When I Was A Teacher

When I Was A Teacher

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I picked up a job as a Chemistry teacher in a school some years ago before I later went to study Medicine.

I was to teach the 3 senior classes, SS 1-3… At that time, I was 19 years old. I taught Chemistry there for three years.

One day I was completing my students’ report cards and I got to one of the report card, I saw that the other eight (8) teachers had already entered the grades the student got in the respective subjects, only mine (Chemistry) was left.

He had ‘F9’ in all the recorded eight subjects but when I looked into my own record, this student had ‘A1’ in Chemistry. I was curious and also surprised. How can a student get 8 ‘F9’ and 1 ‘A1’? Maybe I made a mistake while marking his script!

I searched out his script and scrutinize it afresh for remarking… it was difficult to believe, the student actually passed Chemistry excellently. He did not cheat, he wrote it himself.
He was one of the ‘dullest’ students in class at the time but he got ‘A1’ in chemistry. How did it happen?

At that time, I taught Chemistry with inspiration and motivation… I would teach them until they could reproduce whatever I taught in their own words.
I had this principle that the success of a teacher should not be judged by the performance of his brightest student but by that of his dullest student.

I went extra mile to make sure that all the students were carried along, it was very stressful but I was determined. I organized extramural lessons to help some of them catch up… I was a patient teacher and I also pray for them.

Whenever I finished my curriculum with them for the term, I would enter their classes and say, “Anyone who score up to 90% in the chemistry exam will get so and so as prize”.

The first time I tried that, I used half of my salary to redeem my promise because up to six of them scored above 90%. I tried it again and all my salary went in for it… But I still continued to motivate them.

Now you can understand why a student abandoned all the other 8 subjects so that he could clinch a prize in Chemistry. So I didn’t believe the student was dull, he only needed motivation, which he got only in Chemistry.

The whole thing played out excellently in the WAEC exam, about 80% of my students got distinction in Chemistry.

Every student is a genius, they only need the right motivation and atmosphere to show the stuff they are made of.
A good teacher will pride himself in the fact that majority or all his students excel and not the other way round.

In most if not all our schools in Nigeria, most of our teachers take pride in failing their students, I think it’s an aberration.

In a recent exam I wrote, 153 of us wrote the exam and only 48 of us passed, 105 others didn’t, and the result was released with pride… But I look forward to a time when the focus will be on making sure every student excel and not this system that promotes the survival of the fittest.

Are you a teacher reading this? What type of teacher are you? The one that inspires and motivates his students to excellence or the one that just does the job to make ends meet?

Are you a student reading this, give yourself no excuse for failure or mediocrity. You are more intelligent than you think, bend down and work smartly harder. You will surely excel in this life. Amen.

I miss being in the classroom, I hope to go back to the classroom later in my career.

Thank you for reading.
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Dr. John S. Balogun