While supervising national examinations in November last year at FAWE Girls’ School in Gisozi, a notice in the staffroom caught my eye. It had a list of the duties and responsibilities of a class teacher.
The administrators of this great school had seen it necessary to clearly state these roles in order to enable teachers play this role effectively.
There are certainly many teachers in Rwanda who have never seen such a notice while others are simply ignorant of what is expected from them as class teachers.
Personally, I have had the chance to be a class teacher and actually I am still one. A class teacher is basically that teacher who is assigned the extra role of being the patron of a particular class.
He/she is duly responsible for his/her class in several dimensions as I am about to explain. Once you have been allocated a class to head, as a class teacher, the first thing you have to do is to make a database of all your students.
Write down all the names of the students in the class and endeavour to put a face to each name. To do this, you need to interact with them often until you know each of the students.
In knowing the students well, you should be able to know their academic performance, performance in extra-curricular and co-curricular activities of the school. It is very important also to be aware of their behaviours and backgrounds.
These factors greatly influence their academic performance and so great attention has to be paid to the discipline and background of a student. After getting to know them, you should then be in position to offer them guiding and counselling services as often as possible.
This should largely address academic, discipline and general life problems. Where possible a class teacher should make an effort to dialogue with the parents of the students so that they are incorporated in the academic life of their children too.
The class teacher is supposed to be like a parent/guardian for the students and therefore liaising with the parents is reasonably crucial. On the part of the school, the class teacher also serves as a middleman between the class and the school administration.
In this role, he/she may advocate for the interests of his class. In a staff meeting for instance, he/she should be ready to give a detailed profile of any student in his/her class. He/she must present the students problems to the school administration.
In order not to appear like an outsider, the class teacher should also be a subject teacher in that particular class. This way, he/she is assured of a meeting opportunity with the students and monitoring their academic behaviour in class.
Using the powers of a class teacher, he/she can go ahead and plan the sitting arrangement of the class. Students with sight problems need to be placed appropriately depending on whether they are long or short sighted.
A class teacher should help his class to organise elections for its leaders (class monitors). Through these leaders, he should see to it that the class is always clean and organised.
He must also make a follow up on class activities like sports or drama activities. As the term draws to the end, a class teacher is tasked with the duty of making academic report forms for his/her class.
On several occasions, the class teacher should be ready to meet his/her class and hold vital discussions on several issues. If there is a new development in the school, the class teacher must meet the class to discuss it.
The students should also feel free to approach their class teacher anytime they meet a problem. This therefore means that a class teacher must be an approachable person that is always willing to listen and advice his/her students.