The Trinidad Guardian / It was with utter dismay that I read the staff representative advisory dated March 9, 2018 signed by the President of TTUTA and sent out to staff representatives. The advisory focussed on two issues: clinical supervision and lesson planning.
The teachers were advised that clinical supervision is built on democratic principles and “cannot be coerced, demanded or used for evaluation purposes.” This is undeniably true and speaks largely to the processes involved in the conduct of clinical supervision.
The advisory also highlighted the import of clinical supervision and the essential role it plays in teachers’ professional development. However, at the same time, it indicated to teachers that they have the right to choose to engage in the process.
If clinical supervision is acknowledged as “an excellent development tool to improve teachers’ practices,” in my view, it behoves the union to encourage each teacher to participate for, as acknowledged, it can only redound to the good of each and every teacher and all the students in his/her charge.
Ultimately, then, it would result in the improved quality of teaching in the nation. I can only assume that TTUTA, for whom quality teaching must be a major goal, is working with both the MOE and teachers to make the inclusion of clinical supervision in the school system a reality, for this is something that the union should demand, given that it is “an excellent development tool to improve teachers’ practices.”
As the responsible union that we know TTUTA to be, the leadership should be engaged in a struggle for the inclusion of clinical supervision, not a fight against it, even as it strives to ensure that the conditions for its practice continue to improve and their membership is in no way deprived.
In regard to the second issue, it is alarming that in 2018, it becomes necessary to mount a defence for the inclusion of lesson planning as part of a teacher’s duty.
Teaching is a process that involves pre-teaching activities, classroom enactment and post-teaching activities. Teaching does not begin and end in the classroom. It is also a dynamic, interactive process that demands great skill from the teacher.
The range of students that can be found in any class, the varying levels of ability, the different learning styles, the multitude of interests, the very dynamism of the classroom environment demand a depth of planning/preparation that just cannot be reduced to “personal jottings.”
If that is all that TTUTA accepts as necessary then clearly we do not share the same understanding of the teaching-learning process. Again, though I acknowledge the realities of the teaching situation, I do not see that the rejection of adequate planning as an effective response. As a matter of fact, inadequate planning can prove to be mentally stressful to both teachers and learners in that classroom teaching can become even more onerous for the former and an unsatisfying experience for the learners. The solution to a problem should not lead to the creation of greater problems.
TTUTA continues to speak loudly for the teacher. Who speaks for the students? If they are given an opportunity to speak, what would be their views on this issue?
Our children are our greatest resource. Let history not record that, at any moment in time, we lost sight of that. We place our greatest resource in the hands of teachers. Collectively we, the union, the Ministry of Education, educators all, must strive to ensure that in front of each child is placed the most competent and the best prepared teacher that is possible.