As Dominica’s teaching system navigates to online teaching, the new and “challenging” format of learning, teachers are being asked to stay connected with the parents of their students.
President of the Dominica Association of Teachers (DAT), Mervin Alexander acknowledges that parents are currently under a great deal of stress during this pandemic with loss of jobs and financial difficulties amongst other factors.
“The ever-changing impact of COVID-19 can create a sense of insecurity and fear. Many of our families are still working, but many are not. They are concerned about the impact on their families financially, emotionally, and certainly physically,” Alexander stated in a press release.
“Moreover, they are now taking on the role of teacher for their children. For some, this is a wonderful way of giving support to teachers and to give them structure for their days at home with their children. For others, this can be very overwhelming,” he added.
He encouraged teachers to be responsive to parents regarding any questions which these parents may have but to also be proactive in reaching out to them.
Alexander noted that most parents have no background in teaching and want to do what’s best for their children but many are feeling unequipped to do so.
“Think of ways you can support and reassure them,” he said. “At the same time, I am calling on parents, please respect the teachers’ space, do not call them at all odd hours with your questions. Remember, online teaching brings with it added stress and teachers too have families.”
Alexander also exhorted teachers to have realistic expectations and recognize that students may not be at the same level at the end of the term or school year as if teaching were face to face. He advised that they structure each day and avoid setting goals that contribute to undue stress for themselves, the students and their families.
“Great teachers meet students where they are. As you begin this school year, do what you do at the beginning of every school year – get to know your students and find ways to meet them where they are,” the DAT president advised.
Alexander identified some of the challenges teachers face such as not having their own devices, having to travel by public transportation to get to school and having to share limited space with other colleagues and expressed the hope that education officials would realize that teachers, who are expected to deliver lessons to the students, are themselves, equally in need of devices as the students.
He further urged parents to take this opportunity to do things with their children such as cooking, board games, reading because, he pointed out, “there is great learning in all of these activities.”
“For many, daily devotions may be something new, but having that time each day to be reassured of God’s faithful promises can be a great stress reliever,” the DAT president. “Give your families very simple ways to do so. Maybe share any daily classroom prayers that the children already know. Share one or two online devotions for children that you are seeing and that you know to be sound.”
Alexander exhorted all teachers to be responsible and get vaccinated reminding them that one of their colleagues had died from COVID-19.
“Don’t become a spreader but one who is trying to halt the spread. We have lost one of our teachers to the disease, let’s try not to lose any more. My condolences to the family on behalf of the Dominica Association of Teachers,” he said.