Criterion 4: Regarded by students as having been taught by an excellent teacher/facilitator
I am extremely passionate about what I do. My wife has often said to me that I care more about my job and my students than I care for my family. I do invest a great deal more time in all that I do, hence, I have often said to myself that my employer pays one salary, but actually it is getting much more.
I think it is fair to say that my commitment becomes clear from my students’ and fellow colleagues’ responses in Appendices B6 to B13. I do not profess to know everything, but what I do profess is that I am always willing to learn and that I care. The CRAR3FS2 model and acronym that I have developed for teacher development in collaboration with the participants’ feedback during a teacher development project; summarizes my ideas, values and beliefs related to my students. These elements are the following:
C = CARE
R = RELATE
A = ASSESS
R3 = REFLECT, READ & RE-PLAN
F = FEEDBACK
S2 = SHARE & SUPPORT
I do believe that I CARE, that I RELATE well to my students and to staff members and that I am respected by them, that I constantly ASSESS myself and REFLECT on what I have done, where I am going, what I can improve and how I can do it. I also READ what my students write in my class questionnaires and try to accommodate what they see as important or what they want, if it is possible and if it could enhance their learning experiences. I RE-PLAN a great deal if I see something is not working and I provide constant FEEDBACK to my students of what I see is going well and the areas where I see we need extra effort and commitment in. I also create opportunities for students to share how they feel and I also share with them how I feel. I provide extra opportunities for support, for example the student-study groups that I have referred to previously in another section.
As an indication of how willing I am to SUPPORT my students’ needs, I have arranged for extra classes in the afternoons in a time slot where the students do not have lectures. I have used these extra sessions to SUPPORT those students who felt that they needed extra assistance. I have done exactly the same for my in-service students at Missionvale when I see that there is a need. Thus, I give a great deal of myself.
The evidence that I do care, and that I do have a good reputation among my students, will become evident from the extracts below. I am of the opinion that I am doing the Nelson Mandela University proud.
Bukelwa Kumalo (2018):
During our final year Faculty of Education Celebrations Awards in November 2018, this lady thanked me personally in her speech on behalf of her and all the students. My response to her and her reply follow:
Jarren Gangiah (2018):
His response to me in November 2018 follows below:
Donnae Shone (2018):
Her recognition for walking the extra mile and making a difference from the 'Beyond the Classroom Leadership Programme4. Golden Key Society Award:
Ntomboxolo Mpofu: Hellping her during tough times (2018)
From: Mpofu, Ntomboxolo, (Miss) (s206620240)
Sent: Wednesday, April 17, 2019 12:46:03 PM
To: Du Plessis, Andre (Prof) (Summerstrand South Campus)
Good Day Prof
I trust you're well. You may not remember me but I was one of the PGCE 2018 students who once came to you in your office around April last year because I was giving up on my studies. On our graduation day I looked for you because I wanted to take a pic with you and show my kids this good hearted man who literally saved me from making/taking a very unfavourable decision of giving up on my studies but I couldn't find you, I guess I came out of the hall too late.
Anyway without taking much of your time Prof I want to pass my sincere gratitude to you, if it wasn't for you I wouldn't have finished my studies as my situation at home at the time was too much for me and forcing me to give up on my studies but I came to you, you listened, advised and prayed for me. Thank you so much Professor Du Plessis, the passion and sincere care you showed us all was amazing and great to witness.
I passed my PGCE Cum Laude and I have you to thank. I may not be working yet but I am grateful I was able to finish what I started and pursue my passion of a career in Education.
Thank you again Prof.
From: Du Plessis, Andre (Prof) (Summerstrand South Campus)
Sent: Wednesday, April 17, 2019 1:07:36 PM
To: Mpofu, Ntomboxolo, (Miss) (s206620240)
Subject: Re: Gratitude
I am speechless. Thank you so much for these words. I am very happy for you. God bless. You made my day.
4. Golden Key Society: Lecturer Awards 2018:
I shared the invitation via WhatApp with my wife, my pillar and support:
I felt very small, indeed still small at this point in time, when I received and read how some of my students experience my classes and how they perceive me as a person. I conclude by letting more of their voices speak:
I would hereby like to take the opportunity to thank you for your help with extra maths classes. It has really made a big difference to our understanding of the subject. I would like to thank you for your time and patience and allowing us to attend the extra maths classes, even while we were not in your maths group.
