RADHICA DE SILVA
Recent surveys done by the Education Minister show the majority of T&T’s teachers enjoy remote teaching.
This was revealed by Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly during an interview with Guardian Media.
Gadsby-Dolly said teachers were being assessed to determine how they were adapting to their new roles as content creators and online facilitators.
She said since home-based learning began, the ministry has been forced to change its delivery methods and curriculum content.
“Education, both teaching and learning, has evolved in the 21st Century. One key way to identify this change is the evolution of “Chalk and Talk” to the use of technology in the classroom,” she said.
“From smartboards to the adaptation of virtual classes, the delivery of education has changed,” she added.
Outlining the changes that the Ministry has made, Dr Gadsby-Dolly said the curriculum content and delivery methods must stay relevant.
“This relevance is facilitated through continuous professional development and training for teachers to ensure that teachers are equipped with the requisite skills to thrive in the new age classroom. Teachers now have the additional role of being content creators for the various platforms on which students are to be engaged,” she noted.
However, she explained that the new ways of teaching have resulted in mixed responses from teachers.
“ While some have effectively transitioned and adapted to the “new normal” of curriculum delivery, others have expressed challenges with meeting the demands that come with the use of technology and teaching,” she added.
Understanding that home-based teaching would affect the psychological, emotional, socio-economic and overall health and wellness of educators, Gadsby-Dolly said the ministry began evaluating how teachers were coping.
“In surveys conducted, teachers were asked how effective they thought remote learning was compared to face-to-face learning,” she added.
She explains that the majority of respondents said: “ At least to some extent, their schools were supportive in offering the resources needed to teach remotely, that parents and students were supportive of their efforts during the remote learning process, and that they enjoy teaching remotely.”
“The majority of teachers also indicated that, at least to some extent, they were able to effectively collaborate with co-workers while teaching remotely and keep their students engaged during remote learning,” she added.
The Minister explained that the professional development and upskilling of teachers also ensures that they meet the standards of a “Good Teacher” as outlined by Caricom.
She also said the advances in global connectivity has precipitated the evolution of the teaching profession.
“A teacher today has new responsibilities and functions as opposed to that of a pre-colonial educator,” she said.
She noted that teachers must be conscious, adaptable and ready to change to consistently meet the needs of our learners.
Last month, president of the T&T Unified Teachers Association Antonia Tekah-De Freitas said teachers spent long hours and sacrificed family time to ensure that they met their teaching obligations.
She said some teachers worked extra hours, correcting and posting work in the wee hours of the morning.
She also said many teachers found it challenging to maintain work and family life. Tekah-De Freitas said teachers should not be expected to have traditional hours of online FaceTime from 8:30 am to 2 pm.
She noted that different timetabling must be set out for various levels of teaching.