A day in the life of a Primary school teacher

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Primary School teacher, Nkosinathi Dube.
Primary School teacher, Nkosinathi Dube.
Nkosinathi Dube / Supplied

What is your job?

I am a teacher at Ntokozweni Primary School in Gauteng.

Describe a typical day at work.

I normally arrive at work 30 minutes before school starts, so around 7.30am. We start each day with a staff meeting and when the bell rings, all the learners and teachers gather for assembly to pray and make announcements.

My main duty as a teacher is to be in class on time and to make sure good, quality teaching, and therefore learning, takes place in my classroom. 

How did you qualify for your position? 

I studied a four-year degree – a Bachelor of education – and I’m currently doing my honours in education.

What other skills do you need in your job? 

To be a teacher, you must possess good communication skills, as communication is what the learning process is about. You must be able to explain and articulate properly what you are saying to learners and also be able to communicate on their level.

You also need to be attentive because, as well as teaching the whole class, you need to be able to help individual learners and make sure they know what’s going on.

You need to be a hard worker and always understand that learners come from different families and backgrounds – you need to value and respect that.

You must be willing to learn, be energetic and participate to be visible to the principal, other staff members, the kids and their families. You must be a reliable member of the team.

How did you find your job?

My fees were paid by a government bursary called Funza Lushaka that is specifically for students wanting to study a teaching degree. Part of the agreement was that after I completed my studies, they would place me in a school of their choice that needed teachers.

Why did you choose this job?

I have always loved teaching, even when I was young. I believe being a teacher is a calling, not just a job. There are no freeloaders in our field of work because it comes with a lot of responsibilities. If you are just in it for the money, you will end up feeling frustrated and undervalued.

I was called to be a teacher because I am so passionate about children and I want to be an agent of change in my society.

What is the best thing about your job?

The most fulfilling things about my job are seeing my learners’ willingness to learn and also their achievements along the way.

I love working with these young learners – they are always quick to forgive and forget, they hold no grudges and they help create a free and happy environment.

What is the worst thing about your job?

The hardest thing about my job is seeing learners cry or go through difficulties. It can also be challenging when you have to deal with learners who are not disciplined and parents who are generally irresponsible.

 Would you recommend your job to others?

I would if they truly have a passion to work with children – you really need to love children if you want to be in this profession.

It can be such a fulfilling career, especially when you teach a child something they’ve never done before and you get to see them grasp it and achieve things.

What does the future hold?

Teaching has a future but you must keep up to date with the developments in the field of education. In other words, you need to be a life-long student. Currently, everyone is talking about the Fourth Industrial Revolution and as a teacher, you need to read up on and acquire more skills and knowledge for the modern world. Methods of teaching will probably change.


The average salary for a primary school teacher is around R198 000 a year, according to payscale.com

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