Let me make a confession before I delve into the review of this book. Some of the areas dealt with in the book are related to my life’s journey. Why? I had the first four years of my post-university life teaching at a secondary school that could be considered as a middle level school in Osogbo, Osun State, Southwest Nigeria. My first salary after the youth service in 2007 was less than N10,000. It rose to N25,000 as a Vice Principal before I quit in 2011. Passion was the other currency that kept me going then.
So, before I had the courage to drop my resignation letter shortly after my take-home was increased, the safe where I had kept the passion that kept me lively and creative in the classroom had been burgled and the spirit had completely left a career I began two years after I completed my secondary school education as a 17-year-old. I still love teaching. I am still making an impact and encouraging young men and women to be the best they could be. But back then, there was no iota of interest left in me. I had no choice but to quit. I am glad I did.
Having moved on to become a university teacher and having had the privilege to sit on a board of a secondary school of the same level in the capital city of Osun where I have had course to relate with teachers of diverse talents, varied temperament and orientation, there was no way the book would have escaped my attention. To a large extent, I can clearly relate with the focus of the book penned by this great and innovative storyteller and author – Sodiq Ajala. In all sincerity, I found the title of the book awkward – Double PRO for Teachers: How to attract more income, influence and command respect as a teacher.
But, having read from the front cover to the back cover, I found it as a treasure island for any teacher who, like me, is passionate about teaching, making impact and having influence in the society. The author has successfully shown that it is not only a crime to be a teacher, but also possible to reap the reward of the career both here on earth and later in heaven. It is a book that fundamentally addresses the core problems of teachers who, through societal attitude, have been denigrated and whose self esteem has been injured. The question is how does the book perform all these miracles I have ascribed to it? A journey across the 102-page book is a must. Let us move!
In five chapters, the author presents a well-prepared dish of personal development, relevant skills acquisition and professional practice laced with either personal experience or success stories of others. His background as a management consultant, teacher and superb story teller shines glowingly as he takes the readers on a journey of self-discovery and professional redemption. He opens the first chapter with a story of his life, documenting how he went into teaching and later discovered he was not getting back the value he was investing in the youths that were passing through him in the same quantity.
His was a familiar story of an average Nigerian graduate. Dude finishes university, serves his fatherland, and then applies for jobs with little or no success. After fruitless efforts, he decides to check the sector that has vacancies all year around- education- and gets employed on a meagre salary that has continued to make the positions vacant. Except the lucky ones who get employed immediately after service year, an average Nigerian graduate will be forced to teach first and use the period to search for better opportunities.
The opening story whets the appetite and prepares the readers for the distance ahead. The writer, through his experience, states his argument clearly- for teachers to enjoy a life of financial freedom and improved self-esteem, they need to embrace being double professionals. He proposes that teachers could teach from morning till late afternoon and also deploys the mastery of their subject matters as services to organisations that need them at night and weekends. This is the core message he uses the remaining four chapters to explain. Before closing the chapter, he captures reasons teachers need to be double professionals. The top on the list is meagre salaries while the last of the seven reasons is a wretched lifestyle. He as well states the benefits of shedding the single lens of a monotonous career life. Increase in earnings also comes first while a sense of pride and personal development wraps it up. There is indeed a connection for those who could easily decipher to do so.
As an experienced knowledge management expert, the author proceeds to the second chapter after laying the foundation of his thesis in the opening chapter. Here, he identifies how teachers could be double professionals. He emphasizes relevant skills acquisition, giving nuggets of what could make that easy. He then leads the readers through an easy-to-follow process of self discovery, helping to discover and rediscover the areas they are good at. He identifies seven key areas, beginning with communication and ending with information management. That chapter concludes by identifying the shifts that makes being a double professional possible. These, according to the author, include platform shift, digital shift, the services shift, the exponential shift, stakeholder shift and circular shift. The keys to these shifts are embedded in the inner recess of the book. Find them out!
The third chapter appears to be the climax of the book. This represents the gold mine of the Treasure Island. It is the point where the author has chosen to give more. He identifies the spaces to explore by teachers who are tired of living the wretched life. Like a life coach, the author leads the readers, explains, and demonstrates the spaces where their skills could be displayed for patronage. There are 20 different spaces he lists out for teachers to try and get a second life. Some of these are familiar; others are hidden resources, each with a clickable link that takes the readers for exploration!
