- Lecturer in the Department of Education, University of the West Indies, Dr. Carol Gentles, says good teaching practices have to be the standard going forward...
- Dr. Gentles said there must be an emphasis on understanding why teachers do what they do and how their behaviour affects students’ achievements.
- Dr. Gentles emphasized that teachers should assume collective ownership and responsibility for their professional learning and development.
Lecturer in the Department of Education, University of the West Indies, Dr. Carol Gentles, says good teaching practices have to be the standard going forward, and the country should emulate countries that have prioritized professional learning as key to achieving high performance outcomes.
She argued that while access to schooling is extremely important, it is the quality of student learning that will justify the investment in education.
Addressing a recent Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) conference on Education, in St. Ann, Dr. Gentles cited a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Education For All 2015 National Review for Jamaica, which suggests that the country is doing well in terms of governmental commitment to improving the quality of education, through policy and policy implementation.
“We are definitely on the right track. However, in bridging the gap in achievement, our teachers must continue to be knowledgeable about latest theories and practices that are helpful to enhance learning. There should also be a commitment to improve the qualifications of teachers. This could mean longer training for certification and performance accountability,” she said.
Dr. Gentles said there must be an emphasis on understanding why teachers do what they do and how their behaviour affects students’ achievements.
She pointed out that some teachers are resistant to changing their ways of teaching, because the way they understand teaching and what they believe teaching needs to accomplish are different from the beliefs that underlie the new approaches, ideas and innovations they are asked to implement.
“No other attribute of schools comes close to the impact of a good teacher on student achievement,” she added.
Dr. Gentles said all educational stakeholders should work collectively and collaboratively to help teachers adopt beliefs about teacher quality that are consistent with practices known to improve performance, such as efficient use of instructional time and student engagement.
“All stakeholders should assume collective responsibility for building the competence and efficiency of our teachers,” she argued.
Dr. Gentles emphasized that teachers should assume collective ownership and responsibility for their professional learning and development.
She said that recent studies have shown that caring for their students is a huge priority of the Jamaican teacher, and this augurs well for nurturing and development.
“Care is a fundamental aspect of the teacher’s conceptualization of the teacher as a professional. The professional teacher is one who cares. This underpins all areas of their professional life – their classroom performance and their relationships – particularly relationships with their students,” Dr. Gentles said.