COVID-19 is challenging me to become a better teacher

COVID-19 has taken so much adjustment as a teacher because I love the job and being with my children and my co-workers. Trust me when I say that this has been no holiday.

Many of my students at Brown’s Town High School live in deep rural areas and don’t have constant internet access. What I do is find samples of work and send a picture to my students who complete the work, take a picture and send it back. I mark the work using my smartphone and pull their attention to what they can do better.

We started doing that from before the holiday. Our Principal, Mr. Alfred Thomas, has been encouraging us to do this wherever kids cannot use Google Classroom.

Most challenging school term

For this next school term, I know that I have a double portion of work. For my students who already had a gap to overcome, this situation is not going well for them. They are badly in need of support.

Even if schools re-open in May, we will only have two months to give them whatever boosting they can get to move into another class come September. I will have to do more research to get the content across to them.

Overwhelmed by song reaction

The song I created about handwashing came about because even before COVID-19, I have had to adapt how I teach to the needs of my students. I work with boys and girls on Pathway 3 (students who have not mastered the grade four literacy and numeracy examination) so they require more support, and I also help other teachers who need help getting their message across to students.

Faced with this situation, and knowing my students, I thought why not a song as an easier way to learn. We teachers always must be making up songs this way!

It was overwhelming seeing the news reports and people’s reactions, because I didn’t expect this. I am not really the type of person who likes attention, but I just feel good that I put something positive out there to help. But to be honest, I have too much work to do to get carried away by it.

Photograph of Yanique Dobson (far right) together with other members of the Reading Department/ Alternate Pathways to Secondary Education (APSE) team at Brown’s Town High School.
ContributedYanique Dobson (far right) together with other members of the Reading Department/ Alternate Pathways to Secondary Education (APSE) team at Brown’s Town High School.

Coping with COVID-19 as a parent

I have two foster children (ages 17 and 11) and the song has helped them also. Their behaviour around hand washing and how they interact with one another it has definitely made an impact.

As a parent I can fully appreciate the challenges that families of children I teach are facing. My youngest is preparing for the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) so she accesses the material online and every day I have her go through the work and complete. For my older daughter, I encourage her to always read and find something academic. Other things like the garden also keep them occupied and help create a fertile mind for learning!

Key for my family is to encourage a positive environment. After work is done, we make sure to have some fun and play games.

My future beyond COVID-19

This entire experience is causing me to aim to be a better person and by extension a better teacher. Like everybody else I never wanted to COVID-19 to come, but I am determined to be of greater use and impact for my family and for those children at Brown’s Town High School for whom I am responsible.

What is UNICEF doing?

For more information about our response to COVID-19 assisting government and non-governmental organisations protect the rights of children, and to access resources for parents, visit our webpage dedicated to this emergency: unicef.org/jamaica/coronavirus-disease-covid-19

This post is part of a series looking at how COVID-19 is impacting children and families and also people who are addressing their challenges. Post your #COVID19diaries story to social media and tag @unicefjamaica to be featured!

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