Teacher of the week

By admin
08 July 2013

Our Teacher of the Week is Leigh M Dunn, the first winner of our Teachers for Change competition. We asked him a few quick questions...

Our Teacher of the Week is Leigh M Dunn, the first winner of our Teachers for Change competition. We asked him a few quick questions:

1. Name and Age

Leigh Michael Dunn (age: just over 30)

2. What and where do you teach?

I am a remedial specialist and ELSEN educator and also a National Teaching Awards winner (2012) in the category “Excellence in Special Needs Teaching and Inclusive Education in South Africa”.

I am based at Formosa Primary School in Plettenberg Bay, and am the first male educator in the Western Cape to start an ELSEN (Education for Learners with Special Educational Needs) unit.

3. Why have you chosen teaching as a career?

I always believed teaching is the mother of all other professions, and one of the greatest honours in life is to change a life forever. This can only be done by making a difference in the life of a student, and a teacher can accomplish this.

The other reason why I chose education as a career is because it’s the only career in which you can play so many crucial roles simultaneously, and thereby enrich the lives of others in even greater measure. In one day a teacher is a clown, a musician, an actor, a politician, a historian, a social worker, an artist, a doctor, a psychologist, among others. My passion for teaching all started when I began teaching in South Korea in 2003. There I learnt to teach children something out of nothing, because they don’t even understand our language [English]. There I learnt the basics of special needs teaching, for example always focusing on a concrete object when teaching a new concept to children.

4. Share 3 tips for educators in your field.

• Never give up on any child – My favourite class motto is “Even the smallest star shines in the darkness”, thereby emphasising the importance of never underestimating any child;

• Every child can read – I believe special needs children don’t have to adapt to our education system; instead our system needs to adapt to the needs of these special children because perhaps they cannot read a book, but they can read our emotions towards them;

• A game a day keeps the pressures at bay – One of my educational strategies is teaching children mathematics and literacy (language) through educational activities and games, because children learn better when they enjoy what they’re doing.

5. Share 3 tips for new educators in any subject or grade.

• Always strive to be a good role model, because teaching is more than just conveying knowledge. Instead it’s a lifestyle, and there are so many who are looking for good role models to follow in life;

• Be the hope and the light which people and especially so many young people are seeking in this dark world;

• Regardless of what the academic curriculum requires of you, make sure the child remains the focal point of your classroom. Whether you complete your required curriculum or not, it’s of more value to ensure your students are happy and that they trust you. Only once they trust you as a person, will they trust you to convey knowledge to them and speak into their lives.

6. Your favourite equipment or book to use in the classroom?

I believe the 21st-century educator needs to be confident in using alternative teaching materials, for example the iPad, the computer, the television, and even iBooks to read to the students via iPads. I have all these materials and others such as musical instruments and CD players in my classroom because the era of only teaching with textbooks is long gone. If we as educators learn how to keep up with modern technology, we’ll keep the attention of our learners and keep them happy and excited about learning.

7. What motivates you?

The realisation that I’ve been chosen to make a lifelong difference in the lives of so many young children is such an honour to me indeed, and that thought alone daily motivates me to do even more than my best, knowing I’m not doing it for myself but for others . . . “To teach is to touch a life forever.”

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