11.2 Dealing with macro-level difficulties

Activity 11.2 Supporting students with difficulties

The three case studies on the next page describe problems that students faced and how the school experience supervisor was able to provide support.

Discuss each case study.

  • Is there anything else the School Experience Supervisor could have done, or alternative advice they could have offered?
  • In your group, ask each person to give one example of a problem that one of their student teachers has faced and discuss ways in which you, as supervisors could respond.

There will be times when you as a School Experience Supervisor will not have the answer (nothing wrong with this) and you will need to refer to your study centre because the matter seems to be an ‘official’ one and you need to check the institution’s response to the questions.

At other times, the issue that is revealed is very sensitive and you will feel that other colleagues’ views on the matter will be useful to help you to work out a solution. For example, issues linked to social, cultural and multilingual context, as in the gender issue met by Mrs Foloko in the Case Study below are very delicate indeed, and colleagues’ advice will be welcome.

Case study 11.1: Using the local community for access to ICT facilities

Florence is a teacher trainee doing her teaching practice at Munano Primary School in Chismaba District in Central Province. She teaches Computers in Primary 5. Before her Supervisor’s first visit to the school, he sent a WhatsApp to confirm the arrangements. Florence told him that she was finding it hard to teach Computers because the school had no computer. She had been using pictures to teach it, which the children did not find stimulating. Her supervisor, Mr Sinyangwe suggested he bring his computer to show her class. The lesson went well and the learners were very interested in Mr Sinyangwe’s laptop. After the lesson, they talked about other ways in which she might be able to show them real computers. Mr Sinyangwe suggested that Florence could visit the nearby business centre to request if someone could come and visit the school to demonstrate and explain some of the things they used computers for in different jobs. Florence did this and the learners talked enthusiastically about the visit and wrote about how computers can be used.

Case study 11.2: Being resourceful in finding reading resources

Mrs Buhari Kafweku is a student teacher who is teaching reading to her Primary 6 class. She told her School Experience Supervisor that she felt at a disadvantage because the school did not have any textbooks or materials they could work with. Her supervisor suggested that she ask learners to bring any reading materials they could get, for example newspaper cuttings, waste paper, magazines or even empty food packets. The learners did this, and the class soon had a wide range of different types of reading materials which Mrs Buhari Kafweku could use to teach them reading.

Case study11.3: Gender issues

Nancy is one of in Mrs Foloko’s group of student teachers. Mrs Foloko notices that during the college seminars, Nancy is interested, grasps ideas quickly and enjoys micro-teaching and role-play exercises; she seems to be a very promising teacher. Mrs Foloko is looking forward to seeing Nancy teaching, but when she visits, she finds Nancy is very subdued and has not included any active learning techniques in her lessons. Where is the bright enthusiastic young woman she knows from college?

After the lesson, Mrs Foloko does not ask direct questions about the differences in her attitude between college and school, but she tries to work out the reasons. Nancy just remains silent, looking at her feet. Mrs Foloko asks her to come to a meeting at the study centre that afternoon after school. She makes them both a cup of tea, sits with Nancy and carefully questions her. She discovers that Nancy wanted to use some of the methods she discovered in college, but that the cooperating teacher was not supportive of these methods. As he was an experienced teacher she did not feel she could do anything that might displease him. Mrs Foloko gently questioned her a bit more and discovered that in her education, Nancy had been brought up never to question adults, particularly men. Mrs Foloko decided on three lines of action:

  • seek the support of the school’s head teacher so that Nancy would be in a class with a female teacher
  • work with her students during a seminar on issues linked to gender issues
  • convene a group of school experience supervisors to discuss issues around ‘giving a voice to students’ so that their needs could be heard in their training, be it in schools or at the college.

11.1 Dealing with micro-level difficulties

Tool 12: Being a reflective practitioner