Teachers are responsible for the facilitation of learning and the development of skills in children. Another vital role for teachers is to contribute to the development of the child’s character and sense of responsibility.
The specific nature of teachers’ work will depend on the age of the children they teach and the nature of the training they received. Prospective teachers can be trained for foundation phase or pre-primary, primary or secondary education. Specialist education includes special needs schools such as those for epileptics and for children with hearing, visual, mental or physical disabilities.
Foundation phase school teachers play a vital role in the early development of children. What children learn and experience during their early years can shape their views of themselves and the world and determine their later success or failure.
Pre-primary teachers lead children in activities which are designed to facilitate their language development, develop their physical abilities, communication skills and to interpersonal relationships. They need to be acutely aware of the emotional development of small children and organise and supervise activities and games that promote self-confidence and social interaction with other children. They try to keep a balance of activities while also ensuring that children have adequate rest periods. At times, they need to attend to sick children and those in need of first-aid; comfort children who are hurt or distressed and assist children with their toilet training and other personal matters. They teach from Grade R (reception) through to Grade 3. They usually teach all of the subjects in the curriculum to the learners.
Intermediate Phase – Grades 4 to 6: teachers give pupils the basic concepts of mathematics, languages and sciences. It is their responsibility to pave the way forward, encouraging young learners to enjoy the learning phase of their lives.
Senior phase – Grades 7 to 9: These teachers have versatile tasks which include, amongst others, the facilitating of learning, supplying information regarding many other choices children have to make, giving supportive counselling when necessary and setting an example regarding correct manners and behaviour.
At senior school level, teachers have usually graduated in a specific field and follow the syllabus laid down by the relevant department and curriculum in order to prepare students for examinations. Besides the formal education given in the classroom, the teacher is also expected to plan and organise extracurricular activities such as sporting events, cultural activities, tours, weekend camps and outings to places of interest. Through involvement with the child on this level the teacher gets to know the child better, and values such as a sense of responsibility, punctuality, respect, friendship and trust are nurtured. Teachers are also required to do administrative work which includes tasks such as setting examination papers, marking answer sheets, marking homework, the completion of registers, drawing up of schedules and the writing of reports.
FET: Those students who continue through Grades 10 to 12 are then prepared for this final phase of schooling. This, therefore, is a very important phase of their schooling and requires learners to make mature decisions - most importantly, to have properly trained teachers who will be able to guide them through this process.
Special Education: The teacher working in the field of special education works with children with speech and hearing disabilities, learning disabilities, blindness, deafness, hardness of hearing, weak-sightedness, epilepsy and mental and physical handicaps. These children require specialised attention and are taught through specially developed apparatus and techniques. The teacher works as part of a multi-professional team consisting of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, occupational counsellors, psychologists and medical personnel.
Teachers’ working hours may be irregular and depend on factors such as the amount of special classes they arrange, administrative work, and the number of extramural activities they are involved in.
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