Ms Zethu Ntshiba is a Grade 4 teacher at Intshinga Primary School in Gugulethu, Western Cape. She is in her first year of teaching. With the support of her Edupeg mentor, Sylvie, Ms Ntshiba is making great progress, impacting positively on her learners and thoroughly enjoying her first year of teaching.

However, seven years ago, Ms Ntshiba didn’t even know she wanted to be a teacher.

Having matriculated in 2009 and applying only in the Eastern Cape, and applying late, for University to study Psychology and Social Work, she did not secure a spot and 2010 became a gap year for her.

First Year Teacher Nerves - Ms Ntshiba

Her step-father was a primary school teacher who encouraged her to apply for teaching the following year. She was not convinced as she thought he just wanted her to follow in his foot-steps. She took his advice on the agreement that if she didn’t enjoy it she would then switch to her chosen degree.

She applied to six universities for 2011, with a Bachelor of education as her first choice. She was accepted to all six universities. She chose to study at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and chose to specialise in language and life orientation.

Zethu was diligent in her first year of studies with her sights still set on switching to Psychology and Social Work.

The opportunity came along, but by then Zethu had fallen in love with the teaching profession and continued her studies in Bachelor of Education. By this time she understood a lot about the profession, about putting the learners at the centre of teaching and developing the learners holistically into a whole person, to create a positive learning environment, to develop their skills, inspire them, encourage learners to think out of the box, and enforcing values.

She realised the more time you spend with learners, the greater the impact.

With both her parents in the teaching profession, they were very proud of her. She had some people in her life who didn’t understand why she chose to pursue teaching and to them she had one answer “teaching is challenging like any other profession, but it is also so exciting”.

In 2014 she completed her degree and when Mrs Vinqi, the principal of Intshinga Primary, called to say she had been accepted as a teacher to her school, she was excited!

The daunting realisation then set in and she started to wonder what kind of a teacher she would be. She did not want to fail her learners. She was nervous, especially about teaching maths.

Her step-father had passed on by this time, so she wasn’t able to turn to him for advice. She told herself that to teach these subjects successfully she must be willing to learn, and believes her step-fathers spirit will guide her through the next 20 years of teaching.

In 2015 Ms Ntshiba was paired up with her Edupeg mentor, Sylvie, and has been making strides ever since. She believes that teachers must continue to learn and grow and grab an opportunity when it comes your way.

Teachers need to learn new strategies and techniques as there are ‘many ways to kill a cat’, she says, and one must implement these strategies in class so that their learners can understand and be eager to learn more.

Mrs Vinqi, Intshinga Principal, is “very proud of the good progress Ms Zethu has made in her first year of teaching.” Ms Ntshiba has welcomed all suggestions and is so happy to be able to make a difference in the teaching and learning of her big and difficult grade 4 class.

“Her enthusiasm and positive attitude have made it a pleasure to interact with her.”

Sylive, her mentor, also commented on her good progress this term “She struggled with classroom organisation and discipline because in her first year of teaching she was given a large grade 4 class (50 learners) to manage. The two strategies from Teach Like a Champion ‘Do Now ’ and ‘Cold Call ‘ were introduced to her by Sylive and using these strategies had made a huge difference to the discipline and organisation in her class.

Ms Ntshiba’s highlight so far is that her classroom management skills have improved, especially when doing group work. She says “Ms. Sylvie has been great to me. I have learnt so much from her about how to conduct a lesson and making sure the learners are involved and that they do most of the work.

Her advice and support help me a lot and now I can see the improvement from the learners.

She is always positive, and whenever she sees something good, or an improvement, she gives appraisal.”

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About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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