Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Margret Chavula
“If you have to put someone on a pedestal, put teachers. They are society’s heroes.”
— Guy Kawasaki
To compliment my service as a CorpsAfrica Volunteer at my site, I volunteered to teach at a nearby primary school after I had noticed that the school had a shortage of teachers. The Headteacher gladly welcomed the offer because it was going to ease the burden that teachers had of switching classes to accommodate the class that did not have a teacher. I was assigned to teach in standard 2 since that was the class that did not have a teacher. I was excited that I will be exploring a new experience, as a teacher. I kept telling myself that teaching shouldn’t be as hard, especially teaching little kids. I was in for a surprise.
My first day at the school was very easy, I was told to observe and learn from other teachers as they taught. From what I had seen, I was convinced teaching was very simple and believed I would manage the class perfectly. On the second day at the school, I was left to teach. My first day as a teacher was not as exciting or easy as I had imagined, this day can be recorded as one of the longest days I have experienced. I got tired during the first period, explaining things to kids who seemed not to understand what I was saying to them, was tough work. Controlling the noise and ensuring everyone was paying attention was tiring. Marking a class of over a hundred pupils was overwhelming. I couldn’t wait for the pupils to knock off. As the days went by, with similar experiences, I remembered how I underrated the work of primary school teachers and teachers in general. I never understood what they went through to get one to grasp the concepts in class, or to attend to each and everyone’s work and challenges. But with the little experience I have had as a teacher, I regret ever thinking teaching is simple. Teachers are special, they have shaped all the professions building our societies. But, not everyone can be a teacher.
With time, I convinced myself to stop concentrating on the challenges I faced as an inexperienced teacher, but rather find ways that would simplify my work and make it enjoyable. I began to involve the pupils more during the lessons, this made them believe that their opinions and thoughts were just as important. They enjoy participating in classroom activities. I also discussed with the pupils to come up with rules and regulations that everyone was to follow to ensure that there’s order in class and that the class is kept tidy, which they gladly did. I now look forward to the next class, the lessons are quieter and more interesting.
I know I am making an impact in these kids’ lives, most of them can now read and write. They now have a changed attitude towards school, because they enjoy our lessons. However, one thing that will always be true is that “Teachers are society’s heroes.”