Challenges in the classroom

| 23/01/2017 | 31 Comments

Cayman News ServiceSupport your teachers’ writes: Mr Samuels (principal at Sir John A. Cumber Primary School) needs to step up and defend his teachers, and speak up for them if they are unable to do so. Most teachers do not chastise well-behaved students because they have nothing better to do. Students, as young as Year 2 or 3 have figured out that there is little that can happen to them no matter how crazy they act.

Teachers cannot punish them (keeping them in for recess means absolutely nothing; talking to them is a waste of breath), principals cannot or will not punish them, and the parents certainly won’t do it either – why do you think that the kids come to school acting as they do? Suspension will not work either – it’s added PS4 time for the kids.

So what you have here is an educational system that is unable to deal with antisocial students who go to school to terrorize their peers and teachers. They are kids from broken homes whose parents don’t know how to parent, will not parent, or simply neglect them. They are kids who grow up without two parents in the household, whose parents may be abusing drugs, etc.

These are kids who roam the streets all day long or sit in the rooms playing violent games for hours on end, in essence babysitting themselves, who face no consequences for any of their actions either at home or their school, and who are promoted through the system whether they pass or fail.

Their emotional needs being unmet (love, attention, routine, discipline), some of these kids end up in gangs, on drugs, and/or dead. Sometimes they’re kids from regular families whose parents allow them to do whatever they want in an effort to be their best friends and to “buy” their love. And sometimes they come from good families and they’re simply “bad apples”. When you throw 3, 4, or 5 of these kids in a classroom, they influence the rest of the classroom’s behaviour.

Just imagine being a student in a classroom and seeing another doing whatever he/she wants with little repercussion (sure they get pulled out for a few minutes, but then they’re back laughing minutes later) – your behaviour will, for the most part, also be pulled down a bit.

You wouldn’t necessarily act as poorly as the ringleaders but your behaviour won’t be exemplary either, especially not when your teacher is running around trying to get a handle on some of the other kids. So instead of working quietly on your work, you start talking with your friends, you watch the ridiculous behaviour of some of your classmates, you laugh at some of the inappropriate things that they do or say, and once in a while participate in the foolishness that occurs.

Many of these troubled kids do not belong in a regular classroom as they affect the learning of the other children – as few as one poorly behaved child can draw as much as 50-75% of a teacher’s attention, so imagine what 3 or 4 of them can do. In some classrooms, teachers do not teach – they simply end up putting out one fire after another, in essence babysitting .

Little wonder then that some teachers cannot handle it. There’s only so much that a person can take. Teaching seems to be the only profession where it’s okay for someone to be abusive towards an adult. If a student hits a teacher, nothing really comes of it. If a student swears at a teacher, nothing really comes of it. If a student refuses to listen to a teacher, nothing really comes of it. If a student is disrespectful to a teacher, nothing really comes of it.

When it happens on an hourly/daily basis, over and over again, little wonder then that some teachers strike back. I’m not saying that it’s right, but I’m not at all surprised by it.

This comment was posted in response to Ministry admits second WB teacher on leave

Category: Education, Viewpoint

Comments (31)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Wesley,
    Let us sum this all up in just a few simply words. The day this new world (and not the one that Christopher Columbus referred to seemingly) wake up and understand that discipline; isn’t ABUSE and abuse isn’t discipline we will begin to see our parents, our children and their peers come to realize the true meaning of the word and the benefits it will bring to the classroom, the home, and the entire neighborhood will be overwhelming to say the least.

    We need more outspoken and sincere teachers and principals like Mr. Samuels, and we might get the message across to those that are in authority and perhaps we could begin to break the tip of the ice burg.




