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Happy Teachers’ Day

Written by Akeem Alao

My going into teaching profession wasn’t a wrong decision despite the awareness that it is a noble profession seemed to be shorn of nobility in our country, I had wanted to choose a profession that would require my moulding the academic life of young people, helping adults tackle some academic challenges they might likely face in their desperate search for knowledge.

I wasn’t unaware that it was a complex exercise; I was determined to face and tackle the complexity. Teaching young ones from different backgrounds could be obviously challenging.

So, to achieve my goal, especially in my field, I registered for one of the best combinations, English/Yoruba, at the college of education. This decision, in lieu of a university, prompted some questioning of my rationality by relatives and close friends. I ignored their unfounded irrational concerns to face my career. Little did they know that I was properly guided in my decision to solidify the foundation that could firmly hold the pedagogic structure I was building.

If I had listened to those irrelevant voices of distraction, my life at present would surely be full of regrets.

As a language teacher, I was fully aware of the challenges before me, the expectations of my pupils, students and friends who would, on several occasions, call me to confirm the grammaticality, correctness and appropriateness of certain expressions. And I mustn’t disappoint them. I have to answer their questions.

After the completion of my NCE and upon certification as a language teacher, I began teaching at a secondary school where I competed fiercely with colleagues holding degrees in linguistics.

Soon, it began to dawn on me that I had not reached my career destination. As of that time, some concepts presented in the materials for English Studies were obviously beyond my understanding. A language expert, Mr Olumide Courage, who was fascinated by my pedagogic sophistry, took interest in me and gave pieces of advice that prompted my decision to start a degree programme.

As a teacher, especially in Nigeria, doing a professional programme seems to be unachievable. For many reasons, I had to advance, to satisfy my learners, to meet up the expectations of my employer, to remain relevant in the profession and to progress pedagogically.

One major challenge was the fund needed to start the degree. The meagre salary then wasn’t sufficient enough to start the programme. And I wasn’t happy that most of the students who I taught were already degree holders while the teacher still went about with NCE 😭.

I withdrew my services to my school and joined another, looking for a saner clime, where my goal is achievable.

Thankfully enough, I was opportune to find myself at Prince Heir College, Cardoso Street Mushin. Sometimes big schools never translate to big teacher. Many small schools are full of divine grace. Prince Heirs College is a perfect example. Fascinated by my teaching aptitude, the school proprietress would insist I start my degree programme, even if it was a part time programme, owing to some financial obstacle.

Without wasting time, I joined the school cooperative society where I had access to a substantial loan every year to pay my fee and do other things. Offsetting loans from one’s salary wasn’t easy at all, but one thing I ever appreciate about this school, apart from the monetary benefits, was the two-day absence I enjoyed, every week throughout my degree programme. It afforded me the opportunity to attend all classes from year one to my final year.

My English lecturers appreciate my 99% attendance, courtesy of the grace from Prince Heir College.

It was this professional advancement that enabled me to secure a job offer at another school, Kith and Kin Schools, where my dedication, commitment and diligence earned me the award of the best teacher of the year 2019.

As we celebrate teachers across the word today, my simple advice is that, no matter the complexity associated with this profession, we must leverage every opportunity to advance professionally. We must remain determined and focused to get to our desired destination.

At present, I am glad that I am a teacher who works in an academic environment where quality teaching and learning remain a priority.

Happy Teachers’ Day💪

Authors

About the author

Akeem Alao

Akeem Alao trained as a language teacher. He graduated from Adeniran Ogunsanya college of Education where he studied English/Yoruba Languages and Ekiti State University where he obtained a degree in English Education.

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