Joyce Gatete, a senior two student at St Patrick School Kicukiro, says her parents are planning to shift to a new home. And naturally, this comes with a high possibility that they will have to get her a new school near their new abode.
But she is worried about whether she will be able to adapt to the new school.
“Changing a school comes with a lot of issues, but what I am really worried about is whether the school has as good teachers as those in my previous school,” she says.
Gatete, one may say, has a legitimate concern. This is simply because the success of every student largely depends on the input of their teachers. However, how well a teacher knows their students is more important than just coming to class if their effort is to yield good results. For this reason, education experts contend that building good relationship between teacher and students is at the core of excellent performance.
Eliaza Ndayisabye, a disciplinary teacher at Mother Mary Complex in Kigali, says when a teacher knows their learners well, it is a lot easier to help them both academically and socially.
How best to know your student
“Identifying a learner by their name is the first step to help them succeed in whatever they do. This gives a student an impression that they are cared for and recognized individually,” Ndayisabye says, adding that such a learner is able to develop a sense of trust and they will interact with the teacher more freely.
For Peter Hakizimana, a teacher at GS Remera Protestant, Kigali, helping a student with class work only doesn’t add up much to their well-being. He believes that being a role model even outside the classroom helps a teacher to know more about their students.
“The success of any child depends on how all-round a teacher can be. For instance, finding out what students can do outside class and aiding them engage better in such particular activity, is one way a teacher can motivate students,” he says.
Hakizimana notes that a shy student will feel free to approach their teachers since they are more familiar with them in out-of-class, thus the success of the student.
Another strategy of making a learner successful is to talk to them casually more often, according to Valence Iyakaremye, a disciplinary teacher at GS Nkondo in Kayonza District.
“Close communication between a teacher and the student creates good relationship between the two. A teacher may also learn new things about their students, including challenges they may have either at home or school,” she says.
Iyakaremye adds that making an effort to keenly observe students is another way of understanding how to help them do better.
“These will particularly guide the teachers on how they should approach their learners while teaching or communicating to them,” she says.
Citing an example of a student who is always shy and easily takes offence, Iyakaremye says, “when dealing with such a student, a teacher can be able to find a way of making them feel comfortable in every conversation if they have a clue about these character traits.”
On the other hand, Pierre-Célestin Niwemwungeri, a teacher at GS Sihinga in Gasibo District, says checking the records of a student from their former school matters a lot.
“This helps a teacher to find out what the learner is missing or has achieved. It’s through this that a student can be helped to either catch up or be of help to their fellow students who may not be at the same level,” he says.
Niwemwungeri emphasises that knowing your students well gives them confidence because they can relate with you better.
“Once students feel close to you, as a teacher you are able to understand their strengths, weaknesses and interests, and thus guide them to success.”