President of the Secondary School Principals Association Ronald Mootoo said for the most part, the reopening of school was off to a good start, despite a few reports of students being disrespectful toward teachers on virtual platforms.
Although many schools began easing into the virtual classroom since September 7, Monday marked the first official day of the new school year. A few teachers are still reporting disciplinary issues with students.
Mootoo said some teachers had said they wanted to disconnect the video while teaching in response, but he does not believe this is the best solution.
“It is important for us, as teachers, to see our students and to assess body language, and so too it is important for students to see our teachers; to see the verbal and facial expressions in the learning process. If teachers were to resort to switching off their cameras, that would make the learning process less effective.”
He said he believed the incidents are only occurring because the virtual classroom is a novelty and students needed time to adjust.
“We may have to increase parental involvement in the virtual process (and) the disciplinary system may have to be adjusted to suite the new environment.”
He said, as always, the process requires a partnership.
“Currently the parent and child need to come up to the level of expectation that we have for them (if this were) a physical classroom. Students must be prepared for class and there must be interaction, or the system will be ineffective.”
Mootoo said teachers and principals are appreciative of the Ministry of Education for continuing to drive the transition into the new environment and appreciated all the work teachers have put into making the "new normal" work.
“I recognise the effort our teachers are making, and I am grateful for how co-operative they have been. There have been issues, technological issues, but generally teachers are trying their best, and I want to thank them for that, on behalf of their principals.”
In a brief phone interview with Newsday on Monday, minister in the Ministry of Education Lisa Morris-Julian said the ministry is still awaiting data from schools across the country, but for the most part, the reopening of schools went smoothly, particularly for early childhood care and education (ECCE).
“This is not an ideal situation, but everyone is working together (and) I am impressed with the gung-ho attitude from parents and teachers.”
In response to the reports of disciplinary issues, she said, “The new normal will come with some form of classroom management. We have to work together…to ensure all stakeholders understand fully on what they are embarking on.”