St Nicholas Diocesan School teacher experiences San Francisco Exchange
Sosibo Smangaliso Percival, a student at UNISA and a SAMSTIP teacher-intern at St Nicholas Diocesan School in Pietermaritzburg, has recently returned from a career and life-changing Exchange to San Francisco USA.
Chatting with The Meander Chronicle, Percival, still enthused by all that he learnt and experienced, detailed how the Exchange cam about, and shared some of his thoughts.
“Through the South African Extraordinary Schools Coalition (SAESC) of which St Nicholas is a part of, I am lucky enough to be one of the few Teach With Africa (TWA) interns who were sent to San Francisco as part of their professional development. The Teach With Africa Program identifies high impact teachers/ trainee teachers in South Africa and places them in partner schools in the US for professional learning opportunities that are reciprocal and collaborative.
I am also part of the boarding staff at St Nicholas which is also a fulfilling job to have. Being at St Nicholas for me has been a life changing experience, I have received so much help from different teachers who are very good at what they do and this has boosted my confidence as an aspiring teacher. Headmaster, Mr Grove told me about the program, and the possibility of my attending the program excited him enormously, and so we started the application process. I was shortlisted, and learned that I had been accepted into the program.
When we arrived in San Francisco we were assigned to live with host-families. I was living with the Casey family, the Parents and their three daughters (Sophia, Antonia and Camila) who attended my host school, Katherine Delmar Burke School. I could not have asked for a more wonderful Host family – we will remain in contact for sure. For me, being a South African- American for a month was a dream come true, and I am so grateful to have had a taste of it – not just in the movies! I enjoyed my Starbucks coffee, and developed a taste for the Mexican El Super burrito and sushi. I got a thrill seeing the Golden Gate bridge every time I went sight-seeing with my family, or on our way to school. To top it all – I got to see a Warrior’s game at the Oracle Arena!
In terms of my learning experience at Burke’s, I had to do an inquiry based research project of any topic that interests me about a classroom, and learning in general. Based on my experience as a teacher I have always been curious about how to get learners interested and thinking cognitively during lessons. I titled my project “Facilitating a classroom environment with cognitive thinking in learners”. I was very lucky to have met Ms Susan Deemer who was working on a similar project, and she was an enormous help to me. She introduced me to the work of Ron Ritchhart who is a senior research associate with Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate school of Education, where he directs the worldwide Cultures of Thinking Project.
I also got an opportunity to lead and facilitate a lesson using what I learnt whilst doing my project. The learners were very excited about the lesson and I was very motivated when Ms Susan Deemer gave me feedback saying that my lesson was interesting and that I am a natural born teacher. She advised me that the only way I could thank her is for me to do my best at all times as a teacher, and to help other aspiring teachers.
I will certainly aim to fulfil that promise.