|Face-to-face Initial Teacher Education Degree Programme at the University of Durban-Westville, South Africa (CIE, 2002, 57 p.)|
|Chapter 6: Conceptions of Being a Teacher|
An overall positive image emerges from the responses indicating the students' internalised view of what and how committed professional teachers behave and conduct themselves. Over 70% of the students reported that it was necessary for teachers to spend sufficient time in preparing and planning for their lessons. Over 80% expressed confidence that they would be able to use innovative teaching methods that they had learnt when they practised as future teachers. 72% of the students indicated that they were competent in designing teaching aids for the classroom.
Over 90% of the respondents indicated that learners learn best when working in small groups. 84% of the students disagreed that pupils learn better from listening to the teacher rather than from asking questions. Whilst they agreed with interactive learning 60% indicated that they saw the need for teachers to "teach learners the facts that they needed to know". The overall impression created by reviewing these responses is that the student teachers had learnt a sophisticated understanding of learner and learning centered education.
85% of the student teachers indicated that they would be able to intervene in improving the academic performance of low achieving pupils.
An important division of student opinion is noted when it comes to the use of corporal punishment. 50% indicated that caning was not necessary for maintaining discipline in the classroom. This suggests that 50% believe that caning is a necessary disciplinary measure, however 70% indicated that it was not useful for helping children learn better. Their preference to use caning is related to the need to secure a disciplined environment, and not necessarily as a means to improve children's learning. This suggests further that the teachers are preoccupied with the overall ethos of the school environment being well organised through discipline: within which learners can realise their potential. The use of corporal punishment as a cultural practice is revealed repeatedly in case study life histories of student teachers (Samuel: 1998), where parents usually encourage teachers to use caning as a means of getting children to focus on their studies. The practice of caning is widely sanctioned by communities and parents, despite its being legally outlawed.
Student teachers appear to have imbibed the notions of reflective practice in relation to their teaching practice. Over 90% of the students indicated that they had consciously reflected on the lessons they had taught with a view to looking at how it could be improved. This high percentage might have a lot to do with the requirements of the Teaching Practice course which expects students to keep daily records of school activities in a reflective journal. Whilst this journal in the beginning is seen as a burdensome responsibility, the students within a short space of time come to value it as a tool to engage with during supervision sessions with visiting supervising lecturers (Samuel: 1998).
This suggests that student teachers emerge out of the programme believing that teaching is an ongoing developmental process, capable of being reviewed and renewed through individual and group reflection. This is confirmed also by the high ratings that students attach to the role of their peers ("buddy teachers"), the mentor teachers and the university-supervising lecturers.