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  2. Paco says:

    How many Educational Systems do we have to experiment with before we realize that the answer to our schools performances can be resume in just two words: DISCIPLINE and PRIDE? Simple actions could help to develop those traits: Graduates from High School can barely sing the National Song or recognize the National Symbols. How long it will take in the morning to line-up the children by class in the courtyard and while the flag is being raised, sing the National Song then proceed quietly and orderly to the classroom?
    As a parent of five I have experienced the public system of schools from primary to high school; sports days, PTA’s meetings, cafeteria lunches, class room attendances, etc. and yes, we lack discipline and organization. Lunch breaks are chaotic to say the least, where the noise and disorder are overwhelming and no sign of eating ethics is demonstrated. Again, why not keep the class line-up and quietly sit down and correct or teach the students the proper way to use their eating utensils?
    The classrooms situation is, as mentioned in other comments, a baby sitting center, where most of the teacher’s time is spend correcting children’s behavior.
    For fear of sounding unpatriotic, I will suggest that a delegation of the Education Department take a trip North and observe a school system that WORKS and perhaps apply some of those methods here.




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  3. Anonymous says:

    We’re Caymanians, we can put our kids at Government Schools. But even how hard we struggle with our expenses, even private schools we’re expensive, we choose not to put them at public schools. No matter how we struggle sweat and blood, working hard for the future of our children, we’ll do everything. Sad to say, Government Schools were so bad that I’m afraid to put my kids there. Not only of bullying, teacher-student cases, but also because of the quality of education.




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  4. Anonymous says:

    You can’t have good teaching when an incompetent administration is constantly interfering with teachers and playing word games with the teachers. The latest scrabble is ‘”effective.” A few years ago it was “professional” None of these have any meaning that can be applied to solve the real problems of our students or to increase the quality of a classroom. My God, can these people who educate the educators, PhDs in education, give it a rest and just let teachers discover what is best for each owns class.
    What is the modus operandi of the public schools all the way up to our colleges? It is all just the usual virtue signaling to keep all their friends of a particular nationality or religion in positions of power on committees or as supervisory roles and attach a label or clear mark to those who are questioning the administration and their budgets, so they all are on the same page when they start to get to work on proving who is their next scape-goat. If you can maintain a zombie like allegiance with a few extra-curriculars that have no effect in the classroom, then the administrations will steer the cash flows to you and the same Kool-Aid drinking virtue signalees. You can hear the congratulations echo for miles, but not a peep on why students will not be able to compete once they have graduated because they will just push that problem onto future generations of teachers. Students only become an issue to the administration when the administration can use the students to start a witch-hunt against a teacher, or they can use the student as a prop in a photo on the collective administrative resume to justify continuing their contract.
    The current administration is only concerned with creating relationships between teachers and students. In my day, those relationships were forged from students first being diligent and working hard to impress their teachers. Now it is does not matter, the teacher has to form a relationship even with the students who she knows will be causing the most problems in the class-room to the detriment of the other students who are putting in an honest effort.




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  5. MM says:

    Let us not forget that in the 1920’s,30’s,40’s one teacher and one teacher’s aide taught over 100 students in a one-room school-house.

    And those students were all at levels between primary and high school.

    Difference then and now? Discipline and school/parent support network.




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  6. MM says:

    Of course we can all agree that the Government school educational system could use some work – but I have four children attending Government school and they are all on or above target; their teachers are highly supportive, the children are always chosen for lead roles in all activities in-class or extracurricular from sports to academics and their international test assessments always return with scores to be proud of.

    This did not happen because they were simply born that way – it takes SERIOUS effort on the part of being a parent and having a great support network of family members and friends. I chew their ears off about the importance of education and I am in constant contact with their teachers.

    I have not one bad thing to say about any of the teachers they have encountered – the teachers obviously observe their students on an individual level because the things they could tell me about my children are from very obvious watchful eyes. Teachers did not choose to be teachers because they hate kids or because of great pay – they became teachers because they wanted to guide young people up the tough mountain of life.

    We do not encourage or support or teachers enough and I am in agreement with this commentor – more must be done to show them our appreciation.

    So many parents are quick to jump-off on a teacher when their child comes home with some complaint – my children come home with complaints too, ALL children will because ALL children do not like being told what to do, it is human nature.

    Every parent must understand and take the stance to realize that these adults have given up their lives to help OUR children, they deserve respect, consideration and support in every possible way!

