For the Love of Teaching by
Baitse Mosa Kebobone did not get into teaching by mistake. From as far as she can remember, she always wanted to be a teacher. She recalls that during her primary school days, she always struggled with mathematics but did exceptionally well in other subjects. As luck would have it, an encounter with one extraordinary teacher during her senior school days at Swaneng Senior changed her destiny.
“The pep talk really came in handy and it just unlocked everything. Soon mathematics was just another subject that I was passing,” she says. It is this approach that she takes with all of her students. For her, training as a teacher was her natural progression as she wanted to help unlock potential in young people.
Her teaching journey started in 1990 at Gosemama CJSS, followed by Boipelego CJSS. In 1995, she was transferred to Chi- chi CJSS as a senior teacher. And in 1999, she enrolled at the University of Botswana for her Degree. She was elevated to the post of Deputy School Head in 2004 and was stationed at Molalatau followed by Makhubu CJSS. In 2011, she was promoted to the post of School Head, and joined the staff of Nanogang in 2013.
Kebobone is the School Head of Nanogang Junior School, the top performing school in the 2016 JCE exams. The school attained a 73.9% mark, a significant drop from 84% last year. This year, they are targeting 90%.
“From as far as I can remember, I loved teaching and l strongly believed that it is one of those professions that can make a change in peoples’ lives,” she says.
“I believe that we all have hidden talents that need a teacher to unlock. And if well nurtured, a child can become somebody in life.”
Kebobone also stresses the need for teachers to be close to students, which will help them identify their potential and nurture it.
Counted amongst the top performers
She attributes her school’s good results to various structures and initiatives in place. One such initiative is weekly meetings with Form 3 learners. Resourced by different stakeholders such as teachers, priests and non-teaching staff, it is through these meetings that the students are orientated about the realities of life.
“We start today to get symbols of life. And we tell them that they decide their symbols and that everything they do will give them the mark they worked for,” explains the school head.
They also advise learners about the importance of to thinking about where they will be this time next year. “We tell them to put themselves in a scenario where they are given an exam paper, and as they flip through the pages they realise that they do not know any of the answers,” says Kebobone, highlighting it is a situation that could be easily avoided.
Attaining good results
Regarding attaining better results, Kebobone says that one of the ways they are ensuring this happens is through the morning studies that take place between 6.30am and 7.30 am. They also have extended study periods whereby learners discuss topics they do not understand with their peers, in groups. Besides the study periods, they encourage their students to summarise notes in point form in a revision notebook, which is checked regularly by her and her deputy. They provide feedback to learners in the revision notebook.
Kebobone says that they also monitor the progress of their students, and look at their Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results. They talk to them about various issues at hand, encouraging them that just because one transitioned to Junior School with a bad grade is no reason for them to believe they deserved that mark.
“We instil in them the belief that they can better their mark,” she says.
With active structures such as the Guidance and Counselling Department, she elaborates that this helps them track the performance of students.
Using a manila paper that illustrates the performance of students from PSLE to Junior School and with different subjects, this enables them to gauge whether a student is failing or passing. And in instances where students are underperforming, the Guidance and Counselling teacher ascertains what their problems are.
They also use old exam papers from other schools as a way of challenging their students. Kebobone points out that their teachers also account for everything that happens in the classroom, and that in instances where students are failing, the teacher has to explain whether his/her students can grasp the material or whether the problem lies with the students.
“This is crucial as it helps us see where we need to fill the gaps, and find new ways that may improve the results.”