Here at Xander we are grateful for the special role teacher’s play in children’s lives and we honor a select few who are passionate about their learners and using technology in their lessons. Meet Cecilia Campbell from Erika Primary School in Mosselbay in the Western Cape. She was recently honored by the national Department of Basic Education for her exemplary use of technology to broaden her students’s learning experience. We talked to her about how she has made use of technology and how it influences her teaching experience.
Tell us about your career and your choice to become a teacher?
A little bit about me:
- I was a bank official for 11 years
- I owned a preschool for 8 years
- I was a systems designers for 6 years for a construction company
- I received my BEd Early Childhood Development and Foundation Phase degree in 2008
- I spent a year helping to develop software for schools.
- I was a Microsoft product trainer
- And I have now been teaching for 4 years.
I always knew that I should become a teacher but when I left school, but I chose to explore other avenues. Late in 2003, while chatting to another teacher, I decided that it was never too late to follow your career. I enrolled through UNISA and completed my degree in 2008.
- What is your favourite thing about being a teacher?
What I strive to achieve as a teacher is to encourage a love for learning. Every child must feel a sense of achievement. I try to encourage my learners to take responsibility for their own learning by giving them the skills and knowledge to help themselves.
- Do you use technology in your classroom and can you share an example of how?
I started out with an old data projector, a laptop and a second-hand ink board (magnetic whiteboard). I used this to provide visual examples of difficult concepts. I also started a whatsapp group with my learners in Grade 4 because they were having trouble with language structure and spelling (Most of them had access to this platform).
The rules were as follows:
- We only chat between 17h00 and 18h00.
- No-one is allowed to use sms language or emoticons.
- Capital letters and punctuation had to be used correctly.
- No pictures or chain letters are allowed.
After some of our chats, I would print a copy of the chat and give one to each child in the class. They then had to read through it and find any errors. This was also a way for me to include the children who did not have a smartphone available. I now teach grade 2 and I use technology to show them unfamiliar concepts i.e. creating something from recycled material. I find YouTube and online storytelling videos to improve their listening skills.
- What advice can you give to young teachers wanting to introduce technology into their classrooms?
My advice to young teachers who want to introduce technology into their classroom. Technology is not simply a tool to make your teaching easier and it should never be used to “keep the children busy” while you do other things. It must always be used to enhance quality teaching and learning.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself:
- Does this activity enhance the learning experience?
- Will this encourage active participation of the learner?
- Have I ensured that the learner is exposed to diverse languages, cultures, religions, with the pictures and examples that I use?
- Am I addressing the different learning styles with my lessons?
- What is your favourite app for the classroom and your personal favourite app?
My favourite app for the classroom is ClassDojo. It encourages positive behaviour and the children love it. It helps with classroom management. I also use YouTube a lot because my learners have very limited experiences outside of their town. I try to bring the world into the classroom.
My personal favourite app is the English / Xhosa translator because I have a number of learners in my class with language barriers and this helps me to translate very basic instructions.