She knew her time was up. She gently nodded in my direction – that was the confirmation I needed. I relaxed on the protective railing watching the girls totally focused on her as she hurriedly rounded up her lesson.
3 minutes later, she was out and I was in. The girls rose to their feet in unison,
‘Good morning Mr Juventus’ they chorused.
A handful of them were trying to copy up the remnant of the notes. They were neither standing nor seating down.
I paused for a couple of seconds. And when they realized I was staring at them, they stood up and quickly folded their notes.
‘Good morning class’ I replied. ‘Sit down ladies’.
Few of them chuckled at my use of the word ladies. I ignored them.
‘Open up to your Civic Education assignment.’ While they riffled through their desk, I went on.
‘Hope we have done the second part of our assignment?’
I went round to take a look at their books.
The class is JSS 3. They will be writing their first external exams somewhere in third term. We agreed to collectively tackle the Civic Education past questions. They had the past question exercise books already.
As part of the plan, they had 120 questions per year to answer. So we decided that each week, they will solve sixty questions. Also, the problematic questions should be isolated for collective treatment in the class for the benefit of all. It was a plan I hatched and sold to them at the beginning of the term.
‘Sir’ I looked at her expecting a well-timed question.
‘I didn’t do the assignment’.
I looked at Oluchi steadily. Couldn’t believe that after six solid days and counting someone would tell me that she didn’t do the work. They all did the first half last week so why?
‘How many of you didn’t do the assignment?’ No one answered.
‘Nneka didn’t do hers too’ Chinenye pointed out.
I went over to Nneka’s desk, her blank note was all the evidence I needed. Disappointment was etched over my face like graffiti on a wall. After my explanations and motivations, they decided to throw my effort back at me.
I looked at their faces, trying to sniff out mischief or any other prank they may have concocted but their innocent faces couldn’t yield any other clue.
They needed to be punished. Can’t allow them go scot free. ‘Nneka and Oluchi go and kneel down outside the class’ I barked.
That was the worst I could do.
This little lasses of mine can frustrate the living God out of you. No matter how much you try to anticipate it, you will always get the wind knocked off your sail when their childish misbehavior outfoxes their reasoning.
We have gone half way into marking the text when I ordered them back. They would do theirs and submit it to me as soon as possible.
I reminded them of the reason why we need to work as a team – get the assignments done, sieve out the problematic questions and thrash them for everyone’s comprehension.
As I left the class, Nneka followed me. ‘Mr Juventus’ she called out.
‘Yes mam’ I paused and waited for her to catchup.
‘I am sorry I did not do the assignment.’
My face relaxed a little bit as I looked at her intently. This wouldn’t be the first time a student came up to me apologizing. They know I have their good intention at heart. Couple of days ago during the open day, one of them dragged her mum to my makeshift office to start the open day tour. The reason as proffered by her mum was simple, I was her special teacher.
‘Get the assignment done and submit it first thing on Monday.’
‘Thank you sir.’ She dashed away.
They just need to know that I care.
God bless them for me…