Press Release, San Pedro High School, December 1, 2021 - The Board of Management and Administration of San Pedro High School is aware of an incident of alleged teacher misconduct during her online class. As an educational institution, we do not support any form of student abuse by any member of our faculty, staff, or vice versa. The well-being of our students is of paramount importance. The alleged matter will be fully investigated in accordance with the Education Rules by ensuring that due process is applied.
Teacher In Hot Water After Calling Students "Idiots"
Tonight, there are students in Belize who haven't seen inside of a classroom in over 20 months. It's part of a quiet crisis brought on by the pandemic, one that may just have a longer-term effect.
That's because virtual learning really isn't all that it's cracked up to be; it's a persistent challenge for students, for parents, and perhaps especially so for teachers who've been forced to go in flash from natural to virtual, adapting a whole new skill set and tool kit with no prior training.
And, inevitably, it can get a little ragged around the edges. Tonight, those challenges may be coming to a head as one teacher, fed up with the fatigue of her virtual students, let them have it. Here's more on that incident and the backlash.
She should be teaching classes here, but instead one unnamed and disgruntled island teacher is forced like so many of her colleagues to impart knowledge via Zoom.
But that doesn't mean that her students are paying attention, and yesterday after repeated calls on students who either weren't there or didn't even try to guess the answer, teacher had enough.
"We are going to have classes at the end of the day because we're like you now, all of you guys are not, what the hell are you guys doing when I am giving you the chance to do your work?"
"Miss can I just say you havent call me."
"I know I haven't call you yet, but I'm tired that its only you and two of you guys that are always. Its not that I am tired of you guys, please don't take it that way. I love the fact that you guys are always presenting, but then the rest of these stupid pickney right here, sorry to say it like that, but I am calling uno what the shit you are doing when I am trying to give you work to do? and then it's because of you idiots the reason why we have to have remedial class. Anyways, look at the question here, calculate the.... as a matter of fact, everybody turn on their camera. If you don't turn your camera I don't want to see you in my class again, ever! Turn on your bloody camera."
And this evening the San Pedro High school responded to the incident with the following release saying quote: " We do not support student abuse of any kind or vice versa." End quote. They also pledged to carry out a full investigation.
But the President of the National Teachers Union Elena Smith says that while she's not condoning the teacher's behavior, the Union will support her.
Elena Smith, President, BNTU
"The teacher expressed frustration. First off I want to say that as a union we don't condone wrong doing and so when we look at such matters, we have to look at the big picture: what are all of the issues that we have seen or that have transpired to allow for this situation to occur. So we are not here to condemn the teacher as others would want for us to do. But we want for people to understand the current situation as it relates to these online classes. what our teachers are going through on a daily basis, the pressures that they are under, because it seems as though we keep forgetting that we are not in normal times and we expect that teachers will be operating in the same way as they would during normal times, that is not so. We had the aspect of parental support or lack of support from parents and then we have the issue of student involvement in their classes."
And the President isn't alone in that opinion, this morning executive secretary Keisha Young Flowers shared her perspective on the delicate balancing act that education ought to be.
Keisha Young Flowers, Executive Secretary
"In this instance we cannot defend the action of that teacher but we have to represent her as best as possible. I know there are people that will be judgmental hearing what was said and we are not endorsing in any way. We are trying to protect the teacher by what was done, we recognize that it was wrong. However we have to take a look at what has happened and how it has gotten to this point and how we need to address the bigger conversation where this issue is concerned."
"Your perspective on these young people that are supposed to be in class and just kind of leave it on autopilot?"
Keisha Young Flowers, Executive Secretary
"Well, that issue would be the issue of education being a partnership. Education is a partnership, parents are stakeholders, teachers, administration are stakeholders, the ministry of education. Everybody has to play their part and if it is that we have children who are being left at home unsupervised, parents not being interested in what they are doing in these classes, this will be the result because kids will be kids. If I am able to turn off my camera and maybe play a game on another device I will do that, I am a child. But there has to be the interest and the assistance from parents as well to help us, to help the teachers to deliver the best they can to these kids."
Union President Smith says that the fact of the matter is that students are far less engaged in learning than they would be in a physical classroom.
Elena Smith, President, BNTU
"We have students that are going through a lot of things right now and it has affected them in different ways. We have to address those. Our teachers have been affected as well, we have to address those. All of these issues to be able to ensure that our students and our teachers can get back to some normalcy and can be able to cope with the current situations."
Keisha Yong Flowers, Executive Secretary
"We are already getting so many phone calls, concerns from parents and other members of the public, we started the discussion with the public as to how it would be best to address this matter, and hopefully soon we'll be able to sit down with the teacher how best we can assist her."
It's assistance that the Ministry acknowledges their teacher's needs with a release this evening saying quote: " We are mindful that these are challenging times for everyone, especially for our teachers and students. The fatigue and mental challenges brought on by the pandemic have affected far too many."
They've pledged to work with the unions to support the mental health of all their stakeholders but they also remind teachers and non-teaching staff that quote: "physical, verbal and all other forms of abuse are not condoned."
And much like the institution that employs the teacher, the Ministry has pledged to commence a swift and thorough investigation into the matter.
The virtual class in question was a second form science class at San Pedro High school. The teacher remains unidentified.