|On-the-Job Training: Pre-Service Teacher Training in Trinidad & Tobago (CIE, 2000, 35 p.)|
|8. Stakeholders' perceptions of the organisation and functioning of the programme|
Views of their OJT experience were sought from trainees and recent graduates as outlined earlier. The views of older graduates who are currently registered as students at the teachers' colleges were also sought through interviews conducted in other sub-components of the MUSTER project. These views are detailed below.
The trainees admitted that the experiences gained in the formal theory sessions and the classroom situations were mainly good. However, they placed a higher premium on the exposure in the classroom than on the theory sessions. Trainees admitted that they felt more confident to teach after some exposure to a classroom. There was consensus among the trainees and the recent graduates that classroom management was a most useful skill learnt. It was put into practice immediately by the trainees as they practised their craft in the schools. There was also the common belief among recent graduates that classroom culture could not be simulated and, therefore, there was indeed a need for the hands-on experience which is provided in the classrooms and from which the lessons learnt were invaluable.
Although most of the trainees interviewed could not see immediate links between the theory and the practice, there were a few who could. One of the trainees continually drew reference to instances where she saw examples of the theories alive in the classroom. She observed that her mentor teacher applied adolescent psychological theory in her handling of the class and the planning of lessons. She also observed that other theories learnt in formal sessions were applicable.
The principals interviewed all claimed that the trainees receive a good initiation to teaching on the OJT programme. They have found that the trainees ask more intelligent and relevant questions about the job than do other teachers who have been appointed to the schools without exposure to the OJT programme.
Current teachers' college trainees made both positive and negative comments about their exposure to the OJT programme prior to entering college. They were particularly appreciative of their exposure to lesson planning on the OJT programme. Many explained that they were only able to function on their first teaching practice as trainees because of their OJT exposure, since they had received little training in this area in the college before being sent into the field. As one trainee put it:
If I didn't attend those OJTs, I wouldn't know where to start. I felt it did a whole lot of good for me in the sense that you have something to go with, something to start from in terms of how you would deliver your lesson, how you would go about preparing the lesson in the first place. If I didn't attend OJT, I would be lost.
Some were also appreciative of the training they received from tutors in specific subject areas, where they were exposed to teaching techniques for those subjects that they had hitherto never encountered, for example:
Some of the things we made, I haven't seen anybody down here [at teachers' college] do that. For mathematics, she taught us to do puzzles and things like that. When we were teaching addition and subtraction, we made it more like a game - like Snakes and Ladders. We brought all the games that they [pupils] liked into mathematics.
Although there were some teachers' college trainees who valued the help given by their OJT mentor teachers, most of the trainees who expressed dissatisfaction with the OJT programme were dissatisfied with their interaction with mentor teachers. Some expressed a feeling of frustration when they had to sit and observe the mentor teacher for long periods, preferring instead to do the teaching themselves. A few felt that trainees were exploited and used as cheap labour in the mentor/mentee relationship. Yet others complained that mentor teachers gave unfair evaluation comments on trainees.
Interestingly, there were several teachers' college trainees who had not been exposed to the OJT programme who felt that they had missed out on something worthwhile.