Voices of Teachers
Irene Mtekateka, Malawi
Name: Irene Mtekateka
Grade: Form 1 (Grade 9), Form 3 (Grade 11), Grade 2 and Grade 3
Subject(s) taught: History, Social and Development Studies, Mathematics, English
Type of school: Government School and International School
Years of teaching experience: 3 years
Why did you become a teacher?
I’m attracted to teaching because it gives me a sense of service. Teaching gives me an opportunity to make clear tangible difference in the lives of children. It enables me to see the fruits of my efforts every day. It also enables me to help mold the future through impacting students’ views and understanding. Teaching allows me to foster creativity, develop character, give students lenses with which to view the world and provide my students with the skills they need to reach their potential and lead productive lives.
In general, what do like most about being a teacher? Or what do you think is the greatest benefit of being a teacher?
Teaching gives me an opportunity to make a difference in the world by enabling me to help my students’ to fully maximize their talents, imagination, skills and character. My heart rejoice as students gain new insights, become more interested in a subject and learn more about themselves. Teaching brings me so much joy that I cannot even describe. It is always great to see a student who was struggling with a certain concept to finally understand the concept, that brings peace to my soul.
In general, what do you like least about being a teacher? Or what do you think is the greatest drawback of being a teacher?
As a teacher, you are not always appreciated. People view teaching as a low class job. They do not really understand the difference that you are making in the lives of the children. It breaks my heart to see how other people including the government treat teachers. As a teacher I just have to understand that teaching is a calling and because of that I should not let what others think about it let me down.
Do you have your own personal teaching philosophy that you believe and try to apply in the classroom? What do you consider to be your own personal approach to teaching?
I believe that teaching requires patience. It’s easy to get frustrated with your students especially when they are not getting something that you are teaching them. As a teacher, you don’t have to give up on your students. Always put in some effort to help the students. Do not let the situation discourage you. I approach teaching with love, patience and having faith in my students.
What are your personal goals as a teacher or educator?
As an educator my personal goal is for every child to have an opportunity to go to school and learn. I want every child to be able to atleast know how to read. I believe that every child is capable of learning despite all the challenges that may be out there.
What is the largest challenge you faced as a teacher in the classroom?
The biggest challenge that I have had in my classroom is students not being able to read and comprehend what they are reading in Grade 11. You would assume that a child is able to read by this age, but I was surprised to walk into a classroom where a majority of them were not able to read. It was hard to give them materials to read. I asked myself how it was possible for them to come this far without having this important skill. I was stretched in different ways but still more this did not make me lose hope in my students. The other challenge was not having enough teaching resources in the classroom.
What makes you feel very enthusiastic or motivated to teach? Can you describe a time when you felt very enthusiastic or motivated to teach?
Children are willing to come to school and learn even though the schools do not have enough learning materials. Children face a lot of challenges at home for example some of them come to school with empty stomachs; some even walk long distances just to attend classes. This motivates me because I know that the children have the heart to learn, it is just the circumstances that is hindering them.
What makes you feel less enthusiastic or unmotivated to teach? Can you describe a time when you felt less enthusiastic or motivated to teach?
The way teachers are treated by the Government and other school administrators. Teachers do not receive the respect that they deserve. Teaching is not taken as a serious professional which is very sad. The other thing is lack of teaching resources.
How capable did you feel of being able to help every student in your class achieve academic goals? What are the biggest challenges to doing so?
During my experience at the Government school, I was not able to help each student achieve academic goals. I had almost 100 students in my classroom and it was hard for me to give them one on one help. It was also hard to manage the classroom with all those students. I felt like I could do more but the situation was just beyond my control. Teaching at a private school gave me a new experience. I felt like I was making an impact because my students were able to achieve their academic goals. I was able to track the progress of all my students because I only had 20 students in my classroom.
What type of support did you most value as a teacher? How would you rate the support you received from your fellow teachers, headmasters, supervisor, etc.?
I value support from the parents and my fellow teachers, headmaster and the administration. When I was teaching at the government school, I did not receive much support as expected. Most of the times, I felt like I was alone with my students.
What type of recognition did you most value as a teacher? In what ways, if any, did the community or government recognize your work as a teacher?
I value recognition from the parents and the government. Unfortunately, I was not recognized in anyway by the government, atleast the teachers were sometimes valued in the community especially by the students.
What issues do you wish your training had addressed that it never did?
I wish our trainings would address the issue of discipline especially in classrooms where we had more than 100 students.
Is there anything else you wish that everyone understood about teachers that you want to say?
Teaching is a special calling and a gift. Teachers need to be valued and respected.