Doctors, firefighters, presidents, artists, and all other professions under the sun usually share the same foundation – they were all groomed by teachers. As teachers, we devote our lives to imparting knowledge to others and encourage learners to reach for the stars and follow their dreams.
Every October, we celebrate National Teachers’ Appreciation Month. In a statement emphasising the importance of teachers, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said, “You have become our hope to produce and harness future leaders. You are mothers of all professions from whose hands every country is built.”
I have worked in the education sector for many years, and I have seen first-hand how the teaching profession may seem simple and straightforward, however, as teachers, we often occupy various roles, including mentors, coaches, and counsellors. All these roles call on different skill sets, requiring teachers to operate with ultra-high levels of emotional intelligence.
Additionally, Dr. Moolla mentioned, “having worked as a teacher for many years, I can firmly say we face many challenges”. A recent challenge that teachers across the globe faced was Covid-19. According to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, school closures were “an unprecedented risk to children’s education, protection, and well-being.” The school closures also highlighted the growing digital divide in South Africa. During the pandemic, some teachers and learners were not equipped to shift to online/virtual learning. This was a time when all sectors needed to come together to help bridge the divide.
Partnerships between the government and educational institutions allowed for unique solutions to emerge to address teachers’ challenges. The Marang Education Trust, in partnership with Pearson, does this by employing former teachers to make sure that schools in rural areas have enough capacity to facilitate the implementation of the Department of Basic Education’s policies.
These former teachers, dedicate their lives to training teachers in rural areas and teaching them new ways of delivering content and dealing with learners in a way that facilitates more successful learning outcomes.
Nondumiso Mnyamana, a former teacher who now works as a regional supervisor for the Pearson Marang Education Trust (PMET), says, “I contribute to the lives and work of teachers through the work that I do in schools. Having been a teacher for many years, I know the hard work teachers put into shaping the lives of learners. Supporting teachers on curriculum differentiation, mathematics, and reading to learn is gratifying as I get to work with all the teachers in all the subjects. It is, thus, heartwarming to interact with and touch the lives of each teacher.”
Echoing Mnyamana’s sentiments, Thandiwe Mthimunye, Leadership and Management facilitator at PMET says, “I feel privileged to know that the work we’re doing at PMET is supporting communities and furthering quality education. The work we do benefits teachers, school management teams, parents and most importantly learners.”
Like Mnyamana and Mthimunye, I am a former teacher who understands the value of teaching, and my way of celebrating teachers is by paying it forward. Our work in Marang Education Trust aims to show that other teachers can enhance their practice and be motivated to continue to give their best and give of themselves wholeheartedly to the young people in their care.
This Teacher’s Appreciation Month, show the teachers you know some extra love, and tell them how much you appreciate them or how they have impacted on you. All teachers are superheroes and should be respected because they are the ones who truly shape the future of our country.
This article was written by Dr Nadeen Moolla, an educational psychologist, who manages research and development at Marang Education Trust, Pearson South Africa’s non-profit social impact arm involved in teacher and school development in township and rural schools. Dr Moolla shares why teachers should be celebrated every day.