Patricia (Trish) is a Media Works Access (Foundational Learning Competency) facilitator at University of Pretoria Onderstepoort. During her career Trish has worked with learners from pre-primary all the way through to adult learning. She joined Media Works as a facilitator in 2014.
- Why did you decide to become a Media Works Facilitator?
I wanted to diversify from conventional high school teaching into Adult Learning and be exposed to corporate training. I also wanted to experience different cultures in different organisations.
- As a facilitator what are your qualifications?
I have a University Diploma in Education, Certificate in Systemic Counseling in the Context of HIV and AIDS, Diploma in Applied Humanitarian Community Development, Monitoring and Evaluation and Applied Psychology for Professional Contexts. I am currently studying BA (Health Science and Social Services). I also have a Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety.
- Tell us more about an average working day as a Facilitator –what do you do every day?
I usually get to the office an hour before my lessons start, then I pray, dust the computers, check my emails, and complete marking if there is any. I prepare any materials for learners coming to class on the day.
Before the lesson, I prepare how I am going to execute the lesson plan, bringing in ice breakers in between sections to motivate and energise the learners.
If funds permit it, l get the daily newspapers and every learner is given time to read an article or two. I like to end my lessons by discussing
current issues with the learners and l expect everyone to make a contribution. This encourages those learners who do not want to read to start doing so, so they can also make meaningful, informed contributions. Again, it gives learners enough practice to communicate and express themselves in English.
- What is the hardest part of your job?
To impart knowledge to my learners, up skill them in life skills (l always incorporate this into my lessons) and push my learners to be the best they can be. l also encourage research and self discovery, because one remembers more if they have discovered the information for themselves and one is more gratified if they did not plagiarise someone’s work.
It’s beautiful to see people getting out of their cocoons and blossoming into the lovely butterflies that they never knew they were. l love to play, meaningful play that is, so time permitting we play a lot in class, but I tend to be very strict if l see learners are not giving me their best.
l have taught from pre-primary level to adult education and believe you me adults are just like the five-year-olds! You have no idea the joy l see on my learners’ faces when l give them a chocolate or sweet in recognition of a good answer or good presentation. To keep the learners energised and alert, we have short little games in between classes; the adults enjoy the games too.
- Is there a specific learner that has made an impact in your life? Tell us more.
Yes in 2015 I had a learner at SANDF who had health challenges but his attitude was that of a real soldier. He persevered, never missed an assignment, put in extra time he had been off sick. At times, even if he wasn’t feeling well, he would ask to sit at the back of the class so that he would be present during the lesson than report sick and be off. His conduct was so encouraging and it is learners like this, with such zeal and thirst of knowledge, that make me feel what we do is really worth it.
This gentleman’s attitude towards life challenged me to greater heights and up to now when l want to give up and l think of him, l pick myself up and run again.
- Please share your top 3 tips on how to keep learners focused during a lesson:
- Always prepare what is to be taught in advance, never ever take it for granted that the lesson will just happen. Know your learners individually and make use of Visual, Audio and Kinetic (VAK) teaching aids. Face-to-face facilitation needs thorough preparation and breathers/ice-breakers/ anecdotes to re-energise your learners. Select activities that are relevant to what’s going on in class and the material taught (I use Google to get ideas).
- Allow learners to read in advance and encourage them to participate 100%. Ideas from various people expressed differently is more appealing than to hear one monotonous voice in class all the time. If the facilitator is not a great speaker and does not have a good voice to listen to you will bore the learners to death.
- Experience is the best teacher, so allow the learners to also speak from experience and encourage dialogue and opinions. No man knows it all, so the facilitator is not a guru in everything.
- Any parting advice?
Teaching is the most humbling profession. To empower a mind and change its way of thinking still remains very profound. Teaching is a calling and you have to do it with joy and not for the reward. I have never heard of a teacher who bought a personal jet, but he did train the owner of one.
Lastly, you cannot give what you don’t have, an empty cup will always make an empty sound. Continue to study and empower yourself too. Change is dynamic, move with the times and don’t be conservative. Learn, learn and learn! BUT, don’t forget to play too!