Being a student can be hard, but being a teacher is definitely harder. Teachers don’t only have to worry about imparting the right knowledge, they also have to deal with very demanding parents, as well as worry about shaping students’ personality and their orientation in life. Most children spend more time with their teachers than they do with their parents. Therefore, teachers have the power to make and break every child in their care, because children, especially during their early years, are learning sponges. They soak in every word, every behaviour, every experience, which play a crucial role in setting a foundation in their lives and shaping their future. In a nutshell, teachers are a major influence in the lives of their students’, especially in the world today where most parents tend to shift their role as a guiding power to the teachers.
Peter Tabichi, best teacher of the world in 2019
Peter Tabichi is a teacher with a story that is drenched in passion and dripping with inspiration. “I am only here because of what my students have achieved. This prize gives them a chance. It tells the world that they can do anything” . Tabichi is a maths and physics teacher at Keriko, secondary school in Pwani Village, located in a remote area of Kenya’s Rift Valley. He won this year’s Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize, because of his outstanding ability to ‘build’ his students. Beating 10,000 nominations from 179 countries, he emerged winner with a prize of 1 million dollars. Students at Keriko secondary school have to trek long distances (7km) to reach the school. The roads are generally very bad and can become impassable in the rainy season. Meanwhile, in the dry season the area can be affected by drought and famine. According to the school records over 90% of his students are from poor families and almost a third are orphans or have only one living parent. Furthermore, this community struggles with issues of drug abuse, suicide, teenage pregnancies, early school dropout and early marriages, especially for young girls. Besides being their science teacher, Peter Tabichi who is equally a member of the Franciscan religious order, donates 80% of his salary to help poorer students in this institution afford basic school needs such as uniforms and books.
His passion for teaching, his love and commitment to the students and his determination to make a positive impact in their lives, helped him look beyond the state of acute lack (only having one computer, poor internet connection and a student-teacher ratio of 58:1) and to create the magic of today. Tabichi started a “talent nurturing club” and expanded the school’s science club, helping pupils design research projects of such quality that propelled many of his students into national and international science competitions. According to Tabichi, his students won an award from the Royal Society of Chemistry after harnessing local plant life to generate electricity. Together with four other colleagues, Tabichi also supports struggling pupils by providing one-to-one tuition in maths and science, visiting students’ homes and meeting their families to identify and discuss the challenges they face. This has had an enormous impact in the overall enrolment at Keriko secondary school. In the last three years the school population has doubled to 400 students. Girls’ attendance and participation in school activities has equally increased tremendously.
The dancing teacher of Ghana
Education is important, but self-confidence is crucial in the growth and success of every individual. Self-confidence is an essential part of humanity that causes a person to not only like themselves, but also develop the desire and willingness to take reasonable risks to achieve their personal and professional goals. It is the source of positive thinking and an optimistic outlook on life. Building self-confidence helps your social interactions and your ability to better understand and deal with negativity which is bound to arise in your personal and/ or professional life.
Mr. Sackey Percy, a teacher in Obo-Kwaku, in the Eastern region of Ghana believes education also includes talent identification and development – a very subtle and effective way of building self- confidence in his pupils. “The unique thing I am doing now is dance with my kids to improve their confidence during class hours.” he said. The young, talented and dynamic teacher became a sensation when his teaching-dancing video went viral on social media. He explained that since he started dancing with his pupils, they felt free to interact with him and ask questions. “Whenever I’m done with a lesson and I ask a question, they are able to tell me because they don’t see me as a caricature or something like that”, he added. Mr. Stacey believes there are a lot of gifted children in his class, ranging from those who can dance, sing and act. Through his unique method of teaching he wants every child to be able to build and harness their individual talent, while simultaneously boosting their self-esteem.
Every teacher has a unique approach to teaching and building a solid foundation for their students’ emotional, social, physical and mental development. However, we should always remind ourselves of the fact that, above all things, we are human beings and we are equal. And a human being is a social being. Lessons should therefore be given in a fun and exciting way that will encourage children to be effective learners. Teachers need to inspire a thirst for learning with eagerness and enthusiasm. Teachers need to understand that each child is unique and have different needs. Don’t discriminate. Don’t sum them up in a label. Get to know them. Get to understand them. You will be surprised at how rich and nourishing they are. They may be just children today, but they are great leaders of tomorrow. Remember: It takes the right teacher to train the right leaders.