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The Magazine for South African Teachers

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Third Term 2019

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Volume 2 - Issue 5

Positive Discipline - Matric Revision Material - Supporting Student Teachers


FOR SOUTH AFRICAN TEACHERS BY SOUTH AFRICAN TEACHERS.

THE TEACHER HUB TO FIND 5500+ RESOURCES, JOBS, CPTD COURSES, NEWS & INSPIRATION.

www.teacha.co.za www.teachingresources.co.za


In this issue

Editor's Letter: Beating the third term blues 4 Positive Discipline 6 Reading aloud: A necessity in 2019 8 Intervention ideas for the third term 10 Not Your Average Weather Report 14 Drill work can be fun 16 How to Find the Right Teaching Talent for Your School 17 Six tips to effectively mentor student teachers during school practice 18 Decoration or distraction? 20 Reading Aloud & Direct Vocabulary Instruction: THE HOW 24 An Introduction to Project-Based Learning (PBL) 26 New Macmillan Education SA Courses to Earn CPTD Points 28 SACE Points Guide Spotlight 29 Teacher to Teacher: Jenna Swano 30 Education in South Africa: hits and misses over the past 25 years 32 Five things South Africa must get right for tech in schools to work 34 X-Kit Achieve Study Material for grade 12s 36

Decoration or distraction? - P 20

FInding the right talent for your school - P 17 Teacha! Magazine | 3


BEATING THE THIRD TERM BLUES Being a teacher is tough. Especially in the third term. I’m sure that most teachers will agree that the third term feels like a full year crammed into one term. Keeping learners (and ourselves!) stimulated for 11 weeks non-stop can be a difficult task. So, what can we do to stay motivated as teachers? Try a different method of teaching Though much research must still be done to determine the effectiveness of inquiry-based learning (for example Project Based Learning), it does put the learner at the center of learning where they have to take ownership and drive their learning in a structured manner. The third term is a perfect time to trial Project Based Learning and to work with other teachers in your school to start breaking down silos. Remember that you can interpret CAPS to fit into the way that you teach, just as long as everything is covered. Read more about PBL on page 26.

issues, ideas and how we can support each other to become better teachers. The hashtag, started by Lindsay Wesner and Leigh Morris, has become a community of passionate South African educators who share their stories and make meaningful connections to collaborate. The chat takes place on the last Wednesday of every month and you can even host it! Also be on the lookout for fun PubPD events, where you and some of your new found online innovative colleagues can get together in person and chat about education! Read more about collaboration and sharing with other teachers in our interview with Jenna Swano, an innovative teacher from Hout Bay, Cape Town. We hope that you will find many ideas and resources to inspire you in this 1st anniversary edition of Teacha! Magazine. Thank you to all of our contributors for taking time out of their busy teaching schedules to write for us and a big thank you to our advertisers who help us to keep the magazine going.

Discipline getting you down? Stop complaining at children and start noticing what they are doing right. Reward positive behaviour and set the tone from day one. It’s not too late to change around your classroom culture to create a more positive environment. Read more about tips to implement positive discipline in your class on page 6. Attend events where you can find like-minded teachers Every month teachers from all over South Africa join in on a twitter chat, #ZAEdu, discussing educational

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A very big thank you to Pearson for sponsoring a huge portion of this issue and providing Matric students with some revision activities for their final exams. Please send your contributions, suggestions and letters to editor@teacha.co.za. Teacha! magazine is a publication for teachers, by teachers and we need your help to keep it going with fresh ideas, content and inspiration for South African teachers.


Teacha! Teacha! is a collaborative effort between South African & international teachers and organisations. We would like to thank the following contributors: Jean Vermeulen - Editor Ali Mills - Subeditor Teachers / Former Teachers: Renate Rรถhrs Ali Mills Wilmari Pretorius Mari Buys (Spraakborrel) Juffer "My Klaskamer" Francois "Super Teacher" Naude Jenna Swano Cornel de Klerk Jessica Barrella Organisations: The Conversation Teacha! is published by Onnie Media Pty Ltd. www.onniemedia.com Support South African teachers by advertising on our platforms: jean@onniemedia.com

Teacha! is a hub for South African teachers. Find and sell your original resources in our resources marketplace, engage with your colleagues in the Teacha! Helpline group on Facebook, and find news, resources, teacher tips and inspiration on our websites. www.teachingresources.co.za and www.teacha.co.za

RSA Teaching Jobs The leading job board for South African school-related vacancies. Schools can find and post teaching positions on our website. Set up a job alert to receive the newest vacancies in your inbox weekly. Send us your vacancies to jobs@rsateachingjobs.co.za. www.rsateachingjobs.co.za

Images: Freepik, Unsplash or provided.

SACE Points Guide We know how difficult it is to get to grips with the SACE CPTD system. On SACE Points Guide we try to make it easier for you by listing SACE activities all over South Africa. We also try to answer your questions regarding SACE. www.sacepointsguide.co.za

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Positive discipline: Tips to improve discipline in your classroom Discipline is a concept that is definitely not one-size-fits-all. The type of school, environment, area, parent involvement and management are only a few factors that contribute to the difficulty to maintain a calm atmosphere in your class. Discipline is also usually something that all teachers can work on, as children tend to change as rapidly as we implement new ways of controlling them.

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As teachers we often feel that our hands are tied behind our backs. Corporal punishment is long gone, we can’t shout, lose our temper, send children out and some schools prohibit punishments like writing out or detention. Struggling to get the children to cooperate can often rob us of the passion we have for teaching. No teacher wants to shout, scream and beg all day long to get their learners to listen. So, what else is left for us to do?

Positive discipline might be the answer. Positive discipline doesn’t focus on “bad” behaviour. This means that you don’t punish a child for doing something wrong, but rather target a positive change in behaviour. Sometimes it happens that children are labelled as bad children. When implementing positive discipline, you acknowledge that there are no bad children, only bad behaviour. In addition to this great


perspective, positive discipline also focuses on teaching a child an appropriate response, instead of dwelling on the negative behaviour. A good example is: The class is noisy, children are talking and not paying attention. Instead of shouting and sending children out, you firmly say, “Fold your arms in 3, 2, 1”. This sounds extremely easy and it almost feels impossible to be a solution, but you will be shocked to see how well this works, even in assemblies with the whole school. It is however quite important to use strategies that are age appropriate - asking grade 12 students to fold their arms might not be very effective.

focus on the things they do right rather than waiting for them to set a foot wrong. So how do we do this?

We would like the kids in our classes to have a positive outlook on life and that starts with the example that we are setting when we deal with them. It is good to

Also try not to have too many rules. A very effective way of setting rules, is including the learners in the process. They then think of appropriate behaviour and

Here are a few ways how to this: Setting rules or boundaries It is extremely important for the children in your class to understand your rules. This means setting clear rules and being consistent about them. If you don’t want students to eat in your class, you need to stick to that rule. If you know you will sometimes allow them to eat, rather state in the rule that eating is only allowed with the teacher’s permission.

why it is necessary and this will motivate them to stick to the rules. Children usually also work better if they are seen as part of the team and not just submissive learners with a boss telling them what they have to do. Children need to know the boundaries to be able to keep to them. If you want to use positive discipline, it is important to have a reason behind your rule. You can’t say, “no walking around” if you don’t have a reason to explain it. When a child is stepping out of line, treat the child with respect, but be firm and consistent. In your rule making process, include what the consequences will be when they don’t respect the rules. Be understanding Just as you make mistakes every day, you need to realise

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that the learners in front of you will do the same. Rather than punishing them for everything they do wrong, use the opportunity to teach them something from the situation. Often we have children that will do the same thing wrong every day (for example not doing homework) and of course there should be consequences when a learner oversteps the boundaries, but it is important that your students know that you will only “punish” if it is in their best interest and not to hurt them in any way. The idea is to teach them how to find a solution to a problem and not to punish them because they did something wrong. To be understanding means that you need to find out why a child acted in a specific way. Children will be children, but no child will deliberately hurt another child or act out for no reason. Sometimes you will even find that a child truly didn’t know it was inappropriate to act a certain way. We need to teach kids how to treat each other. With smaller children it often happens that they say something or act in a certain way because they have seen an adult doing it, but they have no idea what it means or how it can make someone feel. Being understanding teaches them to also understand other people’s feelings.