Let it be known that as a Physics teacher, you could still be a research analyst while an Accounting teacher could still be a Revenue Agent. If these are seen as overwhelming, how does one describe the table of different education subject matters, the skills/services they enable to render and key resources needed for a start? This is an indication that the writer is not motivated by anything other than the liberation of people of his constituency (teaching profession) still bound to the old ways of doing things. Aside from this, there is also a link to 25 alternative jobs in education aside teaching. It is resources after resources.
Chapter four takes the baton from its predecessor by further looking at how teachers could position themselves for impact and influence. One tool that the author identifies as indispensable to teachers is the art of storytelling. As a storyteller, he surely knows his onions. He dishes out knowledge on the art of storytelling, exploring its intricacies, how it works, the benefits and how teachers could use it to their advantage in the course of positioning themselves for a chance at becoming a double professional. He lists out the process and the formulas of telling compelling stories. The author indeed understands the terrain. And again, he does not hold back. One thing that is noticeable from the book is that the solutions proffered are technology and internet-driven. This, as it has been heavily seen in previous chapters, manifests again when he puts forward digital storytelling. He establishes how it works with social media – those platforms that we are all familiar with.
He then presents the different created platforms on these social media with how teachers in Nigeria and beyond have been leveraging these platforms to curate and narrate the stories of their successes, challenges, breakthroughs and are even making money with their proposed solutions. On Instagram alone, he identifies not less than 7 platforms where teachers are making waves with their own innovations. It does not stop there. On Facebook, there are groups pushing teachers’ interest where intending double professionals could be part of. That chapter pushes the empowerment of teachers to a higher notch. He highlights stories of successful teachers who are double professionals in and out of Nigeria. There are names that one could easily search for on Google. Please check out Henry Anumudu, Atinuke Idowu, Folashade Babatunde and Godwin Kwaghngee. They are ordinary folks doing well with being double professionals, using the tool of digital storytelling. He also gives tips on how to do that. With this, there is no reason to still foot-drag to take the next step. This becomes the focus in the last chapter.
The last chapter is a remedial of some sort. Sodiq Ajala shows a complete mastery of the teaching landscape. The argument here is that no matter the vast ocean of opportunities that presents themselves before teachers, it takes just one thing to make the difference-the mindset. Perhaps, this is responsible for why Nigerian teachers have not been making efforts to change their situation. The author becomes a motivational speaker in the last part, charging the readers to embrace the growth mindset. Again, he deploys storytelling to illustrate what he means by a growth mindset. It is a mindset that is ready to acquire knowledge and skills, not minding the failure and frustrations that come with such ventures. According to the author, the growth mindset is that attitude that pushes you forth against all odds. Such a mind does not pay attention to obstacles, but rather has eyes fixed on the goal.
Concluding this review will not be complete without going back to my opening story where I narrated my first real 48 months of work experience as a teacher. Then, I knew I deserved much more than the value I was offering was fetching me. I desired more than I was getting, but I didn’t have the information that could push me forward. It could be argued that 2011 was 9 years ago and a lot has changed in terms of the opportunities and platforms that were available then and now. However, I need to say that I finished my second degree while at the said school; I know what teachers pass through. They give their best. They get remuneration that is not commensurate with their qualifications. Yet they still suffer societal degradation and are looked down upon. Tell anyone you are a teacher in a private school, your entire life and value is summed up.
Nevertheless, there is one thing that the author advocates – a growth mindset. Whether now or in 2040, individuals would still be taking responsibilities for how far they have gone in the pursuit of their dreams. This means you need continuous self-development, relevant skill acquisition and a broader platform to showcase the know-how and fulfilment, most importantly, the value quotient a person is equipped to offer. So, if you are a teacher and you are as confused as I was on how to drive my life forward, the book to read is Ajala’s Double PRO for Teachers: How to attract more income, influence and command respect as a teacher. Despite the accolades that I have poured on the book, there are glaring blemishes. No work of art is perfect. Nothing is. I have issues with the title. I have said it sounded like the title of an information product. And as such, the structure of the book is also arranged in that manner. Well, it is an e-book. However, this does not take anything away from the pure golden pieces of life-changing information contained therein.