AFTER almost two decades in the classroom, mathematics teacher Ronique Bernard has melded his love for teaching with his entrepreneurial mindset to find his niche in online tutoring. While many teachers were first introduced to online learning as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bernard had discovered its advantages well before.
"I just love to teach," said the Holy Trinity High School educator.
Bernard discovered his passion for education when his aunt encouraged him to take up a four-month opportunity to teach grade four students as a pre-trained teacher. After running into one of his students on his way home and discovering that his efforts were not in vain, he realised he had indeed found his calling.
The son of a primary education teacher, Bernard said his entrepreneurial instincts took over in 2009 when, in his spare time, he started creating video content for his lessons.
"I started with video-based teaching, which was primarily making videos and putting them on DVDs. I then started integrating platforms like Facebook and SkyDrive, which is now OneDrive, Google Drive and Skype to provide lessons online. I just like to explore every way that I can teach outside of the classroom and that has led me to the opportunities of online teaching," Bernard said.
Since then, Bernard said he has discovered that many of his students, including adults, learn better online.
"When I started, I started with small groups, so you find that students who would have challenges interacting in larger groups, like a regular classroom, find it easier to interact in small groups or one-on-one online. It's an opportunity for them to learn at their own pace and express themselves without the fear of being ridiculed."
Bernard is one of more than a dozen teachers currently participating in the SMC Teach programme, a free on-demand tutoring programme organised by the marketing and communications agency The SMC Group. Now in its fourth year, SMC Teach is providing free online one-on-one and group tutoring sessions to students sitting this year's Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examinations.
"I love to teach and programmes like SMC Teach and even my online tutoring is another opportunity to interact with students and assist them while also gaining some additional income. So it is a win-win," Bernard said.
Bernard suggests that more teachers should start looking online to find ways to reach their students. "As people, we have the skill of adaptation. We have to learn to adapt to the times. A lot of today's students learn better with technology and online because they spend so much time on their devices already so we can tap into that to reach them where they are."
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