Teachers should always exercise love, devotion, dedication, commitment, selflessness and fair play in carrying out their duties.
This was the exhortation from Reverend Belinda Manswell-Daniel, feature speaker at last Friday’s annual National Convention of Teachers hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teacher’s Association, Tobago district.
Manswell-Daniel urged teachers to remember their obligations towards students.
“Students must be listened to as they too have good ideas. Teachers must encourage the spirit of togetherness amongst students, with this kind of environment it will…make students want to come to school and learn. Inspire them to want to come to school and learn,” she told teachers gathered at the Tobago Nutrition and Co-operative Society building in Bon Accord for the event themed “Freedom in Teaching, Empowering our Teachers.
Manswell-Daniel also warned teachers of indulging in favouritism with students, advising them to treat all students equally.
“Walk through the community in which you teach, go to the homes of your students so you can see for yourself the socio-economic background from which they come and in which they live. You will now have a better understanding of why they behave the way they behave so you can help deal and treat with what they are experiencing, and in doing that you add value to your teaching experience,” she advised.
Manswell-Daniel also stressed o the importance of the role of principals and the need to involve teachers in decision-making discussions.
“Give teachers room to try new things and make mistakes, supporting risk taking demonstrates respect for teachers as learners and professionals who judgment can be trusted. The principal must involve the teachers in most, if not all the decision-making processes. Do this by facilitating authentic participation, by asking for the input of those to carry out the decisions and by providing the information necessary for staff to weigh in the decision.
“The principal must ensure professional advancement and improvement, which enables staff members to perform their remit admirably and make them more eligible for promotion.
“The principal must have more staff meeting where the teachers can express their opinions and views respectfully and feel comfortable that their views will be accepted in the general planning,” she advised.
She also advised teachers to focus on ensuring teachers are valued.
“A school and its management should not be in isolation, it should be viewed as an integration with many parts. We must see the school as a whole entity, like the human body…So if you, the teachers refuse to qualify yourself when someone does and does it well, rejoice.
“I see the parents, the Parent Teachers Association (PTA), the school board, the teachers’ union, the technocrats and the church as embodiments of the whole school. As key stakeholders, government agencies and partners, all participate in conversations as to how the school should be managed, you are going to see greater performance. “That’s why the relevant education stakeholder must remind themselves that they are obligated to improve the status of the teaching profession. Remember you have an obligation to ensure teachers are valued, respected and given the necessary resources to do their job,” she said.
Manswell-Daniel also encouraged teaches to operate as a team to achieve the main objective and purpose of learning institutions.
“This may include team teaching, team building, shared ideas and experiences. Teachers, avoid cliquishness, that small circle whose interest and objective is go to against your peers and principal. This could have a very negative effect on the performance of students and interfere with the image of the school…the students are your first and direct clients; so the children must always come first,” she said.