Assessing your class and adapting to their needs If your class gets noisy, it is always good to take a step back and ask yourself why they are acting this way. Sometimes the lessons get very long. A 10 year old can concentrate for 20-50 minutes. This means that if you have them in your class for longer than 20 minutes, some will get restless and need a break. Try to distract them by taking a break, doing some stretches with them, let them sing a song, play simonsays etc. Learners may also be struggling because it is the last lesson of the day or maybe something emotional happened in a previous class or they wrote a big test etc.. The important thing is to talk to your learners to understand and to then adapt accordingly. Setting goals When you need the children to finish a task, it is a good idea to set a timer, put it on the screen if possible and encourage them to finish in this set time. If it is a fun activity, you can also make it a competition and time them. If you give them unlimited time to do an assignment, they are not going to finish in time and this will contribute to your frustration and stresslevels.

Explain to them that you understand and acknowledge why they acted that way, but that you know that they know it is wrong. You can then discuss how they should rather act in future situations. Adding to the collaboration between teacher and student, you can include them in the decision making process about what the desired behaviour should be in the future.

Positive discipline encourages an environment where everyone works together to create a positive learning space for every student. It shows the students that their feelings matter, that they have an active role in class management, that it encourages them to take responsibility for their actions, improves their problem solving skills and logic and to have an overall positive outlook on life.

Reward good behaviour Try to reward the good things in your class. If they come in quietly, or leave your class looking neat, thank them for it. Compliment the kids every day individually but also as a group. A good idea if you teach more than one class, is to have a competition between the classes using a point system (you can also do this with different groups if you only have one class). Give points for big things like getting full marks for a test, but also for the little things like 10 points for every person that completes homework or 10 points for every person who finishes a specific exercise during class time. Reward them with a chocolate or cupcakes at the end of the term. Motivation is one of the best things you can do to promote positive behaviour in class.

This is a process that may need a lot of practice, but with hard work and dedication it is extremely rewarding. As teachers we know that children need love and compassion and by using positive discipline, we canl equip them with skills that can carry them through the many ups and downs of life. For inspiration you can watch these videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3fr4tm_ mkE and https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=CgJ2J62Ig6U Sources: https://afineparent.com/be-positive/positivediscipline.html Wilmari Pretorius

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Intervention ideas for the third term We’re halfway through the year and our learners have just completed one of the toughest assessment periods of the year. Subsequent to the assessments and examinations, we know where the shortfalls are and should now be able to create a plan of action to provide didactic support or intervention. Intervention does not need to be a daunting task, but should rather be considered as an opportunity to step back, reassess strategies and to use alternative methods to reinforce a concept. How would you do that, you might ask? Celebrate the accomplishments or the aspects that learners understood well. Then look at the assessments and at questions that were most troublesome to your learners. Did they misunderstand key words or the whole concept? Examine the question and key words step-by-step with them and show them how to answer the question. Point out key words and how you would like them to present their thoughts. When you present questions or instructions in worksheets, point out the importance of catch phrases and the structure of their answers. These could all be deemed important methods of intervention. Intervention sessions can of course be done within the regular class periods, but also attended once or twice per week after school.

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Talk to learners’ parents about the reasons for these lessons and perhaps invite them to gain ideas in helping their children at home. With modern technology, you can even share short video clips of explanations via email or communicative applications. LANGUAGE INTERVENTION PRACTICE Reading comprehension can be a struggle for many a young learner. The skill to understand the content of a passage relies on more aspects than just comprehension. It encompasses building blocks such as phonics (understanding the relationship between letters and sounds),fluency (the ability to read accurately, at an acceptable pace and with intonation when needed),vocabulary (the knowledge of words and their meanings) and phonological awareness (e.g. the skill to analyse, synthesise and manipulate sounds in words). In the Foundation Phase, we incorporate auditory and visual perception to ensure that a learner is able to hear or to see the difference in sounds and words. This might include discerning the initial, medial and last sounds in words, stating which words have the same blends, identifying rhyming words or completing silly riddles with a rhyming word. E.g. The cat sat on a mat….and wore a ____(hat).

Review the sounds and various blends discussed earlier in the year and use those words in your handwriting lessons. Depending on the grade level, review the various blends used to form the vowel sounds, e.g. the sound of “A” could be written as ai, ay, ei in eight, etc. Make posters as a group – to add to the classroom wall for reference and make copies for informal dictionaries. Make a list of words containing each different blend or spelling rule and add additional words as you find them in books. Add tabs on the side of the dictionary – labelling the pages with tabs, e.g. “sounds like A” to make it easier to access. Clarkness.com incorporates pictures within the text through the rebus method. Pictures appear within the text and eventually will be replaced by the words. Read these stories in print or on an electronic device. These stories start off as short pieces and build in length at a leisurely pace. Being able to read many short stories in succession boosts the young reader’s confidence and excitement for reading. Use new words (from story books, readers, etc.) on a poster and have learners review their meanings or use these words in sentences. Are you aware of any synonyms or antonyms to add? As soon as


they have mastered these words, try to find books containing them or include them in your reading comprehension tests. Encourage learners to access the lists of words when writing essays, advertisements and poems. The 5 W’s (Why? When? Who? What? Where?) are key questions that test the insight of our learners. Some question papers also include questions to test the insight of learners’ more in-depth evaluation (e.g. What do you think? How do we know?). Incorporate these words when reading books together. Stop and ask a question to gage if your learners are able to answer these questions with insight. This can be done in other languages too. It would be important to review a number of simple comprehension tests and build up to grade level work. Websites such as lalilo. com and readtheory.org have free phonological awareness reading comprehension activities respectively. Sign your learners up to have them work through the levels individually – at school or at home.

MATHEMATICS INTERVENTION PRACTICE With regards to mathematics, review the skills which learners had trouble with and do so in lower number ranges. Sometimes the greater number ranges could be intimidating. Point out important words that could indicate a required mode of operation. In problem solving, the question might include words such as “altogether” or “the difference between”. Discuss when these words might be used and sort them on posters categorising the words for each calculation (e.g. plus, add, altogether or minus, subtract). Increase the number ranges when suitable. Reinforce the value of numbers and where you might find them on a number chart. Use counters to represent the respective numbers, group hundreds and tens. One could even build these numbers with flardcards (different than flash cards). How would you read these numbers or spell the number names? Review whether the number is odd or even and how many you would need to reach the next ten or hundred.

Review the methods required to answer each question. Can your learners order numbers from smallest to greatest or visa versa? Can they use skip counting or do they know the times tables off by heart? There are suitable, free songs to reinforce the times tables on websites like YouTube (e.g. songs sung by Des and Dawn Lindberg). Now is the time to reassess the problem areas and to find support for aspects that require more than didactic support. Talk to the head of your department and discuss tricky situations with the school support team. Invite parents to a short meeting and share ideas that both them and the school can try to help the child. Continuous teamwork goes a long way. May you have a successful term ahead! My Klaskamer by Juffer has been the "go to" blog for Foundation Phase teachers for the past decade. Juffer also has a store on Teacha! with many resources for Foundation Phase teachers and parents, both in Afrikaans and English.

