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Accountability in classrooms

Published:Tuesday | January 12, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

INDiscipline in schools is of great concern to the Ministry of Education and to some parents and other stakeholders. It can be viewed as the number-one problem in some schools across Jamaica. Teachers, of course, are also concerned as the persons whose lives are made most difficult when disciplinary problems or other negative issues appear in the schools. I strongly believe orderly classrooms, at all levels of learning, are attained partly through teachers' efforts at managing interaction in a way that reduces the occurrence and the effect of student disruptions.

Difficult process

This, however, is a very difficult process because no single strategy or tactic is appropriate or effective with all students, in all classrooms, because of differences. But there are approaches that can be effective in reducing or even monitoring disruptions. I believe, therefore, that it takes a teacher who is rooted in philosophy in order to be successful in controlling the classroom.

A balanced teacher should communicate his or her expectations to the students with clarity and firmness. Clarity refers to the way in which teachers communicate their expectations regarding student behaviour. In other words, the teacher should ask the students for their best behaviour and attention.

Firmness refers to teachers' success in communicating definite expectations - and students should be informed of the consequences. On the other hand, it is the student's responsibility to behave in an accepted manner, which would eliminate the need for a dean of discipline. However, two of the main factors that contribute to indiscipline in schools are overcrowding and the education ministry's restrictions on teachers.

Nonetheless, students must be held accountable for their school performance. Holding teachers accountable for specific agreed-upon objectives, relating to student achievement at various levels, can only be attained in an environment that is conducive to learning and student participation.

I am, etc:



University of Technology

School of Technical and Vocational Education