I started off my career as a maths and science teacher and self-proclaimed “resistant techie”. I was that teacher who preferred to hand write lessons plans and teach really engaging lessons through games and songs. As I was in my twelfth year of teaching and being a school leader, a box of iPads landed on our doorstep (almost literally). My primary school had been chosen as the pilot for a new project sponsored by the Breteau Foundation to implement iPads in teaching Literacy and Numeracy.
I was reluctant but the first day the kids sat “criss cross” on the carpet 100% fully engaged, I knew I was going to have to give this pilot my all. I was going to have to go outside of my comfort zone to be able to improve the teaching and learning taking place in my class. Over the course of 6 months I learned I could teach differently. I no longer stood in front of the class to teach. Instead, I made leveled group mini-lessons and centres and began guiding the students in their own independent learning.
I could see all of my kids were growing at remarkable rates because they were able to access maths at their own level. The quiet students, especially, the girls began to come out of their shells. In a whole group setting these are the children, as teachers we often times overlook. But in a small group or one-on-one technology experience, these were the stars that shined bright.
Since that 2014 pilot, I have transformed into what I would consider to be a “growing expert techie”. I have been able to sit around a board room table in an IT office and confidently hold my own. I have been able to present at international conferences to venues of 200 and more about education technology. My career, my knowledge and my confidence have grown because I opened myself up to the unknown. As educationalist, we must start cultivating all of our students, especially our girls, to explore technology as a means of self-empowerment.
I currently train over 200 teachers, almost all women, in Breteau Foundation partner schools around South Africa. If I can inspire those teachers to take the small, scary steps towards technology integration in their classrooms, they can also become strong role models for young girls moving forward.
Mona Ewees Mkumatela
Mona works as the Breteau Foundation Lead Teacher Trainer and South Africa Programme manager.