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‘The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains’

A teacher is a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue. Informally the role of teacher may be taken on by anyone.

Yo School Magazine recently had a conversation with Educator Lee-Ann Stoffels about taking up a teaching career and how one can navigate their way within the profession.

“In 2007, I moved from Johannesburg back to Cape Town to study for my B.Ed. in 2008, at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, after a battle with deciding what I wanted to do…that was work with children,” says Stoffels.

“At that point, I had been a waitress, dropped out of the University of Johannesburg (UJ), after studying Travelling and Tourism for about 7-8 months, been a telephonic Debt Collector for two companies, became and Event Coordinator after studying through INTEC and decided that my life needed direction. I had realised that having an education was the best weapon one could have in life.

“My mother use to tell my sister and myself that if we didn’t want to go to school, we would not be welcomed in her house, because she wanted her children to have an education and be educated. Like any typical teenager, at that time, I always thought that my mother was overreacting, but today I can honestly say that I am incredibly grateful to her for all her threats and tough love.

“I studied for four years and was determined to prove people wrong who claimed many things about the person I was or would become. In my first year, I took out a NSFAS loan, but due to my results, I was able to obtain a Fundza Lushaka Bursary for the remaining three years of my studies, but this meant that I had to stay focussed and maintain my marks.

“The day I started my first job, after strings of interviews, I was excited but extremely nervous, but that doesn’t compare to the day I graduated, wore my gown, stood on the stage and received my degree. I was ecstatic and over the moon and that is a feeling no one can ever take from me,” added Stoffels.

“As an educator, I believe that every single young person can achieve anything and everything they put their hearts and minds to. I know that I tend to be hard on my learners but that is only because I honestly believe that their potential is so high, and I want them to achieve greater heights. I believe that no matter where you come from, who or what your parents are or which name brands you wear or don’t wear, your determination, your faith and your trust in yourself and God will open many doors for you.

“For teacher’s starting in this profession, I can honestly say that it opens doors for you. While being a teacher, I’ve been become an HIV/Aids Counsellor through a Governmental initiative, obtained my British Council CiSelt Certificate, which means that I am able to teach English anywhere in the world, also through a Governmental and British Council initiative and have been to a few positive workshops.

“If you do not believe that you are able to make a difference or you aren’t willing to work during your school holidays, or willing to have sleepless nights about a learner in your class who has a problem that you are trying to assist with, aren’t willing to be a mother/father, security guard, police officer, judge and jury, doctor, nurse, psychologist, guidance teacher, aunt/uncle, drive to learner’s houses to find out if they are alright if they haven’t been to school or assist them in any way, then this profession is not for you. Teaching requires passion, passion for children, passion for your job and passion to be able and willing to make a difference, even if it is just in one child’s life,” adds Stoffels.

“If you are still studying, then get involved with the schooling system during your observation period, you will experience and learn a lot about the profession.

Look forward to tears, laughter, entertainment, creativity, sadness, fear, fun and a whole lot of different opinions, ideas and thoughts and always remember why you chose to be in the most challenging, yet exciting, profession in the world,” concludes Stoffels.

William Arthru Ward said: ‘The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.’

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