This teaching thing (part 2)

April 8, 2012
I’ve talked about me teaching here before so if you haven’t read that post I encourage you to.

My experience with teaching has been bitter-sweet. If you follow my tweets you probably noticed that during the school term I tweeted about my students a lot. They made me happy, angry, frustrated excited and on two separate occasions they made me cry.  I love giving them hugs (finally got used to it) and their constant washing  compliments “Miss Sabirah you are so beautiful, we love your earrings”.

Unfortunately teaching isn’t just about the students, it’s about the organization, bureaucracy, politics and power struggles, and a heavy dose of ass kissing. Now a lot of people know the school I worked at but please this is not a direct jab at them, I’m thankful for the opportunity they gave me. I have had the experience of teaching at other schools so I’m being honest about the system in general.

Among the very many reasons I decided I wanted to teach was that I’m a creative person, I love trying new things, working on fresh ideas and putting a spin on old things, it reflects in almost all the things I do in my life. My belief was that teaching would be another outlet for my creative energy since I was beginning to feel stifled in Lagos. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case, before I got hired, I was asked what I could change and what kind of ideas I would bring to the school. I gave a few examples in the interview and got really excited, when the time came to implement them it was just obstacle upon obstacle. It quickly became frustrating.

Then there was this communication gap between the administration and the teaching staff, we (they) were overworked (this left me being a substitute teacher for classes I wasn’t prepared for) and their ideas or recommendations didn’t seem attended to or even valued. It was weird in my position because since I was new I had good relations with the admin but then I felt like I had to pick a side. A school is an organization where everybody HAS to be working together. When communication is strained things start to fall apart, dissatisfaction seeps in and productivity diminishes no?

Of course all of this going on makes it difficult to work, some days it just became a drag on others a power struggle. Let me say though that the students got excellent grades and won competitions constantly. So maybe all this was just a means to an end. I don’t know. I just wish it was different. A lot of things I ran away from in the corporate work place just came to meet me here. Teaching at the public school was different because since I was volunteering my time I had a lot of freedom. and ohh the things I accomplished. Truly thankful for that experience and for this one too. Everything is a learning experience and i’m grateful for that.

Quite a bit has changed and I will give updates at my own pace of course.

Till then,
Happy Holidays.

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1 Comment

  • Reply The Eccentric Afropolitan April 12, 2012 at 12:09 am

    Sabirah, I always love all your posts on teaching, and I am glad that you share them with us. I feel like these red tape issues associated with a bureaucratic system are endemic everywhere, even here in the public education system in the US. It makes me want to come hom and teach, even if for month. I want more, tell us about lesson plans and your interaction with your students- Sheba

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