Very welcome to my blog! This blog was created in 2007. I started the blog initially to inform my American chess friend, Dan, about South Africa. It all turned out – well what you see now, a complete mix of everything and chess. You will also find some poems on my blog – I do love poetry and do write my own too – whenever there’s time.
I’m a Primary Teacher from South Africa, also British qualified and I’m teaching primary KS2 – which is age 7-11. At the moment I’m teaching children age 9, Y5, in a UK school. I have also experience with Y3, Y4 and Y6. Education has always taken an important place in our family. With a husband as a teacher, our own two children also ‘suffered’ quite a bit having two teachers – as parents at home. Also, my granddad left Holland as a young teacher to teach in South Africa, so I couldn’t make a better choice in becoming a teacher myself! My granddad also started a school – first in his own house – and today it’s a government school and it even had a new extension to the old, original building! Isn’t that cool? Read all about the school on this link. I have pictures of the children, busy learning, in his very own house. I also have a whole bunch of extended family members in teaching! My uncle -on my mum’s side- was the Secretary of Education, Arts and Science [J. J. Op’t Hof] in the 1970s and you can imagine if our family have a family gathering, it’s just teacher-talk! Yes, we all shared the passion for teaching and learning and what matters to us all – children and learning! In this photo you can see my uncle in the middle. Photo: https://ujdigispace.uj.ac.za/handle/10210/3619
I’m a poetry lover. See the Poetry/Gedigte-page for some of my own – and when you read it, please know that it is my own thoughts and I’m not trying think myself a professional poet! – Some in English and some in Afrikaans. I’m proud to say that I have a poem, written by the well-known and national poet of South Africa, Eugene Marais, published in English. I’ve translated it in English and on THIS LINK you can see the conversation between Hanna – from the publishers – and myself in the comments box. The poem has been published in a reading series, Level 6, for schools in South Africa. That is so cool to have a book with a poem and your name attached to it. – well for this one only the translated poem, but still… hehe
I’m proud to say that I’m a close relative to the South African National poet and writer: Barend Toerien and MC Toerien. Toerien is also the maiden name of my Grandma on my dad’s side. Barend Toerien lived in the USA before he went back to SA. He passed away in 2009.
I have a ‘special‘ connection to the British/South African War [Anglo Boer War] via my Great Granddad, who was the Acting President of the ZAR and at the end of the SA/British War [also called the Boer War] he signed the Peace Treaty whilst Paul Kruger, the President, was abroad and in the Netherlands. On the given link you can read more about him.
Children with learning disabilities have always been close to my heart. I had Remedial studies as a subject during my training as a teacher and furthered my interest in Special Needs Education with a diploma in Neurological Learning Disorders, which also includes the child with ADHD. I’m busy with my Masters in SEN [Special Needs Education] Something I wanted to do three years ago, but time was tight. I am now about to start my research project.
Nikita is my blog-nickname and it originates from my chess-nickname on a chess site – and the song by Elton John. Lee originates from the lead singer in Joseph and the amazing technicolor dream coat.
My teaching experience in SA is in the age groups 9-13, but more with Gr3’s – [9 year old children]. I have worked with students with Autism/Down Syndrome students and also students with visual problems – partially sighted students (including blind students). In 2007 and 2011 I had autistic boys in my class and I learnt a lot about autism. At the two school where I was teaching in SA, I used to be the lead teacher in SEN. Due to staff shortages at the Local Educational Support Services, I received in depth training to test and diagnose children with early learning difficulties and referred some more serious cases for in-school support. With less serious cases I supported teachers as to how to support them in class with special designed programs for the particular problem. I also advised many parents as to how to support their children at home.
I’m also a qualified Teacher-librarian. South African teachers are lucky to have the training we had in the past. We were lucky with the quality of training we had we had at the time as well. Visit Prof Yonge’s site – he is busy translating Prof W A Landman’s works- and other South African Educational Academics – like Prof Landman. You will then understand the training we had and what we studied. Also, you will understand what the lesson structure was all about for us – which is of course very similar as the UKs of the moment, e.g. ‘Plenary’ for us was called ‘Evaluation’. Questioning was the way of starting our lessons, and sometimes Blooms Taxonomy was overused.
You will find on my blog an entry on Dyslexia and also an entry on Irlen Syndrome. Dyslexia and children with any ‘learning problem’ are topics very close to my heart. I’ve always had a soft spot for any child with any ‘problem’. They always attract me! On the entry about Irlen Syndrome, you will find a book: ‘Reading by the colours’ – which will help you understanding reading problems of children. It is definitely a book I can recommend for reading, if that is your interest! Oh, did I mention: I hate it if people [in general] are dishonest. Wonderful how our society is made up of such a rich variety of nations and people, but so sad to know that you get people who don’t have the same values you believe in. Honesty and Integrity and kindness- very important principles you can NOT divide, which is SO important in our lives to make up a GOOD [brilliant] society. I hope you share the same values. Langenhoven, a brilliant national writer of South Africa said: Good books and music enrich the soul. If you are in GOOD company, you enrich yourself, hoping you get enriched by what you find on my blog.
