The Teacher

Mercy Godwin

Copyright 2018 by Mercy Godwin


Photo of an apple on teacher's desk.

By 4am my alarm sounded and I opened my eyes reluctantly unwilling to move and still wanting to steal a few more hours of sleep but I resisted the urge and put off the alarm. I had only slept for four hours though I went to bed by 10pm it took about two hours before sleep finally came. I walked to the bath room after putting on a sweater since it was a cold morning, brushed my teeth and washed my face before going to the children's room to wake them up.

Pure and Prudence were sleeping so soundly and it bordered me to disturb them but I had to get them ready, they could go back to bed after taking their baths and wake up again for school, it was an arrangement that worked for everyone involved.

Good morning Aunty!

Good morning Pure, now go get your towels and tooth brushes and meet me in the bathroom.

I carried Prudence to the bathroom while she still slept to bath her while Pure came along. They were both my niece and nephew, their mother, my elder sister had lived and worked abroad for years leaving them with our mother which was as good as leaving them under my care since I mostly took care of them.

By the time I finished with the kids, my mum was in the kitchen already baking and I joined her, apart from my teaching, it was our source of income though occasionally the children's mother sends money for their up keep. We baked till 7am when I got ready for work and took the children to school. It was my duty to drop the snacks with our customers but on mornings when I had little time, mother did it instead while I only took the order for those who sold at the school where I worked, to which the children also attend.

At about 7:50am the taxi dropped us close to the school and we came down to walk the short distance to the gate, many parents were coming with their children, while some came in beautiful cars, lots more trekked holding them by the hand. It was a privately owned elementry school with quite a population, it occupied a huge plot of land but the only recreational facility was a large play ground and nothing more so teachers had to improvise during recreation to keep the children busy and entertained. The owners of the school were more profit oriented and stingy with expenses, they only managed to maintain the classrooms and nothing more. Assembly or Devotion started by 8am and not a minute later, teachers were expected to be at least five minutes earlier and no later. It was almost time when I and the kids joined them and I was already exhausted, I couldn't remain on my feet for the next twenty minutes or more the morning devotion would take so I got to the classroom and sat waiting, soon it was over and the pupils marched in, to their sits. When they had all come in, they stood up and greeted till I asked them to take their sits while the lesson for the day began.

I thought a class of thirty pupils both boys and girls, each one of them was quite a character but they were lovable and though it wasn't against the rule, I avoided using canes on them inspite of the offense. Other teachers were not so considerate, the cane was a much easier tool which they weilded at ease and tend to use excessively. Some of the children were quite difficult and where others would heed a single warning, they needed double, triple or more before they obeyed, for those ones, the punishment I gave was to seperate them from the class by asking them to stand in front facing the wall or beside me at my desk and it was always effective, as they end up maintaining a good behaviour for the rest of the day.

The first lesson was Math, it was on fractions and decimals and as I taught everyone was attentive except for a few of the noise making regulars seated at the back, who were having their own lessons thinking they could go undetected. Among them was Caleb, Ugo and Marvis the most difficult of all my pupils and required special treatment. They sat in seperate seats but still found a way to distract themselves from being attentive, but for their heights they were better suited seating at the front where they wouldn't be hidden. There were days my head ached from talking to those three repeatedly and on such days I wished the cane would do the talking however briefly, still with all the provocations I couldn't bear to see them cry and children were so easily repentant, their innocence was not something one could hurt intensionally.

There were times I kept those three from going for recess like the rest, they would stay back with me answering some questions so I could see if they actually learnt anything and on rare occasions they impressed me, it was clear they would do better if they were more attentive. The girls had their own issues, Naomi though bright was a bit talkative and distracted her pairs, a few would seldom speak but were actually absent minded, it was to such I mostly directed my questions during lessons.

After the Math lesson it was English, everyones favourite subject and they submitted the assignment given the previous week, to read a passage and answer the questions contained. Everyone was eager to participate in the lesson, making sentences, giving correct spellings and filling in blank spaces. While they began to work on some exercises from the English text book, I went through the assignments and began to marked them. When I was done, I realised the poorest performance was that of Sharon and it was almost always the case, she was the most quiet in the class and usually kept her own company.

The child had had a though year, loosing both parents and having to living with her grand parents who seemed not to be involved in her affairs. Raising her and her siblings was proving to be too much for the older couple, the child was always tired and slept during lessons, it pained me to see her struggle at such a young age. My heart broke the day she came to me telling me she wanted her parents to return and take her home, she cried so hard that day and after school, I made sure I took her home myself to keep her company and also see what the situation was like.

It was her grand mother I met that day and after a long discussion with the old lady, it was clear love was not lacking for the children but time and attention. The old woman was very greatful for the interest shown, she was doing what she could and I ended up offering my help to her that day, in whatever area it was needed.

When it was time for recess, I called Sharon to me, gave her corrections on her performance and watch her have her lunch next to me. I had grown closer to the child since my visit to her home and with a few questions about her grand parents, she began to tell stories of the things they bought her and her two siblings, some clothes, shoes and dolls, how she got more because she was the oldest and did more to help around the house she went on and on till recess was over and that was how our friendship began.

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