It was a family affair at the University of KwaZulu-Natal graduation in Pietermaritzburg for the Magwanyana family when three members achieved masters in education. Philisiwe, her brother Thandokuhle and his wife Mandy graduated with masters in education in the Teacher Development Studies discipline.
Said Philisiwe, ‘My Masters journey was amazing. It was not easy as there were challenges which I managed to overcome with the support of my family and my supervisor, Dr Jaqueline Naidoo. This journey taught me a lot: to be patient, to read every day, to be a lifelong learner, to believe in myself and to understand how my past experiences influence the teacher I am today. Most importantly, I realised the importance of teacher identity in teaching.’
Philisiwe’s study explored the personal and professional identities of mathematics teachers in the intermediate phase. She adopted a narrative approach using narrative interviews and collages to generate stories about the experience of intermediate phase mathematics teachers, how significant people, events or objects influenced their personal and professional identities and the influence it had on their mathematics teaching.
Her findings highlighted a strong intersection between teacher’s personal and professional identities. Teacher’s cultural backgrounds and emotionality were pivotal factors influencing identities and teaching practice.
Said Thandokhule, ‘My Masters journey was humbling and challenging. I decided to enrol for my Masters in Teacher development Studies because I wanted to bring about change in my profession and the community. I value education and regard it as an important mechanism to improve people’s lives. This would not have been possible without the support, efficiency and constructive criticism of my supervisor, Dr Jaqueline Naidoo, who believed in me. Moreover, my family constantly reassured me throughout my Masters journey.’
In his master’s study, Thandokuhle explored teacher learning of FET phase Life Orientation teachers in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) at a secondary school in the Umkhambathi circuit. He employed a case study approach using semi-structured interviews and collages to understand how teachers learn in PLCs.
Findings of his study revealed that teacher learning in PLCs focus on discussions about assessment practices as well as content topics. He concluded that the PLC was effective to some extent since it displayed a few characteristics of effective PLCs.
Mandy said, ‘My Masters was a good, life-changing experience. My family played an important role in helping me to be successful and guided me when I lost my sense of direction along the way. My supervisor, Dr Jaqueline Naidoo played a pivotal role in supporting me and coming to my rescue during difficult times.’
Mandy’s study aimed to explore teacher learning of grade 10 mathematics teachers in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) in one cluster in Umkhambathi circuit in Umgungundlovu district. She used the case study approach and collected data through semi-structured interviews and observations of cluster meetings.
Her findings indicated that teachers engage in collaborative learning, focusing mainly on setting assessment tasks, discussing difficult content topics and sharing ideas about teaching resources and practices.
The three proud family members were supervised by Dr Jaqueline Naidoo.
According to Dr Naidoo, ‘They were very committed and dedicated to their studies and motivated each other to focus on their studies and meet deadlines.’
She was very happy that all three graduated together to make it a special family achievement.