Mr Matenjwa is a teacher at Mzingazi Primary School. He recognizes the role that PILO has played as a change partner in the Jika iMfundo Campaign, especially in helping the SMT and teachers to become more “introspective” about their work and the practices related to teaching and learning in the school. In particular, he has found the use of tools for curriculum planning and tracking very helpful. It has enabled him and his colleagues to focus on the core work of the school, and to talk about what was working, not working, and what needs to be changed.
The Jika iMfundo Campaign is essentially about a journey of change that the school has been on – and this change has taken place at the level of the school as an organization as well as the level of individuals and teams. Mr. Matenjwa recalls one important change that stood out for him: “My school used to use the session for the conversation between the teacher and the SMT as a means to reprimand the teacher concerned. It was a fault-finding exercise and a show of authority. Today we meet to praise, motivate, and to give guidance to one another. The objective of these (professional) conversations is to make the subject clearer, and to make teachers feel happier and more confident in teaching the subject. We used to avoid difficult conversations, but today we know how to handle it. The relationships within the school have improved, because everyone knows their roles and responsibilities.”
Mr. Matenjwa noted the role that PILO as a change partner played in supporting the school: “PILO has assisted the school to do introspection about what is expected of us; to identify what does not work and to make it work; and to focus on curriculum coverage.”
The “introspection” Mr. Matenjwa refers to is an important part of reflective practice in the school, where the SMT makes time to reflect on teaching and learning; to develop a deeper understanding of the issues and challenges they are facing; to acquire new insights about it; and to develop strategies for addressing some of the challenges. In essence reflective practice is about learning, and it is most effective with individuals and teams who value learning in order to improve their practice.