Back to school-back to opportunties

In the 90’s a band called The Deftones sang a song  “Back to school-back to reality.”  He explains different aspects of school life and  makes it clear that it is not what he wants.(You can read the lyrics here)

Maybe that is how you feel. School starts on Monday(for teachers) and you are not looking forward to it. You don’t know what to expect and that makes you nervous. Or you know what to expect and that drives you crazy.

What is your reality?

  • Overcrowded classes.
  • Learners that cannot read or write in Senior primary.
  • Lack of resources- maybe no water, electricity or stationary.
  • Discipline problems.

I can go on and on and on with challenges that we as teachers experience daily. You have marking to do, you have a family and extra murals keep you busy.teach2

Teaching as a profession is a calling and it takes a lot out of you. You are a professional called for this purpose. What if we can turn those challenges into opportunities?

  • Overcrowded classes – An opportunity to reach more learners. To have a bigger impact.
  • Learners that cannot read or write in Senior primary. You can be the one to finally help them overcome this barrier and one day they will come to you with a degree in hand and say ‘Thank you.”
  • Lack of resources- maybe no water, electricity or stationary. This is your chance to be innovative. You can teach learners to conserve water, electricity and stationary. Teach them that they need to look after their stationary and resources.
  • Discipline problems- this is something that is very sensitive to me and close to my heart. You can instill values on them. Show them respect and teach them manners.

challengesWe as teachers are giving people. We will give and give and give to our own disadvantage. That is why I’ve decided to make my word for the year GRACE. You cannot care and give if you do not look after yourself. Take a bath. Go for a walk. Do you hair. Take a nap.

This year I am going to have:

  • Grace with myself.
  • Grace with my family.
  • Grace with everyone at school.
  • I am going to live as close as possible to the Giver of Grace.

teacherinI feel so strong about this that I’ve written a short series about this topic. Click here for a list of topics in this series.

My hope is that you will be encouraged by this post. That you will realize that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are other teachers around you that are willing to take your hand and walk with you. We have a hashtag:  #ITouchTheFutureIteach on Twitter and Facebook. Join the movement and let us encourage each other.

You only have 197 days left to touch a young mind and heart!

Go for it-we’ll cheer you on!




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Read the inspiring letter that started it all. Click here.

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Your chance to inspire us!

I am a “teacher”


In South Africa the school year starts early January and ends in December. We are thus almost ready to start the new year. This is the English translation for a post that I’ve posted yesterday. (If you’d like to read the Afrikaans please click here.) It is a motivational letter to teachers. For posts on this topic that are already on this site please click here.

I truly believe that teaching is the best job on earth! I’ve asked  Debbie de Jager recently to write something inspirational for us and she exceeded my expectations. If you have an inspirational post to motivate teachers please link up at the bottom of this post or just leave a comment.

If you would like to contact Debbie please find her details below:

Contact number: +27 (0) 79 498 4875





Here is the letter from Debbie:


If this is the way you greet people at your workplace, this letter is especially for you. Next week the bells will ring at our schools again. Why are you going back? “Because it’s my job!” Is that your answer? You are a teacher to other people’s naughty kids or teens and have to get them yet again through another year with a lot of effort and little appreciation. But it’s your job. You’ve chosen this path.

I believe that many things in our lives could improve if we would just stop for a moment and ask ourselves a few tough questions. So to get back to my first question: Why are you going back? Or rather, why did you choose to become a teacher? What was your motivation? Let’s be honest, no teenager leaves high school thinking ‘I can’t wait to come back’! So what propelled your life in this direction? We all know it was not about the money… Maybe four holidays? Or could it be a love forchildren, for people…?

You see, motivation plays a major role in our lives. Why we do certain things will ultimately determine how we do it. If your motivation is very low, you will not put your best effort into a lesson that you have given twenty times already. If your motivation is very high, you will take that same lesson and present it for the twenty-first time as if it was the first time that you were teaching it to someone. That’s why motivation is extremely important.

I hear you and all the other teachers out there who sigh with disappointment and say that motivation left when discipline walked out the door. And life is sucked out of the little motivation left by teachers who compete for position and leadership that shows little or no sympathy and interest. But these realities were not there when you chose this life. And none of these problems should have an influence on your motivation right now.

