Lesson Plans Disgrace


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by J.M. Coetzee

The teaching practice co-ordinator met with a number of school principals before sending student teachers out to different schools. The co-ordinator selected suitable schools for teaching practice by visiting the schools, meeting with the principals and teachers, and explaining the reasons why VUT wished to establish a working professional relationship with them. The teaching practice co-ordinator then entered into an agreement with the relevant SMTs that. The last implied that student teachers would be afforded the opportunity to participate in all school activities.

Beside the fact that students were teachers-in-training, they had to be given the opportunity to integrate in a practical way and had to apply the theoretical knowledge and newly acquired teaching skills. Students had to be exposed to, for example, completing class registers, marking learners' books, attending staff meetings, helping with extramural activities, to mention but a few duties. During the school visits, lecturers had to give the student teachers written and oral feedback.

Improvements were commended, shortcomings highlighted and suggestions made on how to, for example, overcome anxiety, use non- verbal language to enhance their teaching and learning activities, and how to apply a variety of strategies to improve their teaching. The educators, or school-based mentors, also had to observe the students' progress, behaviour and attitude at school, and assess the student teachers' practical teaching and learning activities according to specific guidelines given to them by the VUT mentors.

Setting of the study. A qualitative research approach was used in the study conducted at the different public schools in the Vaal Triangle region. The students chose schools in this region because they wanted to be close to the university since they had to attend classes in the evening. It should be noted that most of the students were from other countries, such as Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia, so they were not familiar with the local languages Sesotho and Afrikaans whereas the great majority of learners and educators in the schools do not use the language of instruction English outside the classroom.

Lecturers visited students during their teaching practice period. This was possible because of the small number of students in the PGCE programme and because all students went to schools in the Vaal Triangle region. Interviews were conducted to explore student teachers' positive experiences and challenges faced during teaching practice. The interviewer directed and encouraged dialogue by asking reflective and probing questions. The themes were derived from the key research questions. Literature assisted in identifying the final categories. Major themes were identified in the data analysis.

Each of these themes is discussed in detail in the following section. For example, they had been taught the code of conduct, professional ethics, duties and responsibilities of educators and, based on that training, the students were able to handle themselves in a professional manner and could also judge the professionalism of the educators in the schools. Most respondents said that they found teaching practice very interesting because they were able to apply what they had studied and they enjoyed teaching because they were conversant with the subject content.

One student teacher commented thus, " I discovered that learners became enthusiastic and they actively participated in activities when they were praised and rewarded for their efforts ". However, it should be noted that the respondents in this study reported that, despite the thorough teacher preparation, they found that it was not easy to teach because the learners were not co-operative, they did not do assignments, were noisy and were not actively involved in classroom activities.

Moreover there was a language barrier. This affected the student teachers' performance during teaching practice and their perception of the teaching profession in general. Timing of the teaching practice. All respondents pointed out that teaching practice started too late in the year when most teachers had almost completed their syllabus and were busy doing revision in preparation for the end-of-year examinations. It was a challenge having to do both at the same time. Relationship between mentors and student teachers. Each student teacher was assigned to a qualified and experienced classroom teacher.

The overall impression of the mentors given by the student teachers was fairly positive. Respondents indicated that the mentors were supportive and always willing to help. They said that the mentors gave the student teachers valuable advice and shared their skills and experiences.

One respondent intimated thus, " We were working together with the teacher. She was a nice lady and easy to work with ". One student teacher had this to say about his mentor:. I am indebted to my mentor. She dedicated her time to ensure that I did the right thing and gained good experience in the process. She inspired me and helped me translate the theory I learnt into practice. She enhanced the skills I acquired during the course, for example preparing a lesson plan. I saw her as a role model and I enjoyed her teaching style.

Student teachers appreciated mentors who treated them with respect. One student teacher commented about the mentor thus:. I never thought I would pursue the teaching career, but I am now seriously considering venturing in the real teaching world. We worked very well with the class teacher.

She assisted me on how to make a lesson plan, and disciplining learners. The teacher sits in class whilst I am teaching and this helps to maintain discipline. To these student teachers, teaching practice had given hands-on experience in schools and it helped them to make the decision to become teachers.

Despite the above positive remarks by the majority of respondents other respondents expressed negative experiences regarding their mentors. These respondents indicated that they did not get any support from the school-based mentors. One respondent commented thus:. He is just enjoying himself, he is a free man, he does not come to class, he just gave me the textbook, showed me where he had stopped and that was all. I feel that teacher should still take responsibility of his class and not throw everything at me. I don't have a problem but I strongly feel that as a class teacher, he should be available to provide the support and guidance because I am still learning.

Similar responses were noted in the study conducted by Maphosa et al. Some respondents felt that mentors did not have any confidence in them. The following remarks were captured from a response:. Despite the fact that my mentor respects me a lot and she is guiding me very well, she does not trust me.

I can only teach if she is around.

A Royal Disaster

At first I appreciated the fact that she sat in my classroom when I taught because she helped to control the class but as time went on I realised that she did not think I was capable of handling the class on my own. I feel mentors should have confidence in us because we feel we have got appropriate training and we can handle the classes on our own. I have only taught once because the teacher thinks that I will delay her.


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The issue raises questions as to how student teachers were supposed to learn and build up the confidence to go out and teach without having been given a chance to try out. Such unprofessional conduct could have demoralised the student teachers and could have affected their preparedness and willingness to venture into the real teaching world. Student teachers induction into the school. Respondents from three of the schools noted that there was no general initiation in place when they first arrived at the schools.

