Archive | July, 2013

A NATION ‘SLEEPS DEAD’ ON VIOLENCE; TRODS ON EDUCATORS

30 Jul

Weird topic?  Not necessarily. Once you get the gist then the smoke screen will be clear.

 

I was prompted to write this article after hearing the gruesome news where a man was killed by his assailants at the altar of a CHURCH!   To make matters worse, this holy sanctuary was filled with children attending vocation one of whom was physically wounded in the melee.  Can you imagine the trauma of those children to not only witness the shooting, but to also have the morrow and blood of same splattered on them?.  Imagine this was YOUR child. I was shocked. Flabbergasted.  Distraught.  Once upon a time, it was unheard of for one to take acts of violence into a church yard, worse to pull a gun/any fight and unthinkable to kill at the altar.  Where did all those values go? How much more black can our hearts become?

Let me pause and take a moment to explain a few imperative for my readers who are not familiar with jargons from the Jamaican culture.

Sleep dead. I do not mean that the person is sleeping and is dead. In Jamaica when a person is described as “sleep dead’ means that their sleep is not easily disturbed. Not easily awaken by things happening around them.  You must be wondering why the use of this phrase in relation to the nation.  We will get to that soon.  Let me explain the other section of the topic because I need you my readers to fully understand.

The word trod means to walk. We use our feet to walk and the only place the feet go is on the ground.  We do not walk on people or some things. If I replace the word trod in the title it would read walk on education.  In Jamaican terminology, to ‘walk’ on something is not a positive thing. It means a person or a thing is placed under one’s feet; down trodden.  Once we find ourselves walking on something it means we do not want it; we do not care about it; we do not respect it; we do not value it. By the way readers, this is not a physical walk but figurative.

 

I am annoyed at the growing rate of violence and as a nation we remain silent. We do not come out in solidarity and register our protest against these scums who continue to murder our children and destroy the reputation of our country.  It is almost as if it is not happening. Nine day wonder then it is forgotten.    These perpetrators continue to destroy the lives of our youngsters either by taking their lives or educate them in the way of violence.  Yet our nation sleeps.

I was working with a group of students recently on the topic “Communicating Effectively”   I was exploring how people communicate with symbols. As I called a list of words I asked them to tell me a symbol that could represent the word. The interactive teacher in me placed them in groups to compete with each other in this exercise.   I called the word love and I got responses such as “heart”, “flowers”, “colour red”.   The shocker came when I called the word Happy.  A youngster, 15 years old said “gun”.  The group went silent.  Like any good teacher would do, I gave him the opportunity to justify his answer especially since we were looking at communication; I needed him to communicate what he really meant.  His explanation was that when you are disrespected by another person and you shoot them, it will make you happy.   Children live what they learn.  This is a very powerful and sad statement;  A statement of a child whose mind has already been infiltrated by the demons of violence

Educators have taken a numerous backlashes for things both guilty and not guilty of.    When it comes to matters regarding education, teachers are the direct point of contact with students, thus placing them in the direct line of fire.  The nation rises in solidarity and is quite vocal against teachers- and the vocalization is not nine day wonder- yet, it stays in its corner and allows violence to flourish.  Individuals cannot fight crime but a nation in solidarity can make a difference.

Is this the kind of education we want for our children? One tainted with immorality and a society with criminal minds?  This article is not making blanket accusations because there are some persons who give teachers 100% support. They chastise where chastisement is to be given and praise where praise is to be given and assist where assistance is needed.   The point is not even about how vocal they are about matters relating to educators, but the comparative vocalization with matters of violence.

These acts of savagery must stop.  We all have a role to play.  I worry for myself. I worry for my family and friend. I worry for my children.  I worry for Jamaica.  Let us wake up!  Let us not walk on educators. Instead, we need to be vigilant; watchful and vocal on all matters.  Let us create a revolution.

TEACHER’S PET

26 Jul
My Pet Chanese....i am sharing in her salutatorian moment

My Pet Chanese….i am sharing in her salutatorian moment

“Teacher’s pet! Teacher’s pet! Teacher’s pet…. That’s the familiar chant of children in a school yard.  In the middle of the chanters, crumbled against a wall, or backed into a corner is a student in agony-crying and wishing the others would go away; or he/she is defensively trying to get them to stop.