I want to challenge you to go back to the time when you were excited to teach. The motivation, my dear teacher friend, was inside of you – not outside. You were excited. You loved the idea of standing in front of a class filled with kids. You had high hopes for everyone sitting in front of you. I want to challenge you to start the first day of school in 2015 with a difference. Start with a heart full of hope and excitement. Perhaps the following might inspire you for this new school year.

1. You only have 197 school days to enrich the lives of a specific group of people. Yes, those human beings who can’t spell and stare at electronic devices in their hands all day long are the next generation – and YOU have 197 days of their lives in your hands! Stop teaching your subject.

Start teaching people. Think of your favourite teacher when you were at school. Don’t you wish that he or she could teach all your subjects? What made them your favourite teacher? You can become the “favourite teacher” to so many children and teenagers. At the end of each day, ask yourself if your students are better off because they have spent some time in your class today. The answer will tell you whether you are changing lives or just passing time with a career.

2. You don’t know your students’ circumstances. You might be the only adult who truly loves them. Your words and actions will have a lifelong impact on their lives. Yes, they can make you mad and you might have felt like running away when you learned that a certain young man was to be in your class this year! But it’s exactly that child that needs you. Put some effort into changing those “problem” children’s lives in 2015. Pay extra attention and give some love. When you truly love them, it will change their lives. Your anger and angry words will make no difference. It will probably only intensify their hurt. You can be the strict teacher who everyone is scared of or you can be the teacher who changes lives.

3. Each student in front of you has potential. They might not even realize it. Make a conscious decision to see everyone’s potential, no matter how quiet or how loud the child. Your faith in them may be all that they need to become successful adults. The best and most precious gift you can give them is to believe in them when they don’t believe in themselves. Don’t just believe in the 80% and 90% students. Look at your 50% student and tell him you are going to work together to make it 55%!

4. YOU HAVE POTENTIAL! Potential is a seed that will never die and it’s within all of us. What is

your potential? If you are the same person you were last year, you have not grown. Change is needed! You need to grow. You must go after your potential! You must be a better person and teacher! Your potential should die when you do. Not a minute before. Give your all – to your spouse; to your own children; to your students; to your colleagues; to your headmaster; to yourself. Don’t hold back. Live fully.

5. And lastly, keep passion alive in your heart. I meet teachers on a daily basis whose passion was smothered long time ago. I realize that there are many reasons, but passion is a heart issue. When you have passion for what you do, you don’t need to be motivated – your passion motivates you. In fact, it pushes you. Ignite your passion again and get excited about the opportunity you have to change lives! You are SO NEEDED in our society! We need you! The world needs you!

I would like to end with a little story about myself. Year ago I chose a word that I thought completely describes me as a person. Without telling anyone I asked my husband, my mother and a friend to describe me in one word as well. I was ecstatic when they all picked the exact same word I chose for myself! My word is “teacher”. I don’t teach kids at a school, but it’s who I am. I AM a teacher! There is not a day in my life that I don’t teach someone something or learn something new myself. As cliché as it might sound – it’s in my blood and that’s the reason why I wrote this letter to you. My heart beats with passion for teachers and I would love to help you keep your passion alive.

On the wall in my study just above my desk I have a quote that inspires me daily: “I was born to serve specific people! I have got to find them!” I want to challenge you to change the way you see every single person in your life. If their paths cross yours, you were born to touch their lives and to serve them. Make it the best moments of their lives and it will inevitably be your greatest.

Teacher greetings!

Debbie De Jager

John Maxwell Certified Coach, Teacher & Speaker




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Your chance to inspire us!

Ek is ‘n “teacher”

To all the English readers of this blog you can find the English translation of this post here.  It is a motivational letter to teachers. For posts on this topic that are already on this site please click here.

Dit is amper weer tyd vir skool! Ek is al Woensdag (die 7de Jan) terug skool toe en ek hoop dat almal wat Maandag teruggaan ‘n geseende jaar sal he. Omdat ons as onderwysers so baie negatiewe kommentaar kry het ek ‘n paar slim mense gevra om ons ‘n bietjie te motiveer. As jy iets motiverends het om te se laat weet my asseblief. Onderwys is so ‘n belangrike beroep en ons moet saam staan. Debbie de Jager het vir ons hierdie baie inspirerende brief geskryf. As jy meer met haar wil gesels kontak haar hier:

Kontak nommer: +27 (0) 79 498 4875





Ek gee nou oor aan Debbie:


As dít die manier is waarop jy mense by jou werksplek groet, is dié spesiaal vir jou geskryf. Volgende week begin die skole weer. Hoekom gaan jy terug? “Want dis my werk!” Is dit jou antwoord? Jy is die juffrou of meneer wat ander mense se stoute kinders of tieners deur nog ‘n jaar moet help, met baie moeite en min waardering. So ja, dis jou werk. Jy’t dit mos gekies.

