How teachers can assist students in the new academic year

It is important for learners to work closely with teachers for a better relationship. File.

Learners tend to set goals with each new academic year. They do this mostly in a bid to advance their academic performance. 

It is important to note, however, that when it comes to students’ learning goals, teachers, as well as parents, have a big role to play, especially in terms of meaningful influence and engagement. 

Now that students have just resumed school, Stanley Mukasa, a Kigali-based educator, says it is the perfect time to teach students how to reflect on the past year and to make positive changes for the new term.

He notes that this applies to students at all levels, and that educators should aim at reminding learners that the new academic year means a fresh start, and that making positive promises to themselves is not only important, but realistic as well.

He further reveals that this helps students to focus their attention towards their education and career development, especially for those at a higher level.

Faustin Mutabazi, the chief executive officer at Educational Consultancy Bureau, an organisation that supports education and curriculum activities, points out that, students should meditate on what they have and have not learned in the previous year.

In regards to students’ New Year’s resolutions, he says they should be facilitated to develop new skills. These skills, he says, should be able to help them not only at school, but also outside the school environment or even throughout their lives.

“Skills can be anything from learning how to communicate to helping out others in their areas of weakness or any skill that can help them in the future,” he says.

Mutabazi goes on to add that it’s very important for learners to work closely with teachers for a better relationship.

“Just like a parent-child relationship, it’s important to have a strong relationship with educators as well, because they are the ones who help shape a student’s future. That is something that should be among school priorities,” he says.

The educator notes that in many instances, it’s normal to find students doing their best to make friends with fellow students, yet only a few get to build a strong bond with their teachers or lecturers, and, he believes, they play an important role in the overall development of any student.

“It’s important for educators and parents to help learners engage more with their teachers,” he says.

Mutabazi says teachers, therefore, should engage their students by, for example, asking them questions related to their academic interests, adding that this is the best way to create that bond, because whenever a student needs help in different areas, it would be easier to reach out to them.

Sylvain Bizirema, a science and a chemistry teacher at Ecole des Sciences St Louis de Montfort in Nyanza District, agrees with Mutabazi, saying that whenever this relationship is created, the teacher will always prioritise the academic needs of students as well as their wellbeing in general.

Career guidance 

Bizirema adds that such a relationship paves way for the possibility of career guidance, something he says is vital for all students.

Referring to the ways teachers can help out students, he points out the need of instilling the value of organisation.

Being organised is required for a student to excel in all areas, Bizirema says. This, he says, calls for having a clear and pre-set routine to do school work, among other tasks, and setting priorities.

“The possibility of excelling for a learner beginning the new academic year when organised is high. Although this habit should be instilled in learners from a younger age, it’s something that needs to be worked on from time to time.”

Ronald Wandira, the head of the humanities department at Riviera High School and year leader—advanced level—at Rwanda Education Board (REB), says that although the secondary setting is different from that of primary, learners need to focus on syllabus coverage and also read ahead of teachers.

This, he says, is because in most cases, the curriculum majorly emphasises self-examining, so it’s important for learners to make their notes and discoveries.

He says after this, a teacher can come in for consultation and checking on what the students are doing.

“This is especially important for candidates because of the limited time they have, thus they have to compile all their material from when they joined school to date. They should compile all the material and have information on their fingertips to be able to do their best in academics,” he says.

Wandira also notes that reading ahead of the teacher is important, as it helps them understand what they are being taught, and also have a clear picture of what they are supposed to be doing.

He says learners should also consider extra-curricular activities to keep them active, and utilise their talents well.

He points out that at times for students to get scholarships, some institutions focus on talent and if learners didn’t participate in any activity whatsoever, they miss out on such opportunities.

To achieve this, he says, parents should always help their children draw a plan when it comes to working hard and achieving more in life.

Social media

Diana Nawatti, the head teacher at Mother Mary Complex School, Kigali, says social media has embedded itself not only with adults, but learners as well.

For learners, she says, if not controlled, it can hinder their goals.

She also notes that it’s important for parents to always limit the time their children spend on television, especially when on holiday.

“They should ensure that they reduce their screen time and embrace other alternatives, like developing a reading culture, especially with education journals,” she advises.

She adds that when this is done, it gives students ample time to gather their thoughts and be a lot more productive throughout the day.

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