It’s not about the school – it’s about the child. If we think about a school’s success in this way and make the child the focus of our attention, we make the experience of education a happy one where children are better able to learn.
Hearing children laughing and seeing them smiling is a measure of the health of our school. We shouldn’t have a school where there are serious behaviour issues and children fear for their safety. Additionally, the physical space should be attractive and welcoming and we need to speak to the children with respect – respect is mutual.
After 40 years on the job, I just love being with the children – yes, we have had serious incidents regarding behaviour here at Holy Trinity High; but that is what pushes me to do more. I oftentimes remember how the children were when I see the changes and growth in them.
I’ve never seen a bad child – their behaviour is usually a response to what they are going through. Sometimes, a simple hug makes a difference and some of the children don’t experience that. As teachers we should be able to identify behaviours and understand symptoms so that we can help children.
Girls and dons
There is much said about boys not being well served by the education system but I often find boys easier to impact than the young women. Why? When girls are hurt in the home environment, especially sexually, they sometimes become hardened. When they come to school they often get at each other and a lot of that is about their physical appearance.
The students come from difficult communities where they often must do a lot to survive; and for some, that is getting involved with criminals. So, for a girl, she is given everything by the community ‘don’ and when she comes to school she expects to be treated special. For this girl life can be transactional, to gain material things they use friendships, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
Meditation changes behaviour
This can lead to cliques within a school. As an educator, it is my job to break up these cliques and build the self-esteem of these girls – to help them understand who they are and what their bodies are made for. We spend a lot of time on interventions to help them know their real value, for instance we are taking a second form class to visit the University of the West Indies (UWI) to imagine what their futures can be.
We started doing Transcendental Meditation (TM) with the first formers this year, and saw where, especially the boys have made a positive change in their behaviour. It is remarkable to see the changes that Quiet Time has brought about: how it can help to calm some of the students and get them to focus while at school.
Building self-esteem and peace
Besides PTA meetings we do workshops where we try and find out from parents what they need. Mostly we find that they want to learn how to work with their children – so we are parent-friendly as well as child-friendly. Sometimes we even find ourselves helping them through family issues.
There was a young man who was to do CSEC and his mom paid for it but he didn’t bring in the form. They sat down together here and she poured out her heart to him – that he’s not a bad student; her hopes and dreams for him in life. It was a rare opportunity for her to express herself and to experience her son listening to her.
Just being here, more than other schools, and helping our children just to BE and become what they can; to fulfill the potential that they have. That’s what I enjoy doing!