by Akosua Dwomo-Fokuo
Over the last 11 months, teachers, healthcare workers, delivery drivers and other key workers have been the heroes in our communities. While most of us have been safely stuck indoors during lockdown, these key workers daily risk their lives for us. I usually interview artists, entertainers and pastors for this column, but decided to dedicate this interview to key frontline workers and have picked a passionate zealous teacher, Gifty Owusu-Bekoe to speak with.
Akosua Dwomo-Fokuo (ADF): Thank you for taking time out for this interview. Very much appreciated. Before we get into things, tell us a bit about yourself.
Gifty Owusu-Bekoe (GOB): I’m Gifty Owusu-Bekoe, a primary school teacher and the founder of Teach Nation Online Learning Platform and Righteous Kids Club. I graduated from McGill University, specialising my degree in Kindergarten and Elementary Education. I have a strong zeal not only to teach children, but am also passionate about helping them become who God has ordained them to be.
ADF: Teachers are some of our heroes during this pandemic. What are some of the challenges you currently face?
GOB: Teaching is beautiful, but virtual teaching is quite challenging. One of the challenges I have noticed is a lack of motivation. The classroom environment and students’ home environment are two completely different atmospheres. Some children get easily distracted from their home learning work, because they are in the comfort of their homes, where there is access to games and fun television programmes to watch. Another challenge is relying on online resources to do the teaching for you as a teacher. I miss teaching my students in our classroom through my body language and facial expressions. The last challenge – and the funniest – is the challenge of asking students to mute their microphones online. It is very interesting having over 20 kids unmute their microphones to desperately share what they ate for breakfast that morning.
ADF: How are your students coping during this pandemic?
GOB: My students miss school life and interacting with their friends. They love seeing their teachers twice a day via live video calls. They always have so much to share, and never want to end the calls. It shows how much they value and cherish their school life. As a teacher, I try to make them feel better during these uncertain times by praying with them. They present prayer requests, and we pray over our concerns together. It truly gives them hope that God has everything under control.
ADF: What word of encouragement would you give to a parent struggling to juggle home-schooling and working from home?
GOB:I can only imagine how difficult the whole experience is for most parents, but I have yet to meet a parent who is not trying. You’re all doing such a marvellous job. As teachers, we cannot thank you enough for selflessly taking on the new hat you’re wearing in your homes. Psalm 32:8 says: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” As you’re wearing this new and unfamiliar hat as a home-school parent, let God instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. Also, as the Lord is instructing you, meditate on Philippians 4:13. Moreover, please don’t forget that home-schooling can also be informal. For example, the daily task of cooking dinner for your family, and getting your little one involved can effortlessly turn into a practical maths lesson about fractions. Getting your child to build a tent and letting them express the technique they used to build their tent involves the art of design and technology. Furthermore, allowing your child to make a shaker and discuss the different rhythms and sounds they hear is involving the art of music. Getting a bowl of water and letting your child find objects to predict whether it will float or sink involves science. Learning can occur via different techniques, and you’d be amazed by how much knowledge children can attain from informal learning too!