Lion Park: Eight Years LaterNovember 23, 2023
No child left behindNovember 28, 2023
A pivotal aspect of the Support Programme involves lesson observations and feedback sessions immediately following each lesson. Initially, it can be somewhat intimidating for teachers to have someone in their classroom, observing them. However, after the initial few lessons, teachers quickly realize that these observations are meant to provide support rather than judgment. The feedback sessions offer them a valuable opportunity to reflect on their teaching, celebrate their achievements, and progress forward.
It is evident that our Gauteng mentors, Brighton and Zuko, have very close bonds with their mentees. They are warmly greeted by both their mentees from the previous years and those they are currently supporting. Zuko reflects on this saying, “When you meet a mentee for the first time there is no telling how the relationship will turn out. You cannot help but feel anxious because as a mentor you go in there wanting what is best for your mentee. It brought so much joy to see my mentees in Shukumani Primary School bringing out the best in their sessions. Seeing them shine was priceless”
Supporting mentees through techniques
Supporting mentees through effective techniques is a core part of the process. In Miss Mapalala’s lesson in Shukumani Primary School, Zuko observed that in a short period many techniques were used, but that Miss Mapalala needed a bit more guidance on how to make ‘No Opt Out’ more effective. In her feedback session, Zuko invited her mentee to explain what no-opt out is and then she guided her on how to implement that within a cold call, which Miss Mapalala had mastered very well.
Miss Mapalala has been given the task to practice this specific technique for the following week. She can then report back on how it is supporting her classroom and learners in checking for understanding, making sure everyone is on board and understanding the content.
Using data to assess progress
Another tool at the fingertips of our mentors is data. Edufundi has made great strides over the past five years to implement strong systems that not only capture high quality data, but that are also useful for our team to use.
Zuko starts her feedback sessions looking at Miss Mapalala’s dashboard. Her dashboard can tell her things like, how many sessions they have had in the year, - currently sitting at 20 sessions - what techniques she is using the most and what she is using the least in the lessons that have been observed. They can also see what techniques need improvement and support. This is a powerful tool that can help inform mentors and mentees in their journey and show their progress.
As Zuko nears the end of her feedback session, she discusses how and what techniques Miss Mapalala can use with the upcoming assessments. Assessments historically can become a chaotic time in a school where normal routines are forgotten, but as Zuko suggests, there are ways to incorporate some of the techniques. By doing so it will set learners up for success in their assessment, shake off any nerves they might be holding and ground them to be able to write assessments well.
Making things easier for teachers and learners
Ultimately, the aim of this process is to alleviate stress and anxiety in teaching and learning. When teachers enjoy teaching because they know they have the support of a mentor and a toolbox of effective techniques, the focus can return to teaching for the sake of learning and making content accessible to learners. A supported, confident, and happy teacher creates a positive environment for supported, confident, and engaged learners.