The teaching profession is about the noblest, and at the same time, one of the most overlooked occupations in our clime. I sincerely believe that teachers deserve more in terms of recognition and renumeration. Thoughts of the mystery behind my literacy, for instance, has always left me humbled and spellbound. I was born a stark illiterate. We all were. Yet today, many have grown to become doctors, lawyers, writers, engineers, professors, teachers, governors, captains of industry, heads of state etc. because somebody taught us how to read and write. Now, that is beyond magic!
Nevertheless, the saying that the reward of (African) teachers is in heaven is a cliché, which has so dampened the psyche of teachers to the extent that many have run out of steam for their profession. So, you can imagine how enchanted I was when I ran into this delectable lady whose bio reads ‘The Intentional Teacher’. My encounter with her left me awestruck, and I’m sure her story will have the same magical effect on you too.
Without further ado, please meet Adeiye Oluwaseun-Sobo, The Intentional Teacher of our time.
Q. Let’s meet Adeiye Oluwaseun-Sobo. Tell us a bit about yourself, educational background etc.
Adeiye: I am a teacher. I am a wife to a fantastic man and a mother to two amazing girls. I am an alumnus of Covenant University, where I graduated with a degree in economics.
Q. What inspired your choice for the teaching profession? Have you always aspired to be a teacher? Did you choose to study education? If not what led to it?
Adeiye: As I said earlier, I studied Economics in the university. As an undergraduate, I taught tutorials almost throughout my years in school. I think somehow in my subconscious, I have always wanted to teach. I love to see the moment understanding dawns. More importantly, I love to see how people bloom when they know someone believes in them and would do right by them in class.
I love to see the moment understanding dawns. More importantly, I love to see how people bloom when they know someone believes in them @adeiye_oTweet
I however did not come to the full realization until my NYSC year. I saw first-hand, the impact a good teacher has on lives and learning. However, I did not pursue the career immediately. I worked for a while, and was working on going abroad to get my MBA when two things happened.
One day, a young man who had graduated from secondary school came to see my father to ask for help getting into university. He came with his school leaver’s results, which indicated he had his credits in all cores subjects and more.
However, this young man could not string one sentence correctly in English. I was truly bothered. This is not to say that English is the superior language, or that if you fail to speak English, you are a failure. It bothered me because this was a young man who had passed through school for at least twelve years. Twelve years of being taught in English, and he still could not string even the simplest of sentences together correctly. The system had failed him. The system has failed many others.
The incident never left my mind. He reminded me of some of the pupils I had met during my NYSC. Pupils, who after a few months, were pushing themselves beyond the limits of their environment.
He reminded me of some pupils I had met during my NYSC, who after a few months, were pushing themselves beyond the limits of their environment @adeiye_o.Tweet
Shortly after this, few months before I finally went for my Masters, one of the leading schools in Nigeria started a Graduate Trainee programme. They were recruiting young graduates with non-education degrees, who had a passion for the sector. After a rigorous application and selection process, I was among the successful 25 out of over 6,000. We were trained for six months, after which we were absorbed into the organization. Six months after, I pursued a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. It was a tough decision – Graduate Trainee Programme vs. MBA – but in retrospect, it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. So, that is how I got into the teaching space.
12 years of being taught in English, and he still could not string even the simplest of sentences together correctly. The system had failed him and many others @adeiye_oTweet
Q. Wow! So, you’re an intentional teacher, THE Intentional Teacher. For how long have you been in the profession? Please give us highlights of your career.
Adeiye: From 2005, I started teaching tutorials in the University. Then during my NYSC year in 2008/2009, I taught again. Two years after that, in 2011, I delved fully into the profession. So, I would say I have been in the profession for about nine to twelve years.
I have been in the teaching profession for over nine years despite my background in Economics, and I’m currently a Sectional Head at one of the branches of Corona Schools in Lagos, Nigeria, where I oversee activities pertaining to the Lower Primary section of the school, amongst other responsibilities.
By virtue of the work I do with the Intentional Teachers Network, I was recently awarded the 2019 Africa Special Award of the Joseph Jaworski’s Next Generation Foresight Practitioners Awards for our work with Futures Literacy, a field we have recently delved into by virtue of interest, and some projects with UNESCO.
