Sat | Aug 19, 2017

JC Teacher of the Year pushes for tailored teaching to help 'marginalised' boys

Published:Friday | May 26, 2017 | 5:10 AMPaul Clarke
Jamaica College Teacher of the Year Latoya Cousins (left) touring The Gleaner Company (Media) Limited at North Street, Kingston with some of her students yesterday. Ahon Gray (seated), photo research assistant, demonstrates to the students accessing archived newspaper content using a microfilm scanner.

There is a school of thought that boys are marginalized and to some extent endangered. Added to that is the view that girls are excelling above them not only in education, but also in the workforce. However, Jamaica College Teacher of the Year, Latoya Cousins, posits that boys are mostly misunderstood and what is required are specially-tailored teaching methods to achieve the best out of them.

"The fact is that our boys are in need of special attention. Boys mostly are go-getters, so even in the classroom they are thinking they will not achieve what is needed by sitting in a classroom. They want hands-on experience," she stated.

Cousins has spent all her life among boys. She is the only girl among twelve siblings and they were "the perfect study in how boys operate".

Speaking with The Gleaner yesterday during a tour with several of her students of the newspaper's North Street, Kingston offices, Cousins, who teaches business subjects at the Old Hope Road institution, said that boys are constantly thinking of fast money, something she believes is an innate thought process in the males, given their "natural role as leaders".

"Boys are thinking about quick money; how to get things quickly. So as a teacher you have to be like a role model to keep the boys in a straight line. They need to know you care and show them love in a completely different way compared to girls," stated Cousins.

"Like everyone else, I too think boys are endangered; but there are some great young men here at JC. Some are really brilliant and for the rest, all that's required is for us to identify them and keep track of them in order not to lose them."

...You must develop different strategies - Cousins

A ten-year veteran of the teaching profession, Jamaica College Teacher of the Year, Latoya Cousins, subscribes to a tailored teaching technique aimed at maximising the learning experience for her students.

"As a teacher you have to develop different strategies, different ways to motivate the students. So for me, I have created Whatsapp groups with my boys, I have Edmundo group with my boys, I have a monthly award system that serves to reward the boys and I interact with the parents also, to complete the circle," she told The Gleaner during a tour of the newspaper's Kingston office with some of her students yesterday.

"It's a great honour and joy for me to serve as a teacher at JC. I could not have chosen another career choice. Teaching is something that you were born to do in order to do it greatly and you would have to love teaching to be a teacher."

So what's it like for a teacher at an all-boys school? Cousins revealed that it was little or no pressure.

"For me, teaching at an all-boys school is not really a challenge, because I love what I do and I enjoy what I do and like to see my boys doing well. The respect both ways makes for a successful understanding between teacher and students," reasoned Cousins.

"Teaching, it's what I am. I was born to teach and I will continue doing my best for the boys at Jamaica College."

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com