A Life-Long Love for Education

My name is Mbali Madhlala and my passion has always been to contribute positively to the field of education. I have always taken my academics seriously growing up and I understood early that knowledge is very empowering.

I started this journey by being a tutor for a company. I specialised in mathematics, science and English. My first lesson was for physics and I had prepared notes. I thought teaching entailed simply relaying information to the next person. However, the more I taught, the more I realised that understanding the teaching style of your student makes a huge difference. This may come in the form of presenting colour-coded notes, videos or quizzing. This means their strengths are the focus and thus the learner optimises their learning experience.

However, I wanted to reach a larger group. This is when I decided to study towards being a teacher and applied for the ISASA South African Mathematics and Science Teacher Internship Programme (SAMSTIP) programme. The successful applicants were invited to a workshop at which we were given information about the profession upon which we were about to embark. The well-informed workshop organisers and speakers left us with greater understanding and confidence.

Teachers need to be flexible

My first placement as an intern was at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Johannesburg. I worked both in the residence and in the classroom. I spent most of my time observing. The first time I taught a lesson was nerve-wrecking. However, I realised that the only way to improve is to constantly try and change any methods that aren’t effective. I also learned that emotional intelligence is important when working with learners. The manner in which you speak, solve problems and apply certain values, can make a difference to the overall relationship between teacher and student. The school also focused on holistic learning, which made me aware that many factors contribute to quality education.

I am also currently learning coding part time, as I believe that it is an important skill to have in this era. This skill will also help me create more digital platforms that will help learners understand their schoolwork more easily. I believe the willingness to constantly learn will help me become a phenomenal teacher. The goal is to constantly look for more ways to make teaching more inclusionary.

Commit to your goals

I have had my fair share of failures and disappointments. Self-help guru Tony Robbins says: ‘Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.’ This quote is important to me because if certain methods don’t work, one shouldn’t abandon a goal. There has to be a constant push to overcome certain obstacles.

My goal is to empower young minds and I have to stay committed to working towards this goal.

The academic field is very competitive, which can be an advantage because it creates motivation to do more in that space. However, the bigger picture is ultimately to use that knowledge and work together to create ideas that will improve our lives collectively. The coming together of different minds should be the goal. The core understanding that everyone has something to bring can bring so much change. I plan to make sure this happens.

The ISASA South African Mathematics and Science Teacher Intern Programme draws on the quality education offered by Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa ISASA member schools to help solve a root cause of South Africa’s pressing skills shortage: the critical lack of qualified mathematics and science teachers. To learn more about the initiative, visit the SAMSTIP website or contact Lesiba Langa, the SAMSTIP operations coordinator at ISASA, at telephone: +27 (11) 648-1331.