Teachers across South Africa are turning away from the traditional blackboard and are plugging into technology in their attempts to become better educators. Along the way, they have found that learning is more fun, and that children are keener to get to grips with their education.
Top teachers use technology in classrooms to enhance learning. (Image: Mediaclubsouthafrica.com)
Although she struggled to use her own cellphone, a Limpopo teacher said, she still used iPads to teach her class rather than the traditional blackboard.
Malale Reshoketswe Leshilo, a teacher at Selale Primary School, was speaking at the 15th annual National Teaching Awards (NTA), hosted by the Department of Basic Education and held at Gallagher Estate in Johannesburg on 7 March.
Leshilo was nominated for the NTAs. Speaking to news agency eNCA on the sidelines of the awards, she said that she was one of those teachers who valued technology when it came to motivating her Grade 3 pupils. Enrolment at her school had skyrocketed since it had started to use iPads in the classroom.
“You can look at me now. I’m 43 this year. I still struggle in using a mere cellphone,” she said. “Yet I’m teaching learners through technology. It will make their learning even faster. They are also having fun! And they start to get these technological skills at a very young age.”
Morne Smit, a teacher at Hoër Volkskool in North West, won the award for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics (further education and training). He also uses technology to get his message across to his pupils, who were particularly keen on videos. “When they go online, use their username and password, they have a timeline of mathematical content.”
Winners at this event recieved gifts like Blackberry cellphones, Samsung tablets and Chevrolet Spark cars.
— Chuma Kave (@chumakave) March 7, 2015
There are NTAs in 17 categories, including Excellence in Primary School Teaching, Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Prof Kader Asmal Excellence Award. In handing out the awards, the department says it “wishes to salute all schools and teachers who have entered the National Teaching Awards since 2000. It acknowledges their extraordinary efforts, which have been achieved often under very difficult conditions and in service to our children, many of whom come from poor communities.”
The Prof Kader Asmal Excellence Award seeks to recognise teachers who demonstrate the key values that were a hallmark of Asmal’s leadership; like its namesake, the winner must be a demanding educational activist who leads by example. It was won by Thembisile Mavis Mdlalose of Thembimfundo Special School in KwaZulu-Natal.
Ganasen Reddy of Glenhaven Secondary School in KwaZulu-Natal received the Lifetime Achievement Award, with Albert Dill of Transorania School for the Deaf in Gauteng second placed, followed by Leepile Ishmael Mompati of Albert Morkoka Secondary School in Free State.
In his keynote address at the awards ceremony, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said the winning teachers were shining examples of teaching excellence, which all teachers should strive to emulate.
Without incredible teachers, he added, he would not be the man he was today. We would not have had the calibre of great people that we have had, such as Nelson Mandela, and we would not have developed as a country like we had over the last 20 years if it was not for the hard work and dedication of our teachers.
The UN marks World Teacher Day on October 5; it is one of many ways teachers and their profession are honoured. South Africa hosts a number of events to acknowledge and encourage dedicated and caring teachers in their efforts to develop each pupil. The NTAs are just one of those ways. Their objectives are to:
- Focus public attention on the positive aspects of education, thereby raising the public image of the teaching profession;
- Recognise and promote excellence in teaching performance;
- Honour dedicated, creative and effective teachers and schools;
- Encourage best practice in schools; and,
- Afford South Africans the opportunity to publicly say thank you to outstanding teams or individual teachers in schools.
Buzzfeed, the social interaction and news portal, recently asked teachers to list on Instagram what makes their day. They listed:
- That “oooooh” look on a student’s face when they finally get a concept.
- The knowledge that I’m playing a little part in shaping a (hopefully) better future.
- Seeing a child blossom right before your eyes.
- When the worst student in class finally has a break and behaves well for the whole day.
- All the ridiculous things my kids say.
- The priceless stories I get to share with my friends.
- When a student identifies your class as a place they feel safe. That might mean it’s a place where they can escape tumultuous home lives or is place where they aren’t afraid to take risks, but either way it is a great feeling.
- Seeing the kids helping one another, both academically and socially, is so gratifying.
- Seeing a kid smile because you made them feel special.
- That moment when a wonderful idea comes to your mind and you expand on a topic with great discussions and they can’t wait to learn more.
The NTA categories are:
- Excellence in Primary School Teaching
- Excellence in Secondary School Teaching
- Excellence in Primary School Leadership
- Excellence in Secondary School Leadership
- Excellence in Grade R Teaching
- Excellence in Special Needs and Inclusive Teaching
- Excellence in Technology-Enhanced Teaching and Learning
- Excellence in Teaching Mathematics (FET)
- Excellence in Teaching Physical Science (FET)
- Prof Kader Asmal Excellence Award
- Lifetime Achievement Award
- Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Volunteer Educator
- Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Volunteer Supervisor
- Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Volunteer Coordinator
- Kha Ri Gude Inclusive Education Volunteer Educator
- Kha Ri Gude Inclusive Education Volunteer Supervisor
- Kha Ri Gude Inclusive Education Volunteer Coordinator