Cape Town-based Michelle Smith is a Media Works Foundational Learning Competency (FLC) facilitator at Cape Transvaal Printers, and South African National Defence Force (SANDF)
With a background in education, Michelle taught for 16 years at various primary schools before becoming involved with facilitation. In addition to the work she does with Media Works, Michelle is a qualified facilitator for Poverty Stoplight, where she works in disadvantaged communities.
Michelle is also trained as a life coach and is the co-founder of Breakthrough Life Coaching where she provides adults and kids with life skills and coaching.
- Why did you become a Media Works facilitator?
Media Works advertised a post for the facilitation of the Foundational Learning Competency (FLC) course. It was wonderful, because I really enjoy English and Maths in general. I applied, wrote the facilitator exams and was welcomed on board.
- What are your qualifications as a facilitator?
I am a qualified teacher/educator. I am also an accredited facilitator and I do life coaching with teens and adults alike.
- What is a typical day like for you?
As a facilitator, it is always advisable to get to work earlier than the official starting time, especially if you are responsible for unlocking the training venue for students to enter. The reason for this, is that some students might want to revise, or get down to working independently before class commences. This is also the perfect time to assist those who struggle with certain concepts during the course. My group starts the day with a positive message or inspirational quote or thought. Each student gets to share their message according to an allocated roster.
The day is divided into three main sessions, where students take responsibility for their learning and are very involved and interactive. They present solutions and experiment with ideas and methods. They work in groups, which are rotated weekly. Group leaders are also rotated to develop leadership skills and accountability within the groups. They generally get two 15-minute tea breaks and a 30-minute lunch break. On occasion they get quick five minute breathers or icebreakers, as is necessary.
I am expressive and therefore ensure that they have fun, but they are aware that from the onset we are target driven and cannot fall behind schedule. We have rules and goals to adhere to, which the students agree upon before the course commences.
- What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is bearing witness to the growth that takes place within the weeks that the course runs. It’s phenomenal and most rewarding to witness. Great results are merely a bi-product to this transformation experienced.
- What is the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part of my job is when a student quits and cannot persevere to the end. Fortunately there aren’t many but I have to accept that some just aren’t ready for the responsibility of fighting through until the rewards come their way.
- Are there any students who have made an impact on you?
Too many learners have impacted my life to mention them all, but one learner that springs to mind is a young lady who was on the CTP pilot programme. She struggled with the Maths component, and would always come in early to get help and would hound me most lunch breaks for continuous assistance. She froze up during assessments and was so nervous when she had to write the IEB exam, where she also ran out of time. I was over the moon when she passed her exams and the following year she came to encourage the next group not give up on themselves. She is still employed at CTP and doing amazingly well. I am so proud of her.
- What are your top study tips for students?
- Do not only study just before the assessments or exams. Revise and consolidate daily.
- Ask for help and target those in class who are competent in your weaker areas.
- Do as many IEB past exam papers as you can, in order to prepare well.
- What are your top tips on how to stay focused in class?
- Set goals and keep yourself accountable.
- Participate fully
- Don’t allow learners to rob you of your goals by distracting you.
- Get enough sleep and eat healthily.
- What are your top tips for exam day nerves?
- Go to bed early enough the day before the exam.
- Put clothes and what you require for the exam ready the night before.
- Set your alarm and ask another member in your household to wake you just in case.
- Eat breakfast and keep calm and focused.
- Thanks so much for your time Michelle, any parting advice?
I believe that every student needs someone to believe in them, so that they can in turn believe in themselves.
A facilitator has such an important role to play in the bridging process.
When your passion meets your profession then work loses its sting and purpose gives you the zest to carry on beyond the call of duty. Hence, I love what I do!
Thank you for this opportunity to express my thoughts and expose you to a small part of me in my world.