EDUCATION Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly has expressed “utmost displeasure” with some incidents of disrespect towards teachers as they navigate the online learning process and at the weekend called for tolerance and support.
In a brief post to her Facebook page, where she has also shared the ministry’s guidelines for online learning going forward, Gadsby-Dolly noted that while the incidents were sporadic, “Nothing makes this OK.”
“Different time, same challenges,” the minister stated.
“A classroom is a classroom - whether online or face-to face, and misbehaviour always finds an outlet, unfortunately. “
She went on to state:
“I note with utmost displeasure the incidences, thankfully sporadic, of disrespect to our teachers by students, and sadly, at least one parent during this last week in the online environment.”
September 1 saw the launch of a virtual academic year in Trinidad and Tobago, as is happening around the world, with the closure until further notice since March 2020 of brick-and-mortar schools in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some 65,000 local pupils are said to be without proper access to the technology necessary to successfully complete any part of the virtual academic year, causing concerns as to equity.
The Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) has also continued to call for a holistic approach to the “new normal” in schooling and for understanding, as teachers also enter an unprecedented learning process.
Gadsby-Dolly stated that “a teacher being exposed to the level of disrespect I have heard in recorded classes can be humiliating, distressing and devastating”.
“We are all experiencing differing levels of stress as we navigate this new experience- students, teachers, parents, principals, MOE staff, stakeholders- none is exempt; but our teachers are out on the frontline, many of them spending hours preparing work, organising themselves to deliver to the best of their ability, and they deserve our full respect and support,” the minister stated.
She called for all to do their part “to encourage respect for each other in the online environment”, also stating, “And let’s remember that we are adjusting to this together - we must be tolerant of each other’s process.”
As well, Gadbsy-Dolly said, “Each of us may not play our role perfectly from the start, but with time and effort, we will become more skilled in our navigation of this ‘cyberterm’.”
The minister issued a reminder of the national watchwords, “Discipline, Tolerance, and Production”, which she said should “be our guide, as together, we continue to surmount the many challenges of these uncertain times”.
The ministry has issued a series of guidelines as to how the online learning process is expected to function and has advised that schools are expected to ensure the guidelines reach teachers and parents.
The guidelines are available on the ministry’s website and were also shared by Gadsby-Dolly on her Facebook page.
Schools are expected to provide all parents with a full booklist, as well as orientation activities for parents, teachers and pupils - with specific manuals/sessions for first-time intakes and their guardians.
Uniforms are not mandatory unless stated by the school, the ministry said, however schools are to “enforce a strict casual yet professional dress code for pupils and teachers”.
Timetables are also to be provided to pupils and guardians and teachers must be provided with the resources to ensure successful delivery of the curriculum this term.
Schools must also issue monitoring arrangements for the teaching and learning process and facilitate end-of-term reports based on continuous assessment.
Term one will also see the suspension of the practical components of the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC), Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) and Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ).
In addition to monthly staff meetings, department and school-based management meetings are to be scheduled once per cycle, the ministry said.