Star Teacher: John King Hadula

1. How long have you taught at Emma Hoogenhout Primary School?

I have been at Emma Hoogenhout Primary School for 12 years now.

2. Why was education, particularly senior primary education, your focus area?

I am initially qualified to teach Mathematics Grade 8 – 10 but when I was doing teaching practice at one secondary school I realised that learners have poor foundation in Mathematics from primary schools. I have decided to seek employment at a primary school so that I can establish a strong foundation in the grade 7 learners before they go to high school. My former learners can testify to this.

3. What are your ideals as a teacher?

As a teacher I make my learners fall in love with Mathematics as a subject. Most learners have declared fear toward Mathematics. Some learners don’t fail Mathematics because the subject is hard but simply because they have fear and lack interest in Mathematics. My responsibility as a qualified Mathematics teacher is to make sure that I develop love for Mathematics amongst all my learners. I deliver my lessons in a joyful manner such that all learners will be laughing to the jokes I integrate in each lesson. Every academic year my learners will leave Emma Hoogenhout Primary School with something to reminisce from my lessons.

4. What non-educational lessons do you hope to leave your learners with?

I explain to learners that even those who think they are not good in Mathematics they are actually excellent because they do Mathematics daily. When you travel to school and you are punctual it’s due to your excellent Mathematics that you apply on the distance to cover in certain time. All my learners leave with knowledge that the essence of running any business is not to make money but to make profit. My learners also leave with understanding that when you have a negative mindset toward something it will contribute to low self-esteem and it will make you think you are not effective in the world. When you are sick and you are given paracetamol, your mind is convinced that your pain will be gone after taking it. So the moment you put in in your mouth, even before you swallow, you will start feeling like the pain is gone. Why? Simply because your mind is convinced that paracetamol takes pain away immediately. Your mind will react based on your thoughts, if you feed it with positivity it will react positively and if you feed it with negativity it will react negatively. Thus, in most cases leaners fail Mathematics because their minds are rejecting everything based on their belief that Mathematics was not made for them, but the moment they eliminate that fear the better. Through that they will be able to face any challenge in life with positive results right from the start.

5. What are your plans for after retirement?

I will spend time with my family as I have been a busy person for so many years. As teachers even after school we are still teachers because we do lesson plans and marking at home while we supposed to have quality time with our families.

6. What keeps you going when the going gets tough?

I believe that nothing was fashioned to stay forever. Hence when the going gets tough I turn my focus on something that will make me smile. I love taking pictures; I normally take my computer and open folders that have photos of happy moments or go to YouTube and watch funny video clips that will help my mind switch focus.

7. What do you do for fun in your free time?

During my free time I take photos. Therefore, I view old photos that I took when I was learning photography few years ago. Those moments are very funny and the moments are always very exciting.

8. Was education always your first choice and why?

A big yes. Education has always been my first priority. When I was a learner, I used to assist my classmates with certain problems but not in Mathematics though, that boosted my determination for education and for teaching.

9. What are your hobbies?

My hobbies are watching soccer, watching educational video clips on the internet and photography.

10. How do you deal with difficult students?

I am a very lucky person, if ‘luck’ exists, because I never come across difficult learners. Most learners that were described as difficult turned to be my friends when they came to grade 7. My jokes in class make them my best friend and start loving my subject and most of them always come back to visit me after high school. As the only male teacher for grade 7, the so-called difficult learners are placed in my class. They respect me very much and treat me as their father.

11. Any additional information you would like to add about yourself or your journey as a teacher.

I just want to advise the upcoming teachers that they should not choose teaching as an employment opportunity but rather as a passion. The reason we find a lot of teachers leaving the profession is simply because they were not born teachers but they just became teachers to earn a salary.