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Abroad-Based Nigerian Lecturer Educates Her Counterparts In Nigeria What It Means To Be A Teacher

“One of the few things I learned this past few months is being empathic as a Teacher. See, here, you can not wake up and give your students an F even if you have valid reasons. You cannot try it. Before a student fails a course, there are various means you must have exhausted before asking them to retake the course.
Let me break it down for you. So few weeks after the semester has started, the school will email you and ask you to identify students not doing well and has the possibility of failing your course. It is called early warning alert. It could be students not attending classes, not turning in assignments or not having textbooks or doing the wrong assignments. You will also identify the students doing good and the people just trying. The reports will be sent to the students and their success coaches. Each student has a success coach attached to them. The teacher, the success coach and the student will look at the issue, find out what’s happening and why the student isn’t meeting up. If we feel that they cannot meet up, we ask them to withdraw from the course, but it doesn’t affect their CGPA. It means they will retake it the next semester or until they pass the course. 

By midterm, students struggling will be asked to drop out of the course instead of failing and the window to dropping the course continues till exam weeks. Of course, dropping a course could affect the students on federal loans and scholarships, but it wouldn’t affect your final cumulative grades. 

Now, when a student isn’t showing up, you reach out to them, asking them why they are not showing up, if anything is happening in their lives that is making them lag behind, and offer assistance in ways you can. Initially, I found it totally ridiculous to ask students why they are not coming to class or missing assignments. Like you are in the university for crying out loud not high school!πŸ˜’

But against all odds, I started reaching out to them one by one. The ones struggling. Some had very good reasons why they were struggling. Some couldn’t understand my accent. (Asi ocha shaπŸ˜•). I told them we could work together and achieve a C at least. 

Again, before semester starts, you must have designed your curriculum from start to finish and give to your students. So they know what they are having every day, every week, the assignments due, when exams are due, possible extensions and even if they miss classes, they will refer to the syllabus. So you cannot wake up and give them emergency quiz or emergency reading or assignment (My dear Nigerian lecturers are sitting on this table). It also helps them to plan ahead and read up before class. 

I had this particular student that was struggling and they didn’t want to drop out. They were missing classes so badly and not turning in assignments. I reached out to them several times but they ignored me. They came to class whenever they wanted. By my standards and grading contract (I will talk about this in a different post), they were supposed to fail my course. But I couldn’t bear to fail them. So I started reaching out again to them to strike a deal to see if we can reach a C or they drop out, but I am aware of the implications of dropping out a course.

Again, I am very aware that whatever grade I give them, affects their final GPA. So first year is that year they finally leave their parents and are exploring campus. Independence! So they might make mistakes but do I want this mistake to affect their final year results?  (I used them to conceal the gender of the studentπŸ˜‡).

So as an educator, while we are firm and insisting on quality work, we are also empathic and merciful as life can happen to anyone. 

Again, students will evaluate you after each course. Imagine when every student complains bitterly in their evaluation about your teaching methods. Na Panel dem go set for you. πŸ™‚

My final assignment for this semester was asking my students to write a reflective memo about their learning experiences and my teaching method. I asked them what worked for them, what didn’t work, what they enjoyed most and what they didn’t enjoy in my class. Their responses help me to redesign my curriculum and syllabus for next semester and taking notes on things I didn’t handle well. And of course to feel good about myself because they will write nice things about me πŸ˜…πŸ€£

So when you see a Nigerian student excelling abroad, do not think they weren’t smart before, no. The educational system in the abroad is designed to make you pass. Excel. Succeed. It is in your best interest as a teacher that your students pass your course. The educational system in Nigeria sets you up for failure. You have to strive against all odds to succeed.🀨

I encourage everyone who can, to try and at least get an experience studying abroad. You don’t have to even live in the abroad. You will discover that most people that had 2:2 or third class, Nigeria happened to them. Then you can also imagine the people who came out with first class or best graduating students in Nigeria, na them be geniuses for amurica. 

— Zubby Emeti Onye-Amah πŸ–‹

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