Tag Archives: teacher

Lil’ Johnny

downloadWhen I was a student-teacher one of my facilitators used to forever give us scenarios with the fictitious trouble maker Lil’ Johnny. It was a source of great amusement and I must say it helped to spice up her class.

We all had, of course, had a Johnny before. And we had all pretty much already come to the conclusion that Lil’ Johnny was a kid with issues. Hey, who doesn’t have issues in this world today? Why would we think Lil’ Johnny was any different?

The problem, though, seems to be that 7 years after laughing and role-playing and scheming strategies in that classroom, I’m now faced with a culture that is almost completely alien to the one presented to me in that room.

I find myself daily in a classroom that wants very much to look like this. giphy (4)

It seems like instead of having one or two Lil’ Johnny. I’m faced with 45% Johnny’s and even some Lil’ Janes to compliment them. Which makes me feel like my classroom is

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It’s not a great feeling returning to the staffroom feeling like you’ve just starred in a scene from some world war 2 movie. You know the ones where the men are cornered in the trenches and can only throw the occasional grenade out and hope it hits the right target.

It’s ‘noice’ to imagine that all those fancy strategies like “Ignoring unwanted behavior” and “calling on the student once” or my personal favorite” waiting for the class to settle itself” etc. etc. etc, are always the answer. Unfortunately, they aren’t. Unfortunately they seem to be completely inadequate in the face of some of the cultural and social problems we have in the Caribbean classroom today.

(Yes, I’m singling out the Caribbean classroom because I feel like it is sorely neglected in the field of modern psychology, especially given all the pedagogues who lecture and self promote but do precious little to help us to establish the psychological base that we can work off of to better aid our students)

It’s enough to make a girl…rxf3oLt

Alas, that isn’t the answer either. Sigh, what is a girl to do? It was during a guilt trip my youngest tried his very best to lay down on me, that it occurred to me. A genuine, authentic eureka moment! Empathy as a classroom management tool!

Hold on, relax. It’s not as messed up as it seems.

I started with the class with the most and most outrageous set of Lil’s. I set up the class to do a cooperative learning exercise. Each group got an objective, an outline of their content and time to plan. I watched and listened, maybe cackled a little as some elaborate presentations were planned. Skits, lectures, song sessions, you name it, they planned it.

Then came the presentation day. And boy, did my babies put out. Some of them performed some works of educational art. I loved it, and for each act of greatness, there was an act, by the Lil’s spread among the groups, to disrupt the wonder.

Little faces turned to me in dismay, little hands were thrown up in exasperation. Until the biggest Lil in my class stood up and delivered a speech for good behavior so inspirational that even I was taken aback. Dude!! something might even have gotten stuck in my eye.

After class, a few of the Lil’s cornered me. I was made to listen as they said things like “Teacher wha mek dem sooooooo rude?” “Teacher ah so you feel every day?!?” “Teacher me sorry bad jack.” “Teacher nar do it again, me cyan teach nobody again.”

I chuckled, it was fun. A little revenge, a little life lessoning, and the next week even though there were some minor disruptions I never had to look at anyone like this…

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I find that with a little heavy complimenting, and a few sweets my classroom is a bit more civilized. It’s not pristine, I didn’t solve anyone’s life angst, but our learning environment might just be a little more heavy on the learning.

 

And for that maybe I might spend a little more time thinking of that class like this…

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A promise made, a comfort to whom?

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Hi there,

Today is July first, you probably already know that, but what you didn’t know is that today is the 4th July since a batch of about 60 teachers would graduate from the ASC department of teacher education.  Joining  the ranks of over a hundred who would have done the same.

You’re probably thinking: “What makes that significant at all?”

Well, today is the fourth July 1st since those teachers would have gained their qualifications. That day, that first July first would have been the beginning of a travesty. The beginning of a time when we realized that being sent to undergo mandatory training, training which we were told was made necessary by the OECS education reform agreement, really only meant that the expectations of our performance and nothing else would increase.

This 1st of July marks the anniversary of our three year sentence in thankless, compensationless servitude the government, children, and ideal of Antigua and Barbuda. Yes, you see this scholarship was by no means free, we spent hundreds on tuition and thousands in books, manipulatives, teaching aids and countless man hours in study, ending in a three year bond to service. Time spent away from children and spouses, siblings and other loved ones, all in the name of educating ourselves in order to provide better educational services to the youth of the nation. For many not because we wanted to, but because we were told that this was the way to further employment, the preservation of our livelihood, blackmail.

But the insult did not end there, since then we have been commanded to alert the ministry of our qualifications, the ones they sent us to get, in order to be updated to our correct status in the teaching system, note we are now expected to put these tools into use, to function in a capacity in which we are not being payed to function. Our reply, not verbatim, was:

“Congrats on the qualification. But we regret to inform you that there are no positions available at this time.”

It’s an interesting reply, all things considered isn’t it?

The ABUT took it upon itself to help us, they negotiated for over a hundred and fifty new Trained Teacher positions to be made available. They, in effect, did the job of the administration for them, they in effect took it upon themselves to soothe the sting of the lack of foresight that had led us to this destitute place. The very thing that had disillusioned so many in the teaching industry.

That was 2014.

Now here we are in 2015, and those positions are still there gathering dust. Those positions, in which we must function, without compensation, have not yet been appointed. Even though there was a promise of April, then May, then June and now… And now?

I for one, find this the height of irony. Especially after sitting through two days and several hours of professional development and conference, where the stress was on getting qualified, honing our skills, so we could offer even better service. So we could offer more diverse teaching, cater to more complex students and their needs.  To grab with gusto the opportunities for personal, professional and financial growth.

Today is the first of July, the fourth one since I started to contemplate if the field I work in, is one that will provide those very same opportunities. If this was a place to settle, and make a career, if this was really worth the demands on my time, health, and family. Today, without word, or compassion, I think I have my answer.