Students on the national curriculum started reporting for the academic year on Sunday. After a long holiday away from school, are they ready to excel this year? And are teachers well equipped to ensure success?
Casimir Manirareba, a teacher at Lycée Notre Dame de Cîteaux, says that he is ready to start the new academic year, and excited to meet new students. Basing on eight years of his teaching experience and four years of teaching English language and communication skills particularly, he is ready to give his best skills to the learners.
“Personally, I have qualities that will help me accomplish my duties as I assist students to develop in different areas, for instance, counselling and career guidance since I am a mentor and counsellor,” he says.
Manirareba adds that he has also prepared his lessons and learning materials that will engage students to learn and practice what is taught in class. That way, they will be required to be active, collaborative, and hardworking.
According to John Mary Musinguzi, the principal at Little Bears Montessori School, working ahead of the delivery schedule should be the target so that teachers have enough time for revision with students, especially candidates.
He explains that for each class, multiple tests will be done after every topic. This helps learners to keep revising not only for exams but also for tests. It keeps them academically healthy and prepared to avoid last-minute panic for exams.
“We are supposed to be optimistic, through taking a positive account of our strengths, skills and best traits, with the goals that we are working towards and those that we have already grasped. We must seek to find the best in each student, helping them to see their good qualities that will enhance their confidence, mindset and perseverance,” Musinguzi says.
He says that academic excellence sometimes transpires when students learn to follow rules. This is why class rules must be set on day one and students encouraged to jointly come up with a list of guidelines as well. Research has shown that when students contribute to rulemaking, they tend to follow them.
Musinguzi explains that there should be proper communication systems with parents to provide them with a number of approaches used in the classroom, and give them a chance to take part in giving their ideas, or feedback. This, in the end, supports in establishing a bond and partnership.
He adds that it is a teacher’s duty to keep motivating learners as at times they might give up on some subjects after failing to perform to their expectations. Students require more incentive so that they find the drive to excel and keep up with revision.
Manirareba also notes that teachers should train students to challenge themselves and take on hard tasks.
He also points out that learners should have a respectful environment as it enables them to feel safe in expressing concerns or asking questions, and also creates a sense of common identity. This not only helps exploit students’ learning and motivates them to step outside their comfort zone, but also assists teachers to manage the whole class easier.
For learners to fulfil their academic potential, they must be provided with resources to foster the environment they need to do so, while focusing on individual progress, and recognising excellence, Manirareba says.
Alice Usabye, an educationist in Nyanza, Southern Province, says that teachers ought to reflect on the previous year, to know what went well, or wrong, and learn from that. Know and check timetable before starting. Read or go through previous lessons, if they can make improvements, have complete tutorial documents and attend school on time.
Usabye also says, students need to be pushed to achieve higher standards, then offer praise when they perform well. Students want to be complimented on every little achievement. It drives them to work even harder.
She urges teachers to continue growing in their professions as to keep up with the latest information through online forums, workshops and professional journals, in order to increase interest and boost success.
Since students have different strengths and weaknesses, teachers should make sure that the teaching techniques and learning styles cater for both the slow and fast learners. Hence, breeding more success, Usabye says.
She adds that each student matters; teachers should reach out to every student and know their weaknesses so that they can help them out. Knowing each student individually assists a teacher on how best they can help them. Provide students with a syllabus at the beginning of the year that explains the grading policies as well.