It can be difficult to get support when your address says you are privileged!
We recently had the opportunity of working closely with the amazing team at Observatory East Primary School, located in the Johannesburg suburb of Observatory. We interviewed Ms Nemisheni Chetty, about some of the challenges their school faces and about how they overcome these challenges as a team.
The school is located in a middle- class suburban area; most learners who attend the school are not from the immediate surrounding area but rather from inner-city areas like Berea and Hillbrow where parents can have social and economic difficulties.
As a fee-paying school, one would assume that through the regular contribution of school fees, coupled with a yearly allocation from the DBE, that the financial upkeep of the school would be manageable for the school. However, the financial support doesn’t cover all aspects required. The range of needs extend from procuring extra teaching staff to reduce large volumes of learners in their classes, building and maintenance work for the classrooms and basic necessities for the learners.
The reality at Observatory East Primary School as in hundreds of other schools across South Africa, is that almost 65% of parents are fully or partially exempted from the payment of school fees thus placing huge pressure on the SMT to maintain the monthly costs. Ms Chetty and Mrs De Matos recently raised funds to purchase winter stockings and socks to ensure that their learners were warm this winter and they are continuously developing innovative fundraising initiatives to improve and enhance the quality of their school environment. The dynamic duo Ms Chetty and Mrs De Matos, and their SMT team believe in the ‘pay it forward’ concept and recently embarked on a project in collaboration with SPCA.
Read Ms Chetty’s blog about her recent Mentoring and Coaching experience.
South Africa Blog Questionnaire
Name of Educator: Ms Nemisheni Chetty
School: Observatory East Primary School
Role at School: Deputy Principal
- Tell us about yourself and your teaching background? I have been teaching for the past 18 years in Gauteng Province. I started off my career as a Grade 2 educator and after five years I was promoted to HOD for Intersen Phase. Currently, I am the first Deputy Principal to be appointed at our school. This is the first time our school was granted this post by the DBE due to our growing number of learners.
- What motivated you to become a teacher? I have always had a passion for teaching and learning and to inspire young learners. I know, I have the ability, knowledge and skills to develop pupils holistically and help motivate them to become life-long learners.
- Were you aware of the Teacher Mentoring and Coaching Programme before the Department of Basic Education project? No, not really. I have only attended a Deputy Principal Conference in 2017, which was focussed on Leadership and our roles and responsibilities. The DBE does offer ongoing meetings and workshops regarding Assessment (SBST); LTSM and IQMS and Curriculum Planning. I have also attended an ACE Management Course delivered by Matthew Goniwe School.
- How did you feel about the process? It was very different from our day to day operations at our school. The M&C programme, was a very innovative programme that supported us to ‘deep-dive’ into our daily practices.
- Do you feel consistent Mentoring and Coaching adds value for the teacher? Most definitely. Teachers are life long learners and we need to constantly develop ourselves in order to develop the young, impressionable learners in our class. By us being mentored and coached, this allows the educator to become more effective and skilled in the delivery of the lesson.
- What were the highlights of the process for you? As part of the development process for educators, the DBE implements the IQMS process where the Educator selects a DSG (Development Support Group) to work with in order to develop themselves. This is where one member is a peer and the other a member of the SMT at the school. The approach that your team used was very different, innovative and interesting. We viewed video footage of our own practice and it was very insightful for self-reflection.
- When you were preparing for your lesson, did you feel you had to put in extra time and effort to prepare? No, as planning was already pre-determined by the CAPS curriculum. My lesson formed part of the CAPS curriculum and ATP that I was required to teach anyway. Transactional writing is part of the examination requirements for English Paper 3 and it was an excellent platform for the learners to develop skills and practice for the writing process.
- How real was the process when you watched yourself on the tablet and reflected on your practice? What was it like to watch yourself and reflect? (She giggles) In the beginning it was intimidating to watch myself but as I watched more, it was a really good opportunity for me to watch myself and look at how I engaged with my learners, my body language, my tempo range and my interaction with the class.
- If you had footage of yourself, would you prefer to do a self-reflective exercise? Definitely, it will benefit me to look at my delivery and see where I have mastered certain practices and where I could make improvements to my lesson.
- What challenges do you face presently as an Educator in the South African context?
- The large numbers of learners in the classroom.
- Providing intervention strategies and remediation for learners with barriers.
- Lack of specialised remedial skills to support learners who face barriers in the classroom.
- Specialised professional teams should be based at schools to support learners overcome their barriers to develop at their optimum best.
- To receive technological training and skills to take my learners into the 21st century classroom. We presently have no technology at our school and I am now taking the initiative to learn via the internet and from other stakeholders on how to equip our educators with the skills to deliver interactive lessons at our school. I strongly believe that Leaders grow leaders and this project is a whole school initiative.
- Financial restraints hinder the enhancement of the school environment.