We are sent to schools as student teachers so that we can identify ourselves and that we may be able to relate the practicality of the profession on personal basis. It becomes therefore a question to an individual if whether or not one has indeed met his/her expectations in the first of teaching as profession. One would argue that taking from the observation period, teaching is not his favourite, or perhaps he/she might have made a wrong choice. This is the time where we get to notice such instances, where some student teachers only discover themselves. Some schools had climates and environments that were not at all conducive for either a student teacher, or a learner for that matter. In some schools the leadership style is autocratic; the principal is the engine of everything. He/she never allows for any input by the teachers and his decision-making is final.Personally, at this stage I am well aware of where I am going. If it wasn’t for this observation I wouldn’t have been this certain about the status of my career. It helped me find that teaching profession cannot at all be about money, it can never be associated with money and leaves out love and care. Yes, I am tempted to agree that many times students opt for teaching when they fail to meet the requirements of their long awaited profession. That is why; many of them do not make good teachers which is the reason behind them not respecting the teaching profession. We are challenged to redefine and rethink our roles as educators, and to examine critically the interaction between ourselves, our learners and their parents, as well as the quality of education we deliver. DAY ONEHow do I start writing about day? Do I start from the beginning or from the end? It was a day with mixed sentiments; firstly, because of low self-esteem and lack of confidence. I blame the environment and culture as well. I wasn’t even sure if the way I walk was in line with the rules of the school or the expectations of the learners, but nevertheless I went to them. After the assembly, I went to principal’s office to remind him about my presence and he welcomed me with warms hands and was looking forward to working with me. He told me that they don’t do observations there, I will teach. He further introduced me to the HOD of my subject. She wasn’t as nice as the principal, and told me to wait for her for about 30 minutes. I waited as per the instruction, but she took longer than that and I sensed that she is not a nice person to work with. By that time, it was quiet at school, with no child moving up and down, only the teachers. Finally, I was given an opportunity in the afternoon hours to teach a grade 11 class and I did. I noticed that their behaviour is not the usual one, but I was happy with it. It was the first day; I couldn’t meet with all the teachers and get to sense the atmosphere in there.DAY TWOOn this day, I arrived at school very early so that I could see everything as it starts. I wanted to see how the learners respond when the bell rings for assembly time. The bell rang and they waited for the principal to come and ran after them so that they could go to assembly. There were few teachers at the assembly point, many of them were late, and they were always late any way. After that, learners went into their classes and the principal called all the student teachers for a short meeting so he said. The meeting started at around 8 am and ended at around 11 am. The principal, the deputies and the SGB wanted to warn us against ill behaviour that they had encountered with previous student teachers from Walter Sisulu University. It was said those student teachers behaved badly, especially last year. They attended SADTU event without the knowledge of the school and the school had to account for that. Nothing much happened this day, as most if not all of us student teachers wanted to clean the image of our institution.DAY THREEIt was a Wednesday and both my mentors were not available, they went for moderations so I had about 3 classes all to myself. The moderations were held in the school and so most of the teachers were busy with that. One thing I had notice with Mount Ayliff High School is that, if there is no teacher in the class, learners make the hell of noise and move up and down outside their classrooms. This was a day and it was a chaotic day. I went to a grade 10 class for Geography lesson and I could not get the full attention of the learners. They had a term they used to say it is free at school; they would say “lichithile”. The first time I heard this I couldn’t understand it or find the relevancy of it until one of the learners explained to me when I seemed confused. The other teachers, who were not on moderations sat in the staff room and couldn’t care less about the learners, only when they see the principal they run to classes and pretend as if they normally do so. And that’s how day there wrapped up.DAY FOURThe previous day before the school dismissed, we were told that the moderations would continue until the Friday of that week. It was on Thursday this, a very busy day for languages teachers. I noticed that there were few learners at the assembly point; others who were late were locked outside the gate by the security. They had to wait for the male deputy principal to call upon a number of other male teachers so that they would go there and punish those learners. To my surprise, the deputy principal came