Newsroom

October 27, 2016

Making learning interesting

Nazley JabaarNazley Jabar, Grade 3 Literacy, Numeracy and LO teacher, AZ Berman Primary School, Mitchells Plain

My own childhood teacher, my true inspiration

I have been teaching for a long time – for 22 years now - focusing on the Foundation Phase.

I became a teacher because of the impression my Grade 3 teacher in primary school made on me. I wanted to be like her - just the way she was, her personality, the way she presented and how she made learning interesting. I went to school in Cape Town.

A guiding hand through the years

I teach a Grade 3 class which consists of an average of 40 learners, and this includes a range of three to four different ability groups. This is normal.

We have isiXhosa and few English-speaking children, but most of my children have Afrikaans as their home language. The language of learning we use in the classroom is English.

What makes it interesting for me is that I have had the same group of learners from Grade 1 and so that is easy for me, because both the leaners and I know each other. In fact, I already started teaching them in Grade 2, preparing them well for Grade 3.

The young ones study well. Sometimes I see them when they are grown up, and they have studied further. Today, they are doing well and they have truly made something of themselves.

“Even though I have been teaching for 22 years, there is such a lot that I have learnt over the past two years with Zenex.”

Continuous learning – for the children, and for me

The Zenex Literacy Project is excellent. Even though I have been teaching for 22 years, there is such a lot that I have learnt over the past two years with Zenex.

For example, the use of stories, the importance of comprehension – a range of new things that I never knew before.

I especially value the practical ideas which the Zenex Programme has given me and also how to implement these ideas practically and effectively in the classroom.

I have more insight into a lot of things like phonics, combined with decoding techniques. Now I know why and what the true purpose is which these techniques serve in “teaching to read”. Sometimes you do things and you don’t know why.

The confidence that Zenex has given me about reading is very important.

We have technology in the form of interactive smart boards, and I prepare my lesson on that. For example, if it is a phonics lesson which we’re about to have, I put all of the lesson elements onto our smart boards. The smart board allows leaners to play. We sometimes play a decoding game and the children enjoy the game because it also has pictures and sounds. Each teacher has a laptop and we prepare our lessons on that and we also use the laptops to do our administration.

“I believe that as a result of what we are doing, the Grade 1 lessons will be stronger and by the time these Grade 1’s get to Grade 3, the children will be stronger.”

Teacher challenges

As a teacher, I am faced with many challenges.

Firstly, the teaching language at our school is English, but English is not the mother tongue for many of the children at the school – it is in fact their second language.

Secondly, it would be good if learners were encouraged to read a little more.

Finally parents can be challenging. While we have a good relationship with the parents at the school, I do feel that sometimes they are not playing their role to the fullest. It would be good if they would sit with their children and give them support and encourage the children to practice every day. Even though the children come from poor communities where many parents are unemployed, or from single-parent households, or the children grow up with their grandparents (who, in most cases, really cannot help the children), or even in some cases their parents take drugs, many of our school children do live with parents who would be able to help more.

A solid foundation

We have a big school comprising 1 200 learners, with five Grade 3 classes. The good news is that all five teachers – that is, the whole Foundation Phase - are involved in the Zenex project. So, there is support amongst ourselves - we share ideas and good practices.

I believe that as a result of what we are doing, the Grade 1 lessons will be stronger and by the time these Grade 1’s get to Grade 3, the children will be stronger. They will also be fluent readers. They are already better.

Because of the project, I am learning and there are such a lot of things I am doing differently even though I have been a teacher for such a long time.

About the project

The Zenex Foundation Literacy Project is an innovative teacher development intervention to assist teachers in the Foundation Phase with Home Language and First Additional Language literacy teaching, aligned with the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements. The project seeks to understand the conditions and factors that are required for teachers to provide Foundation Phase learners with a (sound) foundation in home language and English literacy competency.

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