Archive | November, 2013


27 Nov


supervision and leadership

 Leaders cannot lead blindly.  They must have a vision to share with those they supervise.  Some of our institutions continue to show symptoms of leadership & supervision anemia.  Others have managed to effectively avoid this illness.  Our aim is to have all our education institutions at all levels anemia free.  So, all education administrators, find that SUPER vision so you can lead & supervise with sight.





25 Nov

Often as teachers we become frustrated with our students who refuse to follow our directives.  Sometimes, their unwillingness is not out of a desire to be rude and disrespectful but more-so a deep rooted self-doubt. We are unable to turn their perceive negative attitude into a positive one.    The reality is, there is always a strategy to combat every challenge. It is for us to find it.  We need to empower ourselves to overcome these challenges so we may empower our students.

As I was browsing my news feed on facebook, i came across this video posted by Drama in Education lecturer extra-extraordinaire Dr Brian Heap.   As i watched,  I immediately thought it was worth sharing with you my faithful readers.  Please watch this video. I know you will enjoy it as much as I did.  And please do not forget to share your thoughts.



24 Nov

Ting-a-ling-a-ling.  That is the all too familiar sound of the bell that preceded the voices of excited, energetic children: “lets play skipping”, “it is time to play cricket” “stuck in the muck”.  It is recess. (memories)

I seldom get a chance to see this so you can imagine my fascination when recently I visited Mocho Primary and Infant School in the capacity of keynote speaker at their annual girls’ day and I watched the children bolted from the classroom and was on the playing field in a jiffy.  They played hard. And I thought to myself “what a rare and beautiful sight”.

I realize by writing this article that I have never taken the time out to truly consider what is recess and its main purpose. So I paused to think. Recess is the specific period in a school day implemented by schools which sole purpose is to allow students to take a temporary break from all formal teaching and learning activities. As a child, I looked forward to this moment of play.  This anticipation is shared by many children.  The bottom line is, play is important to a child’s development.  So important is it that it has been recognize as a right of a child.  I am concerned however that our children are being robbed of this birth right. Several factors are culpable for this injustice to our nation’s children such as child labour which is often the symptom of poverty, community violence, child abuse and lack of resources. Additionally some of our children are being pushed to grow up quickly while academic pursuit falls within the same category.

The current Grade Six Achievement Tests has proved to be so much that our children hardly find play time as most of them are at school from 7:00 a.m to 6:00 or 7:00 p.m six days a week. By the time they get home, they are swamped with assignments.  It is not just the GSAT curriculum that is a problem.   It is also at the kindergarten level. I recently had dialogue with a four year old who expressed that she could not play with me at the time I required because she had to study for her exams.  My mouth opened wide in astonishment.  Why should a four year old be burden with studying?   Further research on this argument purported by this four year old revealed that lunch time for these kindergarten students was at 10:00 a.m and school did not end for them until 2:00p.m. There is no other break throughout the day. They then engage in extra-curricular activities until 4:00p.m.  Why are we burning out our children and at such a tender age. Parents, you are being burnt out too.  (post to come)

When these things happen, what exactly are we depriving our children of?


Play provides the following developments in our children:

  • Develop skills such as learning to share, negotiate, problem solve, conflict resolution, self-advocacy and decision making
  • Develop own area of interest and discover their passion
  • Encourages use of creativity and develop imagination
  • Children best interact and understand the world around them through play
  • Helps them overcome their fears while engaging in adult roles
  • Enhance their confidence and resilience through the development of new competences
  • Aids in their physical, cognitive, social and emotional development
  • Improve their ability to work as a group
  • Develop leadership skills
  • Develop active healthy bodies and can help in the reduction of obesity

The truth is, deprivation in these development skills results in the under development of our children in some areas.   We need to remember that the aim of the education system is to develop the holistic child. While the education system has no control over the poverty, child labour, violence, etc…that affects our children, it has the capability to provide moments of play for those of the children otherwise deprived. Managers of education have control over the structure of the education system.   Other factors are already depriving our children so let us be the escape for them; that haven of solitude from the stark reality some of them face.  Children learn a lot through play.   Let us not induce student and parents burn out.Let us help them own this birth right.