    Some parents can be so difficult to deal with that when a child requires obvious intervention a teacher must fear their job before stepping up to report it. We as parents, community members, officials and all involved have to start watching out for EVERY child on this island the way we used to back in the day.

    And a good palm-slapping did not hurt anybody’s child before, let parents sign a permission slip at the beginning of the year if they are in agreement that their child can get a little palm-slap for disobedience – growing up it was not the pain we feared, it was the embarrassment of being whooped in front of peers that made us correct ourselves!

    These days there are no true repercussions for bad behavior.




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    • Support your teachers says:

      You hit on some key points… Your kids were not born exemplary students – they became great students and role models because of the hard work that you put in with them at home. Though I do not know your children, I imagine that they are respectful, well-behaved, and a pleasure to teach. You should be very proud for all the wonderful work that you have done with your children.




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  7. Anonymous says:

    This is only a part of a much bigger issue. Cayman’s society is in free fall towards zest pool levels. Everything goes and is accepted these days. Kids go out and breed more kids and bring them home for the grandparents to raise. Families stick their head in the sand and refuse to admit that they have some bad and spoiled apples in their bunch and don’t address the issue. Everything and anything is always somebody else’s fault and for someone else to do. In this case it is the teachers who are expected to fulfill miracles. You couldn’t pay me enough to be a teacher or a coach these days.

    Just look at the headlines with all the civil servants who have gotten suspended over the last few years. What does this tell you? Look at the elections ahead. Already people talking about voting for who they “know” or “like” and not for those who are actually educated and experienced enough to keep the financial and tourism sector running successfully.

    Cayman is only getting back what is has put out in the last generation. If you are a teacher in a public school, my suggestion is to pack it in and run…..you deserve better than what you have to endure every single day.




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  8. Just tell the truth, that is all. says:

    Government schools are crap. That is why the government employees do not send their kids to government school.




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    • Just pissed off. says:

      Yeah tell the truth I will.!Bring back the strap , hire more male teachers and provide support for the children who are disruptive and their parents. Discipline must be foremost in the home and in the schools a national campaign is needed along with eternal reinforcement. We won’t win all but we certainly can help many. Come on educators go on strike until this crap is admitted by CIG and preemptive measures taken towards positive and lasting changes in the parents and children’s conditions and behavior. The time is now. We don’t need consultancy reports we need action. NOW. ✌🏼




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      • Child protection says:

        Child abuse isn’t the answer,using a strap is barbaric!




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        • Anonymous says:

          If you don’t beat your kids the prison guards will.




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          • Anonymous says:

            Your chikdren are beaten regularly in their homes so beating children clearly does not work. Indeed it usually has the opposite effect.




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        • anonymous says:

          I completely agree. When you start using physical violence to teach be care what the real lesson is that you are teaching.




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        • Just pissed off says:

          Hey there were hundreds of caymanIan students in the 59s 60 and70s who were taught under the strap rule and in that era resoect and discipline was king. Don’t come and tell me that it is barbaric. Go and tell the children in northward and the parents that have lost their children who were indisciplined that they’re incarceration and their death is barbaric.

          We have had enough of the foreign discipline system in our country and to what avail.

          Please just stay out of this issue for you know not what you speak of nor have you felt the pain. Please don’t! We need every means necessary to stem the tide.




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      • Anonymous says:

        In case you have nit niticed, there are no unions in Cayman or indeed any other type of representative body for teachers in Cayman. If we were to strike, or even complain our contracts woukd not be renewed.




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    • Paco says:

      Why we keep comparing public school vs private school? Are private schools working by a different set of rules than what they are licensed for and if so,and their performance is so great, why then public schools don’t adopt their system?




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      • Anonymous says:

        If private schools in Cayman are so academically high achieving then it begs the question as to why so many private school children are attending private tuition services.




