RIGHT START FOR A SUCCESSFUL NEW TERM

By Nkem Iloeje-Agu

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After every vacation, when schools resume for a new term, there are a number of activities which must take place, in order to place the school on a good start to achieving its set objectives, if any, for the term,

Yes, “if any”. This is because many schools take off with scarcely any objective other than the financial bottom line, come term end.

In each term, we have the personnel resumption date preceding the students’ resumption date by three to five days, depending on the school. And on each of the days, there are activities on which the school should focus, in order to be well-prepared to deliver premium academic experience for the child.

At a recent seminar, we found that a majority of our schools engaged in a variety of start-off activities for personnel upon their resumption for a new term. Such activities all revolved, in one way or another, around introduction of new workers, assignment of non-academic or ancillary duties, prayers, distribution of photocopied scheme of work, lesson notebooks, drafting and planning of school calendar, writing of lesson plan and lesson note, review of last term’s activities, reminders on personal code of conduct, and so on.

Many of these activities listed above, especially the review of the last term’s activities ought to be done at the end of last term, during a staff end of term meeting.

What really should be the focus of a school, at the start of a new term, to set it off on a right footing for success?

The first day of staff resumption is the resumption for the ancillary personnel – the janitors and cleaning staff, and so on. They are there to ensure that the general environment is clean and in a good state to receive the teachers.

When the teachers arrive on the second day, they should immediately activate putting up their classroom displays and readying their classrooms for the arrival of her students, in the coming three days or so.

This is expected, because, during the holidays, the teacher should have done all her research and planning on the right displays she would have up for the coming term, and she would have all her display cut and ready for putting up on the classroom walls. All her instructional and work-support materials, as well as her students’ work materials are also neatly, aesthetically and functionally displayed in her classroom.

Participants at the seminar also listed as one of the most predominant activities, nationwide, at the beginning of the term for the students the kick-off test, which was assigned different continuous assessment grades, ranging from five to twenty percent, with the aim of ensuring maximum student attendance at school as from day one.

Other activities listed as done on the first day of students’ resumption, include sorting of students’ stationery, “going through” the national anthem and pledge, the school anthem, class rules, weight and height measurements of the children, revision of last term’s work (this runs throughout the entire first week), marking and correction of holiday assignments, review of the last examination questions, and so on.

While most of the above activities are not an outright no-no and some definitely are, there are other activities which should definitely be on the priority list, because they are the ones that would set the right pace for the fulfillment of the teacher’s role and the learners’ academic success. They include:

  1. Observation by the teacher to know and understand the apparent temperament of each of her learners. She notes who her new students really are, and observes for any changes in her returned students.
  2. Diagnostic assessments for learning done by the teacher to enable her understand her class’ writing speed, the subjects in which the class is generally strongest or weakest, and other intrinsically relevant points. These assessments would help her plan a daily timetable best suit to the needs of her class.
  3. The teacher, by the same observation and assessment, determines, during the first week of resumption, the learning style of her class, helping her decide the best delivery style, in order to carry along and be able to deliver knowledge to every learner in the class.

So, for instance, if her class is made up of only kinaesthetic learners, she would not waste time and resources, planning for or delivering a teaching style that caters to other types of learner, making for effective use of time and resources.

  • The teacher also holds a teacher-guided meeting with the students, to agree on class rules and recommended consequences for violation

The first week of pupil resumption is an orientation week, and not a revision week. In this week, the teacher interacts with the students in an informal, but controlled setting, to make the relevant observations indicated above, which would guide her in planning the term for her class. These observations will also assist her in doing a good job of her classroom management throughout the course of the term.

These activities make up the teacher’s duty as the term commences, and should be on her priority list. Other activities which participants listed, such as planning the term’s activities or schedule, distributing the children into clubs, distribution of staff secondary roles, and so on, are parts of the duties of the administrative staff, and should, therefore, even if they are assigned to any teacher, not take the position as the teacher’s core responsibilities.

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