Elekanyani Madia, Grade 10 - 12 Mathematics teacher, Winile Secondary school
I joined the Teach SA project because of my passion for teaching. I would have been a teacher even if I had not joined the Teach SA project. This passion goes back to my student days when I joined the PUTCO project and was teaching on Saturdays.
At university I became a mathematics tutor because I was very good at it – my mathematics grade was as high as 98%. What inspired me to pursue this career was a fourth year student who needed my help. She was having difficulty with something I thought was really simple for a fourth year. It’s then I realised that I should apply for a PGCE and become a permanent teacher.
I am very excited about teaching.
I am a Teach SA ambassador. This project is part of the Zenex Foundation, and recruits Mathematics, Science, English and Technology graduates who then commit to teaching in disadvantaged public schools for two years.
In the trenches
I love teaching mathematics even though it does have challenges. The subject is very important and learners are hungry to learn. I teach grades 11 and 12. There are those that cope, but many struggle with the subject because of gaps in their foundation in lower grades. My grade 11 learners are coping better because I started with them in grade 10 – so they have a stronger foundation. Needless to say I am looking forward to my grade 12 class in 2017. I think they are going to excel.
The school is in a township and this means that it has the usual challenges associated with a poorer community. Those who appear successful are the gangsters and drug dealers. These people sell dagga and when learners look at them they don’t see a better life or option. I think COSAS could do more in terms of supporting teachers with the shared goal of a better education.
People are trying, though. There is a new principal at the school and he is trying his best to turn things around - for instance, he takes strong action if teachers are not in class.
The environment is not the same as when I went to school. I was also at a township school that was situated in a very poor community – we did not pay fees. This school is around shacks and some learners live alone in these shacks. I do my best to support these learners. We need to convince learners about the value of learning, and this must tie in with general social work. For instance, one of my learners is pregnant and this doesn’t stand out as abnormal here.
Despite being in a poor community, I think the school is fairly well equipped. It has a smartboard and there is a computer lab. I have attended the ICT committees, and feel there is a need for support for the teachers in afternoon workshops because despite a phobia of technology, most teachers really are interested in the advantages of using technology.
The project mentor is really a hands-on person. When I have problems or when I have achieved something I am able to share with him.
I am the only FET mathematics teacher at my school. The others are mathematics literacy teachers. Through this project, we have created a supportive community of our own. We discuss challenges and work on solutions – now that I am in my second year I am used to the workshops and when sitting at a table with mathematics teachers, I learn and grow as a teacher.
I constantly try and improve myself so that I can become an excellent teacher. Even mathematics teachers know very little! So, when I come across a topic in CAPS that I did not do at school or university I have to study it. My PCGE geometry lecturer assists me with prep. This year I went to the Teach SA workshops again, the second time around, just to focus on geometry. I spend time watching videos and browsing YouTube and pick up new and different ways of engaging with learners. It all helps me become a better teacher.
Teaching is not just a job, it is a passion. As teachers we can make our teaching far more interesting when we know our content very well. Then we are able to find exciting and fun ways to teach the learners. I love my job.
About the project
TEACH South Africa recruits (non-teaching) graduates and non-graduates with 2nd year level in Mathematics, Science and English to join the teaching profession. The recruits are called TEACH SA Ambassadors. The programme assists the Ambassadors to acquire a two-year Post-Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) through UNISA and provides ongoing support in the form of classroom visits, resources and leadership skills. TEACH South Africa has two main aims: 1) to attract and support South Africa’s most talented graduates in Mathematics, Science and English learning areas to teach and lead in challenging education environments (schools) for at least two years; 2) to improve learner performance in Mathematics, Science and English.