By Erna Light
I am a senior teacher at Port Alfred High School, with co-morbidities. This meant that for the greater part of this year I have not been able to be in the classroom. I have been denied access to the place that gives me pride and joy.
I am very proud of all our learners, from the “littlies” in nursery to the “big kids” in Matric, who are so incredibly unique yet resilient. I feel incredibly proud when I see progress in an individual’s performance. A learner who has struggled yet stuck with it becomes a picture of delight when an exam goes well, and the results are better than expected. I am also very proud of my colleagues, the teachers who give so generously of themselves to grow and graduate learners each and every day. I am just as proud of the support staff who work tirelessly behind the scenes to drive Port Alfred High School forward as a centre of educational excellence.
The joy, for me, lies in getting up knowing that there is a purpose to the day. My job is not to just teach CAT (Computer Applied Technology) to the senior school learners but also to connect and assist where I can. My job is also to support a fellow teacher or help a learner with a problem. There are no words to explain the feeling of joy I get when I see a glint in a CAT learner’s eye when s/he understands a tricky aspect of the work. This is priceless to me as a teacher. Sometimes my work is simply to listen to a learner with a problem and do whatever I can to assist. There is always a deep sense of satisfaction when you see him or her walk away with a renewed spring in their step. All too often a problem shared is a problem solved. There is a certain depth to teaching which, in a nutshell, makes life just that little bit better!
During the Covid-19 pandemic I have missed my learners so much that my heart has actually ached. Yes, I have been able to teach digitally but I have truly missed personal interaction with my classes. Until now, I had not realised just how much you can read in facial expressions, especially in one another’s eyes! Although I have been able “speak” to them through technology, there is nothing I have missed more than simply being in my class and seeing my learners. Thank goodness for telephones. We have been able to chat and while I was in isolation, I realised that my learners have also been carrying their own load of troubles, worries and fears. Motivating one another soon became a big part of our interaction and this has gone a long way in helping us to deliver and absorb lessons in a very challenging set of unforeseen circumstances.
The support of my fellow teachers has been tremendous during these strange times. I hope that I can return their kindness upon my return to campus.
Since I can remember I have always wanted to teach. What this time out of the classroom and off the campus has done for me is to remind me why I love being a teacher. As they old saying goes, absence really does makes the heart grow fonder.