In a previous blogpost we reported on teachers from 12 schools in KwaNdengezi who received professional development in using digital resources sponsored by the Rotary Club of Pinetown. These professional development workshops took place in February 2018 and were intended to assist teachers to effectively integrate the use of curriculum-aligned digital content into their lessons.
In March 2018, SchoolNet’s Hlengiwe Mfeka followed up with support visits to schools to see how teachers were integrating digital content across a range of subjects and phases and to provide on-the-spot support and just-in-time learning opportunities.
Hlengiwe’s school visits proved to be valuable; they contributed towards improving the teachers’ practical understanding of implementing and or integrating digital literacies in their lessons. Hlengiwe encouraged them to continue along this journey. For some of the teachers it was a daunting experience as they were embarking on digital learning strategies for the first time in their teaching experience.
There were cases where some of the teachers presented a traditional lesson with no integration of digital tools or resources. This happened for a variety of reasons. It was also noted that some of the teachers used PowerPoint presentations confidently but with no fundamental change to their traditional telling method where learning is teacher-centred.
The few teachers who had not managed to apply the learnings from the professional development sessions gave clear indication of the gap that sometimes exists when the facilitator assumes everyone has understood the concept perfectly but when teachers return to their own environment they are unable to implement what was covered. Sometimes other factors are responsible such as management resistance or lack of collegial support that can cause discouragement. These follow-up visits therefore encouraged these teachers and afforded them the opportunity to work on any flaws which had surfaced. On the flip side, it was a very pleasant surprise for Hlengiwe to discover how teachers who might have seemed reserved during the training session were the ones who were shining and excelling in their classrooms.
During each school visit, Hlengiwe met with the teacher before his or her lesson, observed the lesson taking place, and then spent time after the lesson to discuss reflections on the lesson. Schools with management buy-in were clearly identifiable because the principals would know about the visits, would ask about the project and would show interest in the outcome of the lesson observation. Some teachers also remarked on how they were supported by their principal and the SMT and some of these positive stories were videoed to motivate other teachers who are participating in the project. This project is destined to grow from strength simply because of the critical mass of teachers who are enthusiastic and committed.
Read more about some of the KwaNdengezi teachers lessons here as well as a profile on Nozipho Mvubu – an exemplary Grade R teacher.