As Barbadian Schoolchildren get ready for new term? Mis-education Minister Ronald Jones must do his own Schools Based Assessment!
It’s amazing how some people say that the Teachers’ cry is only for more money… put yourself in our shoes for one moment.
My average workload is teaching 7-9 classes in 6 to 7 different year levels (from first form to upper 6th), 4 different subjects if I’m lucky. Then on top of that, when I’m not being trained at Erdiston, I have form teacher duties. Let’s start with form teachers…
Form teachers have to not only take attendance twice a day, but we’re the first point of contact for students with deviant behaviour. We also have to ensure that our records are accurate, even if we’re absent due to illness or training or school-related business like field trips. So, if a student is arrested or brought before the court for whatever reason, we need to have accurate records of their attendance to show to the court. If they do not show up for registration, we have to address that. If they’re absent for a number of days without contact with the school, we have to address that. We also have to be the confidante, the one students can come to when they have issues, and believe you me, these kids come with so many different issues from home, that it too can affect us. Besides taking attendance in the book, we also have to transfer the attendance record onto a computer programme. This process is extremely tedious.
Towards the end of each term, Form Teachers must also make sure that EACH of their 30+ students have marks and comments from each of their 9 to 14 subjects. Each comment from each subject teacher must be grammatically correct or relate to the grade, otherwise, we have to find each teacher to ask them to correct it. Imagine if you have two students in the same class with very similar names.
Subject teachers normally have about 7-10 classes, sometimes more. Some teachers even have to report to two or more different departments because of the number of classes they teach. For each class, we may see them twice, three times up to 5 or 6 times a week. For each session we teach, we must plan for it (it’s in the Educational Act).
They say a teacher’s job is 9-3 job, but take into account that we plan, create handouts, create tests (which comes with tables of specification and mark schemes), formulate homework, mark homework, mark tests, give students feedback, use the feedback and our self-evaluation to plan for the next class, address deviant behaviour, report to the Head(s) of Department, report to the year heads, report to the Principal or Deputy if there is a fight, follow up on any appointments, give up our lunch times to help students who are struggling, give up our lunch times to address deviant behaviour, etc. etc. etc.
In this day in age, the attention span of children is very low. We come up with creative ideas to help them to learn the way they learn… because, as Minister Jones said, the teacher hasn’t taught if the student hasn’t learned. We have to learn technology, use the technology to help make the lesson more interesting and understandable to the students, which takes more time on our parts… so what part of our job is a 9-3 job again? I used to have a “don’t take home work” policy, until I started to find myself at work sometimes from 6:30 a.m. ’til 8:00 p.m., working on things for students to help them to cope and understand and get feedback for.
On top of that, some of the syllabi are sooooooooo long that we need to take extra time to finish them. My fifth form comes in on Friday after school for an hour, on Sunday afternoons for 2 and a half hours and during the breaks from school to cover syllabus topics and get practice with past paper questions.
On top of that, teachers are expected to take part in at least one extracurricular activity or some may assist in the Adult Continuing Education Programmes throughout the island… what part of our job is 9-3 again?
Besides all of that I just mentioned, we get lambasted by parents if their child complains when we address their inappropriate behaviour. Imagine we call parents to discuss the deviant behaviour of a child and the parents support their child’s behaviour… what are we to do?
Oh yeah…. and when you see us in the Supermarket or eating somewhere, the first thing on our minds is not how your little Susie is doing in school. We also have our own personal lives… we are human after all. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t LIVE at the school.
On top of that dealing with these kids nowadays isn’t in any way like how our teachers had to deal with us when we were that age. It was a “lot better” back then compared to now, according to a senior teacher. On top of that, the school populations are higher, so the classes are larger. We science teachers are dealing with on average about 400+ Lab Reports to mark for each CSEC class. With the increase in the number of 6th form Schools and the increase in the roll of these classes, we also have to deal with CAPE SBA’s. Now, on top of all of that, with the introduction of CVQs and CCSLC we NOW have to deal with SBAs from FIRST FORM. Yes, you’re seeing correctly… FIRST FORM!
Imagine this… that plan and design experiment you struggled with in FIFTH FORM has to be administered to a FIRST FORMER. On top of that Math and English now have SBAs as well, from FIRST TO SIXTH FORM. Watching teachers from my and other schools, the general consensus is that we are tired, we are stressed out, family time is reduced, “me” time no longer exists. I shudder to think of what other teachers who have children or elderly parents are going through.
So before you open your mouth and talk about how teachers only want more money, take a journey with us to see why we deserve it and why we deserve the breaks we get, which for many of us aren’t really “breaks“. They tend to be the times when we bring students in, in smaller groups to help them to succeed. I personally have not had a “break” since 2012.
That being said… I love my job and I hope that this situation can be rectified, so we can focus on being the best teachers we can be for our children today who are tomorrow’s leaders.