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Opinions of Friday, 15 January 2016

Columnist: Amoah, Anthony Kwaku

Benchmarks of effective teaching

By Anthony Kwaku Amoah

Most people think the teacher is the one who gives knowledge to students only. To them, the teacher can only be seen in the school and in the classroom. They mostly link the teacher to the chalk and the cane. Interestingly, teachers also seem to have accepted this lay description of them by opting to recognise themselves as “fellows of the chalk fraternity”.

The Ghana Education Service (GES) manages and superintends over our schools, pupils, teachers and education. It promotes effective collaboration and participation of the school and its stakeholders, including parents, traditional authorities and non-state actors in providing education services. The school is a corporate entity; it needs everybody’s support to perform well. Teachers, heads of schools and directors work closely with school boards of governors, Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs), School Management Committees (SMCs), representatives of student leaders and old student groups for good results.
It is true that an effective school produces an effective graduate. The teacher is a kingpin in education delivery. He/she has sound professional competency and communication skills as well as good inter-personal and pedagogical skills that cause a permanent desirable change in the life of the learner.
One must go through an approved course of study in Education at any of the accredited institutions and very soon be licensed to be called a teacher. We still have non-professional teachers (graduates of polytechnics and universities without education), pupil teachers (those with only senior high school certificates), community teaching assistants and volunteer teachers in some of our schools anyway. But GES is vigorously pruning its payroll of fake teachers and it solicits the support of all of us to be able to do it well.
Teaching is a profession and a process. Poor learning outcomes and failure of learners are a product of a poorly implemented teaching task. Availability of good educational infrastructure alone does not give good performance. Supply of well-trained and motivated staff with good performance standards also counts. The National Teaching Council and GES, in their Handbook for Teachers on Performance Management, say, “A performance management system consists of the processes used to identify, encourage, measure, evaluate, improve and reward employee performance at work” and adds that, “...satisfactory performance does not happen automatically. Therefore, it is more likely to have satisfactory performance if there is a good performance management system in place”.
School heads and supervisors use the log book, staff attendance book, staff minutes book and hospital book to keep track of the attendance and punctuality of teachers and staff at work. The Public Services Commission and the GES Council now recommend a new Performance Appraisal scheme for use on teachers and staff of GES. A visit to reveals, in details, how staff must work in order to earn higher professional ranks and be acclaimed as being effective.
Actually, anyone of us could appraise teachers and staff of GES, and make suggestions for enhanced performance. Education directors, supervisors and school heads shall continue to work hard in the interest of the child and the nation. This write-up supports in-service training and continuing professional training programmes of teachers for quality education delivery.
The core functions of the teacher are teaching, research and community service. The performance of an employee showcases the kinds of contribution made to an organisation regarding quantity of output, quality of output, timeliness of output, presence at work and cooperativeness. The teacher is always for excellence even during school cultural festivals, sports and games. He or she desires and works for the best of results for students and people.
With sound knowledge in a subject matter and effective use of instructional technology, the teacher delivers quality instruction and fights boredom during teaching and learning. The teacher improvises instructional resources and acts as a facilitator, coach, counsellor and dispenser of knowledge.
Proper research work and teaching are inseparable. The teacher is a strategic thinker, researcher and communicator. The chalkboard is not the only display format available to the teacher. The teacher churns out knowledge, ideas and findings to students and society. Publications in books, periodicals, newspapers and online news portals are recommended. We need quality lessons on academics, morality, socio-cultural issues and the environment. An ideal teacher does not sit aloof as society is battles with miscreants, pollutants and diseases.
Community service is an important part of the teacher’s duties. The school does not operate in a vacuum. It benefits from the community as the community also benefits from it. Both of them need each other to thrive. The teacher therefore cannot be consigned to the classroom alone. Teachers take active part in public meetings, seminars and forums, and speak on issues that create public awareness and effect positive attitudinal changes in people for better life. The teacher’s way of talking, dressing, walking and general conduct must be decent and professional at all times.
The teacher is a great mirror to the society. A good working relationship between the teacher and members of the public is key. It is not wrong for the teacher to take part in town hall meetings and communal labour. GES is well aware of teachers who, as a result of good performance, have been chosen as assembly members and opinion leaders by the communities that they work in. Actually, it has no qualms about this situation at all; it would only advise its personnel to plan their schedules well to be able to effectively attend to the needs of their schools and students as well.
Education directors and administrators supply logistics to schools, organise refresher courses for teachers and keep records on schools, students and staff. Locking up supplies, such as textbooks, chalk and furniture in stores when schools are in need of them or sending them to undeserved places is criminal. It must not happen. Let’s act well and impress upon others to do same for us to develop well.
The writer is an educationist and a public relations officers of the Ghana Education Service