By Tim Nwaobilo
Growing up there was this popular saying: A teacher's reward is in heaven. I wonder who doesn't expect a reward in heaven, at least if one gets there. It's been a while I heard such unfair and unrewarding sentence, but has the rarity of such biased statements proved that teachers now have a better fair?
Well, that is left to be seen. Have they started gaining their rewards right here on earth like most other professionals? My mother was a teacher while I was a kid and I saw the amount of dedication she put into her job.
There were some characters she necessarily had to develop/use if she was going to be an effective teacher. Briefly, I'll highlight some fundamental traits I think every good teacher possesses.
Every good teacher has to possess the requisite amount of knowledge about a subject before standing in front of a board. In my junior class in secondary school, I had an Agricultural Science teacher who—pardon me—didn't know jack about what it took to be an Agric teacher. She made us work her school farm and did little in the way of making deliberate efforts to impact useful knowledge into us. I guess she was favorably suited to be strictly a farmer and not a teacher. You can imagine our indignation when we returned from one break to discover all the corns we planted harvested. At least if she didn't pass enough knowledge to us in the classroom our labours on the field should've been rewarded. I later learnt she was one of those students who never attended lectures in the university and paid their way to earn marks. Not the true quality of a good teacher.
A good teacher has care for the students. He/she tries to understand the learning rate of each student and adapt the teaching pattern to carry everyone along. A good teacher inquires about the students' welfare. A good teacher cares for the impact his/her teaching will have on the students. If half the class doesn't assimilate a lesson being taught, a good teacher becomes unhappy and endeavours to make the learning process more profitable. That's care.
This is a virtue that is fast becoming scarce in our society but it's something that is at the bedrock of the teaching profession. Without patience it is impossible to bring out the best in students. Patient teachers churn out the best students. When teachers rush over a topic without allowing for proper grasping of the concept, it skewers the teacher-student dynamics and it doesn't favour the learning process.
4. DEDICATION & PASSION
Show me an uneducated teacher and I'll show you a failure. Dedication to duty is what wakes him/her up at night to study and prepare notes. That's what ensures that explanations take almost the entire strength of a teacher. Dedication to the teaching profession links up with passion to make teaching one of the noblest professions in the world.
When we were asked as kids what we wanted to become when older, only a few of us said teacher. I said engineer, which I eventually did become. But I've come to realise teaching goes beyond standing before a board and facing students. Teaching is primarily about the transmittal of value from one person to another. So a lawyer can engage in teaching as long as he/she utilizes avenues for value addition by way of teaching someone about a previously unknown concept. A pharmacist could teach a patient about the dangers of self medication for example. A business executive could teach his/her inferiors about the tenets of the business enterprise. The moment teaching is seen beyond the shattered frame of an old man with horn-rimmed glasses standing before a blackboard with chalk in one hand and a cane in the other, then we'd realize we are all constantly steeped in the art of teaching—however informal—and ascribe greater value to those who decide to make the teaching art their life service and purpose for existence. Without teaching there can be no learning, and consequently no growth and development. No society can develop beyond the level of its teachers.
In celebration of Teachers' Day may we take a moment to reflect on the impact of teachers and the teaching profession on our lives. Indeed their reward starts right here—RIGHT NOW!
(Image Credit: facebook.com/ntmphills, You Parent)