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super-teacher-finalistsThe finalists of the 2013 Internet Service Providers Association Super Teacher of the Year competition at the ceremony in Johannesburg on 13 September. (Image: Ispa)27 September 2013 – Bringing the tools of information and communication technology (ICT) into the classroom can dramatically improve teaching methods – and so, student learning. Two initiatives, one international and one local, not only train teachers in new technologies, but reward those who excel at passing their new skills on to others.

The international Microsoft Partners in Learning Innovative Expert Educators Programme offers teachers the opportunity to attend, by invitation only, the world-class Partners in Learning Global Forum, which next year will be held in Barcelona, Spain, from 11 to 14 March. Teachers have until 30 September to enrol on the programme and stand a chance to attend.

Locally, the South African Internet Service Providers Association (Ispa) Super Teacher of the Year Award rewards educators who have gone through the organisation’s ICT for education training course and then best imparted their newly-acquired knowledge to learners and the local community. This year’s award, presented at a gala dinner in Johannesburg as the culmination of the premier internet industry event iWeek, went to Mokhudu Cynthia Machaba of Ngwanamago Primary in Limpopo.

Innovative Expert Educators Programme

Bongani-NcubeBongani Ncube, a teacher from the eMalahleni Centre district, submitted a Geogebra- and video-based maths lesson on trig graphs with grade 12 learners to the Partners in Learning Network.Microsoft's Innovative Educator Expert is an exclusive one-year programme for educators across the world who use technology to transform education. This global community is made up of visionary leaders and forward-thinking educators who work closely with Microsoft to lead innovation in education.

Selected educators spend a year in the programme, during which they have access to a range of resources and support to help them reach their goals. The cream of educators taking part in the programme are invited to attend the Partners in Learning Global Forum, Microsoft's premier global event for educators, which next year will be held in Barcelona.

Educators have until 30 September to sign up for the Innovative Educator Expert programme and stand a chance to be invited to attend this inspiring and life-changing event. Microsoft also offers a sweepstakes for educators who sign up, giving them a chance to win a place at the forum.

Past Partners in Learning Global Forums have been held in Prague, Cape Town, Washington DC and Hong Kong. Microsoft pays for all the selected educators’ travel expenses.

Sharing skills

To qualify, teachers need to have taken part in Microsoft Innovation Workshops and submitted one or more learning activity to the Partners in Learning Network. From the entries received from South Africa and Lesotho, teachers will be selected to attend the Global Partners in Learning Forum.

Jonas-MutengwaJonas Mutengwa, from the Makhado Centre in Limpopo, contributed a video dramatisation acted out by the grade 12 class of Lemana High School on the causes of poor performance in public schools.Organisers are looking for teachers who have produced a creative and engaging learning activity, and who have the willingness and passion to share their skills with others.

This year, two teachers – Bongani Ncube and Jonas Mutengwa – have taken part in Innovation Workshops at Vodacom Mobile Education Programme Regional ICT Centres, and submitted well-received learning activities to the Partners in Learning Network.

Ncube, a teacher from the eMalahleni Centre district, submitted a Geogebra- and video-based maths lesson on trig graphs with grade 12 learners. See the learning activity here. Mutengwa, from the Makhado Centre in Limpopo, contributed a video dramatisation acted out by the grade 12 class of Lemana High School on the causes of poor performance in public schools, which can be viewed here.

Super Teachers

The Ispa Super Teacher of the Year Award is a similar train-and-reward programme, as the culmination of the association’s social development initiative, Train the Teachers. Over the past decade it has trained some 3 500 teachers in using ICT in the classroom at both the beginner and intermediate level.

Teachers who excel in the training programme and go on to vigorously share their newly acquired skills and knowledge with their learners and local community are nominated for the prestigious Super Teacher of the Year Award.

This year, as the finale of the iWeek conference in Johannesburg from 9 to 13 September, Mokhudu Cynthia Machaba of Ngwanamago Primary in Limpopo was named the Super Teacher of the Year in acknowledgement of her dedication to education. She received her award from last year’s winner, Sadike Welhemina Kekana of Toronto Primary School, also in Limpopo.

“I became an educator to help uplift the people I saw around me,” Machaba said. “Now that I am an IT literate educator, I am able to help more members of my community, more efficiently.”

The awards are given in collaboration with the CoZa Cares Foundation, which works with partners such as Ispa to create sustainable ICT environments in under-resourced South African schools.

“Many of our past Ispa Super Teacher Award recipients started their training without ever having touched a mouse,” said Fiona Wallace, director of CoZa Cares. “They then go onto great things which include winning further awards.”

The runner-up was Mabore Dorothy Lekalakala, also from Toronto Primary in Limpopo. The other finalists were Thinavhuyo Silvia Mabannda, Motlalepula Sinah Mailula, Sekwati Patrick Matabane, Mosiwa Simon Matlebjane, Mmatsididi Anna Magoro and Keonethebe Victor Nthebe. All came in for special mention as being from a particularly high-calibre group of educators this year.

An additional Super Teacher prize, the Special Award, went to Chipa Thomas Maimela of Lekota High School. Ispa also sponsored finalists to attend workshops and go on special tours during iWeek.

“All of the winners and finalist have made a tremendous and positive impact on their colleagues, learners and communities by using the IT skills they have learnt for the benefit of others,” Wallace said.

“They have best understood that a skill learned is of little use if kept to oneself – it must be transferred.”

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