Allow teachers to teach

Published: Monday | December 23, 2013 Comments 0

Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter

As the country continues to mull over the bleak state several of its public schools are said to be in, according to the recent National Education Inspectorate (NEI) report, one education expert is calling for more focus to be placed on teaching and learning.

Responding to questions from The Gleaner yesterday, Dr Renée Rattray, programme manager at the Mutual Building Societies Foundation, said far too often, school leaders are required to do too many things, with little time left to monitor classrooms.

"We need to ensure that our leaders are more focused on teaching and learning. The job of a principal is such a difficult one, and I think that they become caught up with other things and they spend less time focusing on what happens in the classroom," she said.

The NEI report indicated that of the 304 primary and secondary schools inspected, 130 lacked adequate teaching support and "significant weaknesses were identified in the teaching strategies as well as the assessment methods that they employed to help students learn".

The report also stated that middle managers (often heads of departments) in these institutions were failing at their jobs as it related to assessing and providing feedback to teachers.

Rattray said this failure was largely due to many of these educators lacking the requisite managerial skills.

"When you are a middle manager it means that you should be leading a group of teachers, and I don't believe that all middle managers are (one) capable of doing it," she said.

"They may be good teachers, but they have not been trained to lead a group of teachers and support a group of teachers to deliver good teaching, and that's really what a head of department should be able to do."

no challenge

The NEI report also revealed that in some schools, teachers "did not demonstrate that they knew how best to teach their subjects, and in most instances, students were either not challenged or not engaged in the assigned activities".

Rattray said this was a direct result of some teachers not understanding how best to engage students, and greater emphasis should be placed on educators looking to each other for best practices and support.

"When teachers share ideas and there's a lot more coaching going on, then we will have far better results. We are a little insular in our approach when we are in the classroom or the classroom becomes our little world and we are reluctant to share information and resources," Rattray said.

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