Wednesday, 17 May 2017

CONFESSION TIME: I FAILED MY STUDENTS

It is my job to observe and read my students’ body language like a book. The university didn’t fully prepare me for this but I have realized that they are a lot of things we learn on the job.

Reading students body language is one of them. As I advance in this profession, its reality gazes back at me.

I stare into their eyes as I teach, watch their body languages as well for any sign of discomfort or slight trace of uncertainty. It is obvious that no matter how much we encourage and motivate them to ask questions, there are a hand few who are too scared, shy, to seize the bull by the horn and allay their areas of confusion.

They sit in the class nodding their heads to my ‘do you understand’ and ‘is it clear’ statements. Some times their bodies emit tiny clues that tell me the state of their mind. Their eyes give them away too. Yet I failed them. If I had known this a long time ago, maybe their fate would have been different.

And those tiny nuggets of doubts that plague their mind are like icebergs – small on the water surface, and the size of Olumo rock beneath it. Wrecking havoc on their learning outcome over and over again.

What kills me most is their inability to help themselves. In the past, it was difficult noticing them individually but now, I read them better.

It wasn’t easy picking them out initially. They are in the class gazing at me, taking notes and I feel I am running a tight ship. But when I peruse their result booklet at the end of the term, it tells a different story.

‘Why is Nnenna not doing well?’
 Stella’s essay showed a shallow understanding of the subject matter.’

I never knew that that shy smile I assume to pass for comprehension was an indication that she is lost and finding it difficult to ask questions too.

I now watch their eyes for that tiny flick crying I-don’t-understand scream out at me. I ignored it in the past but I am learning and very fast too.

My curiosity knew no bound. I would admit that it took me up to a year to discover some of them. They don’t disturb in the class nor ask questions. Initially I laud their seating comportment but now, I crave their distraction.

This is my crusade. They will be discovered and helped. If I am going to run a tight ship, all hands must be on deck.


Papa Mmeso.
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