The facilitative role of grade 1 teachers in the development of reading skills in Sesotho
Ramabenyane, Mamosebatho Julia
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The study explores the facilitative role of the Grade 1 teachers in the development of reading skills in Sesotho in some Mangaung schools. Since the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) report of 2006 and those of the Systemic Evaluations of 2003 and 2007 revealed that South African learners perform poorly in reading it has became a cause for concern to all. Being a Mosotho by birth, with a personal interest in the development of Sesotho, and also being involved in the teaching of Sesotho at the University of the Free State in the Faculty of Education, School of Social Sciences and Language Education, I became concerned that Sesotho-speaking learners’ performance was the poorest in comparison with other African language speaking learners. My concern was intensified by reports that South African teachers were dissatisfied with their profession and experiencing low morale. This phenomenon evoked my interest in how Grade 1 teachers were facilitating the development of their learners’ reading skills in Sesotho, and motivated me to determine if there was a need to intervene and how the teachers and I would it. I therefore formulated the research question as follows: “How can I assist the Grade 1 teachers in some Mangaung schools to improve their facilitation of the development of reading skills in Sesotho?” My study is qualitative in nature and is based on Kemmis and McTaggart’s model of spiral of action research cycles, which I adapted to suit the contexts of the participants. Since the study involved improving and changing the disempowering conditions which hamper the teachers’ effectiveness in facilitating the development of reading skills, I approached the study within a constructivist paradigm. As teachers began to construct meaning of their facilitative role in the development of reading skills they made significant inputs into the formulation of the guidelines which they adopted as their own and were eager to implement. Thirteen Grade 1 teachers participated in the in-depth situation analysis of the study and only seven in the intervention. Having considered ethical issues, the participants were interviewed, observed in their classrooms and assessed on how they presented reading lessons to demonstrate their facilitative role in the development of reading skills. Data was analysed inductively allowing for categories and themes to emerge. New insights emerging from the in-depth situation analysis informed how the intervention took place. Since the seven Grade 1 teachers participated in the study as co-researchers, they made inputs in developing the cycles of the action research. Cycle 1 of the intervention was undertaken in the form of an awareness workshop entitled “Empowering teachers: working with the head, heart and hands”. The main objective was to assist teachers to understand better some issues pertaining to their facilitative role. The findings of this cycle showed that in providing assistance and guidance to the teachers, they improved their understanding of the progression from Curriculum 2005 to the National Curriculum Statement and the Foundations for Learning Campaign, of reading policy documents, of the concept reading and the reading process, of their facilitative role, and of integrating components of lesson planning. Their level of motivation and confidence improved after the workshop, which further motivated them to become change agents and to improve their facilitative role by participating in the intervention. The Grade 1 teachers and I therefore proceeded to Cycle 2 in which the teachers were continually assisted to implement the guidelines in Spiral Cycle 1, improved the implementation of the guidelines in Spiral Cycle 2 and assessed the implementation of the guidelines in Spiral Cycle 3. The findings of the intervention show that teachers were motivated and gained confidence in having improved their facilitative role in the development of reading skills. They attached value to the collaboration established among themselves, their colleagues from the school they partnered with in my study and between some of the lecturers at the UFS. They have deepened the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes from participating in the study pertaining to their facilitative role in the development of reading skills. Most importantly, they have become aware that they can resolve their own problems by planning, acting, observing and reflecting on their practice. They understand that improving their facilitative role is an ongoing process which can be made easier if they have the necessary resources such as reading books and that they are continuously supported and motivated to commit to their practice.