A few weeks ago the media was saturated with teacher migration and the education ministry's poor response to the issue.
Fortunately, I am one of many teachers who decided to stay in Jamaica to aid the development of our youth. However, I am now three weeks into the school year and I am edging to take my leave.
Often discussions about teachers leaving the classroom tend to focus on remuneration. While I agree that the salary paid to teachers is an insult to our dedication, years of study, and performance, it shouldn't be the main issue explored.
Currently, I am overwhelmed because of the workload and the responsibilities my school's administration has forced me to carry. Teachers are already stressed with the many tasks we have to bear, such as lesson planning, record keeping, form teacher duties, monitoring students in the canteen, etc. This is already burdensome and teachers are still given more to do. For example, my school's administration has decided to extend the school day for grade 11 students. Therefore, if a teacher teaches grade 11, he or she is expected to teach for an extra hour without additional pay. Let me add that sixth form classes are in session till 4:00 pm and school starts at 8:00 am.
Additionally, form teachers are at times instructed to host online meetings with parents at 6:00 pm, after a long day of teaching, disciplining, and grading. I wonder if the people in power consider that teachers might have families or that they need time to recuperate for work the next day.
The irony is, the school's administration is usually the one telling us to take care of our physical and mental health while overworking and exploiting us. Sadly, teachers are rendered voiceless in these situations. Many fear voicing their concerns or objections out of fear of being victimised. Principals are at times very domineering and dictatorial. They dish out duties without consultation or taking into consideration teachers' mental health.
I understand that administrators want their students and school to do well, but it should not come at the expense of teachers' mental well-being.