You have shown in so many ways what real teaching is all about. Offering up your time on a Friday afternoon to teach extra maths, is commendable. One can really se your passion for your work, through the way you teach. This has really stood out for me. I trust that your dedication not only to your subject, but also to all students, does not go unnoticed. That is why I would like to nominate you as a candidate for lecturer of the year! I really think you deserve it!” [Rowayda Fortuin, 2nd year student]
Another one wrote:
I just want to thank you for encouraging me to be the best maths teacher. I learned a lot these few months. MY PRAYER FOR YOU IS THAT YOU NEVER LOSE YOU PASSION FOR TEACHING HERE AT NMMU(as you know that we as 1st years going through a lot-emotions ,pressure, etc.). I see you as mentor and not my lecturer. One day I want to be just like you- I mean passionate, committed, encouraging, motivated, MAKING A DIFFERENCE . You made me work hard, push me beyond my limits. I thank God for a lecture like you. [Ntonio Martins, 1st year student]
Tarryn Govoni stated:
I have always found Mr. Du Plessis a very passionate and enthusiastic lecturer. His love for mathematics and his passion to see children and students enjoy mathematics and succeed in their study of the subject has proved to be very inspirational. I have learned much knowledge from his vast pool of experience that he has brought with him from his career as a school teacher into his position as a lecturer. He always strived to “go the extra mile” and do more than simply teach the required curriculum. He has endeavored to seek every opportunity to prepare us for our role as teachers by sharing personal stories and nuggets of truths and advice from his years at various schools. I always felt that he never just “did the job” of teaching us. Mr. Du Plessis is also very professional in his position as lecturer. He has always been extremely punctual for class and I can honestly testify that he has never failed to be well-prepared and organized, even amidst very busy times both personally and professionally.” [Tarryn Govoni, 4th year student]
A senior student commented:
He demonstrates an exceptional flair for transfer of knowledge and mastery of educationally sound terminology. I have come to know Dr Andre Du Plessis as an exceptional and brilliant teacher – one who has the capability to stretch the ability of his students to their maximum potential, to encourage one to go beyond one’s own expectations. His friendly, yet firm nature makes it easy to discuss challenging issues without making the student feel inferior or incapable and he gives praise for work well done. I experience Dr Andre Du Plessis as a source of knowledge, a master of his field, an inspiration, and a “colourless” human being. In our society, people are so aware of race, colour, religion, and the ills of apartheid but in my interaction with Dr Du Plessis I have not sensed myself as being of a different race, colour or religion.” [Brenda Subramardien, MEd student]
I was quite touched about the above. If this is really me, then I must do something ‘right’ sometimes and I am very grateful that I have a positive impact on some of my students. It seems to me that I am able to contribute to the building of a new socially-just South Africa.
My new MEd student that I started working with in 2011, taken over from Dr McFarlane who has retired, has the following to say [He completed his MEd and graduated cum laude in 2013:
02 March 2011
Student feedback regarding Supervisor
In the time that Dr Du Plessis has been working with me, I have found him to be open, friendly and deeply committed to assisting me with my research.
Dr Du Plessis is always available to meet with me on request and provides sound advice, new insights and a multitude of ideas. We have been meeting at least once a month and I highly appreciate the advice given. Dr Du Plessis promotes debate around issues and accepts the views that I present.
Communication is always available, be it via cellphone, sms or e-mail. Dr Du Plessis responds timeously, at all hours of the day and even over weekends.
I receive regular information with regard to source materials and links to other electronic sources. Dr Du Plessis has also provided me with much reading material and is willing to assist me in gathering resource material from other centres outside of NMMU.
Dr Du Plessis has provided much support in the drafting of my questionnaire, interview schedule and journal in preparation for my field research later. In terms of my ethical research application, Dr Du Plessis ensured that all the relevant forms were forwarded to me and devoted time and effort in assisting me with the timeous completion thereof.
The level of commitment displayed by Dr Du Plessis is beyond my expectation, and I believe that I can gain invaluable guidance and support from such a dedicated supervisor.
Thank you for all the effort.
Student no. 207096499
A second year student wrote this email:
Good day sir!!
I have read about the conference and your speech. I am so excited about the minister praising you. How are things going? Are you still at South Campus? We miss you. You have been an inspiration last year. I will always treasure the things I've learned from you.
