SA – Relationships
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Relationships : Exploring Gender, Power, Language, Trust and Other Relationships Across Our Roles

Exploring leadership through an educational pipeline meant the group had to be focused on creating mechanisms and processes that build trust and relationships that help us navigate the hierarchies that traditionally defined our roles.  Through our regular meetings and discussion we made a point to keep in mind that while we occupy certain roles and positions outside of ELADIN, we needed to create a place of comfort and trust where we could share and learn equally from each other.

Related to these discussions, Dean Muki created a web based leadership series that evolved out of the ELADIN discussions,  “Conversations on the Couch with MUKI” . In these interviews she explored women’s leadership issues around gender, power, language, education. In Episode 3: Conversation with Ms Sume ELADIN team members   discuss leadership in service to society, based on Principal Sume’s personal background and creating partnerships with parents, grandparents, community members and businesses to support the school. Drawing from learning and discussions in the COP, Dean Muki also coordinated and participated in an academic panel discussion on women’s leadership at a national education research conference.

These and other opportunities to share ideas (formally and informally) provided important lessons about how our background, family and community experiences teach us important lessons for school leaders.

As a COP we spent a lot of time navigating the space and breaking down these hierarchies and the traditional barriers between teachers and principals, as well as between schools and universities. We explicitly discussed the need to be vulnerable and the need to build trust in our relationships. We also discussed how we wanted to be together in this space, and how we wanted to be free to talk about whatever was happening in our lives. We wanted it to be reciprocal, transparent and we wanted acknowledgement. Team member Jarren is a teacher who joined the project at the encouragement of Ms. Sume. He was a bit overwhelmed at the beginning because he was joining his current principal (Ms. Sume), his former university lecturer (Director Bruce) and his former Dean (Dean Muki).

This excerpted letter from the Charles Duna Principal to the Dean of Ed at Nelson Mandela University captures the ways in which our leadership pipeline connects the school, community and university, and how this partnership helps the community flourish:

Click on the image to read a PDF of the letter.

Our view of education is as a tool for social justice and we strive to do this in all aspects of the school, whether in the classroom, the sports field and even in one on one interaction with our learners. We believe that holistic development should be central and apart from academic and sport excellence. We partnered with the Psychology and Social work departments at Nelson Mandela University to ensure that socio-emotional development of our learners is taken care of, through this project social work students come to school and work with our Learner Support agent to counsel and intervene in issues that affect learners at Charles Duna whether they stem from home or from within the school.

Preserving Indigenous knowledge is one of our greatest achievements in 2019, through this project we bring the community into the school and are creating teaching content using the stories of Grandmothers from the communities around the school. The stories and poetry is first recorded as the Grandmothers recite them. It is then transcribed by the learners to create typed documents which are illustrated by grade 6 and 7 learners. The written story/poem is the reviewed and this allows another team of learners to animate the stories into audio/visual content for us to use in the classroom.Language teachers are in the process of developing these stories into teaching resources suited to specific grades with purposes such as comprehension activities.

Charles Duna is proud to have a garden project that has been around for more than 20 years. This project has sustained our learners and community members for many years and it was only in 2013 the School became part of the Department of Education Feeding Scheme. Even though this has greatly improved our ability to make sure our learners are well nourished, we continue to sustain our gardens and plan to grow this in 2020 by sharing the seeds and seedlings of our produce with the wider community.

ICT Skills include the ability to use computers and technology creatively and independently. Charles Duna’s motto “Excellence Leading the Way” describes this project perfectly. There are multiple means through which we intend on imparting ICT skills and knowledge to our kids in a fun, interactive environment. We are using Lego Robotics and Scratch Coding as two of our primary means to expose and develop skills in learners at Charles Duna Primary. This project began with the donation of computers from Anglo-Gold to Charles Duna Primary and has grown from there into a school wide project which includes all the Learners from Grade 1 to 7.

The CCS is also heavily involved with the Charles Duna Primary and some of the projects like SGB and SMT training are helping the school to better provide quality education. For more than 5 years the school has participated in the Edupeg (Edufundi)programme which focuses on classroom management and better equipping teachers in discipline strategies, planning and exposing them to new innovative teaching strategies which bolster the teaching efforts.

The SGB and SMT have participated in multiple workshops from the Department of Education as well as the Nelson Mandela University in order to develop and train these two major stakeholders in the school to work together in order to create a functional, conducive and productive school atmosphere. Multiple committees have been formed to better sustain all the various activities that happen at school at an organisational level as well as at a grassroots level to ensure order, organisation and transparency throughout the school. The purpose of these committees is to revise and revitalise policy at Charles Duna Primary in order to safeguard the sustainability of the school and to ensure it continues leading the way through excellence.