There is a critical need for the emotional monitoring and psychological support of teachers to ensure their well-being, says THA Secretary of Education, Innovation and Energy Marslyn Melville-Jack.
She was addressing principals and teachers on Thursday during the division’s handing-over ceremony for digital devices at the Scarborough Library. One hundred and forty laptops were presented to primary school teachers, via their principals, while the division also received 50 devices from UNICEF.
Melville-Jack said teachers now need to adapt their pedagogical methods and become more creative to keep students engaged, as the home has now become the classroom.
Melville-Jack said, “Studies worldwide have shown that student engagement is one of the greatest challenges to distance learning during this crisis.”
She said teachers are also learning how to balance lesson preparation, teaching time and providing feedback to students and parents with taking care of their family needs.
“The pandemic and extended school closures have changed the role of teachers, and most of these teachers were not prepared for this change. There is therefore now a critical need for socio-emotional monitoring and psychological support to ensure the well-being of all our teachers and to avoid teacher burnout.”
She said the division took specific measures to prepare principals and teachers for this new mode of schooling.
“The first, and dare I say the most important, was the provision of extensive training for teachers in online instruction. This training is not a one-off deal – training and learning is continuous. We know this as educators. So as the need arises, we wish to assure you that continuous training will be the order of the day.”
The division’s administrator, Denese Toby-Quashie, said the devices will be for use by teachers, equipping them for effectively engaging their students in this new blended learning environment.
“I ask all principals to distribute these laptops with equity. Provide leadership guidance where necessary to motivate our teachers and to take all our students to the pinnacle of their educational pursuits. Remember, no child must be left behind.”
School supervisor SherryAnn Rollocks-Hackett urged the principals, as they distributed the devices to teachers, to make clear its purpose.
“We have a responsibility – all of us – to ensure that the quality of education that we offer to our children here in Tobago continues to be consistent and also of highest quality."
She said the digital devices will allow teachers to "do the necessary research, the necessary planning, the necessary preparation, the exploration of the various technological apps that will enable them to actually deliver in the way we want them to deliver."
She also thanked UNICEF for the contribution, noting that it has been a true friend in times of need for education in Tobago.
“I urge all school administrators present here this morning to ensure that this gift of 50 Chromebooks, they’re utilised only for the purpose of which they have been given. More so, I charge each of you with the responsibility to continue to fervently implement the mandates related to effective school framework principles, especially those that are linked to positive behaviour management and the child-friendly schools' philosophical approaches.
"Once you do all of this on the ground at your various schools in a real and measurable way, I can assure you that UNICEF would continue to liberally support education in Tobago in varied and tangible ways, and that is what we want.”