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Student-Teacher Internships: The Khanyisa Inanda Community Project (KICP)

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03.02.2021

Student-Teacher Internships:
The Khanyisa Inanda Community Project (KICP)

Introduction

The government’s National Development Plan identified improving the quality of teacher training as critical. One of the Zenex Foundation’s responses to these needs is our high-impact partnership with Khanyisa-Inanda Community Project (KICP). The project focuses on supporting distance-learning Foundation Phase student-teachers studying at UNISA.

Zenex and its partners believe that a model for student-teacher internships should offer teachers-in-training opportunities to apply what they learn in a real classroom, while undertaking theoretical learning for their qualification. This is critical to combating poor quality in Initial Teacher Education (ITE), which can be more of a challenge in the Open Distance Learning (ODL) context.

KICP is developing a support model for Foundation Phase teacher internships in distance education. Student-teachers are placed in public schools to build their classroom practice and pedagogical and content knowledge (PCK). Every student-teacher in the programme has a dedicated teacher mentor who works with them in the classroom.

KICP is one of a few trailblazers designing such a model to benefit learners from low-income communities and public schools specifically. KICP has made encouraging progress and is currently in the implementation phase. To date, the project has been responsible for the successful graduation of more than 50 student-teachers, with 18 individuals being directly supported by Zenex.

Project Overview

The KICP programme pilots a two-year intervention with student-teachers in the third and fourth years of study. A major contribution of KICP is in identifying exactly what is required during internships in public schools for optimum results.

One key component of the KICP model is mentorship. KICP draws on it established network, to recruit experienced, enthusiastic teachers with a desire to serve as mentors. The mentorship component has many advantages, as described below:

  • New aspirant teachers receive valuable guidance on the job and are thereby inducted into the teaching profession.
  • They have many opportunities to observe and experience quality teaching as well as planning, co-teaching, leading and supporting learner interventions.
  • They are challenged to participate fully in host-school activities.

KICP has identified three areas in which student-teachers need intensive support. Each area is addressed by KICP staff, together with its external providers:

  • Personal Development – cultivating self-knowledge, resilience, reflection, self-discipline and integrity among student-teachers.
  • Academic Support – capacitation in tutoring, monitoring, time management and administration.
  • Instructional Practice – lesson observations, innovative teaching techniques, classroom management systems and routines, training of mentors, workshops, conferences and summits.

The KICP programme makes a pivotal difference by including social and emotional factors in its design. Young teachers’ self-awareness, self-management, ability to learn from experience, and the social skills needed in the school environment must be built for them to adapt to and cope in this environment.

Objectives

In partnership with Zenex, KICP has the following key aims:

  1. Developing an effective model to ensure student-teachers in distance education undergo successful internships with the essential support needed to become high-quality Foundation Phase teachers.
  2. Improving teacher quality and practice by placing student-teachers in public schools, where they are provided with academic support and hands-on PCK skills building.
  3. Developing the role of the mentor, including criteria for selecting suitable mentors.
  4. Supporting schools under the COVID-19 pandemic by having student-teachers fill in for teachers, and increasing support to manage health protocols in schools.

Outcomes

The KICP programme has two phases, inception and implementation, each with specific outcomes. During the inception phase in 2020, the programme achieved the following:

  • Development of selection criteria for student-teachers into the programme, identification of suitable internship sites (schools), and student mentors.
  • Refinement of the wrap-around support programme into the essential components to create a scalable, sustainable model.
  • Placement of the first student-teacher cohort into schools.

The implementation phase will run from 2021-2024. During this phase, a second and third cohort of student-teachers will be brought on board. By the end of this programme, Zenex and its partners will have supported 39 student-teachers through the internship.

Conclusion

School-based ITE models are widely recognised as effective in training new teachers. By following this model of distance education, Zenex and its partners believe that the competence of graduating teachers will be greatly increased. The valuable experience and skills gained will allow new teachers to integrate rapidly into the classroom and cope with the demands of the public-school   environment. The programme design illustrates Zenex and its partners’ commitment to the goal of producing a competent, thoroughly prepared cohort of new teachers who will make a real difference to learner performance in the long term.

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