As the winter chill settled over the Western Cape, educators from various schools and institutions gathered at the School of Education’s state-of-the-art Neville Alexander Building for the annual “Winter School” – a three-day programme of FREE Continued Professional Development workshops facilitated by education experts from UCT, CPUT, WCED and a range of NGOs. The event is organised by the Newly Qualified Teacher’s Project (http://nqt.co.za/), a collaboration between UCT and CPUT to support graduates of our teacher education programmes, through mentoring and professional development. The project has been funded by HCI and the Saville Foundation since its inception in 2016.
‘UCT’s School of Education was running holiday workshops for teachers back in the 1920s! So, the Newly Qualified Teacher’s Project’s “Winter School” is building on a very long tradition of social engagement. Our annual CPD workshops support in-service teachers to deepen their knowledge, broaden their skill base as well as providing a space where teachers with a passion for learning can connect with colleagues. At Winter School this year we welcomed teachers from schools across the Western Cape who came to learn from and with the educational specialists who ran a wide range of ‘hands-on’ workshops – there was something for everyone.’ (Dr Kate Angier, Chair of the NQT Project)
Barriers to learning workshop
Teachers learning the basics of sign language
- I loved learning sign language
- It was good to about everyone’s different experiences of disabilities
- The workshop made me think about making my class an inclusive space
- Exposure to sign language was good and learning how sensitive classroom environment
- Interesting to learn the historical context of how apartheid influenced disability in education
- Learnt about how to be a good support to my learners and very interesting ways to accommodate learners with disabilities, especially vision and hearing
The event has been receiving accolades for its focus on empowering both newly qualified and experienced teachers to enhance their professional skills, discover new approaches to education, and engage in collaborative learning. The workshops provide valuable resources, and interactive sessions on innovative teaching and learning methodologies.
Malusi Ntoyapi, Programmes and Innovation Manager from the HCI Foundation, visited Winter School and attended some of the Writing workshop. ‘The part of the session that I got was amazing! I really wish my language teacher at school used the facilitator’s writing and thinking process to teach us. It was encouraging to see young teachers willing to learn and reflect. Well done to you and everyone for organising a successful winter school.’
A Holistic Approach to Supporting Teachers
The sessions covered a wide variety of topics. There were many subject workshops looking at particular topics in languages, Maths, Business Studies, Sciences, Physical Education, Creative Arts, and Consumer Studies. There were also sessions looking at the digital possibilities in the classroom, critical and creative thinking, project-based learning, meaningful assessment, e-assessment and how to help learners overcome their barriers to learning. But teachers also flocked to the workshops that focused on matters beyond pedagogy, for example conditions of employment, SACE profiles and the very popular Mindfulness and Peace Discipline sessions.
‘Newly Qualified Teachers soon learn that being a teacher is so much more than just teaching your subject. Today, teachers are burdened with a heavy administration and extra-mural load. Many schools do not have the necessary resources or even textbooks. Classrooms are over-crowded. Many teachers are dealing with psychosocial issues that learners bring to the classroom (without having had any dedicated training for this). Learners are struggling with the impact of gender-based violence, gangsterism, economic crises, teenage pregnancies, and trauma. In addition to this, teachers are often expected to teach subjects that they did not train for to meet schools’ full timetables. All this can be very overwhelming. Winter School was set up to try and provide teachers with some tools, resources and contacts they need to navigate this challenging and crucial space. And to try and show teachers they are appreciated and the work they do is hugely valued.’ (Judy Sacks, NQT Project Manager).
The NQT Winter School was attended by teachers who have only been teaching for a few months to veterans who have been in the classroom for as many as 36 years.
Building a Community of “Teachers who support Teachers”
Feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive, with teachers expressing their appreciation for the emphasis on continuous learning and professional development. The Winter School's ability to cater to the specific needs of educators and provide practical takeaways has been widely praised.
Bilingual and multilingual teaching strategies workshop
Dr Xolisa Guzula (UCT SOE) captivating teachers in her Bilingual and Multilingual Strategies Sessions
- Liked the ideas for promoting meaning through multilingualism and using all language skills and resources in different modalities
- Very valuable
- Interesting not to worry about correcting as that stops the flow of ideas
- Useful to use learners’ linguistic repertories in class to enhance learning
- Good to see how to be inclusive in the classroom with languages
- Thank you for the practical strategies to incorporate multilingualism
- Good to see value being placed on African languages as much as English and Afrikaans
- Language as a resource rather than a barrier
- Informative and interesting
- Diversity must always be considered
Melanie Sadeck, who manages the CPUT branch of the NQT Project, said, ‘The highlight for me was the Consumer Studies session - with established teachers, NQTs and teacher educators all coming together to talk shop, share ideas and information - almost into the evening! That group had enough energy to take them a long way forward on their teaching journey. I do believe that this is the start of a vibrant professional learning community.’
Some of the feedback from Winter School Workshops
- Very informative. I learnt a lot. Perfect presentation.
- So useful. And I connected with colleagues in the profession
- Learnt about the importance of 21st century resources and the environment of learning
- The resources and tools were so useful
- Loved the activities and games we did together
- Loved working in groups and sharing ideas
- The presenter were hard-working, engaging and enthusiastic!
- Brilliant digital resources to create an interactive learning environment
- Great, well-paced and very informative!
- Enjoyed meeting new people
By incorporating the latest teaching methodologies, trends, and technologies, the NQT Winter School ensures that educators stay up-to-date with the ever-evolving landscape of education. This not only benefits the teachers themselves but also positively impacts the students they teach, creating a ripple effect of enhanced learning experiences.
This sense of belonging to a professional community has proven to be invaluable for educators, especially those who may feel isolated in their own schools. The Winter School provides a platform for teachers to share their successes and challenges, lean on each other for support, and collectively work towards improving the quality of education for all our learners.
Teachers engaged in the Digital Skills workshop.