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STUDENTS FEARED FINE DINING (The Scare)

9 May

“The persons who are selected for the Fine Dining will be escorted by four of our male teachers. They are Mr Harriott, Mr Thomas, Mr T. Allen and L. Allen” I announced over the intercom. The scream that followed that announcement had me grinning from ear-to-ear. They loved it. I loved it. The staff loved it.

Background to Fine Dining

As I sat with my executive member brainstorming for ideas for the next beneficial social activity to present to the girls that could further enhance the student-teacher relationship, it hit me. Fine Dining. Expose them to social etiquette. It is an all girls institution. Perfect idea. I pitched it. The executive loved it. The rest of the staff loved it. So it was off to the principal for approval.

Principal: You know Ms Reid, I like the idea but…(she paused) but I am concerned the girls may misconstrue it as something else.

Me: Sister, I fully understand your concern but they will not be alone with you the teachers. all of us will be there including you. We will transform the stage in the Hall into our restaurant. We will do it during the lunch hour. That way the other students get a chance to see and learn.

Picture of what was in my head as I made my pitch to the principal

Picture of what was in my head as I made my pitch to the principal

I could see her brain working through what I said.

“Some of these girls may never experience this again in their lifetime. We are sending out girls. We need to equip them as best as we can. Just trust us with this Sister. We will start with only four girls” I continued

“Okay. Go ahead. Put something in writing for me first and then you can proceed” she conceded.

I did not hesitate. Within thirty minutes I presented it to her. It was then on to creating tickets for sale. Yes! For sale. We needed funds to offset the cost of the luncheon. So do not judge us. It was a minimal cost of JA$50.

The sale of the ticket did not match the scream that was given when the announcement was made. The first week the sale of tickets was moderate. By the second week, no one was buying. The girls said they were not interested anymore. I guess the novelty wore off. I was determined to stage it. Even if it was one girl. In the third week, we made the draw. Four names were selected. Students screamed at the selection.

Now it was time .

The Scare

Collage of decor team at work

Collage of decor team at work

The decor team was in place and plans far advanced regarding the transformation of venue. The teachers who volunteered to be waiters/waitresses were ready. The brass band and selector were ready. The male teachers were ready. All was in place and ready except the girls. I am not kidding. I met with them they day before the event for final briefing. I was not prepared for the mountain of excuses I got:

“Miss I don’t want to do it again. Mi cyan bodda yaa man (Reads: I can’t be bothered)

“Miss, mi nuh like them uptown ting deh (Reads: I do not like those up town things)

“Miss, I have nothing appropriate to wear. Is pure short clothes I have and I don’t go to church”

…and the excuses kept coming.

I was stunned. Being the good teacher I think I am addressed each concern and tried massaging their egos. (All this time in my mind I was screaming : “are these girls really serious?”) Three of the four were adamant they didn’t want to do it.  I realized they were afraid because they didn’t know how to function in such setting.  Despite my best efforts to reassure them, they remained resolute. I asked them to volunteer someone else since it was they who purchased the tickets. They were off in a flash.

While they were gone, I called another member of the committee and informed her of our dilemma. Of all the things, I did not anticipate this to have been a challenge.  When I was that age, I would have been excited about dining with my teacher. But this is a different era. The girls returned shortly with their replacements, then disappeared. They too were afraid. But with a little massaging, they decided they would do it if they could wear uniforms and not formal attire. Agreed. Argument closed.

While in a class later that day, the replacements returned with another set of replacements. I accepted them but I got nervous. This was the third change. I was worried the girls may not show up.

Collage of decor

Collage of decor

But they did. Those four girls braved the nervousness and showed up promptly. They were beautiful. When  the lunch hour started, the remaining students saw the decor, they got jealous. As the girls were escorted to their tables by the male teachers, the room erupted with screams. The girls were excited.

“Miss, when is the next one?”

“Miss you couldn’t pick me?”

“I want to be a part of the next one”

And the comments continued.

Some of the girls dining

Some of the girls dining while some of their school mates looked on

The participating girls hardly ate. All the attention made them nervous but they smiled all the way. Though they were nervous, they enjoyed every moment of the lady like treatment that was meted out to them.

I thoroughly enjoyed their reception. I was most impressed with the fact that the students watching did not resort to unkind utterances and negative criticisms. To make them feel as part of the activity, they were allowed to vote for their favourite pair at JA$20 per vote . And man, vote they did.

