Saturday 11 July, 2020

BSTU: Teachers trying to keep a level head during COVID-19

(File Photo)

(File Photo)

The move from face-to-face teaching to online classes, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, will take a while to be properly implemented and teachers in Barbados are trying to manage with the slew of changes. 

This from President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU), Mary Redman, who is reporting a myriad of issues affecting teachers, before island-wide online teaching has officially commenced. 

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Redman told Loop News some teachers have already launched the online learning platform with students but they are being hindered daily by problems including, students not logging in for classes, disruptive online classrooms, in addition to the mental and emotional strain of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a recent press conference, Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw said the Ministry of Education is working with relevant stakeholders to migrate classes fully to online teaching. She said about 80 percent of teachers across the island are already trained and the Ministry is seeking to utilize the present period to facilitate training for the remainder of teachers in the educational system.

For households that may be affected by a lack of internet connectivity and electronic devices, the METVT is working with service providers, as well as suppliers overseas to address these deficits in the shortest time possible.

Redman pointed out while some teachers have already begun electronic-teaching, they are grappling issues which are affecting the effectiveness of teaching.

“Sometimes you have persons interacting in the lesson that is not appropriate and that is disturbing to the teachers and others in the class. Sometimes for children to find a quiet spot in the household is not easy.”

She also noted preparation for online teaching creates additional pressure for teachers. 

“To prepare an online class, research shows it takes the three times the length of the class. Teachers are complaining that the preparation is a lot of work.”

She said teachers are going above and beyond to facilitate online classes however they are battling with students who seem unmotivated to tackle school work at this time. Redman said she received a complaint from one member just this morning stating “only a handful of students” were attending the online class and this group is expected to prepare for upcoming CXC examinations. 

“Many students are querying the reality of June/July sitting of CSEC [exams]. All of this uncertainty tends to affect the motivation level of students. CXC should have stated right off that exams would be delayed and students can prepare for a September sitting.”

Redman also highlighted the emotional and mental toll the COVID-19 pandemic has had on everyone including BSTU members who also have to manage homes with children and elderly parents.

She estimated the migration to online teaching “will take some time” for both teachers and students to get accustom to and be productive. 

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