LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Education of the educator is a must



Dear Editor:

Education is a fluid, evolving, continually changing landscape and teachers have to keep in step with that process. Thus, there is a critical need for ongoing professional development (PD) for teachers perhaps presented by master teachers in each school.

While this training must focus on the latest pedagogy it must not ignore other factors that impact the teaching-learning dynamic. For example, the two biggest strengths of ‘awesome’ teachers are their capacity to develop emotive connections and build trust with their students. Thus, teacher training must include emotive connection and trust building, as well as empathetic communication which is critical to both.

As well PD would ensure that teachers are staying abreast with whatever schools and the system introduce at any and all times – instructional methodologies such as the workshop model, for example; differentiated instructions to ensure the needs of all students are met during instructions; types of assessments, beyond standardized tests; classroom management without corporal punishment et al.

In fact, it is highly recommended that all teachers must do basic education courses to be adept with learning/teaching styles, (John Dunn), multiple intelligences (Gardner), differential cooperative group learning, and curriculum-based assessment skills to continuously measure learning, especially of the [non-standard] learners, to share with parents. Teachers must not only be fluent with the cognitive taxonomy of objectives of Bloom but also with the affective domain to effectively define instructional objectives (scientifically) according to the cognitive and emotional levels of students. And there should be teacher training in violence prevention, conflict resolution, psycho-social skills (at the levels of teachers and students), social problem solving, social and emotional learning, role-playing, supervised interactions, student-centered instruction, basic learning disabilities such as dyslexia, modeling, and reinforcement exercises.

Mentoring is another critical need. Experienced teachers can allow into their classrooms other teachers, especially inexperienced ones, as observers, with each such session followed by the exemplary teacher helping the observing teachers to unpack, clarify, and seek additional details. The other side of the coin is exemplary and/or master teachers observing the classes of the other teachers and then meeting with them to unpack, guide and mentor.

Additionally, new teachers should be provided with mentors, drawn from either the current teaching staff or retired teachers. No matter what kind of training and skill set a new teacher possesses, it is manifestly unfair to throw that teacher into the classroom without the help of mentoring. No amount and type of academic training prepare a teacher for the real-life classroom experience.

Periodic meetings of teachers according to grades (continuous improvement teams) are necessary to discuss grade level practices, instruction, the effectiveness of instruction, student growth, team policies, behavior, and areas/needs for improvement as well as to share best practices, develop new strategies and address any deficits. Grade-level teams help to ensure consistency in instruction (academic, behavior, and social) by allowing for all teachers of a particular grade to share and bring successes and challenges to the table, reduce teacher stress and burnout, invite the expertise of each individual person on the team to present itself as a resource for addressing challenges to maximize capital, problem solve, share best practices and plan according to identified student needs.

Teachers must also meet across subjects to analyze students’ performance data and come up with instructional plans based on such analyses. This fosters the process of evidence-based teaching and also creates scope to group students according to needs and offer related assistance as well as determine areas of weaknesses that would need reinforced teaching, and infer strategies to do so.

At the personal level teachers should play a part in curriculum design, especially with respect to goal setting and standards to be met; be provided with an annual stipend for classroom supplies, and be paid for after-school teaching – evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Consideration must also be given to teachers being provided with skills to address the various issues they come up against in the course of each working day. Thus, for example, why not provide anti-bullying training directly to teachers, perhaps using the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program – the most researched and best-known such program? Of course, a psychologist in each school would be the best way to go.


Annan Boodram

The Caribbean Voice

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  1. Annon
    October 18, 2022

    Another learning disability is attention deficit. I wonder if training is available for teachers to teach students who have the issue? Or any alternative to doctors?

  2. Roger Burnett
    October 18, 2022

    Seventy years ago, none of the teachers at the “sink” secondary modern school that I attended in the UK held degrees. At best, they had attended short teacher training courses on being demobbed from serving in the Second World War.

    But I’ll say this: without exception they were inspirational teachers and role models. If I had my life to live over I would not wish for anything different.

  3. Ibo France
    October 17, 2022

    After reading your commentary, I’m wondering how many young job seekers would want to part of the teaching fraternity. The level of work and responsibilities of a good teacher are overwhelmingly difficult to fulfill.

    Every one of your suggestions is patently useful and correct. However, it’s almost impossible for any normal human to accomplish so much or to possess all these qualities and characteristics.

    If a teacher were to do all that you have listed, it means teachers would have no time themselves or their family.

    We expect so much from our nation builders (teachers) yet we have them living in subtle poverty. Their remunerations are among the lowest in the civil service. Increase their salaries and their chances of upward mobility.

  4. Anonymous
    October 17, 2022

    This is a well written piece that is theoretically sound and rooted in evidence.

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