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Adaptive learning for mathematics Bettermarks ® is a new, digital, adaptive mathematics program developed to give learners immediate feedback as well as tips as they work out problems. Teachers can assign worksheets and tests from over 100 000 CAPS-aligned questions from Grades 4–10, and can monitor individual learner’s or class progress to easily identify learning needs. Accessible on any connected smart device. Bettermarks ®, makes math easy.

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Supporting the CAPS Curriculum  Grades 4–10  Mapped to the curriculum  All topics relate to CAPS

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Learning from mistakes through real time feedback It’s all in the how Different problems require different answering methods – not just multiple choice – allowing learners to apply their maths knowledge instead of just guessing the right answers. Learners can practice specic techniques so that they can replicate them on paper during exams. More than just ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ While learners practice the techniques specically required for a certain question Bettermarks ® assesses the learner’s approach and can nudge them in the right direction as they work. Support Bettermarks ® reacts to errors in thinking with targeted customised feedback. Systematic identification of mistakes Bettermarks ® analyses all user input for typical calculation mistakes and errors in approaches to problems, and then provides more exercises to practice and master these skills.


Bettermarks ® at school – here’s how it works

Teach Introduce the topic in the lesson as you usually would.

Assign Give Bettermarks ® exercises to your learners.

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Sign up for Bettermarks ®  Bettermarks ® is purchased for a calendar year.  Schools register for all respective learners, who will each receive a voucher code, as will their teachers.  Learners and teachers can access the platform as soon as they have signed up.  First time schools who buy between October and December will have free access for the remainder of the year and full access for the following year.

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Not Your Average Weather Report Weather can be a fairly dull topic and it doesn’t help that our learners have covered it in some shape or form in almost every grade since Grade R. This year I decided to change things up a bit in my Grade 5 Geography classroom, and I am quite pleased with the results. We have started creating stopmotion animation weather reports. What is stop-motion? For those who are not familiar, stop-motion animation takes a series of still images and plays them really quickly after each other, so that it looks like the images are moving. Thousands of movies and short films have been made in this way, dating as far back as 1898. You can check out this link for some amazing examples: http://bit.ly/2XjijSF. I’ve found that a simplified version of this, is a fantastic learning tool in my classroom.

sharpening their spatial awareness by plotting various cities according to a map, honing their oral skills when recording the voice-over and practicing the skill of working collaboratively. So what do you need to get started? 1. The free SA Weather Map and symbol printable (which you can find here: bit.ly/SAWMS.) 2. A smart device with a camera 3. A stop motion app (I use: Stop Motion Studio, which is free on iOS and Android) 4. Scissors, glue and coloured pencils 5. Preferably a tripod, or something to hold the camera in the same position (Andrew Busch has an awesome DIY one made of PVC pipes which you can find here: bit. ly/2XbhtXS)

Why is this an awesome idea? How will this work? The reason that I love this project so much, is that it incorporates so many different skills in a meaningful way. Not only are learners researching and reporting on the weather around the country using symbols to represent the various elements of weather, but they are also solidifying their knowledge of the provinces,

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The way you do this will be up to you and the context of your school. You may decide to have learners work individually or in groups. You may want to set up a station or two where groups or individuals take it in turns to use shared equipment while the rest of the class completes a different activity.

What I did was divide my class into groups of two or three. Each group received 3 copies of the hand out. Learners researched the weather around the country and filled it all in on one of the sheets in pencil. This was their planning. Once the planning was done, they showed me. At a glance, I was able to see whether they had understood the concepts taught, such as wind direction, and I was able to identify areas that they could improve their plan. When we were all happy with the planning, they got to work on creating the video. They either set up a tripod with an iPad or they created a stand using a couple of boxes so that the iPad would stay in the same place. It’s very important that only the images are moving and not the camera as this creates a shaky video. They cut out the symbols from the side of the page and got ready to arrange them on the map. They went province, by province, city, by city, through the map. At the start of each province, they filled in its name and coloured it in. Then they pasted the name of the city and drew a dot where the city is. They pasted on the symbols and wrote in the temperatures and took a picture. This was repeated until all of the provinces and cities were completed, taking a photograph after each.


Once the photographs were all taken, the learners recorded a voice-over, describing the weather for each of the cities. How to take this to the next level If you’d like to extend your learners and their technology skills, here are a few ideas: 1. Give the learners a digital version of the map and icons in Google Slides or Powerpoint (also available here: bit.ly/SAWMS). Learners complete the map digitally, take a screenshot in presentation mode after each city and then load these images into the Stop Motion Studio app. 2. Have your learners record the verbal part of the weather report in front of a green-screen. Using a green screen app (like Do Ink), place the completed stop motion video behind the learner so that it looks like a weather report from the news.

3. Rather than research the weather, have learners come up with what they think would be realistic weather for the time of year. 4. Ask learners to incorporate suggestions for dealing with extreme weather conditions in their report. 5. Focus your report on your own town or city but do a daily report over a two-week period using weather that learners have observed themselves. My class hasn’t finished their projects as of yet, as they only really cover weather in the third term. They are coming along nicely though, and I look forward to the end result. If you would like to share how this goes in your class, you’re welcome to contact me via my website: thinkingcapsza.com or via my Facebook page: @ThinkingCAPSZA. Jenna Swano

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Drill work can be fun! Teaching language concepts questions for the other pairs to and vocabulary can be boring. answer. Get them to set up a As teachers we inevitably run out memorandum so that the other of ideas or get so caught up in pairs can see how many they teaching, marking, administration answered correctly and how and filing that our creativity bucket many answers they answered tips over and we feel drained. Well… incorrectly. put your raincoat on, as here are some ideas to fill your bucket to the How to turn those dreaded brim: spelling or vocabulary lessons into a hands-on learning experience: How to make comprehension activities fun: • Let the pupils make die/cubes. They can write vocabulary on 1. Divide pupils into groups and each side of the cube. Divide let them read through the text, pupils into groups and let them highlighting words that they use the cubes as die. The pupil find difficult or do not know the must throw the dice and spell meaning of. the word which the dice lands 2. Give the groups an opportunity on or give the meaning of to look up the highlighted the word. If you are busy with words and write down the antonyms or synonyms, the meanings. pupil can give the antonym or 3. Type the comprehension synonym of the word that the questions on paper and cut dice has landed on. each question out. Distribute • Idioms can be tricky, and the questions among the many pupils complain that “it groups. Every pupil gets a just doesn’t want to stick in question. The pupil reads the my brain”. Pupils can work in question to the group and groups or on their own to make the whole group looks for a mobile with a specific idiom. the answer. They discuss the The mobile must have a picture answer among themselves and relating to the idiom, the idiom if they all agree on the answer, itself and the meaning of the they write the answer at the idiom. The mobiles can then be back of the question paper. hung in class so that they can 4. All the groups give feedback on have visual reminders and they the answers and the group who have fun and learn while they answers the most questions are making them. correctly can get a treat. • Pupils can play hopscotch 5. Give pupils a text and divide using vocabulary pertaining to them into pairs. Allow them to a specific theme or with words engage with the text and set that they may need to study

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for a spelling test. Divide pupils up into groups and let them draw hopscotch blocks writing a word in every block. They must then throw a bean bag, hop to the block on which it has landed and then spell out the word. Give each pupil a specific spelling word to illustrate and stick up the pictures and words all over school. Let pupils spell out words while they hula-hoop or let pupils stand in a circle and throw a ball to each other. Every pupil who catches the ball must spell out a specific word. Set up a Kahoot (https:// kahoot.com/ ) with spelling words or vocabulary and let pupils play while learning the words. Divide pupils into groups and let them create their own game with specific words. Groups can then swop their games out among each other and learn while they play. (They can even use existing games and just add their vocabulary e.g. Snakes and Ladders or Snap) Pupils can fold a “quack-quack” and write spelling words or vocabulary inside the flaps. They can then play with other pupils who have to spell out the words or provide the meaning of the words that appear under the flap which they have chosen. Cornel de Klerk


How to Find the Right Teaching Talent for Your School In a world where employees are attracted by lucrative salaries and perks it’s easy to see how this strategy just doesn’t work with teachers. So, how does one go about finding the right candidate for each teaching position?

rushed. Here are a few important considerations in this process that will help you snag that perfect teacher.

3. Ask the right questions Be prepared with questions that will give you insight into not only their qualifications and ability, but also their own values, weaknesses, 1. Advertise widely and strengths. An important one to The more potential candidates ask is if they collaborate well with you can reach the better because others. Check out this link for some School Culture this will increase your chances of awesome interview questions to At the outset, something needs finding the best possible fit for your arm yourself with. to be said about the school school. There are many excellent culture. In order to attract the best teachers out there so don’t be 4. Contact all given references teachers some effort needs to go too passive in your recruitment You probably will never read a bad into creating a school culture that efforts. In addition to the regular reference. I mean, who would be is conducive to the happiness, government gazette, you may also foolish enough to present such a motivation, growth and success of like to try the following: document! However, some people the teachers. Here are a few ways have also been known to submit to do this: • Online job boards like RSA fake references and employment • Communicate well and build Teaching Jobs. history. So, it’s paramount to make strong relationships between • The classified section of the sure you contact those references leaders and other staff local newspaper to check out their veracity and • Ensure that the teachers feel • Contact colleges and the accuracy of the applicant’s valued, heard and respected universities information. • Engender a sense of • Social media. This is the collaboration and shared vision modern-day communication 5. When in doubt…don’t – we are working together not channel. If your school is not on against each other social media, you are missing That’s the golden rule. Unless you • Make sure there is a strong out on a huge potential market. are absolutely, positively certain support structure, especially Social media can be a fast, that the applicant is the right for new teachers efficient and cost-effective tool person for the job…. rather wait. • Provide the opportunities to finding suitable teachers. Fill the position with a substitute necessary for CPTD teacher and continue your search. • Be proactive in problem solving 2. Promote your school culture This is a biggie as we can be Don’t waste all that effort you impatient and also pressured to This list is certainly not exhaustive, have put into establishing a get the post filled. It’s not worth the merely some ideas to put into positive and successful school trouble it will cause. practise in order to better your culture. Communicate it at every chances of drawing the best opportunity. This has a two-way Thousands of teachers visit RSA possible teachers to your school. effect – it will attract the right Teaching Jobs every month looking teachers and dissuade those who for a position. Send vacancies to Recruitment tips see that they do not support your jobs@rsateachingjobs.co.za. Who you recruit matters – it particular culture or values, from matters a lot and it should not be applying.

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Six tips to effectively mentor student teachers during school practice Term 3 sees thousands of students start their Work Integrated Learning (WIL) school experience. For many students, it's a time of great anxiety, given the unfamiliar environment they find themselves in – no amount of micro-lessons and simulated classroom context could ever measure up to the real experience. Sadly, many teachers abuse the ‘luxury’ of having a student teacher and see it as an opportunity to dump their workload on the student; throwing them into the deep end. With this approach, many students end up drowning. I often hear the complaints of student teachers and realise that the nature of the relationship between the mentor and mentee is paramount to a valuable teaching practice experience. In this article, I share some thoughts on how mentor teachers can ensure

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that they make the most of the opportunity of being assigned a student teacher that can be beneficial to both the mentee as well as the mentor. 1. Be present There are many teachers who simply disappear when they’re assigned a student teacher. It’s seen as an opportunity to take time off and often use the excuse that they have a lot of admin to do, just to go sit in the staffroom and drink coffee with their colleagues who also ‘have a lot of admin to do.’ A mentor teacher has to guide the student teacher to become a competent colleague – you can’t mentor a student if you’re not present when they teach. Be present and apply your mind to the pedagogies your mentee uses and critically engage with their practice.

The relationship between a mentor and a mentee should be of such a nature that the mentee feels comfortable and confident enough to fail, knowing that the mentor is present and will support the mentee. 2. Offer constructive feedback Nobody enjoys being told that they're doing a task incorrectly – especially when they are a novice in a field. Student teachers are still very insecure and require a lot of feedback. It discourages students from being innovative and creative when they receive criticism delivered in a negative tone. Instead, use the sandwich method when giving feedback: A mentoring technique that creates a positive atmosphere that is conducive to learning and allows the mentee to comprehend their strengths as well as their weaknesses.


Start your feedback with one positive comment and praise the student for an action that was beneficial. This sets a positive tone to your feedback. Follow this with a few aspects that the student may improve upon and suggest useful alternatives to the actions that they have taken. End the feedback session with another positive comment and encourage the student to repeat this beneficial aspect of their practice. 3. Share teaching and administrative duties There are also many teachers who struggle with relinquishing their position as the classroom teacher to a less experienced student teacher. Good mentor teachers know how to strike the balance between controlling their classroom and allowing the student teacher to take control. It's important that student teachers are allowed freedom to discover their own teaching persona whilst under the caring eye of the mentor teacher. Student teachers should also develop an understanding of the administrative duties involved with the profession. Student teachers often get overwhelmed with large piles of marking that are dumped on them by mentor teachers who jump at the opportunity to pass on this duty. It would be better to co-mark assignments and tests. This way, questions that the student teacher may have, can be answered immediately and best assessment practices can be shared. There are many other forms of administrative duties that student

teachers may get involved in; break-duty is often an overlooked responsibility and many mentor teachers rush to the staffroom during break time leaving the student teachers on their own. The nuances of a teacher’s duty during break time is seldom taught to student teachers, resulting in many of them being distracted by their phones and not actively engaging with learners during break time.

Allow your mentee to discuss the latest pedagogies and advances in education and see if there's anything that you could implement that would improve your teaching. The relationship between mentor and mentee is strengthened when the student realises that their knowledge is valued and that knowledge sharing is reciprocal.

4. Treat student teachers as colleagues

It's important to have empathy for the mentee’s situation; for many student teachers, the school practice experience is terrifying and induces a lot of anxiety. The pressure of their academic responsibilities weighs heavy on them. Many institutions require their students to complete assignments during their time at the school. This often includes lesson observations, creation of many lesson plans, and research activities. Don't overwhelm

There seems to be an unspoken hierarchy in the mentor-mentee relationship that exists, if allowed to surface, it can impede on the respect that learners have toward student teachers. Student teachers already have a tough time gaining the trust and confidence of the learners, they don’t need teachers to inadvertently undermine them by treating them as ‘lesser’ teachers. When we treat mentees as ‘just’ students, we unknowingly give learners license to disrespect them. One way of avoiding this is to introduce the mentee as an observing teacher and to treat the mentee as a colleague. Don't treat the student teacher as a mere visitor in your class that you merely tolerate for the few weeks of their school experience; invite them to staff meetings and functions and make them feel part of the team. 5. Learn from your mentee Teachers should be lifelong learners. However, teachers often don't have the time (or money) for ongoing professional development. Having a student teacher at your side gives you direct access to the latest theories and practices in education via the knowledge that the student teacher is currently studying.

6. Place yourself in their shoes

"It's important to have empathy for the mentee’s situation; for many student teachers, the school practice experience is terrifying and induces a lot of anxiety." students with unnecessary tasks – rather offer your assistance. The third term is a very stressful time of the school year and we need all the assistance we can get to successfully navigate the challenges that teaching presents. Let’s take hands with the future generation of teachers and share our passion for the profession. After all, our purpose should always be to create the best possible environment for learning. We can achieve this by building strong relations with all stakeholders in education. Francois Naude

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Decoration or distraction?

I have recently started teaching at a new school and the first thing I did, was take everything that was pasted against the walls of my new classroom down. Personally, I just could not function with so much going on against the walls. But after taking everything down I realized that having nothing against my walls is not the solution either. I concluded that there are two types of teachers. Those who spent hundreds of rands and hours of their precious time decorating their classrooms and those who randomly stick things on the wall because they feel they are supposed to fill up the space. Taking trouble to make your classroom a comfortable and inviting space is not a bad thing. The average learner spends 1 100 hours per year in classrooms, which add up to 13 200 hours or approximately

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550 days in their lifetime. Most teachers will find that they spend more time in their classroom than in their living room. Nobody wants to spend that much time in a classroom that looks like something between a prison cell and a room from the previous century. But more often than not, teachers spend more time putting things up, than they spend on thinking about what they are putting on their walls and why they are putting it up. When decoration becomes a distraction Craig Barton, author of the bestselling book How I wish I’d taught Mathematics, started a movement to ban all decorations in classrooms. His argument is that learners have very limited space in their working memory and that brightly coloured wall decorations add visual stimuli that the brain

constantly has to filter out. This is especially difficult for learners who are already struggling with concentration. A recent study done by Rodrigues & Pandeirada supports Craig’s idea. They asked 64 learners to do a number of attention and memory tasks in either a highlydecorated class or a class with nothing on the walls. On all of the tests, the learners in the class with decorations did worse than the learners in the class with no decorations. They also reported more off-task time than those in the classroom without decorations. Another argument against wall decorations is made by David Didau in his blog post What every teacher should know about...wall decorations. Creating and putting up wall displays takes time. A lot of time. Time that can be better spent


on creating engaging activities. So, unless your wall display adds tangible value to your learner’s experience, it is not worth it. But what does the research say? Does the physical environment have a tangible effect on how students learn? In 2015, Stanford University did a very comprehensive study, called the Holistic Evidence and Design (HEAD) project. The main finding in this study was that the physical characteristics of a classroom has a significant effect on how children learn. They found a difference of up to 16% in results between the most and least effective classrooms.

The single biggest difference between the most and least effective classrooms are light, and more specifically, natural light. Classrooms that have the most natural light, without the glare of direct sunlight, report the best learning. This is especially important to keep in mind when turning off lights to make use of data projectors in the class. The benefits of natural light go far beyond merely being able to see well. Good, natural light creates a sense of mental and physical well-being. Where natural light is not sufficient,

decrease in speed and accuracy. What most teachers don’t realise is that aircons only cycle the air in the class - it does not replace it with fresh air. It is therefore imperative that you always have some windows open, especially the ones near the ceiling, so that stale, CO₂ filled air can escape.

it should be supplemented by electric light.

environment. The most effective classrooms were either painted in soft colours (yellows, blues, greens) or had neutral walls with one accent wall in a contemporary colour reds, yellows and blues for smaller children and teal, raspberry or navy blue in high school.

The third fixed feature of the classroom is the colour of the walls. Again, the results are parabolic, both all beige walls and walls in bright primary colours are detrimental to the learning

They divided the characteristics that influence learning into 3 categories: Environment or fixed features, Individualization and Stimulation. When it comes to stimulation, which includes wall displays, the results are parabolic. Both overand under-stimulation have a detrimental effect on learning. A classroom with a limited number of well-planned decorations are the most effective when it comes to focus and learning. Fixed features in your classroom Fixed features represent 49% of the difference between the most and least effective classrooms. While fixed features usually have to do with the original design of your classroom, teachers can still do a few things to get the most of what they have.

The second main point made in connection with fixed features in a classroom is invisible, Air Quality. The HEAD project found that within 30 minutes the air quality in an average classroom has decreased so badly that students show a

Teacha! Magazine | 21


Different types of wall display When it comes to wall displays, most teachers use one or more of the following:

4. 5.

Subject related displays - the aim is to create a unique feeling for your class - when a learner walks into the class, they know what subject they are walking into. Teachers also use their wall displays to give learners exposure to different aspects of the subject. The risk is that displays like the periodic table can easily become a crutch for the learners. Instead of learning their theory, they just find it on the wall when they need to.

6.

7. 8.

something that will not take a lot of time or cost a lot of money. Less is more. Rather have a few bigger displays than lots of different small displays. Stick to a single colour palette. The brighter a colour is, the less of it you should use. Make use of negative space (empty space) to create natural boundaries between different displays. Before you add something to your walls, take something down first. Rotate your displays often, if it is not related to the work you are doing at the moment, it should not be on the walls. Distracting displays should go on the back wall where it won’t distract the learners during lessons, side walls should have the less distracting displays and only in exceptional cases should you put anything up next to your board. Make sure that your displays are representative of all the learners in your class.

Inspirational/decorative displays - teachers use their wall space to put up things that interest or will inspire the learners. This does not necessarily have anything to do with the work being taught and will often include photos of school activities and quotes or funny memes. These types of displays create a welcoming atmosphere and often add to a feeling of belonging. However, these displays can sometimes be more interesting than the actual lesson being taught and provide lots of inspiration for day dreaming.

9.

Children’s work - probably the most common classroom display consists of examples of learner’s work. Having your work put up on the wall creates an authentic audience for learners and often results in motivating learners to take more care with their work. It is also very motivating for learners to see their work on the walls. However, care should be taken that all learners have the opportunity to see their work on the walls at some point and that it is not just reserved for the top achievers.

Barton, C. Why we should Ban All Displays in the classroom! (17/01/2018) http://www.sec-ed.co.uk/ best-practice/why-we-should-ban-all-displays-in-theclassroom/

10 ways to keep decorations from being a distraction While the research is clear that highly decorated classrooms have a detrimental effect on learner’s attainment, so do classrooms with no decorations at all. In order to create the most effective environment for your learners consider the following best practices: 1. Classroom decorations and wall displays should be well planned and serve a specific purpose, not just complementary posters you picked up at some education conference. 2. You should never cover more than 50 - 60% of your wall space. 3. The time you spend on your wall displays, is time you cannot spend on other things, so choose

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10.

References:

Didau, D. What every teacher needs to know about… classroom display (26/05/2016) https://learningspy.co.uk/featured/every-teacherneeds-know-classroom-display/ Rodrigues, P.F.S. & Pandeirada, J.N.S. When visual stimulation of the surrounding environment affects children’s cognitive performance (24/08/2018) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/ S0022096518300390 Barett, P et al. Clever Classrooms: Summary report of the HEAD Project (2015) https://www.salford.ac.uk/cleverclassrooms/1503Salford-Uni-Report-DIGITAL.pdf Renate Rohrs, Butterfly Classrooms


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Teacha! Magazine | 23


Reading Aloud & Direct Vocabulary Instruction: THE HOW By reading aloud: 1. Reading skills are modelled, 2. Vocabulary development is supported, 3. Listening & attention skills are developed, 4. Critical thinking and creativity are promoted, 5. Positive responses to reading are nurtured and 6. A culture of reading is cultivated. This article will focus on vocabulary development and specifically how to implement robust vocabulary instruction. We are all acutely aware of our students’ poor vocabulary skills! Have you ever instructed a class to write a sentence with e.g. “ reluctant” and all they could think of is “The boy is reluctant”? According to Beck, McKeown, and Kucan (Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction, 2013) learners’ vocabulary should increase by 2,000-3,000 words each year. In addition, about 400 of those words should be taught directly. The authors suggest the following steps for direct vocabulary instruction: 1. Review the context: direct instruction occurs usually directly after a story or paragraph was read. Should

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2.

3.

4. 5. 6.

a word be needed for comprehending the text, the teacher should stop briefly and give a quick explanation. Give a child-friendly definition (not necessarily a dictionary definition). Repeat the word: Pronouncing a word helps building a memory for the sound and the meaning of the word Give examples other than the one in the story Interaction with the word Repeat the word

The following is an example of possible direct vocabulary instruction from Giraffes cannot dance by Giles Andreae. Summary: Gerald the Giraffe is good at munching leaves when standing still, but has real difficulty with dancing. At the annual Jungle Dance he tries once more, but the animals only laugh at him. On his way home, he meets a cricket who teaches Gerald that anyone can dance – he just needs to find the right music. I picked 2 words from the text to illustrate the 6 steps of robust vocabulary instruction.

FIRST WORD: ENTRANCED 1.. Give the context In the story the animals were entranced when watching Gerald dance in the end. 2. Define Entranced means to be so attracted by someone or something beautiful or impressive that you give them all your attention. 3. Say the word Let us say the word together 4. Give more examples People can also be entranced. A person might be entranced while watching a beautiful butterfly bouncing from one flower to the next. 5. Interact with the word Show how your face would look if you are entranced OR (children finishes the sentence) I am entranced because…. OR Clap when something will entrance you: a ballerina, a worm, toothbrush garden OR Which will entrance you: a princess or a villain?, a box or a beautiful painting OR Describe to a friend a time when you were entranced.


6. Repeat the word Let us say the word together again

BOTH WORDS: ENTRANCED & MUNCH

SECOND WORD: MUNCH

Let us think of the two new words: entranced and munch (additional Step 5 activities)

1. Give the context In the story Gerald was “munching” some leaves. 2. Define Munch means to eat something using your teeth and jaws in a noisy way

• 3. Say the word Let us say the word together 4. Give more examples A person can munch an apple. 5. Interact with the word Say “NO!” when I mention something which you CANNOT munch. Apple, computer, ring, cake, jacket, straw. OR If you are munching, are you eating or reading? Why? OR (indicate absurdities) I am munching an apple (Yes, this can happen) I am munching a ladder (No, this cannot happen) 6. Repeat the word Let us say the word together again

If you go to a ballet concert, will you be entranced or will you munch? If you order a pizza at a restaurant, will you be entranced or will you munch? Does EAT go with entranced or with munch? Does AWESOME go with entranced or with munch? Does HUNGRY go with entranced or with munch? Does restaurant go with entranced or with munch? Does EMOTION go with entranced or with munch?

GENERAL TIPS Target words should be identified when doing lesson preparation. Choose only a few words at a time – 2 or 3 words will be enough. It is worthwhile to formulate a good, child-friendly definition beforehand. Onelook.com is a valuable resource for good definitions. “Learner’s” dictionaries also provide friendly definitions Refrain from asking: “Who can tell

me what X means?” This is time consuming and can often lead to incorrect associations being made. EXTENTION ACTIVITY BEYOND THE CLASSROOM Robust vocabulary training aims to instigate learner’s interest and awareness of words. Learners need to notice words in their environments which meanings they do not know. The authors of Bringing Words to Life (2013) recommend extension activities beyond the classroom for maintaining attention to words. They suggest a reward system for reporting word “sightings” outside the class. For example, when a learner brings in evidence of hearing, using or seeing target words outside the classroom, he gets to wear a Word Collector badge for the day. Why not experience the magic of direct robust vocabulary instruction the next time you expect sentences with newly taught vocabulary words. Chances are very good that “The boy is reluctant” will change into “The reluctant boy shares his chocolate with his sister.” Mari Buys, Speech Therapist

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Project-Based Learning: An overview Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a concept that most teachers have heard about, but not everyone knows what it is, what it entails and how to use it. Since we are educating kids for jobs that don’t yet exist, I personally believe this is the best way we can prepare our learners for the future. The website www.pblworks.org defines project-based learning as follows: “Project-Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge.” In the simplest terms it can be explained as learning through solving a real-life problem. The project is usually a complex one which has to be broken down into smaller segments to get to the final solution. The difference between project based learning and normal projects can be explained at length, but just as an overview, the following differences can be mentioned: When doing a project, the specific content needed will be explained and the child will use the specific information in isolation to complete the project. In project based learning the framework will be given and the child will get the opportunity to use their own skills and strengths to find the information needed to get to the solution. This also helps the learner to see the bigger picture and not just an isolated problem that they

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will never face in real life. Deeper learning also takes place since the problem will be solved over a longer period of time and also because the problem is usually something the learner can relate with. PBL encourages and develops team working, critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills. This means that a student doesn’t just get information to learn and remember, but they need to use higher order thinking skills. They build skills because they need it to solve a specific problem and not because it was explicitly taught to them. When you do a project, you assess one segment of the work or one skill. For example: when children need to prepare a speech, you assess how well they can convey content verbally. In project-based learning, this will only be one part of the assessment. One project can include different parts of your subject and a well thought out project can incorporate almost all the subjects taught at your school. With a normal project, the teacher is usually the one driving the whole process. They give the topic, the information and lead the students in the direction they want them to go. When doing PBL the teacher takes a facilitator role and the students are in control of the project. This is a fantastic way to teach learners to work independently and the teacher only intervenes when their help is required. The second part of this point is that the students are now in charge of their own learning

process. They control how and what they learn and they can also take ownership of they do and achieve. Learners enjoy PBL because they can use their creativity, they learn about their own strengths and weaknesses and they learn where and how to find information. They are empowered because they can look at the problem from their own point of view and then also see that other team members can see it in a different light. In theory this all sounds very interesting, but when you sit down to try and plan a project it often feels like you don’t know where to start and how to incorporate all the assessments that you need. Planning is vital and if this is something you would like to incorporate at your school, it is important to make sure everyone is on board and that you get a great topic. To explain how projectbased learning can be used in your school, here is an example: The kids at your school don’t play during break. You have been asked to create a new play area for your school. •

English: Use all the information from all the subjects and present your plan in a speech. Afrikaans: Make a presentation where you showcase your plan for the play area. Mathematics: Measure the field, work out measurements for everything that you want to put on the field. Make sure everything fits. Work out the scales for the Technology


project. Use the information from the interviews in Life Orientation to draw tables to decide what to get for the play area. EMS: Work out what everything is going to cost. Get different quotes online. Natural Sciences - Physical Sciences: Research which materials they use to make the equipment in play areas. Look at the pros and cons of the materials. Research which materials are better for the environment. Decide which materials you would like to use for your equipment. Biology: Research why it is important for kids to play, what benefits do play and exercise have for the human body. Social Sciences Geography: Find a space where you want to build this new play area. Draw a map of the area, use the measurements that you got in Maths and PE, look at problem areas like where the field is too wet, etc. to determine where you can place what. History: Do some research on your area, find out what used to be here or close to the school. Find out what children used to play with and think of ways to incorporate that in your plan Technology: Choose one item that you can build in scale with toothpicks or straws. Computers: Set up a full plan where you showcase everything you want to make. The spreadsheets for EMS, the tables for Maths, the map for Geography, the presentation and planning for Afrikaans and English can be done on the computer. Art: Build a 3D model of your play area, build one piece of

equipment that will be in your play area. Life Orientation: In PE they can go out to the field and measure the area, they can be asked to bring their art project and demonstrate how it can be used.

Research what type of equipment learners will need, also do some interviews with learners to find out what equipment they would like. Make sure there is enough things to promote exercise. Think about possible problems that

to succeed in life. In all jobs we will be faced with problems that need to be solved. In almost all jobs you will need to write something, use mathematics and be able to speak well to solve a problem effectively. The idea of project-based learning, is to prepare our kids in such a way that they can look at a problem and use all these skills taught at school to solve it. It will also empower them to follow their passion and have drive and determination to work hard to achieve whatever they set their minds to. Project-based learning is definitely a very effective way to develop learners and to teach them to become the adults we need in the future. Content will still be taught, but the skills they need to succeed academically, socially and emotionally will develop on multiple levels. When these children leave school, they will be ready to face the world and as teachers this is something we should all aspire to achieve. There are thousands of articles and resources online to assist teachers.

you can encounter and how you can solve those problems. Discuss in your team what each person’s strengths are and what part of the project they can take the lead on.

Here are some useful websites:

There are countless topics online that have been tried and tested. Not all topics can be incorporated in all subjects and not all assessments in all subjects can be done with one project. PBL is a great way to work smarter rather than harder. If you have a speech and written assignment, why not combine the two?

Videos:

Our most important purpose as teachers is to set our learners up

https://www.edutopia.org/projectbased-learning https://www.teachthought.com/ project-based-learning/a-better-listof-ideas-for-project-based-learning/

https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=LMCZvGesRz8 https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=H7LHsL0iB_w Sources: https://www.definedstem.com/blog/ what-is-project-based-learning/ https://www.pblworks.org/what-is-pbl

Wilmari Pretorius


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Teacha! Magazine | 29


Teacher to Teacher: Jenna Swano funders who ensure that we have all of the resources we need. As a Grade 5 teacher, I have gone through years where I have taught all of the subjects to one class, and other years where I have subject taught either Maths or English to the entire grade. Happily, I am back to class teaching now. I love that I get to connect with my class every day and build great relationships with them because I get to know them well. Why did you become a teacher?

Please tell us more about yourself and what your experience in education has been so far. I qualified at Stellenbosch University in 2012 and found my first job on Gumtree at Silikamva High School in Hout Bay. I applied to around 23 schools all over Cape Town and Silikamva was the only school where I even got an interview. I was excited to start. 2013 was the first year that the school was open and we began with a fresh staff of nine teachers and two grades of 120 learners each: Grade 8 and 9. I was the only English specialist teacher at the school, so I headed up the English department and taught six of the eight classes. The following year, we grew as our

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elder learners progressed to Grade 10 and we took in a new Grade 8 group. We also expanded our staff and I became one of four English teachers. I soon realized that high school was not for me. I wanted to reach the learners earlier in their school career, so, the following year, I started at Disa Primary School as a Grade 5 teacher and later became Grade Head and Head of Department. I am thrilled to still be a part of serving the same communities of Hout Bay, namely Hangberg and Imizamo Yethu. I am also in a very privileged position, because while Disa Primary School is a non-feepaying, government school, we are very lucky to have private

It sounds extremely clichéd, but I became a teacher to change the world. I wholeheartedly believe the Nelson Mandela quote that says, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” In hindsight, I was quite naïve when I started as to just how tough this task would be. Unfortunately, I believed the message that Hollywood movies seemed to give that if you just love enough or care enough, that will be enough. I still believe that teachers are world changers, I just know that it takes a lot more patience and hard-work than I originally anticipated. And a lot more genuine love.


What do you love most about teaching? The money. Jokes! Easy, the sense of purpose. School contexts differ drastically in South Africa. Your teaching experience has mainly been at community schools in challenging socio-economic environments. What do you think is the most important thing a teacher can do to improve the wellbeing of a child, other than giving them a quality education? It goes back to those Hollywood movies, but this part is true, you have to care. Be genuine. Kids know when it’s fake. Relationships form the heart of everything a teacher does. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a quality education without a relationship with your students. And for relationships to work, you have to be present. Be in the moment. Care. You have to consider your children as whole, multi-faceted individuals and not just their ability to solve a Maths problem. Show an interest in their lives. Help them to understand that they are important and valued. Be consistent and provide boundaries. Love. Your blog, ThinkingCAPS, has been around for many years and you also share your resources on Teacha! Resources. Do you think more teachers should start sharing their ideas? How can they can get started?

Short answer – yes. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all just shared? I benefit so much from other teachers sharing what they do – and my students do as well. I often see something on Facebook or Instagram that sparks an idea for a way that I can do something differently in my classroom. Where would I be without Pinterest? I think that it’s fantastic that teachers share their ideas and resources. The Americans seem to be particularly good at this. I think that we, as South Africans, could get good at it too. An easy way to start sharing is to start a classroom on Teacha! Resources, spruce up a few of your favourite resources (making sure that they don’t have any copyright infringements) and post them to your online classroom. You can also start a blog (I use Weebly, but there are many tools out there) and share your thoughts and ideas there – maybe with an accompanying Facebook page or Instagram account. I’ll be honest, I need to develop some discipline around actually posting things in the busyness of the term. You have officially made it past the 5 year mark in teaching! Nowadays, not many new teachers make it this far. What advice do you have for first year teachers on burning out both physically and emotionally? Firstly, it gets better. Once you’re established in your role and you’ve laid the ground work, you just

need to tweak each year, which is far less overwhelming. Knowing how a year works and what you can expect also goes a long way to providing a sense of comfort and the ability to plan ahead. There were many points during my first couple of years where I was very ready to throw in the towel. I was never more ready to give up teaching altogether than when I returned from maternity leave last year after our son was born. I couldn’t imagine spending a single minute away from him and I really resented the late hours and after-school activities then. Having a family has forced me to prioritize how I spend my time at school. I am still incredibly busy because I could not compromise on the quality of my teaching, but I try to set boundaries for myself and not fall into the trap of taking on too much. When I am at work, I work, so that when I am at home, I work a lot less. I plan how I will use my admin periods effectively and prioritize what needs to be completed. I really try not to take too much home because it is important to have that mental break from school. Teaching can be all consuming, especially if you’re the type of person who strives for perfection. The problem I found was that the busier I was, the poorer my teaching became. You need the physical and mental break so that you have the energy to be an excellent teacher. Don’t feel guilty taking time for yourself. Remembering your why also goes a long way.

Teacha! Magazine | 31


Education in South Africa: hits and misses over the past 25 years State of the Nation addresses are delivered at the start of South Africa’s parliamentary year. They focus on the current political and socio-economic state, highlight progress made and signal new policy directions for national government. It is a grand red carpet event, and the public (and markets) expectantly await reports of progress and new hope. We reviewed 25 years of the education priorities set out in the annual address since the first by President Nelson Mandela in 1994. The review revealed that there’s been success in early childhood development, infrastructure and social protection. But quality and learning outcomes remain elusive. We found that while it’s easy to report on access and inputs, it’s much more difficult to achieve educational quality and meaningful outcomes as there are many intangible factors that impede progress. The first 10 speeches eloquently articulated the centrality of human resources and skills development to catalyse economic growth. But the country has made very little progress. A report released last year showed that there wasn’t enough alignment between the skills being taught in education and training institutions and what was needed to grow the economy. This is where the country needs to focus its attention.

32 | Teacha! Magazine

The question is: will President Cyril Ramaphosa’s latest state of the nation address, to be delivered on 20 June 2019, simply repeat the perennial issues? Or will he have the wherewithal to take the next step in tackling the more complex challenges? One of these is the mismatch between education outcomes and what the economy needs. While we think that SONA would articulate the needs of the economy, it is important that government convinces postschool institutions to align their programmes to the needs of the economy. The second is how to improve educational quality. The findings Mandela’s administration (19941999) focused on establishing democratic institutions, enacting legislation, improving infrastructure and increasing access. His 1994 address highlighted human resource and skills development. The aim was to grow the economy and decrease unemployment. At the school level, he expressed concerns about the culture of teaching and learning. One of the key social protection programmes, the Primary School Nutrition Programme, was introduced. Given the levels of household poverty and hunger, this had two objectives: food security and education.

