|Learning to Teach in Ghana: An Evaluation of Curriculum Delivery (CIE, 2000, 51 p.)|
|Chapter 6: Teaching Practice: The Student Teachers' Experiences|
The interview data also revealed some of the vivid conflicts between what student teachers learn in college and what teachers or heads tell them to do, which underlines the uncoordinated nature of teaching practice supervision. The following interview transcript reveals this tension:
Interviewer: what about teachers in the school would you like them to supervise you more often on teaching practice?
Trainee 2: Personally, I don't like them coming to supervise us
Trainee 2: Because the first time I was supervised by my headteacher I did not like it [Why?] The class was boring. When you do this, he will tell you not to do that in front of the children, which was not fine. That was my first time I taught in the classroom so she should have known that this was the first time.
Trainee 3: Sometimes when we prepare lesson notes the headmaster says that it is too long so we should shorten it. ... They should allow us to prepare our notes as we have been trained here [college] They [teachers/headmaster] say we should prepare the notes in such a way that when you are not there somebody can use it to teach so it must involve all the activities.
Trainee 4: Not all of them (school teachers) are trained teachers, so some even go contrary to what we've been taught here, others don't have their scheme of work. If we want the scheme of work to plan our teaching they will tell you they don't have any scheme of work, go and choose your own topic and teach
These accounts reveal the lack of proper management of teaching practice to maximise the learning experience. We would argue that the centrality of a technical approach in the expectation and practice of teaching, as depicted in the accounts of the student teachers, is a reflection of the ethos of initial teacher training in Ghana. The image of learning to teach based predominantly on the application of "appropriate" procedures is probably a consequence of two factors. The first is the pedagogy of learning to teach as espoused in college textbooks and tutors' methods notes. The second, it appears, emanates from tutors' teaching approaches that are predominantly didactic. Classroom observations revealed an overemphasis on a transmission approach to learning about teaching. The external examination further legitimised this learning approach with its focus on standardised pedagogical knowledge. Missing in all of that is the problematisation of teaching which would lead to greater awareness of teaching as a problem-solving activity.
Some trainee experiences tell of difficult situations in classroom practice that are, potentially, a source of learning about teaching as a problem-solving activity. Unfortunately, this appears to be relegated to the background. Some of the difficulties recalled by the student teachers were centred on the following: problems of learning readiness, pupil absenteeism, lack of instructional resources etc.
In conclusion, it is clear that teaching practice more than anything else confronted the trainees with the realities of teaching. Judging from the trainees' discussion about teaching practice, we can conclude that although they perceive it as rewarding, more could be done to improve the benefits to their professional learning and practice. Practising teachers and college tutors need to clarify their roles in the support they give to trainees on teaching practice, and focus more specific discussions on pedagogical strategies and their implications for practice.