Physical Science teacher – On our teacher profile today we speak to the dynamic teacher born and bred in KwaZulu- Natal, Newcastle Osizweni (Lister Farm).

Mrs. Xolile Nkabinde-Sibisi started her lower grade education at Cathulani Primary School, Ezincwadini Higher Primary School, and matriculated at Xolani High School in 2002 and graduated at UNISA for B.Ed Degree in 2018.

I studied Analytical Chemistry at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in 2004 and completed my S4 in 2006.

Mrs. Xoli like many children in rural and township areas, did not come from a well-off home environment, this required to work extra hard in order to overcome her home situation while carving a career for herself.

Physical Science
Photocred: Mrs. Xolile Sibisi

I never got an in-service training and time was not on my side because I also had to change the situation at home since I am from a poor background.

In March 2007 my brother Mandla Shabalala told me that his school was looking for a Grade 12 Physical Science Educator. I took the opportunity with both hands and from there I never looked for an in-service training any further, that is how I got into Teaching.

Mrs. Xolile is a well travelled teacher who have experienced the diversity of the South African cultures. Giving her an excellent advantage to understand children from other cultures.

I have worked for different schools in different provinces. I started working in Mpumalanga Province at Kempsiding Combined School (2007) and Uthaka Secondary School (2008- 2009) . I also worked in KwaZulu-Natal Province at Cacamezela High School (2010- 2014) and Zama High School (2014 – 2018) that is where I learned different methods of teaching and that is when I became most competent and relevant .

Mrs. Xolile now works at Daliwonga Secondary School in Gauteng. In 2018 she had a desire to relocate from KZN to Gauteng, however finding a job was almost impossible since many Principals thought my CV was too good to be true…….

only one Principal Mr T.M Godzwane and his Deputy Mr T Mashego believed in me.In the previous provinces I was working as a temporal educator and have been producing quality results with number of distinctions from 2007 to date, as a result I was also nominated as a best Grade 12 Physical Science Educator in all the provinces.

She is currently holding the best Grade 12 Physical Science Educator in Gauteng (Johannesburg Central) for 2019 and 2020 award.

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Physical Science
Photocred: Mrs. Xolile Sibisi

Mrs Mpume Zuma who is a Physical Science subject Specialist at Amajuba district believed in me and I was selected as one of the Lead Teachers in Just In Time (JIT) programme provincially in KZN, where I was unpacking the content sharing different and easiest ways of teaching Physical Science with fellow Educators in 2015 and 2016.

In Gauteng Province (2018 to 2020) I was also selected by the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) to conduct Physical Sciences Camp for Grade 12 learners yearly during June and September holidays for revision purposes.

What was the attraction for Mrs. Xolile to choose education as a careerpath?

I never intended to be a teacher. The opportunity presented itself in 2007 March while I was still looking for in-service training. I then grabbed the opportunity with both hands and that is how I started working as an Educator. As I continued with teaching I became motivated by leaners excelling in Physical Sciences and that is when I developed interest in teaching.

What could be the drive for her to keep going.

Physical Science
Photocred: Mrs. Xolile Sibisi

I become attached to my leaners which makes it easier for me to teach them not just as a teacher but as their parent, seeing them excelling in Physical Sciences keeps me going and I become fulfilled that I am changing their lives in a positive way.

What makes teaching special today and how has it evolved?

Teaching is special nowadays because we no longer use the traditional way but we make use of technology which makes it easier for me to teach kids even if I am away from them. It allows us to use different online teaching platforms and the kids are able research information for themselves online as well.

You’re also going extra lessons for learners, tell us about this project…

I have seen crisis where learners fail Physical Sciences and Mathematics and that is when I realised that something should be done. Many leaners struggle with Physical Sciences and they think it’s a very difficult subject of which is not true. I then saw the necessity of running a project to assist them after school hours, on weekends and during the holidays. The project officially started in 2015 in Newcastle, Osizweni . I then relocated to Johannesburg in 2018, I continued with the project in 2019. We also help upgrading learners, it helps a lot because learners are now doing good in Physical Sciences.

Maths and Science are the most challenging subjects, how does your project help learners understand these subjects?

I have realised that everyone can pass Physics and Maths only if they put an effort. I believe that every learner has a potential and I always say there are two types of learners, it is the gifted and hard workers. If you not gifted you need to be a hard worker, by saying that I check different methods that I can use for different learners. I also do one on one because some learners are afraid to ask in front of others, I teach thoroughly and do more of assessment to check if learners do understand. I normally start with what they know to boost their confidence and once they are confident I then proceed. (I do cross nights). My motor is no learner must be left behind.

Take us through the life of a teacher under Covid……

Teaching under Covid-19 has been very difficult especially in townships , during lockdown we had to find new ways of teaching which is online. At first it was very challenging for the learners since they needed data to connect, during level 3 of lockdown learners had to return to schools and had to attend in rotation phase because of large numbers, so we struggle to finish the syllabus as a result we have to teach on weekend and conduct extra classes to finish the syllabus.

Most people have labelled teachers as lazy, is that fair?

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Physical Science
Photocred: Mrs. Xolile Sibisi

As a teacher you have to be a mother to all the kids and we also have own familiesand as well. So one needs to be present for their own family at the same time you need to mother every kid at school especially those you are teaching.

We are teaching kids from different backgrounds some of them are demotivated, we need to motivate ,teach morals, instil respect, and give them hope before teaching them. Some have personal issues and we are the only people they can confide on and we also need to protect them from bully learners with anger issues.

We end up spending more time with the kids we teach than our families, we always teaching even at home because we still have to teach online until late hours, I love the kids I teach like my own kids, that is why I sometime sacrifice my family time and I learned that from my high school loving teacher Gugulethu Sithole Dlamini ,Thanks Majobe for the love and I would also like to thank my parents and my husband(Bhovungane) for the support and understanding my calling!

In your view how can education improve?

Upgrade infrastructure, eradicate mud schools, fix basic infrastructure and build libraries and laboratories to provide proper learning environment. Better technology should be provided at schools to make teaching and learning easier.

Describe the 1st term of 2021…..

The first term was challenging ,it was an eye opener because this term we trying to close the loopholes and also trying to finish the syllabus for term one but we are slowly getting there.

Words of encouragement to fellow teachers….

Fellow Educators let us teach these kids in a way that you can even let your own child be at the same school you are teaching. Let us do justice to these kids, remember that being an Educator is not just a profession but it is a calling, God has entrusted us with these learners. Let us not teach them a content only but even about life itself, we do not need to do it for money or compensation but we need to do it so that they become successful to uplift the nation and take care of themselves and their families.

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By The Editor

Dumi Mbona is a founder of TMS Mag, an Author. Worked as a schools' youth Life Coach and KZN Youth Parliament Facilitator under the KZN Office of the Premier the Office on the Right of the Child.