We are all on the same side

JASCA DE ABREU

Grade 11 learners and all the St Michael’s teachers were asked to gather for a meeting. Everyone waited in anticipation as Mr Van Wyk took to the microphone.

All paticipants were divided into groups. The instruction was to discuss three topics: what staff members expect from learners; what learners expect from staff and how harmony and fun can be brought back to St Michael’s.

From the concluding discussion it was clear that a common want from all teachers is respect in the classroom. Examples that teachers gave was completing the homework they assign, greeting them, giving them the opportunity to teach, being responsive during lessons and speaking to them with respect.

Another big problem teachers all seemed to experience was the manner in which students approached them. They said the tone of voice and body language of a learners involuntarily affects the way in which they respond – they are only human!

Teachers also pleaded with students to address problems as soon as possible to prevent an accumulation of negative emotions towards a teacher. By resolving a problem soon, less damage is done to the learner, the teacher and the relationship between them.

When discussing what learners expect from staff, many learners brought up favouritism. It was explained that students can sense, even if it is the most subtle of favouritism, that a teacher prefers one of their classmates over them. This makes students become disinterested and despondent in classes and causes them to resent certain teachers.

The students explained that equality and consistency would create a more positive classroom environment. Learners also brought up the professionalism of teachers and explained that a more professional relationship between teachers and students would allow for a more effective learning experience.

Both learners and teachers came to the conclusion that what is needed to create a more harmonious St Michael’s society is communication. If both parties communicate effectively and resolve problems as soon as possible, the relationship between teachers and students will remain a mutualistic one from which everyone will benefit.

The workshop did not only highlight the views of both parties, but it showed that everyone is working towards a common goal – a positive and integrated school environment – and that we are all on the same side.