On World Teacher’s Day…

Today is my 18th day working as a public school teacher in Ogun State, Nigeria. Communication barrier, low culture of achievement, and a lack of motivation for learning, are some of the dire challenges I’m grappling with. Thankfully, all of these issues can be improved upon, and surmounted.

This week I’ve had to facilitate the learning of addition of 3-digit numbers. To teach this, I used the addition by regrouping method, which builds on pupils knowledge on place values which we learnt last week. To tackle the communication barrier,  I’ve had to incorporate a lot of visual aids, hand gestures and practical activities into my teaching.

For this particular lesson, I asked my pupils to do 5-second mental sums, and whoever got the sums right got to pick from my magic bag (basically a black nylon bag ☺). Inside the bag were paper balls with a 3-digit number written on each one. Two pupils pick from the bag, and call out their numbers to the hearing of the entire class. Then, they come to the front of the class where the cardboard chart is situated, and work collaboratively to arrange their three digit numbers by place values, and then add them up. 

The place values were colour coded. Green represented unit(s); black – tens; red – hundred; and blue – thousand.

It was interesting watching them try to arrange 741 + 483; which equals 1224. (with hindsight,  I should have filmed this.)

When they added the units column, they had 4. But when they added the tens, they had 12, and were not sure whether or not to bring down the entire 12 black-coloured paper cards to the bottom of the column. One of them suggested bringing down just two of the black-coloured paper cards and carrying one; the other pupil responded by saying: “if we keep two paper, ten will remain!” And she was right, ten was going to remain. At this point I stepped in and illustrated to them that ten 1s make one ten, and that ten 10’s make one hundred (it took several tries and drawing ten 10 bound match sticks and counting them altogether before they got this). Once they did, it was easier explaining the same thing about the 100s – that, ten 100s make one thousand.

Following this, I told them that ten of the green-coloured paper cards representing 1’s/units could be replaced by one black-coloured card representing tens, and that ten black-coloured paper cards representing tens could be replaced by one red-coloured card representing 1 hundred. Also, same for hundred to thousand. I was still explaining when the two pupils started rejigging their arrangements on the cardboard chart. By the time they were done, they had accurately arranged the cards, and got the sum 1224. I was happy.

We had four more examples before moving to vertical addition, and then class work. After marking, not every pupil got 100% marks 🙁.  Actually only eight did. The rest missed one or two. A few got only or two right. There was clearly need for improvement.

Those who got 100% marks received gifts (fancy erasers 😊) from me. Those who missed one or two, wanted gifts too, but I told them not this time but next time when they get everything right. The pupils who got less than 50% were all booked for an early morning one-on-one session with me the following day.

This may be just one lesson, and of course challenges still abound, but I’m glad I’m beginning to foster pupil engagement, which for me counts as little success.

#littlesuccesses #rewritethefuture #teachfornigeria #teacheridarawtdchallenge #happyworldteacher‘sday


2 thoughts on “On World Teacher’s Day…

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