Mr TJ Radebe from Phelelani Primary in Ntuzuma, KwaZulu-Natal, is a man of great style. But it isn’t his smart suits or colourful ties that make him so fashionable – it’s the way he manages to wear two very different hats at the same time. Not only does Mr Radebe lead the school as the principal, he also teaches Grade 7 Natural Science and participates in the Edupeg Programme as a mentee. It isn’t easy playing both roles, especially with the high expectations set by the Edupeg mentors. But Mr Radebe is up to the challenge.
It took some time for the new principal to adjust when he took on the position in 2015. Coming from a high school background he needed to learn a great deal about the primary school environment. This was his main focus, so while he supported the Edupeg programme in principle, he had only a vague idea of what the mentored teachers were doing. Eighteen months later his perspective changed dramatically, however, when he decided to don a second hat – that of a Grade 7 educator. Knowing how challenging it would be to adapt his teaching style and content to suit a much younger group of learners, Mr Radebe decided to join the Edupeg team as a mentee. And since then he has gone from strength to strength.
“At first I found it difficult to connect with my learners,” he said in a recent feedback session. “I
didn’t know if I was teaching on their level. But now with the Objective and Exit Ticket I can easily see who has understood the lesson and who has not. It is much simpler. The Double Plan has also helped me, because now I know how to make sure that I don’t talk too much. Learners participate much more in lessons.”
The Teach Like a Champion techniques have shown themselves to be doubly useful, as Mr Radebe is able to apply them in his leadership role as well. He has found the principles of 100%, No opt-Out, Check for Understanding, Objective, Systems and Routines, and Standardise the Format to be invaluable for managing his staff and drawing the best out of them. In this way, the more he learns in the classroom, the more effective he becomes as both a teacher and a principal.
The future looks promising for this two-hatted individual. With his influence over those around him, he can do more than just model his unique style – he can be a real trend setter!