What say you? do you think we are robbing our children of this birthright?

*picture taken from Google images


23 Nov

I get very defensive MOST times-if not ALL- when I hear the words posed to me: “what do you do?” or “where do you work?”

Yes I know they are simple questions BUT simple questions that borders on rudeness and discrimination.  I get defensive because more often than not, I know what their reaction to my answer will be.  I find that people discriminate against teachers to the point where if you have a certain profile, “you do not look like a teacher”.  The question I always ask is “what does a teacher look like?”

I am sick of persons belittling the teaching profession, and conveniently lauding it as one of prestige.  I have been an educator for over ten years and for that period of time, I get the same question, deliver the answer, and get the same discriminatory response. Here is the story of my most recent.



It was Wednesday.  I sat at my desk marking scripts when I received a call from a film director who was contracted to do a television commercial for an organization.  She wanted me to be the talent and play the role of the teacher. I was thrilled because this meant money. She explained that she was contacted suddenly and had a short time to get things done, thus she was selecting me because of my experience in these things.  She explained the concept and I liked it and was also excited about working with her but my excitement turned to apprehension when she expressed that “the clients want somebody who looks like a teacher”.  My defense went up and I asked my customary question “what does a teacher look like”?   I didn’t expect her to have the answer especially since she was only the film director and it was not a request of hers. She instructed me to submit photographs of myself in professional attire for the clients vetting and approval.  With the advent of technology, I was saved from the trouble of rushing to a photo studio to get one. I immediately retrieved two from my phone and made the submission.  I waited. Anxiously.  Later that afternoon, I received an email that had me fuming. The email explained that I was not approved for the commercial because “I was too pretty.”


What are they implying about teachers?  Such a comment is certainly insinuating the negative. Is there a specific profile that teachers should have that I do not know about? I must be missing something.   I find that statement to be so rude that I felt the need to tell these people exactly where to get off.  If someone says he/she is lawyer, does anyone question the appropriateness of their appearance?  When a doctor is out of his medical garb and expressed that he/she is a medical doctor, does anyone question the legitimacy of his appearance for the profession?  I don’t think so. I could go on and on.  So why it is that people questions the appearance of someone who says he/she is a teacher? The funny thing is, no one has ever been able to give me an appropriate answer to my customary response of ‘what does a teacher look like”

It is appalling too that in this era, persons could be so shallow in their thinking.  I grew up in a time where the ratio of mature and young teachers was ten to one but that time is long gone.  As everything and everyone in this world continue to evolve, teaching profession was not left behind as spectator.  So this archaic perception that persons have of teachers needs to stop.   The same way other professions do not subscribe to a specific profile (outside of uniforms), similarly teachers do not. When comments like those are made, they have a negative connotation.  Let us just stop.  And I will continue to be defensive about the statement…well, that is until people get it that teachers are not archaic; teachers are not old; teachers don’t look like mad people on the streets; better yet, until someone can prove to me that there is indeed a specific profile that teachers MUST have.

If you  have a perception of what teachers look like; if you are a teacher and have had a similar experience or seen this happen to someone; if you think this is just a much ado about nothing; Share your thoughts. I really need to hear from you.

*picture taken from Google images


17 Nov

everyone needs a little shade sometimes…even this box

Nobody likes to be in the sun-for long that is.  Of course we miss its beauty when the rainy weather sets in and refuse to stop; and like a small child’s excitement  upon receipt of a new toy, we danced with glee when we see the familiar glow peeping through the clouds. BUT! On a day when it is high in the sky, we prefer to enjoy it from the safety of air conditioned offices, the shade of a tree or any place that serves as a shield from the burning rays.  I can see you all nodding your heads in agreement.  So I guess you will understand the reaction of over 1700 girls between ages 12-18 when they were roused from the shade and cool of their classrooms or the cool waters of the swimming pool at 1:00pm in the afternoon for the mandatory earthquake drill.