Does this scenario drag your memory?  Have you ever been accused of the same?  Well I have.   It is one of those moments when you believe in your heart that you are enjoying a great relationship with your teacher but you didn’t think you were a  PET!   or being given preferential treatment.   As I got older, and became an educator, I thought about this and I ask, is there really anything wrong with being a teacher’s pet? What exactly is it.

Who is a Teacher’s Pet?

A student who finds favour with a teacher or authority is often referred to as teacher’s pet.  But what is so wrong about finding favour with a teacher? It means you must be doing something right.    Some persons do not share this view.  As I was writing this article, I came upon this.  He describes a teacher’s pet as:

* “An annoying student who kisses up to the teacher and does a bunch of favors for said teacher in hopes of getting a good grade. The kind of student who raises his hand for every single question and buys expensive gifts for their teacher. This student thinks they are superior to their peers because they are the teacher’s favorite and therefore they bosses everyone around. They will also tattle on their peers for insignificant rules they might break.

*Normal Student eating an apple, not causing harm to anybody*
Teacher’s Pet: “Teacher! Oh teacher! There’s someone eating an apple in the classroom! That’s against the rules!”
Teacher: “Thank you for telling me. *scolds Normal Student*
Normal Student: “Wow, thanks a lot man. What the hell did I ever do to you?”

by Dude678 Jun 25, 2013

I have a few questions about this.

What is so bad about doing favours for your teacher? What is so wrong about raising your hands to answer the questions asked? Why couldn’t it be seen that the student is merely participating in the teaching and learning process?   Why should a rule be seen as insignificant?  If it was not necessary then it would be in the school rules and students must respect that at all times. So why then should a student who is helping to get her classmates to follow the rules be called a teacher’s pet?

These reasons proffered by the writer as to who is a teacher’s pet  are not necessarily wrong but it’s being presented in a negative way.

 

My Confession

I have had several students who were MY pets because they found favour with me.  Two stood out in my memory today: Chanese Hamilton & Sashana Lemard.  There is absolutely nothing that I wouldn’t do for them.  Chanese however was a cut about the rest.   I hear the question, why were they teacher’s pet?   I will tell you.

  1. Both girls were extremely disciplined, respectful  and obeyed both school & classroom rules
  2. Both took on leadership roles without being prompted to do so. These leadership responsibilities were carried out without fear or favour.
  3. Both were responsible and dependable students to whom I could entrust tasks and they were carried out with efficiency.
  4. Assignments were always completed and handed in on time even if they were incorrect.
  5. Always early for school and class.
  6. Chanese was outspoken and when feel wronged, would take her grouses through the appropriate channel instead of being confrontational with authority figures.
  7. Both students got good grades because worked very hard and were never afraid to seek assistance.  Maybe too hard.

I remember when Chanese was preparing for CSEC examinations and sent me the draft of her School based Assessment (SBA) project.  One night I corrected it and sent it back to her via email.  Within the space of an hour, it came back to me with the corrections. I once again went through the document and returned it. Within another hour, the document was returned.   I was shocked! Now I wanted her to be a delinquent by not sending it back at that time. I thought, why won’t this child go to her bed?   Because of her drive, determination and level of focus, I could not sit back and not assess the paper.  When I assessed and returned it for the third time that night, I figured it would have ended there but it didn’t. Within an half of an hour I received an email that said she started the corrections but would not be able to finish it at that time because it was late and was sleepy.   I silently said thank you Jesus.   Yes Chanese I did.

I  want my students to do well and when they are this focus I must ensure that I keep them motivated.  Chanese was very focus and I would not want to be that teacher to hinder her progress.

Chanese was a driven young lady whom you did not have to tell to study. You would see her in her spare time tucked away in a corner studying. I and other teachers would sometimes encourage her to take a break.

The girls were almost perfect students.  Both graduated from fifth form earning diploma with honours.  Chanese did not only graduate with honours but she was the Salutatorian, meaning that of the over three hundred girls in the graduating class, she was placed second. It was a proud moment.  Both girls are currently attending university in United States of America & Canada.  They continue to make me proud.  Why wouldn’t I want them to be teacher’s pet?