They were voted as the best pair

They were voted as the best pair

It was a beautiful day for the girls. The teachers attended to their every need and made them feel special. With every deed done by the teacher for the student he escorted, the girls erupted into a scream (Pulling out chair, placing napkins in their laps, etc). They were happy to have teachers as waiters/waitresses including the principal.

Princiapal in her role as waitress...a little blurry but...

Princiapal in her role as waitress…a little blurry but…

I surveyed the scene. It was warm and pleasant. I loved the reception. I loved what I was seeing. In my mind, I was already making plans regarding the elements that can improve the next staging. That one I know will be huge.

What do you think about the teaching of fine dining and other social etiquette being taught in schools?

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“PRACTICAL EDUCATION”: POSSIBLE PRESCRIPTION

27 Aug

 

 

 

 

 

 

  The recently concluded IAAF World Championship has once again created a wave of euphoria for Jamaicans yaad (yard) and abroad…and ‘our’ fans across the globe.

Jamaica entered the championships with a cloud over its head. The industry was rocked with the news that several of its athletes (platinum athletes) tested positive for banned substances. This news placed our little nation under the microscope and was viewed by several pairs of eyes with varied expressions- shocked, sympathy, sadness, happiness, unkindness, you name it. The nation was subjected to much insult and scorn, BUT….Jamaicans are resilient.

Our athletes went out and represented.  They answered the insults on that track. The black, green and gold flooded and permeated the stadium in Moscow. Even in events where medals were not won, the athletes left an impression. In short, Jamaica dominated the championships.  The team that went in with a cloud, exited with glow that oozed the type of radiance unique to Jamaicans.  What more could we ask for?As we celebrated and bask in the glory that once again showed us off to the world, I couldn’t help but reiterate the call for a reformation in our education system…a reformation that facilitates holistic development of the child….a reformation where our children can discover, own and develop their talents

 

Two of the areas that bring us great fame, recognition and continue improve brand Jamaica are sports and entertainment, NOT mathematics nor English, history, business, etc…  Mind you, I am not saying having mastery of these subject areas is unimportant, because we want our children to be literate and have the competence to manage their careers; I am saying that they are not the end all.  We have cultivated an unhealthy culture and brain wash our children into thinking that education and success is about passing math and English. Too often we have allowed our youths to feel belittled and a lack of self-worth because they did not score the grade one, two or three on the math and English examination. We must realize that some of us were not meant to excel in the traditional academics but that does not make us less brilliant than those who do.  We need to start focusing on what I call “Practical Education”.   I call it practical because it is about doing and is much more applicable to life after high school especially for those students who are blessed with the aptitude for this.

The unforgettable golden silver finish….

 

The anchor leg of the 4x400m relay ran by seventeen year old Javon Francis continue to be the talk of the country and the highlight of the championship. This young man has challenges with the traditional academics, BUT, look at the stalwart performance he gave on that track.  This BOY CHILD solely and fearlessly took on a field of MEN-his seniors- and took Jamaica from fifth position to a silver medal position.  Isn’t this success?  What, did he count the number of strides the other men were taking and tried to decide how many he needed to take pass them?  Was there math or English at play here? No. there was focus; guts; passion; discipline; competitive spirit; drive; you name it.  Nothing of the academics Yet, this is a major achievement.

 

 

 

Recently, I heard an advertisement where a training institution was offering training in specific skills and their requirement was for individuals to have passed math and English? Does this mean because I did not pass these subjects I will not be able to learn the skill?   How about offering the training without marrying it to these subjects? If the skill area is directly linked to the subject areas then I can understand.  This goes to show the extent to which we have tied the success and achievement of individuals to traditional academics.

Some students are often labelled dunce, disruptive, rude among other things. The reality is, sometimes these students feel ignored.  We fail to tap into their strengths because we cannot recognize them. We cannot recognize them because they do not always fit into the schema that society has created.   When students are allowed to participate in the things they love and are good at, it is amazing to see the excellent work they produce. We need to help them own these skills and talents.

 

All education stakeholders need to start implementing programmes that caters to the development of skills.  The curriculum within each institution must be designed to identify, harness and develop talents. People do not earn from academics only but from skills. Several of our high schools lack a skill base area.  All arts, vocation, sporting and any other skill based programmes in school should be heavily invested in. If we are preparing students to be global citizens, we have to reorient our thinking.