It is this bad….horrors from earthquake that rocked Haiti


An earthquake is not like a tropical storm or hurricane that you can see in the distance coming at you with its vengeance. This sudden violent shaking of the ground, sometimes resulting in great destruction, as a result of movements within the earth’s crust comes like the thief in the night.     Due to the fact that we cannot prevent it happening and there are no warning signs, so we must devise response strategies. Our children spend a considerable amount of their time at school making it mandatory that school administrators prepare students for this inevitable.

wish our students would be this disciplined

When an earthquake strikes, there will be no time to decide what to do hence, everyone MUST already know what to do. So it is in an effort at preparing to not have a disaster if and when this disaster occurs that these necessary torturous drills happen. On the day in question, I was in the middle of an exciting lesson, my girls were quiet and I was delighted.  Then, loudly..weewoow, weewoow, weewoow”…that’s the signal that there an earthquake. Three of them.   NOT NOW! I screamed in my head angrily but I had to put on a show for the students.  They openly protests. Yes I am admitting I didn’t want to do it. I’m a good teacher, not a perfect individual. So like any good teacher, I had to play the part. I dashed under a desk for cover and encourage them in the process and they unwillingly complied.  I watched the sea of blue and beige haphazardly strolling to the holding area…the middle of the playing field where the sun was master and servant.  As they milled about, they complained and the teachers could hardly find a line as all girls were desperately trying to find an ounce of shade. Some were huddled together beneath the safety of umbrellas.  A few ran onto the field because they wanted it to be over quite quickly. That was a huge mistake. as i watched i realize the students have not grasped the seriousness of the drill. I thought to myself,  “this is a disaster”.

stern Nun…well my principal didn’t look like this but you get the picture

The principal was however not amused and she went on the intercom, took charge and ordered the students back to their classroom…not to rest BUT to repeat the drill. They were not amused BUT, they knew it had to be done.  Second time around, they did it better than the first…despite the sun pelting down on their heads.  Good thing it was the end of the school day.

These drills are important as they teach students and staff how to respond to the actual earthquake and help you evaluate how well all parts of your emergency plan work together. Additionally, it indicates how well your staff and students have been trained as a well trained staff and students will guarantee effective execution of plans.

The question is, is there a best time of the day to conduct these drills?  I know earthquakes are not limited to time of day but the aim is to develop students muscle memory to respond appropriately to the earthquake signal and be familiar with the evacuation routes.  Why not do this in the morning when the sun is not high in the sky?  There will still be that element of surprise because the students would not be privy to the days the drills will happen since the days are randomly selected.  There is a better chance of achieving objective of the drill.  The way it was done made it ineffective because of the time of day. Don’t worry, I hear you thinking it.  I will seek dialogue with my principal to express this concern. The truth is, at the end of the day after teachers and students have had their hectic day, no one would have found pleasure in this activity it was not surprising this disaster preparedness preparation ended in disaster.

If you were the school’s administer, what would you do?  Share your thoughts. I would like to hear from you.

These pictures were taken from Google images.


12 Nov

Let us check ourselves…

The recent reports of plagiarism of School Based Assessment (SBAs) projects in our high schools have sent me thinking as well as writing.

I am not here to say whether the allegations made against these schools are true. I am saying that it is ninety percent (90%) or more the teacher’s fault when students plagiarize.  Several of you reading this may not agree with me but that is okay because you are entitled to do so.  However, the blame game is not the central theme of this post.

In my blog post Class Projects, School Based Assessment Projects, Thesis paper: One and the Same?  I reminded teachers that they are to encourage seriousness in approach as the overarching objective is the same.  In this blog that I will call part two, I decided that instead of blaming teachers for a lack of integrity, I will remind them that our jobs as educators is to prepare global citizens; citizens who are able to function effectively outside the comfort of high school.  They should also be reminded of the benefits of these projects to students.