Q. What is your specialization and how are you different from other teachers.
For most of my career, I have taught Literacy and Social Studies. For a number of years, I taught Numeracy and Science as well, and during NYSC, I taught Economics and Commerce. I truly enjoyed every experience.
What makes me different from other teachers? I would rather say what make me “me” as a teacher. I think it is my ability to see beyond what is in front of me to the possibilities that abound, especially from a place of knowing fully that I am where I should be as regards my chosen field.
Q.What class of pupils / students do you teach – Junior, middle or high school ?
Over the course of my career, I have taught primary and secondary school. We may also consider my tutorial teaching days a stint at tertiary teaching. Lol. I have however spent the majority of my career teaching pupils in Primary 1 and 2.
Q. Awesome. Tell us your views about the teaching profession in Nigeria.
Looking at the big picture can be very disappointing. We look around at the vast number of out-of-school children. Then we look at children in school and cringe when we see that learning is not taking place in a number of schools. Those who wear the ‘teacher’ title have no business being in the sector. The admission process for Faculties of Education across the country is saddening. Those who get in are usually not there by choice. We know the story. But in spite of this, in the last few years, I have actually become very optimistic. The profession is drawing great minds (in the public and private sector) who are willing to go the extra mile in ensuring the impact is made.
Currently, the number of individuals with this mindset may seem inconsequential to the many more who seem to be in the profession to mark time, but I am a firm believer in light dispelling darkness, and the power of one match stick in starting a fire. The policies may fight against progress. The lack of funding and seeming lack of interest on the part of the government can be very frustrating, but I honestly believe that the profession will be in good hands. It will be tough, it will take a while, but good will eventually outweigh bad.
I am a firm believer in light dispelling darkness, and the power of one match stick in starting a fire. @adeiye_oTweet
The policies may fight against progress. The lack of funding and seeming lack of interest on the part of the government can be very frustrating, but I honestly believe that the profession will be in good hands. It will be tough, it will take a while, but good will eventually outweigh bad.Adeiye Oluwaseun-Sobo
Q. What are the greatest needs of pupils and students in Nigeria, and how has the government or private sector empowered teachers; and how are teachers positioned to fulfill those needs?
Value re-orientation and visioning. These I would say are the intrinsic needs of pupils and students in Nigeria. There are external or physical needs that cannot be undermined. Needs like proper classrooms in which to learn, access to technology, food, access to quality textbooks etc. The list is endless. The list will always be there in one capacity or the other. Even developed countries have their issues in their sector. However, what countries that seem to have thriving economies and education sectors have been able to do is ensure that schools are modelled to suit their vision as a nation. Pupils and students in schools today were born into a dismal Nigeria. So their greatest need is the ability to see. To see beyond. To envision. To keep their sense of values or to find them, as the case may be. This cuts across the private and public schools.
Pupils and students in schools today were born into a dismal Nigeria. So their greatest need is the ability to see. To see beyond. To envision. @adeiye_oTweet
Now, are teachers empowered? In the public sector? Largely, no. Education is an expensive venture. Let’s establish that. Where you have it free, you can be sure someone is paying for it. Now because it is an expensive venture, you must equip the people who make the venture a success or failure by virtue of how they discharge their duties.
However, what is the goal or objective of education in Nigeria? Not many who stand to teach know. Because, I am not certain there is one. Apart from the individual missions and visions across private schools. We must also understand that within the private sector, there are various categories of private schools. Some of which should be closed down and licences permanently revoked. I digress. A number of teachers do not have the right value system nor do they have visioning capacity, and as such cannot give what they do not have.
Education is an expensive venture. Let’s establish that. Where you have it free, you can be sure someone is paying for it. @adeiye_oTweet
While it is partly the responsibility of the individual to grow capacity, it is also the responsibility of the government or school management, as the case may be, to expose the teacher to opportunities for growth. To cast clear visions and to pick the right hands.
So, I would say with regards to equipping teachers, a number of schools are on the right track, but many are not. From recruitment to training etc.
As I said previously though, there are bright lights springing up, taking the bull by the horn and equipping themselves.
