly at the school premises, I have to be a counsellor for my pupils. It is said that, the future of students is in the hands of the teacher. The students are like the clay and the teachers are like the potters that shape their destiny. As a counsellor, I have to be a good observer, paying particular attention to individual pupils. The problems I have seen with pupils are enormous: ranging from academic, health, emotions, among several others. Whether I become a good counsellor to my pupils or not will determine their future.
As they say call me, Sir; I guess that is a pleasant honorarium, I have to disregard that title and just be a friend to my pupils. Sometimes, they just need a shoulder to rest on. A teacher’s role as a friend to the pupils goes a long way to make the kids psychologically sound to progress in their academic works. I have to play with them during play time, talk to them as friends and make them see me as their pal. That task is not very easy, but I have to do it.
How often do I preach in church? How well do I know the Bible? But I have become a preacher to my pupils. The routines we share in basic schools in Ghana propel the teacher to be a preacher during times they call ‘Worship’. It does not only have to be preaching but also singing and leading prayers with the pupils. I am therefore not only a teacher but a preacher, singer and a service leader.
Adjudication is yet another role that I have to take up as a teacher. I become the judge in my court. I receive at least five cases a day from different classes. Since when was I trained a judge? But I guess it is one of the things the teaching profession brings.
Above all these roles is the role of being a dad or a mum. I wouldn’t debate which of them is most needed by the child. Being it the mum or the dad, I think the teacher assumes both of these roles. I have seen teachers who provide from their own accounts to their pupils. I have seen teachers who sponsor pupils throughout their education. They go to the extent of sharing their food with their pupils. Is that not what parents do?
My dear reader, it is time we start respecting and cherishing the wonderful roles of the teacher. In our part of the world, teachers I see have very low dignity in the society. Perhaps, the only enticing thing about teaching is to earn the title ‘sir’ or ‘madam’. Let us appreciate the preacher, the counsellor, the adviser, the friend, the judge, the caretaker, the mediator, the dad and mum and above all, the teacher.
UNIVERSITY OF EDUCATION, WINNEBA
DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY EDUCATION