Winner: Mmatlake Linford Molaodi,
Masemola High School, Limpopo
Mmatlake Molaodi loves helping people and this is not only confined to his classroom but to the entire school community. “Experiencing people’s transition from a sense of being disadvantaged to being resourceful through technology gives me great fulfilment,” says Molaodi.
Molaodi uses ICT in his classes in various creative ways ranging from gamifying content for maximum understanding to using online simulations in the event where apparatus for conducting science experiments is not available. He also ensures he avails himself particularly after school hours via social media platforms to assist learners who need further clarification on topics covered in class.
Molaodi is also an asset to other neighbouring schools; for instance, he helps principals with professional developments strategies as well as providing advice to circuit managers on how to roll out and integrate ICT into the school curriculum.
As with any profession, Moloadi faces challenges in his teaching career and at his school. Some of these are substance abuse by learners and getting buy-in and support for his projects from the relevant role players.
Regarding substance abuse, Molaodi believes in talking directly with the learners as one of the best ways to resolve the problem. “I believe in talking with children in order to bring and find lasting behavioural change,” he says.
But in spite of the challenges, Molaodi remains committed to his cause. He uses the success of the many projects he runs across schools in the area to leverage more support from other stakeholders. His advice to fellow teachers is that they should keep company with colleagues who have their learners’ best interest at heart. “Align yourself with people who go the extra mile for their learners and the community within which they operate,” he says.
1st Runner-up: Tshegofatso Matjila,
Botsalano Primary School, North West
Nelson Mandela’s words that education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world provided inspiration to Tshegofatso Matjila to pursue teaching. He felt that was an important national call to action for citizens to become part of the social change agents.
He says what makes him look forward to the next day is the idea of producing critical thinkers who would go on to change the world for the better. “Imparting knowledge through quality teaching is important to me. I strive to ensure that excellence is provided for all of my learners, regardless of their social position,” says Matjila.
His school serves a predominantly rural community where poverty is rife and most learners come to school physically tired and emotionally distressed, making it difficult for them to learn. Matjila says ideally these challenges need to be dealt with before any effective learning can take place. He says it crucial that teachers should understand official school policies and apply them effectively to address these challenges. He says the applications of the policies should be infused with the spirit of ubuntu.
Matjila is among those who never hesitated to adopt ICT. And since incorporating the latest technologies in his mathematics class, learners have become more enthusiastic and their participation and performance have increased noticeably.
“Technology has brought a new and exciting pictorial dimension to my lessons; my learners don’t have to depend on their imagination alone anymore, as we now use simulation and videos to ensure further understanding of the concepts,” says Matjila.
His advice to new teachers is that they should understand that teaching requires passion and commitment. “They have to constantly remember that the learners’ interests come first, and that they should always strive to work hard so that they can provide quality teaching.”
2nd runner-up: Kim Ranwell,
Herbert Hurd Primary School, Eastern Cape
Ranwell chose teaching because of the opportunity it provides to make a difference in the lives of others. She says working with small children is her primary passion. “I love giving children a chance to excel, especially those who might be struggling with their learning; watching them engaging with the content and enjoying the lesson gives me great fulfilment,” Ranwell says excitedly.
With technology permeating every learning area, Ranwell’s school insists on having it included in each subject. Learners are also given an opportunity to independently demonstrate their understanding of various ICT applications by creating various multimedia content, which they then present to their peers in class.
Ranwell not only champions the learners’ cause, but has been instrumental in empowering her fellow teachers to adopt and integrate technology into everyday use. She is fully aware that most teachers still harbour fears of technology and she uses her own passion to persuade them to exploit its effectiveness. “Everything that I do comes out of the belief that technology does enhance the children’s learning and can improve our teaching,” she says.
Ranwell says keeping up to date with new technological developments in one’s area of interest and the willingness to constantly redefine oneself is critical in today’s education system. Her advice to other teachers is to move with the times and try new ways of doing things.
“You cannot do things the way they’ve always been done; you have to find out what works best for the learners you currently have in your class, because they’re very different to learners we’ve ever had before,” she says.