When you see a problem, take steps to address it instead of waiting for instruction, writes Sumayyah Wariawa
I have been a teacher for 12 years. I taught in London, Durban and Johannesburg. My experience ranges from teaching three- to 19-year-olds. My dad is a teacher and watching him teach at his school, listening to the love he had for the learners and hearing his stories about his profession inspired me to follow in his footsteps. I love teaching. I see it as a calling and not just a job. I love coming to work to see what each day in my classroom will bring. Every moment is filled with something different. Teaching teenagers makes me realise that every individual has some kind of gift and that as educators we should try and help learners to dream, believe and achieve their potential.
I feel that many of my colleagues have lost their passion for teaching and that is such a sad thing. If you love what you do, you will be good at it and you can influence others in a positive way. The world is tough enough; we need positivity, especially in the classroom. For me there’s never a dull moment in the world of teaching. As a teacher you can learn from the learners and they can learn from you — it is a two-way street of respect and learning. And that is why there is always a new lesson to be learnt — a life lesson as well as an academic one. I believe that if you use love to win over the learners, encourage and get them to love school, they will love you back and they will try to do well, not only to please you as their teacher, but to better their own lives.
When I returned from London to South Africa, I decided I want to work in a government school. I had heard that it could be challenging and that is exactly what I wanted. Soon after I took up my post at Liverpool Secondary School in Benoni, East Rand, I embarked on a few projects for the school. These included:
Power of reading
One of my latest projects, which I am most proud of, was to get the school library up and running again after many years of neglect. I believe that reading is the gateway to the world. Reading is something that allows you to travel from one spot to many different universes. I have always been an avid reader and when I saw that there was a need for the library to be spruced up, I thought that was a great opportunity to make a difference. Some learners were excited and helped out. It was a great way of getting to know them and learning what interested them. The library is also a place where children can do their homework after school, during holidays or break time. Reading is so important in developing one’s imagination as well as creative writing skills. The learners have been so receptive and enthusiastic, and it has been heart-warming to see positive responses from parents as well.
How it all came together
After I recognised the need for a library, I approached the school management, who supported my plan. I then took pictures of the current derelict state of the library and put together a proposal, which I sent out to various companies, including some of my friends and family members. Because I have been doing projects and working with them, some of the companies were very excited to get involved and I was flooded with sponsorships. I also approached local bookstores, neighbouring schools and used social media to inform people of my initiative. In the end the response was overwhelmingly positive, as people donated ample funds and books.