I have always been on a quest to learn and am of the opinion that actually the more you learn, the more you begin to realise how much more there is still to learn! I have been so fortunate to have been able to study teaching full-time. This was my desire from a very young age, when I would line up my dolls and teach them! There was never any doubt in my mind what I wanted to do once I left school.
I completed my teaching diploma at Cape Town Teacher’s College then I went on to study Special Needs at UCT. I then embarked on distance learning through Boland Teacher’s College. Over many years, I have loved attending various workshops, conferences and talks to grow me as a teacher and to further enhance my skills. I am so very grateful for all the opportunities that have been afforded to me. As I graduated in the 1980’s, if I hadn’t been determined to be a long-long learner, I am convinced that my career as a teacher would have hit rock bottom. Society and children have changed and in order to teach and reach the children, we as teachers also need to change. In my career I have gone from Talk and Chalk using blackboards, with the teacher being the knowledge base, to information at one’s fingertips using Google, ipads and collaborative learning. Continuous learning has helped me change and grow.
Recently, I have signed up for my first online course through FutureLearn.
This course, Education for All, runs for six weeks and is part of the University of Cape Town’s distance learning courses. Best of all – it is free and can be done when it suits the student. You can also earn CPD points and there is a certificate of attendance that can be purchased as proof that you have completed the course. Being a busy Deputy Principal and looking after the needs of my family, time is precious and I have felt that this has really fitted in beautifully into my week with little or no adverse effects.
I started the course a bit skeptical, but reassured myself that after all I have nothing to lose. I was very pleasantly surprised! I have been thoroughly enjoying each new week and the learning that it encompasses. My mindset about learning online has been totally changed.
Although this course is online, I have felt a great connection to the presenters and to my fellow students. There are videos to watch with a transcription provided as well. It has also been wonderful to be able to leave your comments after each section and to receive comments back from the other students. Networks with fellow students have been made across the globe and my mind has been broadened by learning first hand from others what their circumstances entail. I have really appreciated that the course has been broken up into weekly chunks – in all, it requires a commitment of only about 3 hours per week. This is really doable in anyone’s busy schedule!
Week 4 presented us with an assignment. I had to post a short essay, which was then passed on for comment and review to a fellow student. There was also an opportunity to view other people’s ideas.
Best of all, I have simply loved the journey of learning that I have been on. It is always good to put yourself in your student’s shoes and to view learning from the other side of the classroom – that of being a student!
So, with my course coming to an end soon, I have already started looking out for other learning opportunities online. I have really felt inspired, empowered with knowledge and equipped to continue on my journey in the pursuit of learning.
Jill Blackbeard – Deputy Principal