How aspects of Nelson Mandela University’s vision, mission, values, educational purpose and graduate attributes are advanced in the teaching and learning process
Below I will show how I try to embrace the values in Vision 2020 by specifically providing examples in context:
- Expression of a multiplicity of opinions and provision for diversity: I encourage that students voice their opinions and answers that are different from other students, in order that space is created for multiple voices. This is one way of showing students that there is not always one right answer. Equally important, is preparing students for ‘Learning in an unknown future’ to which I have referred to in my philosophical section.
- Reward excellence: I have provided an opportunity for my 4th year research students to present their research at our local action research symposia hosted by the NMMU Education Action Research Unit. These students show very high commitment, thus, I provide for them a platform to present and speak, showing to them that their efforts are valued.
- Adopt innovative approaches: I have indicated in the previous section (Criterion 2) some of my innovative approaches. I have recently (June 2010) acquired the latest technology innovation, namely a Wii device that makes a data projector connected to a laptop interactive. One calibrates the screen projection and then the image becomes interactive. I have also started to engage with the Department of Education (May 2011) in order to create a WIKI Teacher Network in the Eastern Cape. I was invited by Dr DrikGreeff of the DOE to present these ideas to the DOE, which I did in May 2011 at their head Office. I also started to use the iPad as in interactive whiteboard since 2012 and make my own classroom videos.
- People centred: I try to interact with as many students as possible. I am also mindful of my students’ needs. This becomes evident in the responses that I have included in Criterion 4. I do not only share with my students what is in their modules, but I also share with them my personal primary school class experiences. Whenever I read interesting books, articles on the Internet or in newspapers related to educational issues, I share this with my students and invite debate. Our purpose is not just book knowledge, but the “Preparation for life itself”, as Dewey has stated.
- Respect the dignity of others AND Integrity: I do not have favourites. Every student is important and I make time for each of them when they require an appointment or brief feedback. I am honest and I am not shy to say that I have made a mistake when I have done so. I don’t engage in gossiping. I believe that what you see is what you get. Professionalism is very important to me and I try my utmost to motivate my students and to set a good example for them. The responses from students and staff members in Criterion 4 & 5 is testimony to this.
- Engagement and self-reflection: I constantly ask myself ‘How can I improve what I am doing’. But this is not where it stops, as I make a point of it to ask my students to voice their experiences of the classroom in writing. I use these responses to guide my teaching, for example, when some students replied that they would like more formal lecturing than group discussions on a topic, I try to accommodate their voices too, as not all students learn in the same manner and not all students like the same delivery method (Mellon, 1999). I try to make my students aware of the many issues that educators are confronted with, for example, students who do not read. I stick these newspaper clippings that I have referred to on the wall next to my office and invite the students to read them – thus, promoting reflection and debate.
- Compassionate and responsible citizens: I show my students that I care. If a student requires an extension for an assignment, I will grant it if he/she can provide adequate reasons. I clearly state this to my students, but I also make them aware of the fact that they will have to approach me within a reasonable period of time before the due date. Hence, I ask them what they see as a reasonable time beforehand. I also make a point of regularly informing them of the great responsibility that they carry as future teachers, in terms of leading this country and nurturing learners as the leaders of the future.
- Respect for the natural environment: I use technology to provide extra materials online in order to conserve the environment. Less printing on paper could mean fewer forests are being decimated.