Sunday, 14 December 2014

Contact Time with Students




It has been a great debate over the years for our nation's teachers to spend more time in the classroom.  Our Ministry of Education, over the last three years, has hemorrhaged the teachers' holiday/recuperation period by adding two more teaching days per term.  This year is no different and now not only are they trying to shorten the days of rest for teachers, but are now mandating them to go to professional development seminars conducted by education officers who themselves are exhausted with work.

All this, because there is the perception that teachers have too much time on their hands to find additional funds to improve their standard of living.  One talk show host mentioned about the amount of teachers who are driving better cars and living in luxurious houses and that teaching seemed to be a money making business instead of that of educating the population.  There were mentions of teachers having after school classes where students must pay a cost.  Investigations were secretly conducted to find out the cost of these services and publishing how much money a teacher makes conducting private classes.

 Persons with doctoral degrees have presented interesting data showing that many of the poor results of CSEC examinations, sit squarely of the feet of teachers who waste time in staff rooms or gossiping in corridors leaving the children unsupervised.  So the question is, should all teachers' family time be punished because of the actions of a few?  This seems to be an issue of management and accountability at each affected school.

It is situations like these that make teachers have to work within the scheduled hours.  Seeing that the good teachers are hardly given much credit for overtime services to their students, and becoming more verbally abused on the roads due to bad publicity, more teachers are taking a military approach to the teaching time with their students.  Not to mention the way freeze that the teachers have accepted for the last four years!

Now, the Ministry's response is to cutely cut into the recuperation periods of teachers much to the dismay of the family of the affected teachers.  Soon, more families of teachers will be  dysfunctional because of the lack of family time with all its members.  So many spouses have left their family unit because their teaching partners hardly have enough time to hold their families together.  Yes, this opens the door to another debate but if a survey is conducted, I am sure one would find that more teachers have found themselves in divorce court than the norm.

Addressing the issue of contact time, this should be an issue for the school board and management to handle, instead of giving the cold blanket treatment to every school.  Making use of the available time and resources should be the ministry's goal and not to rob good teachers of family time which is already short.