Our Readers' Opinions
April 29, 2022
Who is looking into the mental health, psychological well-being of teachers?

EDITOR: The psychological damage teachers have had to endure recently with the volcano relief efforts, the online classes, the vaccine mandate and termination, the loss of property and social dignity, is compounded by the mental strain they face on a daily basis as it regards the duties of their profession, which caused me to question: Who is looking into the mental health and psychological well-being of teachers?

Teachers may be tasked with a plethora of duties, some of which do not fit in their job description, and some which do not match their particular strengths.

Throughout all this, teachers are expected to perform and produce top-level students. But who is looking into their mental health? Can teachers perform to their optimal best if they are not functioning well? 

Editor, the issue of writing up lesson plans is one of the most taxing and time-consuming activities borne by teachers, and one which does not often allow them the space and time for their own personal lives, mental health, respite and reflection, given the already demanding nature of the profession. Lesson planning is an overwhelming, brain draining exercise which impacts heavily on the education system because it affects teachers negatively and this in turn creates a trickle-down effect on everything else. When the weekend is often the space and time for teachers to relax their mind and recharge for the upcoming week, many teachers are bogged down preparing lesson plans. Teachers become disenchanted and less interested in the profession and many settle with just going through the motions, just checking the clock, or just waiting to collect their salary. Teachers may even neglect the students and their instructional time just to complete their own work to meet a deadline and may not care to help better the system since no one is going to change it. One may say the system is already hanged before it is sentenced. 

Teachers may have to write up as many as five lesson plans, if not more, per week, having pressure to do so, and to submit them on time. Apart from the stress it causes, this is not always realistic. And the only intervention that the teacher might have access to is further stress from the Head. Nothing in the way of understanding. Nothing in the way of helping the teacher cope with or reduce his or her mental struggles or exhausting daily schedule of life.

Editor, the Curriculum Unit can be equipped with a team of experienced (working and or retired) men and women who can and should perform this task for several reasons; mainly for the purpose of standardisation, where all schools across the nation are given the same plans, cleared and recommended by the Ministry of Education, and which would become official documents in the hands of teachers. A plan may be tweaked here or there by a teacher but not to derail the intention set forth by the Ministry, and certainly not be left to any Tom, Dick or Harry to write up as he may arbitrarily feel or think.

Teachers will be able also to send in their suggestions on the effective teaching strategies of any course which the Curriculum Unit would store in a database to consider. Also, a team delegated by the Ministry to write up lesson plans for each grade, will produce a lesson plan that is most likely of a sounder quality than what one teacher is asked to do on his or her own. Ultimately, this would provide the Ministry with more control over what is and should be administered in the classroom, vetted in line with the syllabus. Officials can then visit periodically to see that the plans are implemented according to the step-by-step procedures. These plans should have all the hopes of fully gearing up the various classes for their particular exams, as the Curriculum Unit team would be more closely associated with the syllabuses. Teachers would now be tasked with implementing these lesson plans, with the necessary teaching aids, and will be less stressed mentally and physically and more focused on achieving the objectives set out. The Ministry will not only be the custodian of these plans but will adjust them to suit as education adapts to the climate of change. These lesson plans will also prove very useful where teachers are young and new to the profession, move to a different grade, are on sick leave or holidays, as it will eliminate the drudgery and complexity of the exercise, as well as save teachers the stress and time.

Concerned Teacher