Teachers CAN Exchange podcast

As we move into the immersion two of the Teachers CAN Fellowship and the Multiplier programme, we as the team reflect on what it means for us to hold space, build community and how we shift from individual agency to collective agency. All of which has been truly inspired by our network of teachers. We learn that when we hold space we allow for certain shifts to take place, these shifts are often realised within our immersive spaces with teachers and when we leave those spaces our reflections take us back to this notion of collective agency and collective voice. Through the voices of the network we have managed to learn and understand teacher identity a bit more. We know that support for young teachers is complimentary to how teachers show up in the classroom.

In the work we do on the ground as Teachers CAN, it’s sad to see how little is known about the support structures that exist for teachers. We’re hoping that this podcast will help bridge that gap in the teaching ecosystem. We want it to become a pillar of support as it shares ideas, guidance and stories of support for teachers in South Africa. 

In this season, we’ll start by exploring the concept of teacher identity in South Africa. Our story begins with a young teacher who has spent the last five years in the classroom and has been intentional about understanding herself and her identity in relation to her profession.

In the subsequent episodes, we map out the journey one takes to become a teacher. We’ll speak to key stakeholders who are working on understanding initial teacher education, teacher induction, and teacher professionalism. Our aim is to understand how teacher identity is conceptualised at these different stages and how we can better support teachers to understand who they are as they do the important work of nation-building.

Teaching goes far beyond one’s knowledge of pedagogy, content, and the learners they teach. Because, as teachers, we teach who we are. Teaching, like any truly human activity, emerges from one’s inwardness, for better or worse. As one teaches, they project the condition of their soul onto their students. These entanglements they experience in the classroom are often no more or less than the convolutions of their inner life.

Viewed from this angle, teaching holds a mirror to the soul. If one is willing to look in that mirror, and not run from what they see, they have a chance to gain self-knowledge—and knowing themselves is crucial to good teaching. As much as knowing their students and their subject.

Episode 1 Trailer: Teacher identity in South Africa

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