to our staff room as student teachers and said that all the female teachers who are free must follow him to the main gate. The 3 of us who were there followed him without hesitation, we were aware of what we were going to do but couldn’t say no because the deputy principal was commanding us. Upon our arrival at the gate, we found 4 male teachers who were already there. The deputy principal ordered that we be given pipes and give 3 letches to each learner. I talked with the deputy principal aside that I am not allowed to punish learners in that way since I am still a student teacher. He said I may be excused. DAY FIVEThis was a very short, perhaps because it was a month end for the teachers or because it was a last day for moderations. Nothing is worthy telling, the school dismissed at 10h00.DAY SIXThings started on a full swing on this second Monday of my observation. Everyone from the side of teachers seemed busy and wanted to get things done as fast as possible. The principal of the school was on everyone’s toes. One thing I had observed from that school is that teachers there are lazy, they only seem busy when the principal is around, in his absentia, nothing happens. So as the learners, they only behave when they see the principal moving up and down carrying a pipe.DAY SEVENOn this Tuesday I was asked by my mentor to invigilate a grade 12 Geography class for the test they were writing. She introduced me because I was never teaching grade 12’s so it was the first time they see me in their class and then left. It was a one hour test; I distributed the answer sheets and question papers. There were those boys at the back who refused to put their bags with books under their tables. I had to leave and call the mentor because I did not want to invite any problem outside my jurisdiction. My mentor came back as fast as she could for she expected such behaviour. She punished them and claimed that’s the only language they understand “punishment”. This day I learnt to leave things that are not really mine, so as not to invite unnecessary problems.DAY EIGHTIt was on a Wednesday, and I was asked by a male teacher to accompany him with the learners that play football to Mount Ayliff sports grounds, I did so without any hesitation because I am a football player as well. When we got there, there were others schools around Mount Ayliff. This was the best day I had with the learners, coaching them and affording them my expertise in football. I felt in control and they took me as their teacher because I am young just like them and so we understand each other better. On this day I learnt that being involved with the learners in extramural activities can be fun and build relationship with them.DAY NINEIt was a normal school day as normal. The sports organiser whom I went to the grounds with yesterday thanked me for sacrificing my time for the boys. Just after the break at 11h30, there were two boys from grade 11 who were fighting and one of them had a knife. Fortunately this happened in front of the gateman and quickly he managed to take the knife from the other boy before he could use it. The gateman reported this incident to the principal and their parents of these learners were called. When I got to that class for my English lesson, those two boys were not in class. One of the learners said that boys come to school with knifes every day; this was not the first incident. These boys were said to bring their parents the following day. On this day I learnt that teachers are not safe in schools these days, it is very much important for a teacher to be always awake.DAY TENThis was a very short and simple day. I went to principal’s office just early in the morning so that he could sign my university documents and thanked him for giving me such a wonderful opportunity to be part and parcel of his staff. He thanked me back, and said I am welcome next year. It was a Friday; teachers were rushing and left early.CONCLUSIONMy experience at high school was exceptionally well; there are things that I have learnt to do and not to do. I want to highlight one important thing that makes the school successful, if there is a live relationship amongst the hierarchy of the school, from the principal down the parents and learners. Academics alone do not make the best out of the school. These people are ought to work together for the interest of the school and the learners as the heart and soul of learning and teaching. I had also noticed that observation experience helped to know myself better and compare my capabilities with the expectations of the profession I am enrolled at. It handed an opportunity to learn myself better and actually see how far I can go with teaching as a profession. It gave me all the findings and I am the only person who makes the verdict.Lastly, learners are the key to school and family partnerships. The need to involve parents in their learning is vital. Teachers should be versatile and flexible, as it is said by scholars, in the teaching field, is not just a teacher, but sometimes can be a lawyer, a judge or a nurse to the learners. I have learnt that for schools to function properly there is a need for parent involvement. Parents are the community; the school is built within the community so the relationship amongst those is vital. A failure from one side may result in a problem for the whole combination.
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