Inflight insights

Flying Cows of Jozi, Building a Movement of Change Agents for 21st Century Education, was founded by our Change-Agent-in-Chief Josine Overdevest based on her philosophy of people-centred technology integration.

Our Movement aims to design multi-partner sustainable solutions to integrate 21st century skills in South African education and develop the change agent potential of high-performing student teachers to assist with the implementation of these solutions.

Our inspired collaboration with innovative clients and partners during the past months has confirmed the value of the Flying Cows of Jozi Movement and provided many valuable insights on change, compassion and coaching that we’ve added to our knowledge capital and summarise in the article below.       

Are you interested in giving wings to your plans for 21st century education? We gladly share our insights and services, just contact Josine at josine@flyingcowsofjozi.co.za and we’ll take off from there!

Change and compassion

For our client ITSI, we’ve been trained as facilitators on their Learning Hacks programme. In the training, we learned about theoretical concepts such as growth mindset, neuroplasticity and the creation of new neural pathways. This training equipped our facilitators to share brain and study facts with primary and secondary school learners, thus helping them to improve their learning methods and study results.

In our vision we see teachers playing a pivotal role in implementing new solutions for teaching & learning. The Learning Hacks’ Backwards Brain Bicycle video of a man who had to re-learn how to ride his bike after his wheel turned in the opposite direction, reinforced an important insight in this regard. The call to start integrating technology in their established classroom practice can be very challenging for teachers who are trained in conventional methods. As the video illustrates, it is always possible to learn a new way of doing things but it requires commitment, effort and practice, followed by more practice. Of course this also holds for teachers who are acquiring and integrating 21st century teaching skills. It taught us to show teachers more compassion when we ask them to start riding their bike backwards, on top of everything else that is expected of them, offering them time and opportunity to practise often and guidance through this practice period.

The enormity of the challenges teachers are currently facing dawned on us following our presence at the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) Dialogue. Flying Cows of Jozi was invited to offer the student teacher perspective on two burning issues which surfaced during the session: 1) how to deal with overcrowded classrooms and, 2) how to include parents in teaching 21st century skills. We debated these issues both online and face-to-face and presented the outcomes of our research and conversations at one of the 21st Century Sandbox Schools Project Power-up Sessions at the NECT. The project team lauded our young teachers on the value of their perspectives.

Change agent challenges

From interviews with the senior Flying Cows, who started their teaching career in 2019, weve learned that these young teachers with beautiful dreams for SA education seem to have a hard time realising these in the stressful everyday reality in the schools where they now teach. After our evaluation conversations with them in late 2018, we followed up at the end of the second school term and, although we are proud of what they are achieving considering the circumstances, we found their feedback concerning.

Most of them have not received a proper induction period and don’t have access to a suitable mentor. They believe their University of Johannesburg (UJ) education has prepared them adequately for the job although some feel that the curriculum could include more teaching practice and attention for the administrative tasks that come with the job. The team work and Mindfulness practice they learned at Flying Cows of Jozi are experiences they regularly draw on in their everyday work.

Our main concern however is that young teachers who are perfectly positioned by both their UJ degree and Flying Cows of Jozi work experience to bring much needed 21st century (digital) skills to schools, now often work in schools where either digital resources aren’t available or the schools won’t allow the young teachers access to these resources and be the change agents they are so perfectly cut out to be.

Coaching change

What a different reception the Flying Cows get when they visit a school as ICT Coach on the Digital Math and Science Practice Programme from our client Siyavula and the Gauteng Department of Education! This project sees the value of coaching teachers to implement the Siyavula platform in their teaching practice by offering weekly support visits to the schools where the ICT coaches assist with technical issues and support the teachers to set assignments and any other aspects of the Programme they’d like assistance with. This approach allows teachers time and opportunity to practise, practise, practise; a key element of adopting the new way of teaching.

Working on this project made us realise once again that bringing 21st century teaching and learning to schools entails a fundamental change in schools which necessitates a solid change management approach. It is an approach that appreciates that most people, teachers included, are naturally change resistant and need coaching through their change curve to overcome fear and resistance and embrace new skills at their own pace.

People and projects

To strengthen the change agent potential of the Flying Cows we include these change management practice & principles in our development programme. Together with the ongoing Mooove It! Workshops and focus on Mindfulness, this all contributes to their lifeworthiness and lifereadiness as advocated by the dean of UJ’s Faculty of Education Sarah Gravett in her recent piece in the Mail & Guardian on initial teacher education.

We look forward to work with clients and partners to develop many more projects where these young people can shine and have a maximum impact on South African education

Are you interested in giving wings to your plans for 21st century education? We gladly share our valuable insights and services, just contact Josine at josine@flyingcowsofjozi.co.za and we’ll take off from there!

Main image: South Africa from outer space by astronaut Tim Peake from the International Space Station (ISS). Credits: ESA/NASA

 

One thought on “Inflight insights

  1. Athar Husain Khan says:

    Great initiative and work. Keep going!

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