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The Secret problem of student behaviour in Ghana - plus two other findings...

9 March 2020

Welcome to our weekly blog for Teacher Tapp Ghana!

Every Monday we summarise our most surprising and interesting survey findings from the week before. This weekly blog provides an easy way for you to learn about the experiences and opinions of teachers across Ghana.

Remember, we are still encouraging as many teachers as possible to sign up and start using Teacher Tapp. You can help us out by sending this blog post to your colleagues. There are download links at the bottom that they can use to become part of the Teacher Tapp community.

In the mean time, here are this week’s intriguing findings…

1. We need to talk about student behaviour…

We’ve all had tough days where students just won’t behave the way you want them to. But when this issue becomes chronic, it can erode a teacher’s confidence so much that they want to leave the profession.

Nearly 1-in-3 of you told us that that this has happened to at least one teacher you know. 10% of you said that you know several teachers who have left the profession due to being overwhelmed by managing difficult student behaviour.

In addition to this finding, 16% of you told us that were dreading at least one of your lessons in the coming week due to student behaviour. 1-in-3 of you also told us that you would be attracted to working in a school with a consistent and well-enforced behaviour policy, even if it was 100 miles away (see point 2 below).

Clearly there is a problem with student behaviour for many teachers in Ghana. How did things get so bad? From our conversations with teachers, there seem to be three primary reasons that student behaviour remains a particular challenge for teachers in Ghana.

Firstly, corporal punishment in schools was banned in January last year. While this is undoubtedly a positive move, it has left many teachers in Ghana without the strategies and tools that they would historically use to manage student behaviour. Without having been introduced to alternative techniques, teachers are having to struggle on without any behaviour management techniques whatsoever.

Secondly, several of our teachers have told us that they frequently teach extremely large classes. These classes can have as many as 60 students in them. It is extremely difficult for a single adult to manage the behaviour of so many young people. What’s more, having such a large number of students in a small space elevates student excitement and makes the maintenance of a calm environment more challenging.

Thirdly, good behaviour in schools depends on clear guidelines for schools to follow and examples of best practice for schools to model themselves on. This is currently lacking from the Ghana Education Service, both at the national and local level. This is possibly because student behaviour is not viewed as a problem that warrants solutions.

With the data we are gathering, we are now in a position to push for change for teachers in Ghana so student behaviour can become more manageable. If you’d like to add to our data by relating your personal experiences, we warmly invite you to message

2 . Would you travel 100 miles for a PhD?

Some schools are more appealing to work in than others. For example, a school that requires you to relocate or travel 100 miles every morning isn’t going to be that appealing. But what about if they offered you some benefits to entice you into working there?

When we asked which perks would lure you into a role at a distant school, the three most popular selections were ‘An opportunity to complete a further qualification, e.g. a masters or PhD’, a ‘promotion with a pay rise and the opportunity to implement’ and an ‘interesting and innovative curriculum’.

Aside from the most popular selections, the least popular are also interesting – only 3% of you would be motivated to move by a reduced teaching timetable and only 1% of you were tempted by a policy that reduces the amount of marking you have to do.

Your responses suggest that while you’re interested in obtaining further qualifications, this is something that is currently very difficult for you to access in your current role. Prohibitive factors could include time, financial cost and the ability to access learning materials from your current location.

As this superseded your interest in obtaining a promotion and pay rise, it seems that advancing to a senior role is not a challenge for you in your current school. Or perhaps you’re simply not interested!

What is clear from the general selection of answers is your passion to become an exceptionally skilled teacher who works in a school that aligns with your values and interests. This ranked above your interest in making your life easier or simpler (e.g. by having a lighter teaching timetable). We’re very impressed!

3 . You love setting homework – but should you?

Homework is a routine part of schooling across the world. But does it actually do any good for students?

You certainly think so! When we polled you on this question, an enormous 97% of you told us you believe homework helps your students make academic progress.

While it may be a common opinion to view homework as beneficial, there is research which questions this belief.

Research has suggested that homework for primary school students has no positive impact on student learning or achievement.

Research with older students has suggested that homework can be beneficial, but it depends what homework has been set. If the homework gives students an opportunity to memorise information they have learned that day then it can be useful. The same is true of homework where students complete practice questions. 26% of you told us last week that this is your preferred style of homework. Seems like you have the right idea!

Some teachers might object that homework isn’t just about promoting academic achievement. It is also about teaching students self-discipline and time-management. But is this worth the extra marking burden it gives teachers? What do you think? Let us know your thoughts on homework and its usefulness to

4. Finally, we know you’re finding our daily readings useful, so here are all of the ones from last week…

PLUS, Don’t forget that there are discussion questions for these articles that can be found here. Why not try them out with your PLC?

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