MOST PROMISING YOUNG TEACHER OF THE YEAR
Dr Tebogo Mashifana
Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment
Chemical Engineering Technology
If promising teachers are recognised as being passionate, lively, insightful, willing to experiment and to risk then there can be no doubt that Dr Tebogo Mashifana perfectly encapsulates all these attributes. As a well-loved and highly respected teacher of Chemical Engineering Technology, she sums up her philosophy with the belief that "if we are reluctant to change, being irrelevant is inevitable", so it comes as no surprise that, unlike many others, she views the Covid-19 pandemic as a unique opportunity, a transformational experience for both teachers and students. It is a disruption of unprecedented proportions that, in her words, "called for urgent adaption, transformation" and "for ways to improve our practices" and means that we can "never ever be … comfortable with … old ways of conducting teaching … Now more than ever, a student-centred approach to teaching based on care, must be applied in our virtual classrooms".
Tebogo's classroom practice, especially in virtual classrooms, illustrates this belief in action. Therefore, in all her interactions with students, she is always mindful of students' lived experience and the centrality of an empathetic yet critical approach. She takes care to validate their diverse experiences, exposes them to real world problems and offers a wide range of industry-linked opportunities for solving complex problems. Crucially, she makes extensive and innovative use of a range of technological tools and platforms including Zoom and WhatsApp, which ensures that her students are always active and engaged with materials and one another and that they have opportunities where interrogation and critique are encouraged. Tebogo also works hard to create inclusive learning opportunities where all voices are respected and heard.
Congratulations, Tebogo and thank you for the contribution you have made to both your colleagues and your students so far. We are delighted to be giving you this award − you have already gained the respect and admiration of all who know and work with you and we have no doubt that this can only grow as you follow your transformational teaching path in future.