Ordinary day of a not ordinary teacher

Ordinary day of a not ordinary teacher

One never stops learning: we all remain – or should remain – lifelong learners. However, there are those who have chosen to be teachers at the same time. This means taking responsibility for passing on not only sterile notions but also passion. It means igniting the interest of the youngest and making them hungry for knowledge and, if possible, ready for life. A real challenge, even more ambitious and arduous when the boundary conditions do not play in their favour. Even more exciting and full of moments of satisfaction when the obstacles overcome were defined by many as insurmountable.

This is the feeling that emerges when listening to the everyday stories of Saidi Majuto Yusufu and Richmond Afful.

 

Saidi and Richmond: two SeedScience teachers tell their stories

Saidi is a primary school teacher in a Maasai community in Lulenge (Tanzania). In 2021, he participated in the SeedScience training as a ‘pupil’ and in 2023 he returned, but as a ‘trainer’, together with the rest of the team. In the various classes he deals with young people between the ages of 8 and 15, to be precise, with 104 boys and 120 girls.

To meet Richmond, one has to travel to Ghana: he is a teacher in a community college in Nyanyano and is part of “the future of Nyanyano”, a project that is part of Constructive Visions. In his class of 61 students, most of them are between 9 and 11 years old, 32 are boys and 29 girls.

The numbers vary, but the ratio of males to females remains similar as the teaching routine is similar.

Richmond (on the left) performs a science experiment with the support of a colleague.

 

Eight hours with the students, but less in the classroom as possible

“When I arrive at school in the morning I do my routine lessons, as indicated by the school timetable: I have them every day, Monday to Friday. As a science teacher I sometimes stop to do activities with my students, extracurricular activities outdoors, in science clubs, such as garden design and other simple experiments suitable for their age. They are very useful to get them more involved and arouse their interest and passion for STEM subjects,” Saidi says. Apart from the extra-curricular activities assigned by the school headmaster, Saidi spends at least eight hours with his students, some of it in the classroom but a lot of it outdoors, doing experiments in nature.

 

Before teaching, the “day before” exam

Richmond also has to report to school every morning for lessons but confesses that he prefers to wake up earlier, around 5 am, to “take time to reflect on the previous day’s work and understand what went wrong and what the positives were and how to turn the negatives into positives”.

For him, the morning has gold in its mouth: it is not until 7 a.m. that he officially ‘turns into’ a teacher and starts his day at school by making sure that the students clean the classrooms and the facility before class starts. The first bell rings at 8 o’clock and activities continue until the afternoon. “Between two successive two-hour lessons, a 30-minute break is allowed for breakfast at 10 a.m. and lunch at 12.30 p.m.,” Richmond explains. “During the day I spend about seven hours at school, six with the students. As soon as I can, I involve them in interactive and stimulating activities such as watching simulation videos or experiments. It is very useful to correctly grasp what they have been taught. I often propose specimen identification, indoor games and other activities that can interest them and make them feel like protagonists”.

 

Between dips and peaks of attention, the evening comes

So many hours at school, so many hours together, so many extracurricular activities to invent and make people love: the hard life of a teacher. As in all other professions, as in every day, there are ups and downs. For Saidi, the early morning is the best time “because the students have energy, they are active and ready to learn new things. The same cannot be said about lunch, the most difficult time, Saidi confesses, mainly because “they do not provide food at school and the students are tired, since most of them come to school from far away”.

Saidi during a SeedScience training session.

Also for Richmond, the hardest time of the day is late morning, when energy starts to dwindle when it would be needed “to carry out the day’s activities, even when conditions and environments do not help those who teach like me. We often find ourselves working under the scorching sun and it is not easy to stay fresh and active”. In fact, his favourite time is when the sun goes down. As early as 3 p.m., as soon as school closes, Richmond takes the time to be with his family, read trending news and catch up on what has been happening in the world. “The absolute best time is definitely the late afternoon, though: between about 4 pm and 6 pm. At that time, school lessons are over and I also have time to rest, be with my family, connect to social media and enjoy some movies.” And disconnect his head from his classroom commitments, to recharge his batteries, ready for the 5 o’clock wake-up call that awaits him for a new day of sowing his scientific passion.

Article by Marta Abbà with the contribution of Richmond Afful and Saidi Majuto Yusufu.

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