Meet Lawrence Kwasi Ahiabor, an integrated science teacher and product of Teach for Ghana. He is a man dedicated to his job, going above and beyond the call of duty; doubling as a library master, interacting with and mentoring students he doesn’t teach, last one to leave the premises. What does an average day look like to an integrated science teacher?
Name: LAWRENCE KWASI AHIABOR
Occupation: INTEGRATED SCIENCE TEACHER
Qualification: BA PSYCHOLOGY with INFORMATION STUDIES
Secondary School/s attended: BISHOP HERMAN COLLEGE – KPANDO
Tertiary Institution/s attended: UNIVERSITY OF GHANA
- I became a science teacher by completing an online application at teachforghana.org after meeting with the representatives of the organization (Teach For Ghana) during a career fair at the University of Ghana. After rigorous selection process that included a telephone interview, a whole day interview session at what is known as the ‘assessment center’ at the TFG office and calls to my referees I was lucky to make the final 33 cohorts selected as Fellows to teach in underserved communities in the Volta Region. After a 6-week intense training on Pedagogy and Subject Mastery, I finally signed my two-year contract and began teaching in September of 2016.
- My day usually starts at 6:30am and ends at 2:30pm officially. School starts at 7:50am. I however engage my pupils in morning classes for final years from 6:30am to 7:45am and after school sessions from 2:30pm to 4:30pm for continuing students. This is free but not compulsory for attendees (pupils).
- As a science teacher, I typically have 2 lessons per day; 70 minutes each in Forms 1 and 2. On a typical day, I sign the teachers’ attendance book and organize the pupils to tidy the school compound. After assembly and registration I sit in the school library and wait for my slot on the timetable. Fortunately I also double as the library master so I oversee the collection of books by students and teacher for their lessons. I prepare my notes or grade homework I gave the previous day during this period of waiting. I take my turn to teach the classes one after the other and I conduct exercises to assess understanding of lesson taught. I grade the assignments in-between the two lessons and I find free slots to meet the final years because I don’t handle any subject in their class but I am the class teacher. I also spend time engaging pupils in chats during break time and during school projects. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy so I take time to have conversations with colleagues over a variety of issues. I end the day by ensuring that every pupil leaves the school premises and I sign off.
- The best part of my job is waking up in the morning feeling highly spirited knowing that each new day of the week gives me the opportunity to empower my pupils by imparting knowledge and skills to them to help them take advantage of the resources and opportunities available them. The feeling is even more when meet pupils who are showing a readiness and zeal to learn. For me, these makes my job great.
- The worst part of my job is having to deal with the frustration that teaching comes with. There is nothing so frustrating on the job than pupils exhibiting no understanding of the concept after so many attempts of trying to explain a concept in different ways. This is often evident when an entry assessment conducted at the beginning of the day’s lesson to review the previous lesson (RPK) turns out to be a fiasco. In short, teaching the same concept over and over again makes the job not fun at times.
- A memorable moment I have had happened on one faithful Tuesday when I walked into the form 2 class to teach. It was my first lesson for the day. Just as I was settling to start teaching a student called out to me and said “Nufiala” (literally means teacher in Ewe) I want to tell you something before you start teaching. So I stopped what I was doing and sat on a desk and he said “Sir we are proud of you. The way you taught us ‘balancing of chemical equations’ was so good because our friends from other schools were not taught like that and we even had to explain to them the technique for them to understand”. Another student got up to confirm what his friend had said. For a science teacher this was a truly humbling statement. The compliment brought tears to my eye. I couldn’t say anything other than THANK YOU. I gave them the day off and I left quietly. I will forever reminisce this day.
- Outside of work I love to surf the web. I spend countless hours just surfing the internet in an attempt to read new stuff on education, science and technology. I visit the Education, Science and Technology sections of the BBC Web page a lot and I am also a subscriber of About.com where I learn a lot of new things. In addition I love downloading and watching Detective and Law related TV Series. Moreover, I spare a lot of free time writing articles (unpublished). Lastly I love to motivate people by engaging them in thought provoking conversations.
- My advice to young people who want to “carve a path” in the teaching profession and those who are already out there in the profession is that there is fulfilment in teaching. The greatest gift that one can give to another is not money but empowerment – helping people to develop their potentials in order for them to have a feeling of control over their resources and opportunities around them. In recent times, there is a statement that is often made by teachers and it reads “all professional can boast but the teacher taught them”. I however want to rephrase this statement by saying “all professionals can boast but the teacher empowered them”. Let passion for teaching be the driving force for us who want to become teachers and not as a last resort when all else fails. I am proud to be a teacher because I empower.