It was obvious I loved the two girls as I did not hide my affection.  The human side of me, the nurturing mom would not have allowed me to.  The class Chanese was apart of was one of my favourite classes so I loved them all but I had a special spot for Chanese and this was because of the qualities she exuded.  Mind you, they were not above reprimand. As a matter of fact, reprimand for them was more severe than the others. If you ask they will tell you.  They would often say to the delight of the other students “miss your love is tough”.

Role of Teachers

As educators, if you notice that there are students with whom you interact that possess these traits and more, you need to help them continue to succeed.   If you find that you have a special place in your heart for student/s do not think anything is wrong with it or it is deem professional misconduct.   Love them.  It is only natural that your spirit will be warm to students who exhibit certain qualities but you must always remember your duty to them. Do not allow your affection to cloud your judgement. They should not be given preferential treatment but be guided.  It therefore means if the entire class is being punished for an action, they too should be involved.  If they step out of line, they should be reprimanded.   As you love and carve special places in your hearts for these students, be mindful however of how you interact in presence of other students. They are young and they all need love. You do not want the rest of your students to feel neglected or unloved; even the student that gives the most trouble.   If this happened, it may be a breeding ground for negative self-esteem or the development of anger and resentment.

Students do not be afraid to be branded as being a teacher’s pet.   It is not necessarily a bad thing.  Just keep exhibiting good qualities because these qualities that give the label of teacher’s pet, are the same ones that will make you individuals of choice in this global world.

If you can relate to this, please share your thoughts and experience.

* Information in quotation was retrieved from this website.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Teacher%27s%20pet

SOME HAD THIS TO SAY ABOUT TEACHERS. WHAT SAY YOU?

12 Jul

Respect to all teachers.

I sat at the computer, fingers accurately  massaging the keys on the keyboard as I carefully navigated the world wide web.  “I have to find back this article” I whispered aloud as I frustratedly shook my feet. My eyes searched agitatedly. I hissed my teeth. I could feel the frustrating spreading slowly to the rest of my body…. then the content of the screen changed.  “what the hell just happened?”  I asked as if talking to someone.   I notice I was looking at a title that said “Quote about teachers”. I paused…. my finger must have clicked something accidentally that took me to this page. Cant say I’ sorry because…

I AM SUCKER FOR QUOTES. GOOD QUOTES.  I cant believe I just said that but there is no point denying what I am.  I must learn a new one everyday. All that said, let me get back to the matter at hand.   As I read,  I thought some of these quotes were excellent and thought they were worth sharing with you my readers.

Here goes:

“Those who educate children well are more to be honored than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well.”
Aristotle

“There are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fill you with so much quail shot that you can’t move, and the kind that just gives you a little prod behind and you jump to the skies.”
Robert Frost

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
William Arthur Ward

“The world of literature has everything in it, and it refuses to leave
anything out. I have read like a man on fire my whole life because the
genius of English teachers touched me with the dazzling beauty of language.
Because of them I rode with Don Quixote and danced with Anna Karenina at a
ball in St. Petersburg and lassoed a steer in “Lonesome Dove” and had
nightmares about slavery in “Beloved” and walked the streets of Dublin in
“Ulysses” and made up a hundred stories in the Arabian nights and saw my
mother killed by a baseball in “A Prayer for Owen Meany.” I’ve been in ten
thousand cities and have introduced myself to a hundred thousand strangers
in my exuberant reading career, all because I listened to my fabulous
English teachers and soaked up every single thing those magnificent men and
women had to give. I cherish and praise them and thank them for finding me
when I was a boy and presenting me with the precious gift of the English
language. ”
Pat Conroy

“The real heroes are the librarians and teachers who at no small risk to themselves refuse to lie down and play dead for censors.”
Bruce Coville

“The older I got, the smarter my teachers became.”
Ally Carter, Out of Sight, Out of Time

This is  a perfect opportunity for you my readers to tap into your creative section of your cranium create your own quotations about teachers.   Share. Let us see what we can come up with. Or if you have a quote about teachers that has been written by someone else and you would like to share, you are also welcomed to do some.

* quotes taken from  http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/teachers

GRADUATION: THE ‘FINAL’ WALK

7 Jul

I remember it like it was yesterday…but should I say it or them because they have been so many.  My mom bought me a pretty pink dress because she was obsessed with pink for girls. My gown was yellow.  When I got to high school however, pretty dresses were not needed. Uniform it was.