This is why I did not place 100% blame on teachers…

Children are children and if we allow them to be lazy and irresponsible then they will.  They will take the easy way out if they can.  Therefore, I expect them to give us plagiarize work.  BUT! This is where teachers should step in to change that.  We have a responsibility to help mould and inculcate certain values that will make them model citizens. It therefore means, as teachers we CANNOT accept plagiarize work from our students. When we do that, we become enablers of this inappropriate action which has far reaching implications. We need to look beyond our current classroom.  It is a known fact that at the university level, the act of plagiarism attracts a sanction of a three to five years bann.  It therefore means we ought to do all we can to prepare them for the ultimate: tertiary education and survival in the world.


  • Tasks of this nature will result in various competences among students such as:
  • Develop the research skills of students
  • Facilitate independent learning and give students the opportunity to be more responsible for their learning
  • Improve students’ organization skills
  • Foster individual instructional sessions within the teaching and learning process
  • Help to improve the writing/communication skills of students
  • Help students learn to respect and honour deadlines.
  • Learn the art of commitment
  • Encourage team work and leadership skills as some of these projects are done within groups.
  • Improve students self confidence
  • Understand the application of consequences and rewards
  • Help students to take directive well
  • Encourage honesty and integrity

The list continues. We need to view ourselves as more than mere teachers imparting content but as education managers as we manage process, people, ourselves, content and how it is imparted.  We organize, plan, delegate and implement.

When we do the work for our students, or accept plagiarize work, we are robbing them of an opportunity to develop personally, academically and professionally.  We ought to maintain integrity within our classrooms which by extension will maintain integrity of the overall education sector and society. We need to remember we are creating global citizens, NOT just students to get a good grade in class.

What are some other benefits of completing these projects?  Do you think teachers should be blamed for plagiarism in schools?   I would like to hear from you. Stop by and share.

*images taken from Google pictures

Class Projects, School Based Assessment Projects, Thesis paper: One and the Same?

9 Nov

Excuses…not acceptable


I was in third form when I was penalized for not submitting my Geography class project on time. I tried to explain the reason for the late submission but I still lost marks for not meeting the stipulated deadline. I was angry and even thought I hated the teacher because she was being difficult- or so I thought.   But guess what?  I NEVER missed another deadline.  Lesson learnt? RESPECT DEADLINES!

Sometimes our students view these projects/SBAs as teachers giving them too much work but the reality is: there are so much life skills to be learnt from undertaking these tasks.   As educators it is our responsibility to ensure that our students understand the personal benefits of doing project-benefits that extends beyond a numerical grade that amounts to a pass or a fail.

It doesn’t matter what the method of assessment is as one format is preparation to successfully take on and complete the other.  From early as Primary or Prep school, students are given projects of various natures to complete.  This practice is carried over into the high schools and culminates into the eventual completion of several School Based Assessment Projects.  Their class project experience should prepare them for this.  Students’ ambitions will propel them to pursue tertiary level studies where they HAVE to do a research paper/thesis.  Their SBAs would have aided in this preparation.


Is there a difference among these various forms of Assessment?


Are these Class projects, SBAs or Research paper…cant tell at a glance.

No. The same skill sets are utilized. The difference is that with the increase in each grade level, the tasks become more challenging but the same skill sets are further developed and new ones learnt.  All forms of assessment (project SAB, Research paper) encourage independent learning where students will conduct a research to gather data, compile and document same based on guidelines given by teacher. They are usually assisted by someone in the process. E,g at the primary level, students are often assisted by their parents in the completion of their project; at the high school level, students are assisted by parents too but are highly supervised by their subject teachers; at the tertiary level, students are also supervised by their assigned lecturers.

It therefore means students should take these works seriously but will only do so if participants in the teaching and learning process help them to see the importance. Some of us are guilty of frivolity regarding how we treat some forms of assessment.  If it is not being assessed externally, then it mitigates its importance.  BUT!  This practice is wrong.  The same level of emphasis placed on the student completing a project in grade six, should be extended to the completion of SBAs in Grades ten and eleven.  Nullifying the importance of one over the other, is robbing students of the opportunity to grasp the skills set at the varying level. Once this happens, the challenges are reflected in subsequent tasks.

The question is? Are these forms of assessment one and the same?  The answer to that question is a resounding yes!

What are your thoughts? Do you think they are one and the same? I would like to hear from you.

*Images taken from google pictures