Ek glo dat baie dinge in ons lewens beter kan word as ons net sou stilstaan vir ‘n oomblik en onsself ‘n paar vrae vra. So om terug te kom na my eerste vraag: Hoekom gaan jy terug? Of eerder, hoekom het jy onderwys gekies? Wat het jou gemotiveer om ‘n onderwyser te word? Kom ons wees eerlik, geen tiener maak klaar met hoërskool en dink ‘ek kan nie wag om terug te kom nie’! So wat is dit wat jou lewe in hierdie rigting gestuur het? Ons almal weet dit was nie oor geld nie…

Miskien vier vakansies? Of was dit ‘n liefde vir kinders, vir mense…?

Jy sien, motivering speel ‘n baie groot rol in ons lewens. Hoekom ons sekere dinge doen sal uiteindelik bepaal hóé ons dit doen. As jou motivering baie laag is, sal jy tog nie jou beste insit in ‘n les wat jy al twintig keer aangebied het nie. En as jou motivering baie hoog is, sal jy daardie selfde les vir ‘n een-en-twintigste keer aanbied asof dit die eerste keer is wat jy dit vir enige iemand leer. Dis hoekom motivering verskriklik belangrik is.

Ek hoor jou – en al die ander onnies (kan ek julle maar so noem?) – wat met teleurstelling sug en sê dat motivering saam met dissipline by die deur uit is. Daarna is dit doodgedruk deur ander onderwysers wat kompeteer vir posisie en leierskap wat geen simpatie en belangstelling toon nie.

Maar hierdie realiteite was nie daar toe jy jou lewe gekies het nie. En niks van hierdie probleme behoort invloed te hê op jou motivering nie.

Ek wil jou uitdaag om terug te gaan na die tyd toe jy opgewonde was om skool te hou. Die motivering, my liewe juffrou en meneer, was binne-in jou – nie buite nie. Jy was opgewonde. Jy het liefgehad. Jy het hoop gehad. Ek wil jou uitdaag om die eerste skooldag van 2015 anders te begin as vorige jare. Begin met ‘n hart vol verwagting en opgewondenheid. Miskien sal die volgende paar punte jou moed gee vir hierdie nuwe skooljaar.

1. Jy het net 197 skooldae om ‘n groep mense se lewens te verryk. Ja, daardie klomp wesens wat nie kan spel nie en heeldag na elektroniese toestelle in hulle hande staar, is die volgende generasie – en JY het 197 dae van hulle lewe in jou hande! Hou op om jou vak aan te bied. Leer mense. Dink aan jou gunsteling onderwyser toe jy op skool was. Wens jy nie daardie onnie kon al jou vakke aanbied nie? En wat het daardie onderwyser spesiaal gemaak? Jy kan vir die kinders en tieners in jou klas, ‘n “gunsteling onnie” word. Aan die einde van elke dag, vra jouself of jou leerders beter af is omdat hulle vandag met jou tyd spandeer het. Die antwoord sal jou sê of jy lewens verander het of net tyd laat verby gaan het.

2. Moenie vergeet dat daardie leerder wat voor jou sit dalk die enigste liefde van ‘n volwassene by jou as onnie gaan kry nie. Jou woorde en jou dade gaan ‘n lewenslange uitwerking op daardie kind se lewe hê. Ja, hulle kan jou mal maak en jou moed het dalk in jou skoene gesak toe jy uitvind ‘n sekere mannetjie is hierdie jaar in jou klas! Maar dis juis daardie kind wat jou nodig het. Doen bietjie moeite in 2015 met onmoontlike kinders. Gee ekstra aandag en liefde. Die grootste verandering kom net as gevolg van groot liefde. Jou woede en kwaai woorde gaan geen verskil maak nie. Dit gaan waarskynlik net die seer wat alreeds diep gewortel is, verskerp. Jy kan die kwaai onnie wees vir wie almal bang is of jy kan die onnie wees wat lewens verander.

