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Refuse to die professionally  to save the life of pupil -Article


 

 

School life has so many failures and successes because of classroom environment. This paper discusses the school context, my role as a teacher and the critical moments of the child’s life as a failure school boy and as a brilliant University graduate.


I joined a private secondary school in NWFP as a science teacher in 1997. At that time I had two years of teaching experiences at different private schools. The students were given admission to school after qualifying entry test. One day a parent of a child came to me from far flung area and requested for admission of his child in 9th class in science section in the school. I asked him a few questions in order to understand his interest and the academic background of his child. He frankly told me that the child has left the government school one year ago due to failure in school internal exam, but the child wants to continue his education at this school, otherwise he would prefer to live at home without getting formal education. This situation put the poor parents in trouble that what to do with the child. I took interest in the matter and determined to help the parents to save the child from uncertainty. If I haven’t done so the child’s academic life would have been destroyed.


Therefore, I desired to see the child to know more about him, because I wanted to help the child in continuing his education. So, I met the child and interviewed him to get more information regarding his academic performance in school, home environment, his future plan and interest of getting admission in my school. He told the whole story that his previous school environment was not encouraging and conducive for learning due to absenteeism of teachers and fear of corporal punishment in school. Kyriacou (1997) informs that “learning is the inevitable consequence of the individual’s interaction with the environment” (p. 25). The child further told that he will show better performance if he gets admission in this school. I observed that the child is very active and has a potential, which needs to be polished. I shared this story with the principal and requested him to give admission to the child to provide him an opportunity to continue his education. In the next day, the principal asked me to take entry test of a child for admission. We took the entry test from the child in English, Maths and Science subjects, but he failed in English and Science subjects.


However, on my insistence and guarantee, the principal granted him provisional admission and said that the child will be under observation till six months and then decision regarding his regular admission will be taken on the basis of his classroom performance. I observed that the child and his parents were very much happy to have their dream in reality. The next day, I held a meeting with the child and his father and offered my full moral as well as academic support to the child and also requested my colleagues to support and encourage the child in classroom to facilitate his learning and growth. I remained in touch with the child regularly and encouraged him to share with me his difficulties in learning even outside the class, because I wanted to see him a successful educated individual in future.

 
Due to individual attention and encouraging classroom environment, he began to take much interest in learning and came to me with problem in the morning and even after school hour. Swann (1998) argues that a change takes place, when individual child-focused activities are carried out. I appreciated his efforts and encouraged him to ask questions and take active part in classroom learning activities. Within three weeks, he became an active learner and the teachers started to talk about his boldness and good participation in class. I realized that it developed a culture of professional discussions among teachers in school, because the teachers most of the time engaged in discussions regarding the child progress. One of the experienced teacher said that the child progress indicates that ‘we should need to create a fearless environment in class, which has a positive impact on the children learning outcomes’.

 
Moreover, I kept a dairy with me and noted down the child progress daily, analyzed and reflected on it that he was improving day by day. Hart (2000) says that reflection on teaching is one of the most important sources of teacher’s power to make a difference to children’s learning. At the end of the month, we took a classroom test in four subjects and he performed well as compared to entry test. We shared his result with the principal and his parents and they got surprise to see his performance in the test in a very short time. I appreciated the child’s performance in class in the morning assembly. Now, the morale of the child raised and he worked hard to prove himself one of the best students in the class. His interest in learning and big improvement in a very short period made me realize that a teacher’s guidance in right time in right way can make a difference in students’ academic life. With the passage of three months, we took second term internal exam and found the child at 20th position out of 30. This was the great achievement for the child and all teachers were surprised to his good performance within three months, and it was also the happiest moment for me as a teacher, facilitator, motivator and risk taker, because I convinced the principal to get him admit in school. In the third term internal exam, he was in 15th position and in the annual internal exam, he got 4th position in the class.

 
Now, he became a highly motivated independent learner and made full preparation for SSC annual board exam and got first position in the school by scoring 79% marks. This was, really a greatest achievement for the child, who was considered to be ‘an incompetent student’ in his previous school. Thus, there was a learning for me as a teacher that individual attention and conducive enabling classroom environment play a vital role to enhance students’ learning outcomes. Hartle, Everall and Baker (2001) also support this view that “classroom climate allows teachers to understand how the pupils in their class feel about the dimensions of classroom climate that influence their motivation to learn” (p. 39).


Then, he got admission in college in pre engineering and obtained first position in F.Sc annual board exam at school level among engineering group. I encouraged and facilitated him to get admission in one of the reputed College in Peshawar and he succeeded to get admission and did his B. Sc with ‘A’ grade. Then, he got admission in Master in Science in Peshawar University and obtained 85% marks in final year. Now, he is preparing for CSS and PCS exams. I have learnt a lesson from this incident that nothing is impossible to a willing heart.


Therefore, it was a critical incident for me in my professional and personal life, which compelled me to reflect on my teaching practices as a builder of the nation to make a difference in the life of children, because they have the potential to go ahead, but need facilitation, encouragement and inspiration by creating conducive and enabling learning environment and paying individual attention in the class. My classroom discussions and learning at M.Ed course also inform me that conducive and encouraging environment makes a big difference in students’ learning outcomes. The child’s outstanding performance proved that we, as a teacher should not make assumptions about the students’ potential on the basis of exam result only that he/ she is incompetent or poor in learning as a result they may discourage for ever. Because, first we should need to reflect on our own classroom teaching practices, whether we are providing conducive, caring and encouraging environment for the students to learn and grow or not. So, I got an important message from this incident that as a teacher we should refuse to die professionally in order to save the life of pupil.


The big change in the academic life of the child left me with a few questions to ponder upon.
• If the encouraging environment and individual attention brings such a big improvement in the students’ academic life, why the teachers hesitate to do so?
• How can we improve our teachers’ training programs to help the teachers to make the classroom environment conducive for students’ learning?
• To what extend the teachers are responsible to make the school unsafe place for the children to learn? And why do we as teachers not believe in professionalism?
 

Dur Wali Khan Chitrali,
Ex. Principal of Private School in Chitral.

05 June 10.

 

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