1.1 Background of the Study
The task of teaching in the Secondary Schools is so demanding and students’ learning in and out of the classroom is directly under the guidance of the teacher. In most cases, students’ performance is determined by the attitude which teacher exhibit towards his or her job.
Attitude as defined by Ukpong (2000) refers to a state of personal line of action which may be exhibited overtly by actual choice. According to the author, attitude is classified into two; positive and negative. Positive attitude refers to favourable mental disposition which is directed to a target stimulus. It prepared one’s mind and gives one the will-power towards responding to a target stimulus. Negative attitude on the other hand produces a dislike and aversion for the stimulus in question. For example, a teacher who enjoys good working relations and fair treatment a school is bound to develop positive attitude to work and students will follow suit. This attitude may lead to improved performance of students and attainment of educational goals. The reverse is the case if a teacher does not enjoy good working relations.
Naturally, secondary school teachers demand that their salaries and other allowances be paid regularly and also enjoy promotion as at when due. But when this is lacking, dissatisfaction sets in and this may be expressed through such behavior as absenteeism. Lateness to school, non-commitment to effective teaching and generally low productivity.
In this paper, teachers’ attitude to work is examined in three dimensions thus: teachers’ commitment, teachers’ punctuality to school and teacher student interaction.
The classroom teacher is the sole manager of the teaching and learning process in a school. The teacher is thus responsible for the outcome of students learning. If a teacher must discharge his/her function effectively, he/she must be committed to his/her work. In other words, paramount in the teachers professional practices is the commitment to the growth need and adjustment of learners. It is therefore obligatory for teachers to ensure that students acquire desirable knowledge, values ideas concepts, principles and skills necessary for the overall growth according to Isangedighi (1998) is expressed in his/her teaching behavior and seriousness with which he/she handles his instructions.
Teaching as opined by Flanders (1970) and Isangedighi (1989) involves a reciprocal contact between the teacher and students. It covers the purpose dimension, the information dimension and the measurement and evaluation dimension. Commitment to quality teaching therefore is important for the teacher.
Such a commitment takes into consideration the mastery of the subject matter, including the criteria for selection such as, validity, significance, ability, interest and learners abilities Isangedighi, (1998). Effective teaching cannot be guaranteed without commitments to work and commitment to student’s characteristics.
Isangedigh (1998) further added that the teachers’ knowledge of the learner’s characteristics should cover the areas of talent, intelligence, skills, home background and their hereditary assets and liabilities. These factors according to
Ezewu (1980) severally and interactively contribute to the child success or failure in school.
Aside from this, a teacher’s commitment to work, by and large depends on the nature of his professional ethics.
Okeke (1984) provided a list of principles that a committed teacher should imbibe. Among these principles are exemplariness in personal life, appropriate execution of contractual obligations, concern for learners’ welfare, appropriate record keeping, professional co-operation with colleagues, avoidance of gossips and derogatory remarks etc. All these attributes of a committed teacher according to Isangedighi (1998) provide for professional image that is devoid of an air of humiliation, rejection and worthlessness. The air of personal pride, self-respect, bright appearance, habit of cleanliness, decent manner of dressing, polished language and polite attitude; constitute elements of teachers’ commitment that will promote an enviable image for the teacher, thereby bringing about high academic performance of students.
Teachers’ punctuality to school is a vital factor or sub-variable of teachers attitude to work, which can affect academic performance of students. In other words, teachers who are always punctual to school can install such attitude in students, and this can result in good academic performance of the students.
According to Alexander (2003) , by the Guyana Law, teachers are require to report for duty a least fifteen minutes before the start of lesson each day in order to prepare and to be ready to start work promptly. Unfortunately, some teachers do not always observe this.
Alexander (2003) further maintained that, with respect to some schools, score of students are tardy for a variety of frivolous reasons like, the unavailability of the right mini-bus, or waking up late, or running errands just before school. All these affect attendance rate of students to school. Therefore, when attendance rates of students are compared with punctuality rates of teachers, the author maintained that 63.5% of teaching-learning time is further reduced not quit imperceptibly. The two parties “scramble”, at best, towards the end of the school year or near examination time to attempt to complete scheme of work or syllabus in order to compensate for time irretrievably lost. This results in poor performance of students and when the performance of students is assessed by external means like external examinations, the under achievement of students is seldom attributed to poor attendance and punctuality of teachers to work, since other reasons can be manufactured. When teachers are absent or frequently come late to school, they deprive the learners the opportunity of experiencing full explanation of concepts. If the students are fortunate to have a particular lesson repeated, it might be an abbreviated version of the original lesson and at the expense of the later lessons, since teacher at this time will be in a hurry to cover up the syllabus so as so meet up with time. This situation according to Alexander (2003) results in underachievement of students which may also lead to an increase in drop-out rate; thereby affecting negatively, parents’ zeal to spend more money sending their children to school. The author further reiterated that, when a child’s results at the end of five years are unsatisfactory, many parents feels that their money is wasted. In all of this, the author added that unacceptable attendance and punctuality rates by teachers to school can lead to poor students performance.
After a study of the implication of the above fact, it was concluded that there is need to take action to improve the existing unsatisfactory rate of teachers’ punctuality to school.
Alexander (2003) added that action should be taken on the one hand by parents, and on the other hand by schools and the departments of education. It was recommended that accurate record be kept of teachers’ punctuality rate to school and reports should be promptly made at the end of the month. In the second place, it was firmly recommended that in cases where teachers’ distance from school has a negative effect on students’ performance, teacher should be placed in school nearer their homes.
According to Hazeltine (1999), there are several reasons why there may be a difference in the recording of lateness among teachers. Teacher are different. While, one may arrive school an quickly move into the classroom to get ready for the day’s job, another may find all kinds of distractions on the way to school. Also, another may have more parents waiting to speak to him in the morning so that when they arrive school, it is later than 8:30 am. In all of this Hazaltine (1999) therefore advised that teachers should bear in mind that being punctual is a part of showing courtesy, which is a part of love, and a way people can express love and respect towards one another. The author also added that there are some differences in the way lateness is handled in school. Not only must teachers be on time in the morning, they must also be on time for each class during the day. With seven periods in a day and very specific time for each, the potential for disruption grows geometrically. Punctuality therefore is an important life skill for the world or work, as it is not uncommon for teachers to be sent home or fired from work for showing up late always.
The interaction that exists in the classroom between the teacher and the students has a great role to play influencing pupil’s academic performance. Stressing the importance of good teacher students relationship. Genga (1988) maintained that the teacher is a significant figure to all students. The way they copy what he says and what he is, shows that he can destroy and also build their characters. A friendly professional relationship with students according to Denga is capable of stimulating and motivating them to learn effectively.
Knowing the needs of the individual children, establishing motivational relationship with them and being sensitive to their needs and problems is socially and psychologically healthy.
On the other hand an irritable, hostile, sarcastic, autocratic, indifferent and impersonal teacher has poor inter-personal relationship with students and he’s likely to scare them. These can dampen students’ interest to learn thereby bring about poor academic performance.