Excellence in Primary School Teaching
Name: Ms Ashleigh Taljaard
School: Van Reede Primary School, Oudtshoorn
District: Eden & Central Karoo Education District
Ms Taljaard is a young, dynamic, innovative and enthusiastic Grade 2 teacher at Van Rheede Primary School in Oudtshoorn who believes in teaching from a values-based perspective.
She believes that teachers should take learners by the hand and open their minds and this is evident in her daily engagements at school. Besides being concerned about her learners, she also cares about her community and neighbouring schools.
Her positive attitude is strengthened by her daily slogan, “yet to yes” which allows children to build self-esteem and motivates improvement. Ms Taljaard believes and encourages all her learners to believe that they can all be successful.
Ms Taljaard is extremely passionate about Information Communication Technology (ICT) and uses Class Dojo, digital games, PowerPoint and YouTube in her daily lessons. As a teacher in a rural district, she uses the internet to expose her learners to real life experiences. A highlight in her presentation was the virtual safari excursion on the school grounds. This contemporary approach created endless excitement for her learners.
As a Foundation Phase teacher, she is passionate about reading as a core skill. The COVID-19 pandemic propelled Ms Taljaard to create a virtual library which has grown to offer virtual readers in all three languages and is currently extended and used by all schools in the province.
Ms Taljaard regularly reaches out to the community and is instrumental in and known for various drives such as sharing pamper hampers and providing stationery to the less fortunate.
Ms Taljaard uses modern and learner-centred teaching techniques to achieve educational success. A highlight is her continuous use of whole brain teaching to determine the baseline of individual learners to guide individual and targeted interventions in her venture towards quality teaching and learning.
A unique and commendable alternative used during COVID-19 was where Ms Taljaard replaced her classroom carpet with individual rubber mats, which she purchased herself. This alternative allowed for the important pedagogy of mat work in the Foundation Phase during unique circumstances.
Ms Taljaard is mindful of diversity by identifying barriers, such as sight and hearing, and placing these learners in front of the classroom. To promote learner self-esteem, she displays a super improver of the week on the wall. She believes in building relationships and in so doing ensures her learners feel safe.
To share her expertise with the entire teaching community, Ms Taljaard published various YouTube videos and was key in various provincial objectives during COVID-19. She is also the chairperson of the local professional learning community in the district.
In summary Ms Taljaard is an ambassador, master teacher, facilitator, mentor, mother and caregiver to her school, learners and community. She accepts everyone as a unique individual and believes in celebrating their talents and therefore she does not hesitate to put on her clown outfit and allow all to share in the joy of making teaching fun.