Day 2: First Teaching Job

My first teaching job came unexpectedly.

After completing my undergraduate degree, I decided to stay at university and do my Honours in Education. I remember receiving the call that changed my decision to study full time while helping my parents build cupboards in my bedroom. The caller was Dr James Hlongwane and he had received my number from my university lecturer (she had taught me the methodology for teaching English as a second language). I arranged to meet him the next day, not knowing that the rendezvous would affect the course of my teaching career.

James had told me a little about the school over the phone and, with my parents’ encouragement, I looked forward to the meeting and to the teaching experience I could gain from working for him. The morning interview ended with a visit to the school and an agreement that I begin working the following week: a first day that began with trepidation as well as excitement.

I consented to begin my teaching experience at a school that was not a part of the government’s  educational system. Instead, it was a place that had been started by a concerned member of the community (James Hlongwane) that was experiencing school riots and strikes. The black youth in Soweto (and other such townships) were not being educated. Parents were concerned and were prepared to pay what they could in order to ensure that their child received some form of education.

On a sunny morning in January, I began my experience at a “street school”. For nine years I worked with children in grades 8-12 (later, grades 10-12) so that in their final school year they could write their external exam. My dad was excited for me, my mom supported me, my grandmother worried about me. And yet I was never physically harmed. Instead the experience enriched me and helped me realize how privileged I had been while growing up.

photo (52)© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt: family)

Missed a post? Click here to read all my memoirs for the series titled Blackboard Scribbles.

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20 thoughts on “Day 2: First Teaching Job

    1. The school I worked at was for children of domestic workers and those who worked in factories. The fees they paid were a small amount resulting in very few resources for teachers.

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    1. I qualified as a high school teacher majoring in English and French. I did my teaching methodology courses focusing on working with second language students. After my arrival in Toronto, it was recommended to me my my children’s principal that I qualify to work with younger children as the chances of my getting a position were better. I do not regret making the change.

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  1. What an introduction into the world of teaching. But what a valuable experience for yourself, and a life-changing experience for those students. I admire your courage and strength in continuing for so long in that role. I’m sure the rewards were as great as the difficulties your encountered.

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    1. The rewards were greater than the difficulties. Working at that school I focused on the basics of teaching using a chalkboard and a piece of chalk. A person could not hide behind technology and fancy gadgets.

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  2. Such an interesting beginning to your teaching career. It sounded as if the kids in the school respected you, and appreciated your presence and your efforts to teach them. I’m sure many of them were thankful for you as a teacher – and going to school gave them opportunities to build their lives.

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