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A teacher’s role

Corey Worrell

A teacher’s role

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OVER THE LAST FEW WEEKS, the topic of teachers has been on the lips of many Barbadians. This was primarily due to the situation between the staff and leadership of The Alexandra School. As with most things, many individuals, most of whom have never professionally taught a day in their lives, have their own opinions on the role and expectations of teachers.
The situation at The Alexandra School continues to grasp the attention of citizens, the media, unions and the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. I believe teachers across the island should use this unique opportunity to share with the public and the powers at be all their grievances, disappointments and issues they as teachers experience daily. Based on our passive nature as a people, opportunities like these come once in a blue moon and, as a result, this one should not be allowed to pass. The atmosphere is charged, the nation is listening and there is an unspoken desire for change.
On Monday evening, I was invited to be part of the panel on the radio show Vyze, which is aired on 98.1 on Monday nights from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. The topic was Teachers – Villains or Victims? and the first question that was posed to the panel was, “What is the role of a teacher?”
Each of the three panellists, two of whom were teachers, shared what they believed was the role of a teacher.
I was not surprised that all three of us shared roles that were similar and some that were different. Even though I have no statistical proof, I share a belief that most people in Barbados, including teachers, have no idea what the duties of a teacher are, based on the Education Act of Barbados.
Below are the duties of the teacher, obtained from the Education Regulation 1982: Regulation 23: A teacher in a public school shall, subject to the act and these regulations
(a) follow the directions of the principal of the school and carry out the duties assigned or delegated to him by the principal;
(b) provide the pupils under his care with appropriate instruction and learning experiences during the school day;
(c) draw up an individual plan of work based on the schemes of work for the school;
(d) make adequate preparation for each day’s work for his several classes and teach such subjects on the school timetable as are assigned to him and make use of the officially approved textbooks;
(e) give undivided attention to his duties during school hours;
(f) maintain proper order and discipline among the pupils under his care;
(g) be on duty for the school day and take part in playground supervision and other school activities;
(h) assist in promoting the welfare and well-being of the pupils and fostering their social and moral development;
(i) attend staff meetings;
(j) keep a record of the daily attendance of pupils and enquire into the causes of lateness and report them to the principal; and
(k) keep an inventory of equipment and supplies entrusted to his care and ensure that the equipment and supplies are properly used.
Many teachers within our school system go way beyond the call of duty when it comes to the children within our schools. Parents must understand that the child that leaves home on mornings isn’t always the child that teachers meet in the classroom.
Let me give you an example of what many teachers within our schools may experience daily. Let’s say that a teacher has one 40-minute period to teach. Within those 40 minutes, a teacher has to control a class of 30 students, take the register, correct homework, teach the content for the day, do examples, assist students who don’t understand, discipline disruptive students who may be fighting, throwing things across the class, talking, cracking jokes and using abusive language, just to name a few. Imagine this being done for seven periods in a day.
I have heard on numerous occasions, people lambasting teachers without taking into consideration what teachers do daily. Teachers are not perfect and some of them are burnt out and as a result need the support and encouragement of all citizens.
• Corey Worrell is a former Commonwealth youth ambassador. Email [email protected]