The urge to embark on this study was necessitated by the dire need to find out the “STUDENT-TEACHERS’ CHALLENGES DURING TEACHING PRACTICE IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS AND THEIR SOLUTIONS (A CASE STUDY OF ENUGU STATE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION (TECHNICAL), ENUGU.)” Six research questions guided the study. The study was a simple survey research design and the area of the study is Enugu State College of Education, (Technical), Enugu. Simple random sampling was used. The sample size was 150 students from six departments of the Schools of Science Education were used. The main instrument for data collection was the questionnaire. The instrument was structured according to Yes or No, and Yes has minor and major options. The result of data analysis indicated that fourteen major challenges had been found facing student-teachers during teaching practice, they are:- Location of teaching practice school, Finance, Transportation to school of teaching practice, Low academic standard of the students, Difficulty of student-teacher in adapting to pupils level of academic, Indiscipline and rude behaviors of pupils towards student teachers, Lack of attention and interest of learners/pupils, Challenges of individual differences among students/pupils, Extra workload given to student-teacher by school or head of departments, Lack of infrastructure (electricity, water, equipment etc), Extortion of money from student-teacher by the supervisor, Inadequate organization of micro-teaching programme, Time for teaching practice and Poor assessment due to negligence on the part of student-teacher.
Education is a good instrument for the comprehensive development of the human beings where the whole body is effectively utilized to achieve a pre-determined set of objectives, (A.E. Ejili and N.O. Anyanwu, 2006). It is a complex process which starts to improve out lives as soon as we are born, and continues to do so until we die. According to F.H. Aguba (2006: 58) “The aim of education is the production of good men, that is, for one to be educated, one must be prepared to use the knowledge of what is good and must be prepared to use the knowledge in the service of God and humanity. We can say that, education is a process of acquiring ideas, skills and values that facilitate the development of the learner and the society at large. It is concerned with the development of the society. The nation recognizes the importance of teacher education when they continued to give a major emphasis in all out educational planning. This is basically because no educational system can rise above the quality of its teachers, that is to say that the quality of the teachers in any country determines the quality of her education and the level of national development.
The National Policy on Education of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1998) outlined the purpose of teacher education as follows; a) to produce highly motivated, conscientious effective classroom teacher for all learning in our educational system. b) to encourage further the spirit of enquiry and creativity in teachers; c) to help teachers to fit into the society of the community and the society at large and to enhance their commitment to national objectives; d) to provides teachers with intellectual professional background adequate for assignment and to make them adaptable to any changing situation not only in the life of their country but to the wider world; e) to enhance teachers commitment to the teaching profession. Teaching practice is a very important aspect of any teacher training programme. It is a student-teacher and prospective regular teacher what houseman-ship is to young medical doctor. Questions may be asked – why does a young lawyer on being called to the Bar choose first to understudy an older and more experienced lawyer? Why do young medical doctors go for housemanship under the more experienced ones? Why do vocational education students go on Industrial Training? Likewise, why do student-teachers or prospective teachers go on Teacher Practice? These questions and their answers are very similar. No human being anywhere would have to face some dangers that could be avoided. There is a popular adage which says that “Prevention is always better than cure” or “a stitch in time, saves nine”. Most of the student-teachers do not seem to be fully aware of this fact, may be because of the small proportion of the entire time allocated to teaching, he needs to go through adequate and appropriate teaching practice experience.
Akilaiya (2001) defined teaching practice as an integral part of teacher education programme which provides opportunity for student teachers to put all theoretical knowledge into practice in real school situation. It is a compulsory practical exercise for every student teacher. This, it is the first opportunity for a student-teacher to participate in activities involved in teaching in actual situations. It affords the prospective teacher the opportunity to test, prove the lecture-room theoretical assertions and at the same time provide a forum for him to try out teaching and see whether he can really be a good teacher. So it is very essential that student-teachers should take teaching practice very seriously. The objectives of teaching practice for assessing student-teachers are as follows: i) to provide opportunities for the student to acquire and prove teaching skills; ii) to enable the student effectively plan and prepare lessons; iii) to help the student develop traits, attitudes and abilities; iv) to enable the student to acquire the characteristics of a teacher and to display appropriate behavior; and to enable the student to bring about learning in children. The seven principles for good practice on good teaching and learning in schools are; i) it encourages good contact between students and lectures, ii) it develops reciprocity and co-operation among students, iii) it gives prompt feedback, iv) it emphasizes time on task, v) it communicates high expectations, and vi) it respect diverse talents and ways of learning.
According to Iloh (2001), the key actors in Teaching Practice are; the student-teachers, the resident supervisors, the college supervisors and the principals/heads of departments of the co-operating schools. The student-teacher is the prospective teacher that is still under training, who is acquiring skills, knowledge and techniques required for teaching profession. At this point, he puts all he had learnt into practice. The resident supervisor means the co-operating teacher in the co-operating schools. He is the teacher the student-teacher meets at school where he is doing his teaching practice. He may be the class teacher of the class the student-teacher is using for practice. He sees whether the student-teacher is punctual and regular in his class. He also assists him with his lesson note so as to have an effective lesson note. College supervisor is the student-teacher’s lecturer. He comes to find out whether the student-teacher has really understood what he has been taught as regards the teaching techniques and methodology. And finally brings back the student-teacher’s performance to his school. The principals/head of departments of the co-operating schools is the person in-charge of the co-operating school where the student teacher is doing his teaching practice. He helps in the selection of co-operating teachers who can work with the student-teachers. He builds rapport among resident teachers and student-teachers to enhance their professional growth.
Micro teaching is one of the most important developments in the field of teaching practice. It is originated in Stanford University in 1963. This practice holds very great promise for the future of teacher preparations. It goes a long way to solving some of the challenges involved in student teaching practice. Before the introduction of the micro teaching, there was no provision for the student-teachers to practice the act of teaching before they do on teaching practice. And their performances in teaching practice during those periods were not satisfied. So micro teaching helps the student-teaches to have an early encounter with teaching and in this way attempts to put into practice some of the theories learnt in the lectures. The importance of teaching practice is that it is a crucial period for the teacher to put into practice all the theoretical/practical concepts learnt at school. It is difficult to recognize good teaching unless one has passed through the process. In order to translate theory into practice, the student-teacher will encounter a lot of challenges, but since teaching practice is important in the teaching preparation programme, there is a need for adequate planning and implementation. This study is mainly focused on finding out those challenges encountered by the practicing student-teachers and possible solutions to those challenges.