Big up to all the good teachers

Letters to the Editor

Big up to all the good teachers

Monday, October 14, 2019

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Dear Editor,

Teachers in Jamaica are often disrespected, overlooked and overworked. While this isn't the experience of every teacher, it is generally so for those in certain schools, such as those with small rooms, large populations and inadequate resources.

Those schools need hefty investments and teachers who are innovative, nurturing, enthusiastic and intrinsically motivated to withstand and redirect the fiery trials of life and aid in the moulding of budding lives.

There are stupendous teachers who, during all the chaos, held on because of that one sign from a student, a grateful parent, that department award, or a past “troubled” student thanking them for a good talking.

There are still good teachers out there. Sadly, sometimes these good teachers get so discouraged and demotivated that they either seek refuge in a higher-paying job or school, or migrate.

In the August 2019, RJR News reported Jamaica Teachers' Association President Garth Anderson as saying that an increasing number of teachers have been resigning to take up jobs overseas, many of them going to the United States and Japan, and he feared it would not be easy to fill those vacancies.

We are sometimes dealing with students who are spoilt, disrespectful and overall not interested in their own education. Where unconventional methods of classroom management are often exercised for those lucky enough to get any, some don't even bother trying. The rest lose their voice every other week. In such stressful environments, it is easy to lose one's professionalism and enthusiasm.

Nevertheless, as I reflect on my past teaching experiences, where some see chaos, I see much potential. That constant, irritating knocking on the desk, a future lead drummer perhaps? Or that student always kicking the bottle, maybe the next member of the Reggae Boyz. Or that unbridled tongue, eager to share their knowledge, the next Dorraine Samuels or Ian Boyne? Whatever the aspiration, every child must learn in a safe, productive environment.

Honestly though, not every student is encouraging to teach, but most, if not all, will remember how we made them feel if we dare put them in their place. Yet, I see no remorse for teachers. We are not cheap, unqualified robots without social lives and feelings. A mutual respect must be garnered by every stakeholder in education. Teachers are not the sole contributors to students learning.

Encouragement sweetens labour, so, may we take the time to big up those teachers who are doing their best to impact lives every night and day, even when they don't see the immediate results. Fellow educators, teaching is an intricate, lifelong process of giving and receiving. Never allow your fertile soil to be ruined by cruel weeds. Walk good.


Kenloy Smith

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