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  9. Support your teachers says:

    Further to my commentary… I wrote this in a hurry, without taking the time to edit and/or revise… I did not expect it to be a feature commentary. I wrote it because I believe that teachers have an extremely difficult task that is only becoming more difficult. Most teachers become teachers because they enjoy working with kids and want to help children become productive members of society. Of course, just like with many other professions, there are a few apples among the many good teachers…

    A few more comments relating to what I said and in response to some of the comments posted:

    1. If you knew the level of disruption that occurs in some classrooms, you wouldn’t want to send your kids to school. This holds true for classrooms in the Cayman Islands, the UK, Canada and the US. The reason that this is allowed is because of the mistaken belief that placing poorly behaved and low-achieving students in regular classrooms will modify their behaviour and achievement. This rarely if ever happens – for the most part, it brings nothing but chaos which nobody benefits from. The fact that far too many have to suffer because of a select few is what upsets teachers the most. It’s one thing if you don’t want to learn, but if you disturb the learning of 20 others, it’s a different thing.

    2. Not to excuse the poorly behaved children, but for the most part it’s not really their fault. This comes from home. In 99% of the cases, love, routine, attention, discipline, high expectations, teaching responsibility, etc = good students = generally good outcomes. Those who lack the afore-mentioned = poor students = poor outcomes. Without the support from home, teachers can for the most part only make small differences (in few cases huge differences). What happens at school has to be reinforced at home and vice versa. If that does not happen, outcomes will most likely be poor.

    3. For the most part, the parents are not bad people – there’s a few ignorant ones (for sure), among the good, but for the most part they are good people who mean well, but don’t have the proper tools, maturity, knowledge, etc. to parent. They are people who sometimes are too young to have kids, who don’t know what it takes to be “good” parents, who are single parents without support, who make bad choices when it comes to partners, who are overworked and underpaid, who have a severe addiction problem, etc.

    4. Rarely does it happen where good parenting = poor outcomes, but it does happen on occasion.




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  10. Anonymous says:

    Mr Samuel thank you so much for putting the truth out there. Parents would not even turn up for reporting sessions ;out of a class of 22 only 6 parents.




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  11. Anonymous says:

    Little wonder that the other students aren’t achieving, as the teacher ends up putting out fires most of the time, as opposed to teaching.




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  12. Anonymous says:

    Why are kids allowed to disrupt the classroom? Let’s get some truth about what is really going on – and some immediate zero tolerance. Ministry? That would take about 10 minutes to implement as a policy. Why are we waiting? Children may have a right to education, but that does not include a right to interfere in appropriately behaved children’s right to an education!




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    • Anonymous says:

      There is no punishment for bad behaviour in the public schools. Students can do whatever they want to whomever they want. The amount of classroom disruptions teachers mitigate in a day is beyond me. It’s no wonder the students are performing below expected levels. Sadly, most of the students don’t even care. The turn out at parent nights and other functions is shameful. These teachers are constantly berated by parents, students and the media. When did it become ok to disrespect the teachers and obey the students? Look at the teacher turnover every year in public school and ask ‘why are so many teachers leaving?’. Behaviour.




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  13. Revelations 3:45 says:

    Parents need to be held responsible for the actions and attitudes of their children. Too many parents are crap and blame everyone else besides themselves and the environment the children are raised in.




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  14. Anonymous says:

    I am in total agreement. There is a policy to keep students with challenging behaviour and/or learning challenges in with the mainstream. This helps no one.




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    • Support your teachers says:

      Amen. A teacher can easily teach 40-50 well-behaved kids in one classroom, as long as they are there to learn, and as long as they stay focused. A principal in the Cayman Islands once told me that you could teach kids under a palm tree if the students came to school prepared to learn and with the right attitude.

      One of the solutions that I see is to stream kids. Take the very best, place them in larger classrooms (35-45 students) headed by 2 teachers and two teacher aides and let them fly/excel. Take those students who perform at level and place them in regular-sized classrooms (20-22 students) with a teacher and two aides. Take those students with learning and/or behaviour issues and place them in much smaller classrooms (7-8 maximum), provide them with a teacher and several teacher aides (3-4) so that they are provided with as much attention as necessary. Provide them with additional support (social workers; medical; etc.) so that they learn to self-regulate their behaviour, etc. and hopefully something comes of it.




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