 

It is important to note that the students who participate in these activities do not only develop or own their skills and talents but they life skills that are imperative to attain success when they get into the wider society.  Here are a few:

 

 

  1. Team work.  When an athlete runs a 100m it is done individually but he also runs as a part of a larger group. There is the relay, this is done as a team; when you play football, basketball, volleyball, it is all about a team. Not a one man glory.   Each person on that team must play their part to be successful.   Have you ever watched a game of football and see the pain the players feel when one of their fellow team-mate is down on the ground with an injury? Do you notice what happens when an altercation happens?  No man stands aside and look; they all become involved, protecting each other, guiding each other.   Our memories can recall when Usain Bolt false started at the world championships in Daegu how it affected the fellow Jamaicans in the race.   YET, Yohan Blake came from behind to win the 100m.  Why, Bolt was out and as a member of the team, he had to take up the challenge.

 

  1. Discipline.  To do well as an athlete or an artiste, it requires lots of work.  Long hours of training and rehearsal.  Most track clubs, football clubs have a training programme and athletes are expected to follow this.  If we allow our children to engage in these activities from early, they are bound to develop a commitment, dedication and discipline that WILL later manifests itself in other aspects of their lives.

 

  1. Leadership qualities.  All teams have a captain. If you are a musical band there is a band leader. It you are a performing arts group, there is a leader.  Students learn to own these leadership skills and from early identify their strengths and weakness as a leader. They also learn to take directives and respect positions of authority regardless of age or gender.

 

  1. Time management.   As a student, there are so many things to do at school and several deadlines to meet.  Assignments must be completed and handed in on time.  Most teachers will not accept the excuse that the child had to train or rehearse.  Most coaches and advisers do not tolerate delinquency in their students.  Therefore, youngsters do not have a choice but to ensure they manage their time properly to ensure that they meet all deadlines without short changing themselves.

 

  1. Inter-personal skills.   Students who engage in these activities, tend to be popular.  Popular in this case means well known. This because there is no age limit on talent or the development of them. Therefore all these students will interact with students across all grades as well as most staff members.  Even the shyest student, upon becoming involved in these activities, will eventually come out of their ‘shell’.

 

 

I could discuss Self- confidence, self-worth and many others.   You get the gist so I will not list anymore.  The bottom line is, if Jamaica is going to create a first class education system, we have to move from our antiquated way of thinking and embrace the reality that is staring us in the face.  Let us stop living our dreams through our children; let us stop thrusting traditional academics down their throats even when we realize they are not excelling at them despite their best efforts.

 

Let us not wait. The future of Jamaica is ripe with possibilities. The door is ajar so we do not have to pry it open.   Let us enter the space of Practical Education.

What are some areas you believe would make up this “Practical Education” curriculum? Please share with.

 

THE ARTS: HEAVY-WEIGHT OF ALL CURRICULA

21 May

Welcome to the curricula, a heavy weight championships where four competitors butt ‘heads’  for dominance.  Fighting out of literacy corner wearing a robe of vocabulary is heavy  English language,  from the numeracy corner wearing a robe of numbers is  mathematics; from the experiment corner wearing a robe of microscope and formula is Science;  and out of the  entrepreneur corner, wearing a robe of technology, the only middle weight  challenger,  Business!!!.

And they are bouncing and dancing around each other…English language throws a punch, its dodged by mathematics who responds with a solid right…English staggers against the rope and recovers quickly…Whap! Ohhh, a solid right, and a follow up left catching mathematics who unsuccessfully attempts to block them.  Here comes science with a fast right to mathematics and a left to English language….it dances in the ring…science is now being challenged by business.  Business throws a cautious jab and backs away, shielding as it moves around the ring…English language is open, business moves in and lands a solid punch but English responds with a double right hand…its getting exciting… business intends to prove something…it goes throws a jab at mathematics, it backs away dropping its guards, in goes business again, one right, one left, another, another left…..english language throws a punch at science and misses; another and ohh it connects beautifully…. (the bell rings…)

This challenge has been happening for years, yet none has emerged the victor.  You know why?   The victor of this academic boxing challenge has no competitor.    What is the victor?  THE ARTS!!!   All other subject areas lack flexibility, scope and range to make a spread and reach all people.   Let us examine it.

Most teachers, in an attempt to impart the English, science, mathematics and business, utilize the arts in their classrooms.  Students are dramatizing, composing, visual arts, dancing.    On the other hand, if you walk into any of the Arts classes, you will not see them using these other subjects to impart content.  While there may be a fusion, they will not be methodology.   It therefore means, if the arts is such a powerful methodology, why isn’t driving curricula across the world; why isn’t given more respect; why does society try to ignite and fuel a senseless fight among mathematics, English language, science and business for dominance?

