The Newly-Qualified Teachers’ Project’s third Winter School in the July holidays, aimed at boosting specific teaching and learning needs, drew 84 teachers from 47 primary and high schools from as far afield as Mossel Bay.
The workshops, facilitated by the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) School of Education, covered a wide range of challenging content areas in mathematics, language, history, geography, visual arts and physics, as well as targeted topics such as classroom management, inclusive education, digital literacy, school leadership and growth mindset.
Presenters included School of Education staff, past UCT students and representatives from local NGOs, with sessions being well attended, lively and interactive.
“It was gratifying to see so many teachers connecting, sharing and learning together,” said project manager Judy Sacks.
“There was a real buzz during many of the workshops over the four days and teachers were asking for more time in the sessions. Subsequently, many teachers have been saying how successfully they are implementing what they learnt at Winter School.”
Inspired and motivated
Among the new teachers who left the sessions inspired and motivated to face the new term was Kate Rogers, who said she enjoyed having the time and space to look critically at what works, and what doesn’t, in the classroom.
“The workshops opened up a whole new world of ideas for me to use in my teaching, to make learning fun and to reach more learners.”
“I hope this will become an annual event; I can see it growing in popularity,” Rogers said.
Another participant, Cecelia Campbell, said she most enjoyed the chance to collaborate with “like-minded, enthusiastic teachers”.
“The classes reignited my passion for teaching. The workshops opened up a whole new world of ideas for me to use in my teaching, to make learning fun and to reach more learners,” she said.
Sarah Milborrow commented that the sessions boosted her confidence in her own teaching abilities.
“That has been the biggest gain by far that I can take from this experience,” she said.
The Winter School forms part of support efforts for newly-qualified teachers provided by the School of Education in response to the extensive professional and personal pressures placed on teachers today, and the consequent alarming attrition rate in the country.
The project was started in 2016 in response to requests from UCT graduates who often struggled with their new working lives, then gave up.
Sacks said it is specifically designed to support teachers, via ongoing professional development, throughout the year.
Ongoing professional development
Sponsored by the HCI Foundation and The Saville Foundation, this support is now available to all recently qualified teachers teaching across the range from grades 1 to 12.
Associate Professor Catherine Kell, director of the School of Education, said the school and the programme as a whole are critical elements in addressing the challenges faced by teachers, especially newly-qualified teachers.
“Bringing teachers together to discuss the challenges they face, and helping them to access up-to-date and, in many cases, research-driven examples of good teaching, is crucial. This helps in building communities of practice and providing support,” she said.
Kell added that participation is growing every year, indicating clearly that the workshops are meeting teachers’ needs.
“They create a safe, exciting space for teachers to connect and learn from each other.”
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