By Gustavo A. Ramirez, Guidance Counselor / Education Consultant
I extend to all Belizean educators and students my best wishes for a Successful New Year! Also, I thank all educators, whether teacher, administrator, or parent, who are committed to supporting, developing, and improving Education systems in Belize, especially in areas of ‘classroom management’ and ‘working with difficult students’. My warm appreciation goes out to each reader who posts commentaries, positive or negative, to my Guidance Counselor articles. Commentaries that you post to articles in this column serve to keep me ever committed to sharing (with students and educators) my personal and “tried” tips, strategies, and effective solutions to the difficulties that can and do arise each school day inside the classroom – for students, teachers, and administrators.
In this New Year, 2013, we will revisit several important and core principles of Education that will never change, even though students and circumstances do keep changing every day. Effective classroom management, productively dealing with difficult students, being a good role model, motivating our students, dealing with bullying, and staying organized and in-charge in the classroom, are important strategies that all educators should master. For readers who are new to this column, “Difficult Students” are those defiant and unmanageable students who often disrupt the class, and who very often have very low esteem but are embarrassed of failure. Repeated and seemingly uncontrollable behaviors that these students exhibit at school indicate that they have special needs – physical, emotional, or psychological. Throughout the world today, teachers who work in Primary and Secondary level schools are encouraged, and in many countries are required, to receive updated and regular training on how to productively deal with difficult students. Unfortunately, colonial-era minded teachers and parents who insist on adhering to a rigid corporal punishment mentality (“spare the rod and spoil the child”) will steadfastly refuse to accept that these students do benefit from professional help at school, or that they each deserve educators’ innovative help in order to succeed at school. Those of you who regularly read my column know that, while I was the Guidance Counselor at San Pedro High School, these students inspired me to vent Wake up and Smell the Coffee to all of Belize! Yes, I will continue to defiantly defend all students, and continue to offer ideas and strategies on how to successfully educate and counsel young people, whether or not they are troubled.
What then, are the qualities and characteristics of a new and vibrant educator in 2013? Well, first of all, he/she will greet students every morning with a winning smile to activate students’ instant likeability. Most importantly, like all Scouts, he/she will always “Be Prepared” with a daily and weekly Lesson Plan; also, before the very first day of each class, he/she will have thoroughly studied and prepared a complete course curriculum for each subject that he/she teaches, and will share it with the entire classroom, not keep it to himself/herself. Likewise, he/she will always have a solid classroom management plan for behavior and academics; moreover, he/she will ensure that each student in his/her classroom knows this plan and adheres to this plan.
These articles on Education are not intended to be comprehensive or complete. They are written and contributed in an effort to provide a “starting point” for valuable discussion amongst educators, students, and the community. When we discuss and review students’ learning capabilities and the ways in which we currently try to educate them, we learn from our mistakes as well as success. Way to go, fellow educators!