… what countries that seem to have thriving economies and education sectors have been able to do is ensure that schools are modelled to suit their vision as a nation.Tweet
Q. So profound. What are your greatest challenges or pains as a teacher?
For me, the greatest pain I have as a teacher would be working with parents who do not play their part in the development of their children, yet block every attempt I make to help their child grow. It can be very frustrating because once a child steps into my class, I have a vested interest in their growth.
While it is partly the responsibility of the individual to grow capacity, it is also the responsibility of the government or school management to expose the teacher to opportunities for growth.Tweet
Q. What gives you the greatest joy and fulfillment?
The children. Seeing them succeed beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. Having them rememeber me even years after. Simply watching the tremendous growth that happens when a child is nurtured with love and attention.
Q. So, you recently wrote a book for Teachers. Tell us a bit about the book, the publisher/ imprint and the attention it has received since it got published.
Yes, I did and I am extremely excited. It is titled, Dear Teacher… Musings of an Intentional Teacher. It is a collection of thoughts from my experience in the course of my career as a teacher. These thoughts are penned down and elaborated upon with real life examples of incidences that gave rise to them. It is my hope that they challenge the mindset of any teacher who reads the book and causes them to examine their paradigms. It was self-published. Printing was by BUBATTS International. It is available on Amazon Kindle as well.
The book has been received very well. Feedback has been good, and we are looking to get it into the hands and minds of even more educators across the globe.
Dear Teacher can be purchased by sending a Whatsapp message to 07081896761 or on AmazonTweet
Q. Kudos. Since when have you been writing, and who or what inspired your genius?
I have been writing since I was a child; late in my primary school years actually. Writing, for me, has always been an outlet. My main inspiration comes from the fact that I read a lot. I have always read a lot, and writing came as a natural continuation to that.
Now, who was my inspiration for reading? My mother and father. God bless them. One of my earliest memories is of my mother handing me Enid Blyton books. My father always made us read the newspaper to him. I think writing also came natural because my parents were both ‘pen and paper’ people.
Q. How did you, or how do you successfully juggle your day job with writing.
I had to learn, and am still learning to compartmentalize my days, and not waste a single moment of each day. It is not always easy, but I try to make it work to the best of my ability. I also have a strong support system.
What inspired this particular title ?
About a year ago, I started writing notes to teachers on social media, and I always started with ‘Dear Teacher …’ In addition, I wanted whoever picked the book to feel like I was writing directly to them.
Q. Awesome. What is your vision for this cause/project i.e. The Intenttional Teachers Network and writing combined, and what should we expect from you in the nearest future?
Teaching goes beyond the curriculum. It is transformational – internally and externally – in that it should cause a change internally that seeks to cause a change externally in both fthelearners and teachers. The goal is to cause educators to develop paradigms of visioning that are in turn translated into their practice, using as many avenues as can be explored: teaching in class being one. Writing being another.
In addition, the Intentional teachers Network is a support group for teachers, where we host unique events for teachers and children.
This year, we have more things to come. A podcast is currently in the making, and we have a number of books in the process. It promises to be exciting and I am looking forward to it.
Q. Tell us your 3 things, i.e. 3 things you can’t do without. Three things that excite you.
Oh! That’s easy. The first would be books. I absolutely love books. Everyone who knows me knows this.
Travelling, although I haven’t done as much as I would want to.
Community. I truly enjoy being in a community of like minds.
Q. Tell us the best word of advise / inspiration you’ve ever received as an teacher / author.
My greatest inspiration will probably be a movie I saw during NYSC. It is called Freedom Writer’s Diary and chronicles the teaching life of Erin Gruewell, an American teacher in Inner city America. She took a class of students, who seemingly were going nowhere to happen from where they were to where they could be, by sheer will, belief and funding from creative means. The movie guides my practice to this day. A teacher can do so much.
Q. Any word for your friends colleagues and aspiring authors out there?
Be not discouraged. Your work matters. Your impact is felt. The sector needs you.
Q. How can we get copies of your book, and how could people support your cause / project.
My books can be purchased by sending a Whatsapp message to 07081896761 or on Amazon. We are currently working on making it available for purchase on the website and making hard copies available on Amazon.
Please support by spreading the word, appreciating the teachers in your life and doing your part in the development of that child.
Q. Final words
We only get to live this life once. It should be one of impact. No impact is too small, as long as it is the best we can do at that point in time.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts.