SchoolNet SA has been working with teachers and school leaders from ten schools in the Amathole District in the Eastern Cape as part of the Commonwealth of Learning Teacher Futures programme. Teacher Futures strives to develop teaching and learning communities of practice (COP) for the purpose of scaling up in-service teachers’ digital knowledge and skills and to assist them in providing quality and sustainable education in the Eastern Cape schools.
With these goal in mind, teachers from the participating schools have attended the following professional development workshops offered by SchoolNet SA facilitators:
- Learning Design Workshop
- Change Leadership for Digital Learning
- Digital Literacy and Initiating Community of Practice
- Using Digital Resources in the Classroom
We were delighted to hear from Phelela Mqhiki, a teacher from Nzululwazi High School and Charmaine Nel, a Head of Department from Ntabenkonyana High School who consistently attended the workshops who shared some of their experiences and the benefits of participating in the Teacher Futures project. (Please click on the teacher’s names to see the videos that they shared).
Community of Practice at Ntabenkonyana
Charmaine reported that after ten teachers from her school attended the Digital Literacy workshop she saw a lot of changes, noting, that as HODs “we expect teachers to submit their work typed…. we expect them to be more professional. And I must admit that now they are very professional”.
The Change Leadership course has also bought about changes such as “the school’s new vision also includes technology now whereas in the past it was silent when it comes to technology”. Charmaine notes that, “when it comes to lesson assessment and lesson planning there is a big change. Because in lesson plans we now incorporate visuals that we download from different apps. The lesson becomes more stimulating and the learners enjoy them more.”
Better digital literacy skills have also made it easier for teachers to join and actively participate in their community of practice. Charmaine says that “when it comes to sharing information we do that with some teachers in the neighborhood. Almost all of us have laptops so it becomes easy to share, comment and edit information that you have presented to them. That is also quite exciting. You don’t have to travel to the next school to get information – we just share that on our laptops. Even when it comes to saving work. It doesn’t get lost easily now that we are using Google Drive.”
Nzululwazi prepares for the Fourth Industrial Revolution
Phelela Mqhiki says that the most valuable and positive workshop for her was Using Digital Resources in the Classroom course, as she notes that “in the Eastern Cape we are very rural and we have been using chalk in our classrooms”. She said that the workshop helped her and her colleagues to see how the computers can be used in their classrooms and how to go about introducing learners to the technology. Phelela believes that the workshops will help them to be ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. She regards herself as fortunate among teachers in the Eastern Cape because now her classroom performance is improved and her learners are also doing better.
As the Teacher Futures project continues we look forward to hearing more about how teachers and school leaders are applying what they are learning to developing their community of practice and sharing more ideas and resources for improving teaching and learning at the participating schools.