JIS News

Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Professor Kenneth Hall, has said that teachers should adapt to the changing social economic conditions of students, noting that a good example of an excellent teacher was one who did not take a blanket approach to teaching.
“Even in the best universities today, there are opportunities for students with different learning styles and different stages of progress .our best teachers already know that and they practice that. So that kind of specialization, that sensitivity and flexibility has to be encouraged,” he stated.
Professor Hall was delivering the keynote address at a Teachers’ Day luncheon hosted by the Kingston Book Shop at the Terra Nova Hotel yesterday (May 10). Of importance, he stressed, was the extent to which good teachers identified the learning style of every student in his or her class. “Therefore, while they are able to impart and communicate effectively, subject matter, what distinguishes the excellent teacher is that he or she is able to identify those students, who have not yet caught the concept, so that the class is not simply passing through from one curricula to the other, but there is learning taking place at every stage of the game,” he said.
The Governor-General noted that students learnt from a variety of models. “One thing that we must emphasize is that everyone is capable of learning.therefore it is the capacity to develop that potential, that distinguishes us (teachers) in our environment. Good teachers are also expected to be persons, who have the ability to be flexible, because as we expand access to good education in the country – education for all, it is now evident that the range of students and their circumstances when they arrive in school, will continue to be different,” he said. The main purpose of teaching, Professor Hall pointed out, was to ensure that students learned and left the classroom empowered and enriched. He said this had to be done by applying three critical characteristics, which comprise teaching skills, professionalism, and classroom climate. He noted that all of these factors must be managed and applied to ensure that students were learning. Professor Hall further commended teachers for continuing to “take their students seriously”, by demanding high standards and setting high expectations. Professor Hall noted that also of importance was that students too, had high expectations. He said a survey had found that students expected an environment, which was conducive to learning, where the expectations of them were high, and where all the students were treated well, respected, and encouraged.
Meanwhile, President of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), Ruel Reid, stated that Jamaican teachers were among the most productive in the world. He said that more students were accessing secondary education, with the figure moving from 4,000 in 1960 to more than 200,000 students in 2006.
In 1985, Mr. Reid stated, access to tertiary education was approximately three per cent and in 2006, “we are well into 21.4 per cent and climbing”.
Of the cohort sitting the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) tests in 1990, only 5.5 per cent achieved five or more subjects, but by 2005, the JTA President informed, that figure had risen to 26 per cent and was increasing.
“If you are to examine the corresponding incremental increase in expenditure on education, there is a proportionate decline. Empirically, the teachers of Jamaica are indeed among the most productive in the world,” he stated.
Kingston Bookshop introduced the Teachers’ Awards luncheon some 20 years ago and has every year since shown appreciation to teachers in eastern Jamaica for their contribution to the society. One other such function has been extended to Mandeville for teachers in central Jamaica, while another is hosted in Montego Bay for teachers in the northwestern end of the island.
This year’s special awardee was the Reverend Glen Archer, who has coached 1998 Scripps Howard champion, Jodi-Ann Maxwell; 19 local spelling bee champions, and three schools challenge quiz winning teams. The other two awardees were Principal of Norwich Primary School, in Portland, Claudia McLean; and Principal of the Ocho Rios Primary School, Herman Grant.
Ms. McLean has served on a number of committees for the JTA and as parish secretary. She currently holds the office of District Association President (JTA) and was recently appointed President elect (2006-2007) for the parish of Portland. She has also received the R.C Tavares Service Award (JTA) 2001.
Mr. Grant’s teaching career has spanned more than 20 years. He is the chairman of Special Olympics in St. Ann, coordinator of junior basketball, football and netball for primary, and preparatory schools in North East St. Ann and is a past president and distinguished secretary of the Kiwanis Club of Ocho Rios.
In 2005, he received the JTA 40th anniversary award and the St. Ann Parish 40th anniversary award in 2004. He has also received awards for volunteerism from the University of the West Indies and Kiwanis Club of Ocho Rios.