They were not introduced to staff members, as attested to by the following statement: " They do not have staff meetings so we were not introduced formally. Other educators and learners just see us there. Some respondents felt a sense of alienation. One student teacher remarked: " We were never introduced to staff. This affected us psychologically because we felt like strangers. We never felt that sense of belonging ". Such feelings of alienation resulted in panic and a lack of self-confidence, which in turn reduced the effectiveness of teaching practice and negatively affected student teachers' attitude towards the teaching profession.

On the other hand, a good reception from the headmasters and teachers contributed to a positive attitude towards teaching, as confirmed by the statement by one of the student teachers, who had received a good reception:. We were introduced to the staff.

Learners were told to respect us. Another student teacher affirmed thus:. I was given a warm welcome. I feel as if I have been there for a whole year. All teachers as well as administrators treat me like a permanent teacher and not as a student teacher. They have made my stay at the school the most exciting experience that I could ever have in my life. Attitude of other educators in the school. Respondents intimated that other staff members who were not mentors did not make them feel welcome and they did not respect them.

We are not respected as their colleagues. They just order us around. They treat us like errand boys. Someone ordered me to supervise her class while she went to fetch her child. I would have appreciated it if she had asked me in a collegial manner and not ordering me around like a small kid. I did it but I did not appreciate the manner in which I was ordered. The language was also a challenge, especially for those coming from other countries who did not understand the common languages of communication used in a particular school.

One student teacher lamented thus:.

COMMENTS (29)

During the morning meetings I would just sit and watch them talk but would not know what they were talking about and sometimes they would laugh and I would feel left out and a bit idiotic. For example, there was a day they were informed in Afrikaans that the following day was a casual day and because I did not understand the language I came the following morning dressed in a formal wear while the rest of the staff were dressed casually. I felt stupid. Another student teacher felt that the educators were unprofessional and were taking advantage of student teachers. One student teacher had this to say:.

I felt that other teachers were taking me as a cheap tool of convenience [personal assistant] as they would just send me to do things such as taking cups to the staff room and controlling learners in the corridors. The teacher would shout at me in front of learners, which I found very demeaning. I found that particular teacher to be unprofessional He was never prepared for his class and he was always late. That demoralised me. These teachers are a disgrace to the profession and given choice I will opt for another profession other than teaching.

Involvement in other school activities. Teaching involves many experiences, and student teachers are required to get involved in all aspects of the school.

Teaching disgrace using Second Life

They were treated as termed by one student teacher, as " second class citizens " in the school. We are not invited for staff meetings so we never know what takes place in the meetings. We would like to be involved and attend those meetings because we believe that we can give some valuable input.

Another respondent commented that they were made to feel insignificant:. We are given a small table in the corner of the staff room and we don t feel like we are part of them. We are doing the same work yet we are excluded from the staff meetings. After the briefing we are expected to take on the responsibilities. One respondent remarked that they were even excluded from sport activities. One respondent remarked,. Learners were very unruly because there were no effective disciplinary measures taken against misconduct.

Learners were allowed to use cell phones in class which I found very disruptive. Another respondent indicated,. Learners gave an impression that we are their age mates so they don't respect us. There is no discipline at all. Learners are rude. It is not easy to control the class.

Even when the teacher is there, learners would be playing cards and eating in class. All respondents admitted that they found it very difficult to implement OBE effectively because of the lack of learner support materials LSMs in all schools, the large numbers of students in class, poor learner discipline and the time limitation. Overall, respondents indicated that the time allocated for the lessons was very limited, at most 45 minutes.

One student teacher remarked. Resources to facilitate teaching and learning.

The results obtained from the respondents with regard to resources revealed that the schools did not have resources to facilitate the teaching and learning process. Learners did not have textbooks, which made teaching difficult. One respondent remarked that his school did not have a library and there was a shortage of textbooks. It was also revealed by the majority of respondents that students had to share textbooks in class.

This was felt to be time-consuming and learners ended up making noise. Respondents indicated that they did not have access to the photocopying machine when they wanted to make copies of worksheets and other LSMs for learners; they had to seek the assistance of the school secretary who in most cases was unwilling to make copies for student teachers. Well, let's think about disgrace on a more personal level. We're not trying to say that we've all done bad things, but we are all familiar with what it's like for something embarrassing or shameful to happen to us — experiences that make us want to crawl into a hole and come out ten years later.

Maybe your best friend told that popular kid all about the huge, embarrassing crush you have on him or her. Maybe you studied like crazy for a test but then bombed it. Maybe you played a prank on someone that hurt their feelings more than you meant to. Maybe you forgot your lines during the school play and had two hundred people in the audience look at you like you were stupid. No matter what, everybody goes through moments like these.

So, what in the world does this have to do with a story about a middle-aged South African university professor in the s? Well, nothing and everything. We might not know what it's like to be punished for having an affair with a student, but we know how bad it feels to want to be with someone who doesn't like you back. We might not know what it's like to be the victim of a violent home invasion, but we do know what it's like to be truly, deeply scared and worried. We don't know what it's like to deal with a daughter who has been brutally hurt, but we do know what it's like to look for the right words to say and come up empty.

The characters of Disgrace go through some unimaginably tough experiences that most of us haven't been through, but the emotions that they display and the shame that they feel belong to all of us. All rights reserved. Cite This Page. Logging out…. Logging out You've been inactive for a while, logging you out in a few seconds I'm Still Here! W hy's T his F unny?

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