By now you would have figured out I am referring to graduation.   It is that time of year  when several stores will stock up on the elegant white heels, fancy dresses, suits and all the suitable fashionable garb for this occasion; parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, friends… you name it, excitedly prepare to watch their loved ones take that final walk.  I will not even mention the hair & nail salons…  Not even the child who is graduating is so excited.

 

I understand the excitement, joy and pride because graduation IS a privilege, NOT a right especially at the high school level. At the infant and primary level, this may not be the actuality but in the high schools it is.  There are some who may disagree with me on this.  Having spent five years in an institution, one may think that is an automatic qualification to graduate. The question here is how did you spend those five years?    There are some students who during their five years have displayed extreme negative behaviour to the point where their leaving high school is a relief to most.  On the other hand, there are those who have displayed extreme positive behaviours.  So I asked, do you think it would be fair to reward both parties with similar incentive? I think not.   It therefore means it is the responsibility of institution to establish standards/criteria for this.  While some persons may not support the institution’s graduation policies, they ought to be respected.

These policies help students to remain accountable not only to themselves but their parent as well.  Even though graduation is not the end all, all students want to take that walk….that walk where all eyes are on you; that walk that says I’ve made it!; that walk that says this is the end and the beginning…that proud moment.   Their accountability involves them avoiding activities that may cause them a suspension (whether in-house or sent home), completing all assignments and course work, participate in extra-curricular activities, be punctual and attend school regularly, etc… These criteria will result in an institution having a cohort of students with minimal disciplinary problems.

 

Here are some basic guidelines for Graduation

To be included in the graduating class of their school year, all students must:

  • Attend school for a minimum of 85-90% of the school year.
  •  be punctual for 90% of the school year.
  •  have an average of a minimum of 60% for the academic year.
  • have a clean disciplinary track record e.g no suspension or any other misdemeanour that is not in keeping with the standards of the institution within their last two years of high school-especially the final year.
  • Actively involved in at least three extra-curricular activities
  • Complete 50 hours of community service within their last two years of high school

These suggestions are not carved in stones.  The administration must tailor its guidelines based on the need of the institution.

the well anticipated hat throwing….Follow the school rules and you will get to do this.

 

The tears of Graduation

The eyes tend to be cleansed thoroughly at this time of the year as the tears are never far away for one reason or another.

Tears of disappointment: Over the years, I have witnessed tears uncontrollably streaming down students faces who have not made the graduation list. Panic. Fear. You name it. I have seen parents cry, begged, frustrated and angry at their child/ren for being excluded from the graduating class.   While I understand the pain and disappointment parents, it is not the end all. Not the end of the world. Graduation is just one aspect.    When your child submits application for university or a job, they will not be asked if they had graduated high school.  What will be of paramount importance is the number of subjects they would have received.   Graduation is just one night of feel good but a lasting memory. Thus I understand why persons would be saddened by not being a part of it BUT if your child did not make it, there are still other moments to come.

 

Tears of Pride:  for most parents, it is hard to accept the reality that their child has grown up and so this day is one of ambivalence.  It is always amazing to watch the tears freely flowing down the faces of moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc… as they proudly watched their ‘little’ girls and boys whom they gave birth to only ‘recently’ take their final walk as a high school student.   Mind you, some are able to control their emotions but it is written all over their faces with wide smiles.

 

Tears of separation: Five years may sound like a long time but it is amazing how quickly it passes.  During those five years, friendships have been made, lost and re-made.  Some connections are so strong that when those students have collected their certificates and have taken the walk, all they do it just cry.  Not cry because they are leaving school, but cry because reality has set in.  They will be leaving the friendships of the last five years behind, close the chapter of that book, and go to commence a new one.

With all this excitement, an institution must contribute to this memory of its graduates by making the day extra-ordinary- A graduation with a difference!

teachers at Holy Childhood High preparing for graduation 2012

teachers at Holy Childhood High preparing for graduation 2013

 

Need consultation on devising guidelines for graduation? Need consultation on strategies to ensure 100% compliance among students?  Need consultation to host a graduation with a difference?  Email rainereid@gmail.com  We are taking education beyond the margin.

If you have vivid memories of your graduation, please feel free to share. At Rainereid Educators Block, we are always glad to hear from you.