Teacher Appreciation Month
Teachers are an important pillar of our society. They nurture children to do well and succeed in life and the world. But far too often they do not get the support, appreciation and respect they deserve for the daily pastoral care they provide to our learners
So, October 5, is World Teachers’ Day which aims to dedicate time to appreciate teachers for all the wonderful work they do in and out of the classroom to encourage our learners to be their best selves.
Closer to home, SchoolNet South Africa, an organisation that advocates for the effective use of technology in teaching and learning, will mark the day by launching the #SupportOurTeachers campaign. Running throughout October, the #SupportOurTeachers campaign aims to raise awareness on the importance of building strong support structures for teachers to feel confident when using technology.
It is important to note that technology integration in learning is more than just getting digital tools into the classroom. Rather, it needs to be accompanied by proper training and support for teachers and learners. Also needed are regular monitoring and maintenance of the technological infrastructure that is set up to prevent teachers being responsible for an additional administrative function
For example, the Telkom Foundation recently partnered with SchoolNet South Africa for the High School Support Programme (HSSP) in building a network of support for teachers. As part of the programme, SchoolNet implemented an internship programme to train Digital Support Specialists who would acquire critical ICT skills to ensure the smooth running of computer labs at schools as well as attend to other IT-related matters in aid of teaching and learning.
The Role of Digital Support Specialists
Digital Support Specialists are placed at schools to support teachers in the classroom, learners and education managers. Whilst on the surface this might appear to be Education Assistants, their responsibilities were so much more and included four categories namely: technical support, teacher support, learner support and reporting.
In making sure teachers are not experiencing difficulty with technology for teaching and learning, the Digital Support Specialists provide teachers with troubleshooting of ICT equipment and uploading educational content on learner and teacher devices and guiding teachers on basic digital skills when they need it most.
Aims of the #SupportOurTeachers campaign:
- Encourage investment in ICT support staff for schools when introducing technology that do more than provide technical expertise
- Explore creative ways to tackle youth unemployment, by providing ICT skills training to young people to be deployed at schools with skills and competencies to support multiple challenges within the school environment
- When technology is provided to schools, SchoolNet South Africa proposes an endorsement of the Digital Support Specialists programme
- SchoolNet South Africa recommends there must be strategies for addressing issues of access to connectivity, network and data costs as these affect the effective use of technology for teaching and learning.
Activities for October:
- To publish articles for each week in the month of October.
- Mini videos that feature the SchoolNet team and Digital Support Specialists
- Radio interviews
- A webinar focusing on teachers and mental health
- One-day activation – have an information table at a public space to talk about SchoolNet South Africa, the #SupportOurTeachers campaign,
- Ask willing individuals to reflect on teacher support and appreciation in a recorded video to be uploaded on the SchoolNet South Africa social media platforms.