The 1999 policy address highlighted the non-delivery of textbooks, an issue which has embarrassed government many times thereafter. Mandela called this “inexcusable” and went on to say: If our administrations are unable to carry out such straightforward projects, then … ordinary citizens like myself will feel justified in calling for heads to roll. Former President Thabo Mbeki’s administration (19992008) recognised the country’s deep economic inequalities. It’s therefore not surprising that he focused on socio-economic transformation and growth, macro-economic stability and job creation. The importance of education and skills responsive to the needs of the economy were key to stimulating job creation. Mbeki highlighted the importance of human resource development, releasing a strategy paper that outlined the vision for early childhood development, primary and secondary education, technical and vocational education, adult education, skills development and unemployment. In the first 10 years of democratic governance, there was little mention of educational quality. Basic education was subsumed within the broad Human Resource Development Strategy. From 2006, concerns were raised


about the quality and quantity of educational outcomes, and a focus on Grade 12 as well as the mathematics and science pass rates emerged. Interventions One of the strategic interventions was the expansion of the early childhood development programmes. The 800 000 learners enrolled for Reception year is one of government’s success stories as research has shown that importance of early learning. Another social protection intervention, the elimination of fees for the poorest schools began in 2006. Today, most schools are categorised as no-fee. This means that more learners can remain in school. Zuma’s administration (2009-2014) adopted an outcomes-based approach. The government set achievement targets, and outlined a programme of action for basic education. In his 2014 address he said: We want teachers, parents and learners to work with government to turn schools into thriving centres of excellence. The focus was to improve the ability of children to read, write and count in their foundation years. The rallying cry for improved education was the triple “Ts”: teachers, textbooks and time. In his second term Zuma reverted to focusing on infrastructure development (schools, universities, colleges) and the address was dominated by fee-free post school education and training policies. President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration (2018-2019) has

focused on infrastructure and subsiding free higher education. It has promised to improve the education system and develop skills needed for now and the future, including skills for new and emerging technologies. It also signalled the expansion of early childhood development to two compulsory years and improving reading comprehension in the first years of school. Going forward Government has, to a large extent, delivered on school infrastructure programmes, though there are some persistent problems – 100 schools still to be built, 9000 schools still using pit latrines, 300 schools without electricity – which must be corrected. But now the focus must shift to school resources that affect teaching and learning (libraries, science and computer laboratories). Government has been successful when it comes to social protection. Three quarters of learners get a meal at school and are not obliged to pay school fees. There’s also been an increase in the aid scheme for university students.

of progress or concern. With development, and an increase in household incomes, success should be measured by a decrease in social protection. While state of the nation addresses have signalled clear plans to improve basic education and human resource development, these have not translated into programmes and actions. It’s time that changed, and words became deeds. Vijay Reddy, Distinguished Research Specialist, Human Sciences Research Council Ncamisile Zulu, Researcher, Human Sciences Research Council Sylvia Hannan also contributed to this article. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the oriinal article here: https://theconversation. com/education-in-south-africahits-and-misses-over-the-past-25years-119104

But, the question is whether these many social protection programmes, after 25 years of rule, are a mark

Teacha! Magazine | 33


Five things South Africa must get right for tech in schools to work South Africa says it is pushing ahead

African schools. There’s also been

must be considered before the answer

to grasp the many opportunities

extensive research in recent years

is a resounding yes.

presented by the fourth industrial

into the potential role of electronic

revolution. President Cyril Ramaphosa

and mobile learning in the country’s

Of course, schools in the country

has appointed a commission of experts

schools.

are not homogeneous. But, broadly

to explore what this fusing of the

speaking, infrastructure, ongoing

physical, digital and biological worlds,

And there have been other initiatives

teacher training and support,

driven by technology, will mean for the

such as introducing robotics education

appropriate localised content, technical

country.

in primary schools as well as ensuring

support and safety and security must

the provision of digitising learning

all be prioritised so that educational

resources.

technology actually does what it’s

One of the areas in which technology is already playing a major role is the

supposed to: enhances teaching and

school system with some South African

But are all South Africa’s public

schools having already embraced it.

schools ready for this shift? As an

President Ramaphosa announced in

academic whose research focuses

his 2019 state of the nation address that

on educational technology, I would

tablets would be rolled out to all South

suggest that five important factors

34 | Teacha! Magazine

learning. Focus areas The first important area is infrastructure.


Schools need technical infrastructure

transition from older teaching materials

to keep and remember their passwords

to support both online and offline

to modern technology. There is also

on their behalf. Schools in urban,

access to digital resources. That

extensive South African research which

peri-urban and rural schools will need

physical infrastructure needs to

reflects this issue.

dedicated technical support services

managed and properly maintained.

which teachers will be able to rely on

For this, proper planning is needed:

Then there’s localised content.

hardware tends to be the last priority

There’s already a lot of local learning

for schools when they have many other

software in South Africa but a lot of

Finally, there’s safety and security.

financial needs. A sustainable financial

this is in English. Most South African

The use of high-end technology

plan for hardware maintenance is

pupils don’t speak English as their

within and beyond schools not only

crucial in the introduction of any

first language, and have to battle with

affects teachers and learners but also

technology in schools.

translating difficult concepts into their

the affects communities in which the

native language to try and understand

schools are based. In a highly unequal

Data costs are another major concern.

what’s being taught. This is made even

society, crime becomes a challenge

Software, related applications and

tougher when they are also learning

for schools, teachers and learners who

learning content need to be available

new platforms and methods, like digital

have to make use of such technologies.

offline so that pupils can keep working

education tools.

Any introduction of technology must

beyond the school premises.

when facing any technical difficulties.

be accompanied by a sustainable Content and education technology

security plan.

The second area that needs attention

developers need to provide adaptable

is teacher training and support. This

systems which consider the context

is not a once off process – it must be

of use, the culture of use as well as

continuous. But as it stands, many of

language of use. The design process

This is not to say that technology

the teachers in the education system

needs to follow a co-design process

doesn’t belong in schools. On the

received very few or no technology

which also involves teachers. After

contrary, the renewed focus on

infused learning experiences while

all, a potential mobile learning user in

introducing technology to schools

they were studying.

South Africa can be some non-English

should be celebrated. But it also

speaker, accessing the mobile learning

requires a review of South Africa’s

content in a cattle kraal in a village.

existing technology in education

And, crucially, introducing more educational technology is about more than the addition of a piece of

Policy review

policies and a sustainable plan to More support and security

hardware or some software. It also

ensure that no child is deprived of a skill that is no longer a luxury.

means introducing novel approaches

The fourth area is technical support.

to teaching and learning. Universities

Technology introduction in schools

that train teachers need to be

needs ongoing “help desk” support.

cognisant of this.

This task is often left to Computer

Mmaki Jantjies, Senior Lecturer in Information Systems at the University of the Western Cape

Applications Technology or Computing In my own work with the Peo Ya

subject teachers. These teachers

Phetogo Foundation, a non profit

become burdened: they are seen as

organisation aimed at empowering

the the all round computing experts,

teachers with computer and digital

expected to always be able to handle

literacy skills, my colleagues and I

help desk questions.

have learned that teachers need local communities of practice where people

My colleagues and I have heard this

work together and learn from each

often in our teacher workshops – these

other. This can support their journey of

teachers’ colleagues also expect them

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the oriinal article here: https://theconversation. com/five-things-south-africa-mustget-right-for-tech-in-schools-towork-118612

Teacha! Magazine | 35


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