How A New Teacher Leader Builds Rapport & Manages the Classroom
My primary classroom is big but has 34 girls and 24 boys. The first time I entered it one Monday morning in October, I didn’t see a single chart on its beautiful walls. The class has a blackboard and the teacher’s table. The learners were noisy and pieces of paper and soil were all over the floor and the desks. However, I was super excited because the learners had given me a warm welcome. I had not taken long inside there when I saw a tall, decently dressed lady with a nice hairstyle, walk in. After introducing herself as Madam Oliver, the class teacher for P1, she told me that she was looking forward to working with me.
Two days later, I organized to teach the learners Mathematics which seems easy for them to understand but very complicated when I explain the content in English.
Oh, God! How can I manage this classroom? This was running through my mind as the learners were shouting and screaming, fighting and reporting to me whoever was doing something wrong. I tried to calm them down so as to create a classroom environment, but some learners at the back were looking outside through the windows.
“Can you please sit down,” I strained my voice. Little did I know that I was speaking to myself; they didn’t understand a single of my English language. So, I moved closer asking them to sit down. However, one learner ran over the desks and dashed out of the classroom through the door. The other learners excitedly started laughing and banging the desks because of what they had just witnessed. Instantly, what came to my mind was that I had a very undisciplined group of P1 learners at Nabuganyi R/C Primary School.
“Hmm,” I sighed since 20 minutes were already gone trying to organize the learners. I was now left with 10 minutes to end my 30 minutes lesson. Thank Lord that a few moments later Madam Oliver joined me, and I was able to report to her how unruly those learners were. She told me that the learner who dashed out of the classroom has a mental problem. He is called Bagalama Willy.
She went ahead to mention the names of two other learners: Ssekide Kevin and Obbo John. Those were the learners who were looking out through the windows during my lesson.
Before I had expected it, the bell rang and the children ran of out the classroom. Honestly, I had not taught them anything for all 30 minutes of my lesson. However, Madam Oliver sat me down on reading my mood. She encouraged me to love the learners, and treat them like children because they are to copy and learn from me. She is such a good teacher that we forged collaborative teaching since that day.
A week later, I sat down with the primary learners, and we created the classroom vision: “We will always learn how to speak English, engage in learning, be confident and have fun.” We also created our classroom mission, classroom norms and classroom goals. This was because the learners had a lot of dreams to achieve but they lacked a sense of possibility. Akello Yunia, one of the learners expressed her desire to learn how to speak English and match numbers in Mathematics. I became elated about that and my passion for the learners grew every day.
I was able to involve the learners in beautifying the classroom. Together, we pinned a variety of learning charts on the classroom walls, designed teaching aids, and arranged the desks properly. Collectively, we have been keeping the classroom clean and hence reducing noisemaking. The learners now show signs of loving the classroom and they are also ready to learn. This subsequently eased classroom management and a conducive learning environment finally came to exist.
My P1 classroom became so organized in a month’s time given the fact some learners started to speak English, especially when asking for permission to move out of the class. They could also match number symbols to their number names. The learners are now my friends. They approach me easily and at times they don’t want to go home after class. It is indeed amazing to have such a class. The learners now own the classroom because of the empowerment that I gave them. They have branded me a ‘good teacher.’
Equitable quality education is a result of creating a good relationship with the learners, empowering them, and managing and creating a conducive learning environment.
Muwanguzi Arnold Zion, Cohort 5 Fellow
Nabuganyi R/C Primary School, Kayunga District.