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This started as one man’s quest to make sense of his experience in the Nigerian Youth Service Corps. Now it is a place for other corpers to tell their stories.

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  1. NAMES OF NOISE MAKERS

    As a teacher, it is unforgivable to fail at class control, whether as a trainee (Teaching Practice teacher) or as a certified, B. Ed degree holder. In fact, if adequate achievement of stated objectives for any course must not remain a dream, class control is one of the things a teacher needs and cannot do without. So, your note is detailed, your aids are in place and your pitch is on point; congratulations won’t be in order until the ability to bring learners into the atmosphere that allows for easy, effective delivery of instruction is had. Of course, good teachers know that it is not about them but the learners; they don’t attempt to argue against that.

    For the two Professional Practice (TP) attempts I was expected statutorily to make during undergraduate days, the prime place of class control always was in my consciousness. You may not be wrong to assume that the number of units (6) which TPs attract would make one sit up. However, there are some of us to whom a few minutes of impacting delivery of a body of information to others (especially younger persons) is priceless.

    Judging by the aforementioned, you can imagine what having to deal with Junior School students of Isu High School, Umuorlu, Nwangele, Imo state is like. Let me try to break it down: I have a (sudden) speaking challenge, as far as a village setting is concerned. Except you really know me, it is very easy to think I try to be impressive when I speak in the English language. Maybe that makes things a little difficult here for a Yoruba teacher. My command of the local language is limited to being able to understand when it is mixed with the English language and, but for a raw brand of Pidgin English, life here for a teacher of my upbringing is better imagined because, unfortunately, my breed don’t abandon learners. The learners here are fun to be with, once you get to accept that they do not understand football positions and can’t tell who Usain Bolt is. You get to explain just about everything, otherwise, well…you can guess. The use of Pidgin English, tension-easing jokes and a lot of gesticulating has helped so far, as well as a formative method of evaluation. Many of my students hold promise and that is what has not made the killing noise level in the classes troubling. Each class here has students who do not have seats and have to write while standing: this is about the greatest source of my weekly headache yet. You can guess how this pans out: uncomfortable students will be easily distracted and you will call them to order countless times within forty minutes. I’ve got exhausted from shouting calls to order because, along with flogging and punishments, that has come at expensive costs. Pep talks have not helped me much either. It’s all down to the school structure in terms of building and general discipline level. Both are appalling, put simply. Not many would mind if we do not work, as unbelievable as that might seem.

    You know how we often think we’ve tried everything in challenging situations sometimes when the reality is that we often adopt the approaches that have yet come to us. This week, victory has presented itself in two trials: while in JSS 1 yesterday teaching “Shotput”, the usual rants were on as I put content on the whited blackboard. As usual, I made “stop making a noise” calls; they did not get heard, neither did flogging a few defaulters. Just then, it came clear that I had never tried the “Class Captain, give me 10 names of noise makers” option. To my surprise, the noise ceased. It was as though the class had been emptied. I had no pains in the head after classes and impact was far-reaching. The same technique has worked in today’s deliveries and, I find myself looking forward to the next class and every other one after it. Will this approach to class control remain effective? Well, in Nwangele, you never can tell. But whoever brought the “Names of Noise Makers” style to teaching has got a fan now, in me. Just saying.

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