Here are a few links – for you to follow up. They are some of the popular links on my blog. Enjoy!
The following links are from my blog and will open in a new window.
Click HERE to read my 2008 entry about Irlen Syndrome, including the book: Reading by the colours.
Click HERE to read about hyperactivity and dyslexia.
On THIS LINK you can read about trees and their personalities! What kind of tree are you?
On this link you can read about ADHD, exercise and learning.
On this link you can read my 2009 entry about playing chess and how it may help the child diagnosed with ADHD.
On this link, you can see translations of what we as trainee teachers had to study – and it’s not even all of it. You will get a glimpse of what South African teachers had to ‘go through’ during our training – before 1994. What is not on the link, is like Yonge says at the bottom of the page: Historical and Comparative Pedagogics. It’s just mind-blowing what we had to study.
On the next link you can see how we as student teachers [trainee teachers] had to structure our lessons. In your first year of teaching it was expected that EVERY LESSON you taught, to be written out according to these steps! They are cemented in your brain forever, ask me.[hehe]
I have experience of being a Teacher-librarian for 14 years -whilst teaching too. Library studies was ONE of my subjects [skills subject] during my training as a teacher. Remedial Studies was another subject – academic subject – one of many other subjects. Remedial Studies was my 2 year-academic subject and Northern Sotho [one of the indigenous languages in South Africa] my 4 year academic subject. All other Educational subjects were compulsory, e.g. Child Psychology, Pedagogy, Orto-pedagogy, Social Pedagogy, Didactic Method, etc etc [including Maths/Science/History/…etc etc – the normal school-based subjects] We sat exams and tests all year round! You had to get 50% [at least] for a ‘pass’ in each subject. Practical teaching was always in August – for a whole month – all of the 4 years of study.
I do blog about things in life I enjoy/love/like/believe in/find interesting/find fascinating/find stimulating and to express my views and don’t blog to satisfy/impress other people, but more to inform/enrich other people…although I know some topics like music, poetry and chess aren’t everybody’s piece of cake. – but at least it’s mine. [hehe]
I like the following quote – apart of Hamlet’s quotes! Hamlet was my Shakespeare book we studied when I was in Grade 11. ‘Something is rotten in the State of Denmark’ is my favourite Shakespeare quote. I think the quote speaks for itself in many situations!
“He who knows not and knows not he knows not: he is a fool – shun him. He who knows not and knows he knows not: he is simple – teach him. He who knows and knows not he knows: he is asleep – wake him. He who knows and knows he knows: he is wise and a leader- follow him.”
Another favourite quote: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” – Abraham Lincoln
I’m a book lover and in particular a lover of children’s books! (believe it or not!) and therefore, you will find posts about great books I’ve come across or used in my teaching….Afrikaans as well as English…you will find books/writers on my blog…also entries about South African writers…e.g. Dalene Matthee and a few others…I do try to write poems too, in both languages, so you can read the page about “poems/gedigte” and I hope you enjoy what you find! You will find a very extensive entry about the British/Boer War as I have a strong connection via my great grandad to the war – he was acting president during the time Paul Kruger was in Switzerland and signed the Peace Treaty with the English. On my blog you will find lots of South African recipes, some entries with photos showing you step-by-step…if you go to the “movies” page you will find “movies” about places in SA…one in particular about our holiday at Swadini…in the Eastern part of the country…called Mpumalanga…where the greenest canyon in the world is and the third longest tufa waterfal,(the weeping tufa). If you don’t know what a tufa waterfal is, make sure you watch the Swadini-video.
I’m not a professional chess player at all – as someone asked me once, but do play for the fun of it online. For 9 years I had two chess teams at my school in South Africa. I had children in my A-team who gained colours in chess. I used to love chess at school, but it was only always boys playing chess, so I always avoid going to the chess club at school. Those boys always gave you the look of ‘you’re a girl and girls don’t play chess!’ It was only during my years as a trainee that I played chess.
As I’m a teacher too, you will find links to educational sites or find educational-posts from time to time. I have lots of posts about chess….some of my own games. I’ve blogged about research that was done in the past on chess/education…big tournaments which the world’s chess grandmasters take part in. You will find Carlsen/Anand/Kramnik’s games here and many other Chess Grandmasters….also the Africa Juniors of 2008/2009 and major South African chess tournaments up to almost the end of 2009…I grew up with classical music and therefore love it! You will find a couple of entries on classical music too. I always try to find other resources and link it to my posts…enjoy whatever you find here and if you love travelling, then make sure South Africa is your next stop!
You want to know about the history of food in South Africa? This link here, is an Afrikaans Thesis about South African food 1652-1800’s. The link will open in a new window.
44 Places to go in 2009…on this link South Africa is nr 34…click on the South African-image and see why you have to go there in 2009!http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/01/11/travel/20090111_DESTINATIONS.html?hp
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