Whenever there are attempts at intervention for troubled youths, the arts become the medium through which the intervention takes place.   Whenever entertainment is being sought after, arts become the medium of entertainment.    The life skills that is needed to ensure students function effectively as global citizens are best developed through the arts: teamwork, discipline, socialization, self-confidence, etc…  I would like someone who disagrees with me to share with me how mathematics, English language, science and business adequately teach those life skills.

When you feel sad, your facial expression becomes sad; you sometimes listen to music that reflects your state of mind;  some people will write what they feel; dress how they feel, draw what they feel.  You become expressive.   That IS theatre.

symbolic representation of the arts in curricula

symbolic representation of the arts in curricula

The arts is the nuclei of our education system.   There are some parents who continue to coerce and massage their children for these more traditional academics even when the children do not have the aptitude for it.  Society need to erase the MYTH that it is persons who are ‘dunce’ or less capable pursue the arts.  We cry for education reform but this reformation will not happen successfully until society acknowledges the power of the arts- the heavy weight of all curricula.

 

Need training/workshop or ideas how to use The arts to improve your institution or organization?

Need workshop regarding curriculum restructuring?

Contact rainereid@gmail.com

LESSON PLAN: AVOID STRESS ‘WRITE’ NOW

8 May

 

    “I wish I could beat the persons who invented lesson plan

This facebook status from my friend Georgia  Dockery drew quite a few humorous comments- even from me.  It confirmed something I have always known- MOST TEACHERS DO NOT LIKE TO WRITE LESSON PLANS.  I may be chastised for the next point but it is a reality. Most teachers do not like to write lesson plans because they are unable to do it properly.  ( this is by no means throwing words at you Georgia) And you may wonder how is it that a teacher is unable to write lesson plans after spending years in training. The other reality is that some persons do not know how to effectively teach another how to write lesson plans.  Being able to write one, does not mean you can teach someone how to.   The lesson is a classroom bible and it is quite unfortunate that some teachers haven’t mastered how to effectively write their own bible.

Use your head and plan ahead for the little heads

Why should I write lesson plans?

Consider this Scenario:

Martha discovered a broken pipe in her bathroom.  She called the plumbing company who immediately sends someone over.  Martha was pleased with the prompt response. She then discovered, that the plumber was not equipped to do the task as he did not have all the tools he needed in his tool bag.  

Question: if you were Martha, what would you do?

Let us look at possible outcomes of this situation:

  1. He might not be able to complete the job
  2. He may complete the job but  the quality of work may be poor
  3. He may complete the job but with a great degree of difficulty

On the other hand, if he had his tools, then he would complete the job and with less difficulty. The quality of work will no doubt be better.

Equate lesson planning to above scenario. If you plan your lessons properly then you will eliminate some daily classroom challenges.

  1. Reduce disciplinary challenges. If you plan your lesson to engage all your students then you will realize that you have better classroom control.
  2. Improve classroom climate. Plan your lessons for YOUR environment. it therefore means, all your students are NOT the same so the execution of your lesson will vary. It means you MUST know your students to do this.
  3. Avoid ramble: Somme teachers struggle to execute a lesson for 90minutes.  That is because he/she did not plan for the time allotted so there is a struggle to find activities
  4. Avoid boredom.  When you take time to plan your lessons,  you are better able to find creative approach and activities to impart your lessons.

How to write lesson plan?

There are some basic steps to writing a lesson plans;

  1. Ask yourself:  what am I going to teach? (topic)
  2. What is it about this topic am I going to teach? (focus question)
  3. Once you identify what is to be taught, ask yourself: what do I want to achieve by teaching this topic? (objective)
  4. Then you ask yourself: how am I going to teach this topic to ensure I achieve my objective? (methodology)
  5. What step by step activities can I do to keep my lesson focused? (procedure)
  6. Of course, you will need to hear from the students so you ask: how do I know if or how much my students have learnt? (assessment)
  7. As any good teacher, you will want to know how your class went overall so you will do a flashback and replay you enter lesson execution in your mind paying attention to details (evaluation)

So you see, easy does it!  Follow these basic steps and you cannot go wrong.  If you do this, you will have healthier classroom and a healthier you. SO PLAN YOUR LESSONS AND AVOID STRESS ‘WRITE’ NOW.

Some persons may have the responses to these questions in their heads and may find it challenging to articulate this on paper.  Do not worry, that is why Rainereid Educators’ Block is here.

For further details or instructions on how to articulate these responses in writing effectively, contact me at rainereid@gmail.com

* Image taken from google pictures