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Teacher training and what COVID-19 taught us – Keep up to date with technology, teaching practice and your CPTD

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COVID-19 has wreaked havoc – not only on the world as a whole – but especially on the South African educational system. As a result of this global pandemic, schools were shut down and only reopened in phases from June. The Department of Education has trimmed down the curriculum and carried some parts over to 2021. Teachers and teacher unions are still concerned about timing and lack of protection for teachers and learners.

Unfortunately, there is no time estimate on the pandemic, and until when restrictions on social distancing will remain in place. Teachers have had to move from their classrooms – where they have had years worth of experience in an interactive environment with their learners – to an unknown world of online teaching and e-learning. Professional development for teachers and upholding the standard for CPTD points have now become more vital than ever during this challenging time.

When looking at the Education Development Trust, which has significant expertise in remote and blended continuous professional development (CPD) support for teachers, as well as, a specialist centre for the use of technology in teaching and learning, the London Connected Centre (CLC), it is so important for South Africa to keep the educational system up to scratch and promote teacher development. Certain schools in South Africa have limited, to no access to technological resources and in times like these, it is needed to upskill teachers more than worrying about the latest and greatest technologies in sanitising when most schools are not even equipped with the necessary PPE and sufficient sanitizer.

The Basic Education Department created a COVID-19 guide for teachers addressing health aspects, as well as resources they could access when teaching remotely. This is how our South African teachers responded to this major shift caused by the pandemic:

  • Lacking experience, teachers have had to adapt to online teaching and to use online learning systems. 
  • Teachers are using platforms like Zoom, WhatsApp, and Google messaging services that allow video calls.
  • The WhatsApp messaging service has been repurposed for learning. Schools have created WhatsApp learning groups to take pictures of book pages and send them to parents, while learners receiving teaching material through their smartphone apps have enabled classes to continue. 
  • Teachers have had to deal with makeshift classrooms and paste pieces of paper against a wall – otherwise known as ‘whiteboards’ – and recorded themselves.

The Department of Education needs to come to the party with regards to teacher development. It is of utmost importance that schools and teachers are to be informed by the latest evidence on adult learning. Regardless of whether the programme is delivered in a face-to-face, remote, or blended format, it should follow the same principles of effective professional development identified by research.

Using video is also a wonderful and effective way of supporting teachers when it comes to technical training, as well as integrating different teaching methods and building a community where teachers can rely on each other and expand their horizons when it comes to different teaching styles. In terms of activities to build up CPTD points, teachers need to be motivated and have the necessary resources to complete activities online and feel supported by their employers.

As long as the virus is visiting, South Africa needs to adapt and equip their teachers with the needed resources to rebuild and make up for the lost time in the educational landscape. The COVID relief fund would have indeed come in handy for necessities like this, wouldn’t it Mr President?

Teacher training and what COVID-19 taught us – Keep up to date with technology, teaching practice and your CPTD

AUTHOR

Inge Liebenberg

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