May you make your mark and influence our Education System!!!!
All of us- you know my friends - we really miss you. Maybe that is part of life, you learn from people and then you must apply that.
Good luck. May The Lord bless you, your family, church and your job!!!
Another second year student wrote this email:
From: Johnson, Colette (Miss) (s211087734) [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 10:07 AM
To: Du Plessis, Andre (Dr) (Summerstrand South Campus)
Cc: Johnson, Colette (Miss) (s211087734)
Good Morning Dr. Du Plessis.
This e-mail might be long over due but I just want to send out a huge Congratualtions on your outstanding achievements by winning the NMMU emerging engagement ward !!
I would like to add that you are a true inspiration to me and my fellow students. You possess qualities of dedication, determination, innovation and immense sincerity.
I was in your class last semester for PICM 201. It was a complete privilege and honour to be lectured by you and I that hope our paths will cross in the future, your method of instruction is enjoyable and comfortable.
I am humbled and I hope that one day I will be the same teacher that you are, ONE THAT MAKES A DIFFERNCE!!
Have a lovely day!!
Recently, I received the following from a fourth year student:
From: OReilly, Caryn (Miss) (s20537269)
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 6:40 PM
To: Du Plessis, Andre (Dr) (Summerstrand South Campus)
Cc: Le Roux, Tashrika (Miss) (s211199761)
Subject: PICM FEEDBACK
Our experience with PICM was interesting, enjoyable and we were eager to participate in activities to discover possible answers. This experience was not solely due to the specific subject but also as a result of the lecturer.
Dr Du Plessis made use of various teaching and learning strategies like individual activities and assignments as well as group activities. The group activities were interesting since examples were done practically by the students. This ensures that we understand and grasp the reasons for working out and finding the correct answers (e.g. the formula for finding the area of a circle). Appropriate questions could then be formulated and asked where misunderstandings did arise.
Dr Du Plessis never gave us the answers to questions instead he would use scenarios to allow us to realise why our way of thinking could not deliver the correct answers. Additionally examples and questioning was used to elicit our thinking.
At times this made one feel despondent to answer since the idea of giving the 'wrong' answer can be intimidating. In the end you realise this is actually what learning is about thus making teaching and learning an unforgettable experience.
Another fourth year student wrote:
From: Le Roux, Tashrika (Miss) (s211199761)
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 6:24 PM
To: Du Plessis, Andre (Dr) (Summerstrand South Campus)
Dr. Du Plessis was my PICM lecturer and just like any other lecturer, one is never sure what to expect. Due to my expectations of him, I was fearful of him in the beginning. He turned out to be one of the best lecturers I have come across during my studies. His lectures were interactive and I loved the technology he used when he taught us. There were no boring PowerPoint presentations and he recorded our lectures using his IPAD. This was interesting because we could revisit the work that was covered in class when preparing for tests and exams. Whenever my friends and I struggled to understand what was expected of us when doing assignments and so forth, we could always go to him for clarity. He will go out of his way for us and even respond to emails over weekends and midnights, if he was sitting in front of his computer. Even though he is no longer my lecturer, I feel comfortable asking him for help when I need it and he has never turned me down. I wish to be a teacher like Mr. Du Plessis and I wish to be technologically literate so that I can draw my learners’ attention in the future.
Recently, a fourth year group wrote the following after my assistance with their research project
From: Mc Bryne, Joy (Miss) (s211134686)
Sent: Monday, May 26, 2014 1:02 PM
To: Jordaan, Christina (Dr) (Summerstrand Campus South); Du Plessis, Andre (Dr) (Summerstrand South Campus)
Cc: Greene, Kristin (Miss) (s210053666); Badman, Michelle (Miss) (s211202649); Bennin, Monique (Miss) (s211134503); Frauenstein, Jaime (Miss) (s211070386); Jansen, Charissa (Miss) (s211071048); Connolly, Ashley (Miss) (s211162787)
Afternoon Dr Jordaan [She is the HOD & IP HOP]
We would like to officially thank you and Dr Du Plessis for all of
your assistance thus far, with regards to our PPRM Research
Proposal. We are very happy with Dr Du Plessis, he has been of
great benefit to us. Our group has prospered under his guidance.
Thank you very much!
Sincerely, Joy and the rest of the group
The emails above serve as testament that my students experience my teaching and interaction with them as highly positive.