3. Elke leerder wat voor jou sit, het potensiaal. Hulle besef dit dalk nie eens self nie. Maak ‘n keuse om elkeen se potentiaal raak te sien, maak nie saak hoe stil of hoe stout die kind is nie. Jou geloof in hulle is dalk al wat hulle nodig het om suksesvolle volwassenes te word. Die beste en mooiste geskenk wat jy vir jou leerders kan gee is om in hulle te glo wanneer hulle nie eens in hulself glo nie. Moenie net in die 80% en 90% leerders glo nie. Kyk vir daardie outjie wat 50% kry en sê vir hom julle gaan saam werk om dit 55% te maak!

4. JY HET POTENSIAAL! Potensiaal is ‘n saad wat nooit doodgaan nie en dis binne-in ons almal geplant. Wat is jou potentiaal? As jy dieselfde mens is as wat jy laas jaar was, het jy nie gegroei nie. Verandering is nodig! Jy moet groei. Jy moet jou potentiaal najaag! Jy moet ‘n beter mens en onderwyser word! Jou potentiaal eindig die dag wanneer jy jou laaste asem uitblaas. Moenie dat dit vroeër eindig nie. Gee jou alles – vir jou man of vrou; vir jou eie kinders; vir jou leerders; vir jou kollegas; vir jou hoof; vir jouself. Moet niks terughou nie. Leef ten volle.

5. En dan laastens, hou passie lewendig in jou hart. Ek ontmoet onderwysers op ‘n daaglikse basis wie se passie-vlam lankal geblus is. Ek besef dat daar baie redes is, maar passie is ‘n hartsaak. Wanneer jy passie het vir wat jy doen, het jy nie motivering nodig nie – jou passie motiveer jou.

Steek weer daardie vuurtjie aan die brand en raak opgewonde oor die invloed wat jy op mense se lewens kan hê! Jy is SO NODIG in ons samelewing! Ons het jou nodig! Die wêreld het jou nodig!

Ek wil graag eindig met ‘n ietsie oor myself. Ek het jare terug ‘n woord gekies wat ek dink my as mens 100% beskryf. Sonder om vir iemand daarvan te vertel het ek toe vir my man, my ma en vir ‘n vriendin ook gevra om vir my ‘n woord te kies. Ek het nie woorde om vir julle te sê hoe opgewonde ek was toe hulle almal dieselfde woord as ek gekies het nie. My woord is “teacher”. Ek hou nie skool nie, maar dis WIE ek is. Ek IS ‘n “teacher”. Daar is nie ‘n dag in my lewe wat ek nie vir iemand iets wil leer of self iets wil leer nie. Dis asof dit my hartklop is. En dit is die rede vir hierdie brief aan jou. Ek het ‘n passie vir onderwysers en ek wil jou graag help om jou passie lewendig te hou.

Teen die muur in my studeerkamer regoor my lessenaar staan geskryf: “I was born to serve specific people! I have got to find them!” Ek wil jou uitdaag om elkeen wat jou pad langs kom te sien as iemand vir wie jy gebore is. Jy is veronderstel om in hulle lewens te wees. Maak dit die beste tyd van hulle lewens en dit sál jou beste tyd wees.



Debbie De Jager

Certified John Maxwell Coach, Teacher & Speaker


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Day 22: Blessings: Being a teacher

SAM_1031 SAM_0987 SAM_0999I am really blessed to do a job that I love. I really love being a teacher and even though it is tough at times I am blessed to be a teacher. I’ve written quite a few blogs about it you can find it here.

I love those moments when a student realizes something for the first time. The latest aha moment that a student had last week what that he was so amazed to learn that a star is born. He is talking about it to everyone.

I think that teaching is a calling what about you?20140529_114252_2_2 20140603_081927 20140609_105051

This post is part of the 31 days of 5 minute free writes challenge.

Please click here for a list of posts about Blessings. Please like my Facebook page to stay informed.

31 Blessings


So ANA is behind is…finally. ANA stands for Annual National Assessment and all government schools must take part. It is to standardize education in South Africa. We’ve been practicing for months and really tried our best. Now it is time to wait for the results…pam..pam..pam. See you again next year ANA.


The Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory is located in a natural bowl of hills at Hartebeesthoek just South of the Magaliesberg mountain range  about 50 km west of Johannesburg. This is a place that I’ve come to know quite well and where many young minds have learnt more about space. Our Astronomy club has visited this wonderful venue a few times and Mr Simphiwe Madlanga even visited our school and helped the learners with their Expo projects. He is always friendly and helpful and a local hero at school! I’ve added some pictures below of what we usually get up to when we are there.

We are headed there again mid-October. Cannot wait! Read more about our Astronomy club here.

SAM_1031 SAM_0987 SAM_0992 SAM_0993 SAM_0996 SAM_0998 SAM_1002 SAM_1014 SAM_1017

ScopeX 2014

20140913_115007 20140913_115101 20140913_115041


Yesterday was the BIG day! ScopeX 2014 was finally here!

When we arrived there we were met by two guides who guided us professionally throughout the day. First we went to set up our projects.



Thereafter we had  the opportunity to go into the Sci Bono Mobile planetarium. Inside the ” bubble” we learnt about 20140913_114815different planets and even watched a movie about light pollution.




It was time to go to the ExperiLab  show. We saw various experiments and even saw how “Elephant Toothpaste” is made. The show was very entertaining and insightful.  Outside there was a big tent that was changed int a “camera obscura” and also different ways to tell the time using your height etc. We also saw these interesting dustbins with lenses in them. They make everything look upside down. We also met 20140913_092455the lovely people of Suntoy.
They even gave us a solar car and fan to build at our Astronomy club. I’m sure we will have a lot of fun building it!

Some learners also entered a raffle at the West Rand Astronomy Association and Luyanda won a Galileo telescope! Thank you so much for the telescope it will be put to good use!

Right before lunch it was time for judging. Everyone enjoyed talking about their projects.




After an amazing lunch it was time for the prize giving and the organizers was so kind as to give everyone a prize. Every learner also received a Suntoy solar jar. This will come in handy as some learners don’t have electricity at home.  We also received a “Skyscout Personal Planetarium” for our Astronomy club. We will certainly use this when we visit HARTRAO soon. Thank you this will really help us!


Rokshana won a prize for her project on  planets. Well done!

All in all it was a GREAT day and much appreciated. Thank you so much for a well organized event. Thank you to everyone for sharing their knowledge and kindness. I hope we will be invited again next year. You can find the Scope X website here.

I will be posting more about our  Astronomy club here.

Scope-X telescope and astronomy expo

I’ve recently heard about the Scope-X telescope and astronomy expo and I’m VERY excited about it! You can find their website here. I am going to take some of my children there to exhibit their Eskom Expo projects. On 17 October we are headed to HARTRAO for the last time this year.

The program for Scope-X  looks very interesting. It is on 13 September at the Military Museum (close to the Johannesburg Zoo).  I’ve made contact with a lady named Lerika ( and she is very helpful.

Do yourself a favor and attend this great event. Let me know in the comments if I will see you there.

Here is what happened at the 2014 Scope X

More posts relating to Jozi

Good food and wine expo

Scope X astronomy expo

Jozi inner city

Eskom Expo for Young Scientists

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Sunflowerfun Pre school

Sunflowerfun Primary

Sonneblomme, koffie en varkies


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Eskom Expo for young scientists

Yesterday I had the privilege of judging at the Northern Gauteng Eskom Expo for young scientists. The venue (Sportst Complex of University of Pretoria) is very special to me because it was our national venue when I did Expo in high school. It was also the venue of ESI ’97 where I took part. This hall has many good memories…of doors being opened and of great science! Expo has meant a lot to me in high school and now as an adult I am encouraging my students to take part. We received 4 bronze medals at the Johannesburg Expo. Next year it will (hopefully) be silver or gold. If you would like more info about this great event please visit thier website. It is worth it! image


The participants getting ready yesterdayimage




Some teachers from my school at the judges training

20140529_114252_2 20140529_114304Some of the projects at our school expo.

I have some pictures of my brother and I when we where doing Expo in the ’90’s and I’ll post it as soon as I have his permission. He is a world traveler today and currently in America.

More posts relating to Jozi

Good food and wine expo

Scope X astronomy expo

Jozi inner city

Eskom Expo for Young Scientists