Growing up, I was one of those kids who always needed things to make practical or logical sense to me before I could “get it”; meaning, if I couldn’t relate to a concept, then I found it hard to understand or remember. This is one of the reasons why maths was my favourite subject in secondary school – the sense of satisfaction and fulfilment I felt after every maths challenge I carefully solved step by step was simply priceless. Another reason I loved maths was because of my maths teacher. I recently read a Facebook message I posted on his wall several years ago where I said “I’m yet to meet a maths teacher as good as he was…I plan to be better dan him tho”. This comment is a reflection of the impact he made on me as a student and as an individual. Not only did I achieve a distinction in maths in my senior secondary school certificate exam, while waiting to be deployed for my national youth service after graduating from university, I was inspired to voluntarily teach maths to some secondary school students. Every time they told me “maths is hard”, I remembered how I struggled with maths until I met my favourite maths teacher, which then motivated me to be more patient and committed to helping those students. Eventually, they improved in their maths – the faith and relentless support of my maths teacher several years before, inspired me to go the extra mile for those students.
As teachers, we might have students who seem to be rather slow in understanding what is being taught or might have poor academic background; for such students, it is often the case that they require more time, attention and encouragement from us. When we commit the resources they require and we start to see the desired results, we are encouraged to continue. However, when we invest limited resources into these students and we can’t seem to see the desired results, it can become quite discouraging; notwithstanding, the way we respond to such situations could make or mar the students. Of course, students are responsible for their learning and can determine to a large extent, what they make out of their studies. Nonetheless, students will often remember the teacher who truly believed in, and went the extra mile for them. More so, the investments we make into our students could continue to yield unexpected returns, several years after the students graduate. Till date, I remember the impact my maths teacher had on me and I am challenged to do more for my students.