The union has been following meticulously the work done by the task force focussing on exploring and providing an online educational service to our students nationwide. The latest guidelines were issued in view of a prolonged closure of schools in these exceptional times and have covered a number of points.
- Educators are being encouraged to liaise with their schools to secure a way of being able to perform at the best of their ability and have been offered further support through https://digitalliteracy.skola.edu.mt/ should they feel they need more help with this innovative way of teaching.
- Educators are being asked to work in close collaboration with their schools when it comes to pooling resources, and have also been given access to https://curriculum.gov.mt/en/Pages/Home.aspx, which is an educational resource repository which educators can freely tap into for additional resources but also submit resources which will benefit other educators.
- Educators are being encouraged to pace work realistically for themselves and the students in their care. They are being reassured that all are well aware of the current scenario and the difficulties one is bound to face in these exceptional times, and it is not expected of them to continue with business as usual, as if nothing worthy of notice is looming over their heads. Overwhelming oneself or one’s students with too much material is not a recommendable course of action.
- Educators are being encouraged to give feedback to students where necessary and are not being expected to do so on all tasks submitted by all students. Following this, the group appealed to parents to confide in the Educators’ professionalism, and not to burden them with unrealistic expectations. Parental support at such times is essential.
- Educators have been invited to provide model answers and marking schemes, especially when dealing with older students. The group has quoted the following portals https://curriculum.gov.mt/en/Pages/Home.aspx and https://www.um.edu.mt/matsec/pastpapers/ as sources of the above forms of assistance but also as sources of past papers at all levels.
- While the group encourages communication with the students it also emphasized the necessity to maintain clear professional boundaries to safeguard both themselves and their students.
- Discussions are currently on going in relation to Annual examinations, Benchmarking Assessment, SEC examinations, and the Advanced and Intermediate level Matriculation. Variables affecting these examinations are being reviewed, and possible scenarios, in view of the current situation, are being considered. Awarding bodies, whether they are Schools, Directorates or MATSEC, will give clear direction in due course.
The UPE commends the work being done by educators at this time and their ability to adapt so swiftly to these exceptional circumstances. The union, however, feels the need to emphasize that Educators are to keep their well-being as a first priority, and not to allow for excessive stress to take over their day-to-day lives.
The union recommends caution when it comes to the means of communication chosen to communicate with parents or students: one should be wary of resorting to social media, or applications such as WhatsApp, as a preferred method of receiving messages or even sending messages through.
Unfortunately amidst all of this we cannot but feel for those educators and students who are unable to access, or have limited access to, internet services or devices such as Personal Computers, Laptops, printers and scanners. The union can only encourage its educators to do their utmost to provide their services in these hard times, and to be sympathetic towards those who are unable to access the resources they provide, freely.
We are fully aware that in the rush of getting things sorted on the day the schools were closed down, many educators did not have the time, or the lucidity for that matter, to pre-emptively take all their resources home with them. The UPE would like to emphasise that under no circumstance should these educators choose to go to school to retrieve their resources, documents, or books, as this would be going against the recommendations given by the health authorities.
Finally, the UPE hopes that adequate remuneration is contemplated for the near future, for the sterling service our educators have been providing. They have promptly acted upon a change in working conditions, proactively worked with limited resources and strategies to reach out and promote education, selflessly and energetically putting their best foot forward in a time which sees them burdened with care for themselves, their dear ones and their students.