By Cornelia Weber

So I have just finished my fourth week of teaching and I’m only writing now, so that should give you an indication of how busy it’s been. Right now I’m feeling great, but I’ve been exhausted. I’ve been quite overwhelmed, but I’ve also loved it. I’ve had pretty much all the emotions you can feel. I’ve been filled with loads of gratitude, a little bit overwhelmed with the task of trying to educate people and trying to solve some of the issues that one encounters in a classroom.

But as we are reminded, everybody’s in the same boat, especially for first-year teachers and especially at Jakes Gerwel Fellowship. It’s quite nice because we know that we’re all working together everywhere in the country. At schools around South Africa there are people who are really passionate about teaching and making a change, and not just about doing the day-to-day stuff of teaching.

Where’s my class?

So I started out this year with no classroom. So that was interesting. My registered class was in the Head of Department’s science room. So I had my register class for three days. I kind of thought I’d see the rest of my classes. I didn’t. So I got to know my kids quite well in grade nine, my registered kids and I ended up playing hangman and I spent time reading them a variety of facts from a fact book that I found. 

We did not rotate classes because the school that I’m at is a very good school in a very big district and there’s a lot of placement issues. So into the fourth week we were still getting new students coming in that the Department was placing because of the emergency or the crisis that there were just too many learners, especially in grade nine, who did not have a spot at school. 

But I am now very excited. I have settled in. I have taught for two full weeks. I’m not as exhausted as I was last weekend. So that is great. My teacher fitness is definitely coming along nicely, so that is fabulous. 

Planning ahead

We received our diaries from the school so my planning is also getting up to scratch. I am certainly familiarising myself with all the school rules, like ‘when they’re late they have to sit on the floor’, and ‘when they do this they have to do that’, and ‘this is a merit, this is a demerit’ etc.

But like I said to another teacher today, I’m taking one week at a time. For example, this week I am focusing on the procedures for registration. Next week I’ll be focusing on the next thing, and that’s really helped me kind of just see where I’m going, and to eat the elephant one bite at a time. 

The other thing that’s been really exciting is that one of the boys in my grade nine class came to me at the end of the lesson and said to me, “Ma’am, thank you so much for that really cool lesson.” So that obviously made it really worth it. 

Overall I’m very excited. I feel like I can make a difference and can really help people, and the kids are making it worth it. Even though sometimes I have to shout and get angry and frustrated, I really love it. I’m excited for the new week, but very excited about my weekend first!

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