BrightSparkz Tutors was created in response to a need for assistance expressed by parents and learners at all levels of school education. Here, they provide solution for tutoring kids with special needs, tips for students if they blank out during exams and much more.
Langutelani S. is our June 2019 Tutor of the Month!
Langutelani has been a BrightSparkz tutor since June 2018, and has tutored school and adult level learners, assisted with concessions and is one of our Zulu Boot Camp tutors!
Langutelani is a brilliant tutor who is always looking for ways to add to the academic growth of anyone she can help. She is there for clients in a variety of ways, including assisting as a concessions facilitator, operating as one of our most trusted Zulu Boot Camp facilitators, and doing incredible work as a multilingual school subject tutor, for which she has local as well as international experience. Langutelani is also a student teacher at the African Union International School where she teaches Zulu, English and French basics to beginners. She holds a National Diploma in Metallurgical Engineering from the Tswane University of Technology and is currently in her first year of study towards a Postgraduate Teaching Certificate through the University of South Africa. She always puts special effort into relating to her students’ needs, motivating and encouraging them along the way. During her spare time, Langutelani enjoys playing sports such as hockey as well as attending soccer matches for fun! She also enjoys playing board games, writing shorts stories, hiking and sightseeing.
Thanks for being such a valuable member of the BrightSparkz Joburg team!
As I write this, thousands of students at universities across South Africa start writing their mid-year examinations, undoubtedly with much anticipation and anxiety! And how much more for a student with a disability or who experiences a barrier to learning.
Exam concessions and accommodations in schools and universities
Examinations as an assessment method are still typically the standard form of assessment at all major universities and colleges, both public and private. Although the principles of Inclusive Education (introduced in the White Paper 6 on Education, 2001) have slowly made their way into our basic and tertiary education system, it is reported that up to two thirds of students with disabilities express that they have difficulties with standard assessment methods.
The Department of Basic Education’s Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support Policy supports early identification of learning barriers and encourages learners to apply for a concession before they get to Grade 10. A concession (also known as an accommodation) may be granted for a reader, scribe, prompter, or personal assistant, as well as things like additional time, spelling and handwriting.
This movement in schools towards supporting inclusive education through assessment differentiation, has an implication on universities and raises the question: How are universities accommodating the growing number of students who have been granted a concession for tests and examinations?
The University of Johannesburg supports students with exam concessions
The Centre for Psychological Services and Career Development at the University of Johannesburg (known to many of us as UJ), headed up by Educational Psychologist Leila Abdool-Gafoor, has a professional team designated to supporting students with assessment concessions. According to Dr Abdool-Gafoor, concessions aim to level the playing field for those with and without disabilities. “My vision is to support our students at the University of Johannesburg, such that their disabilities do not hinder or act as a barrier to them achieving their goals.”
BrightSparkz recently conducted formal concessions training with 15 carefully selected staff and students at UJ’s Auckland Park Campus. The training upskills staff and students to effectively fulfill the duties of a reader and scribe; to maintain exam integrity throughout the process; and create a consistent experience for the student. It was encouraging to interact with such a committed team, and see a major South African university willing to invest in the development of its staff – the students with barrier to learning studying at UJ are in good hands!
The BrightSparkz’ Exam Concessions Team
Since 2017, BrightSparkz’ concessions team have supported students and learners with over 2200 examinations and have trained over 160 individuals to act as readers, scribes, prompters and personal assistants. 18 Schools and 10 University campuses across Gauteng and the Western Cape currently rely on the BrightSparkz team to fulfill these roles and support their in-house team of support professionals. If you’d like to get more information or contact us about your needs in the area of concessions, please get in touch with our Concessions Team at BrightSparkz: email@example.com or find out more about our Concessions Facilitators.
Somehow, the end of the semester has snuck up on you, and amidst all the things that are on your to-do list, up pops the dreaded exam timetable. It’s a stressful time for your kids, and it’s a stressful time for you. On top of everything else that’s going on, you have to find time to help your kids study for their exams. But isn’t there a better way?
Setting goals is a simple way to help your kids start off the right way. Instead of leaving everything to the last minute, running out of time to do things properly, or panicking at the load of work that has to be done, why not start studying from the beginning of the school term?
Well, this seems like a great idea, but what’s a practical way to prevent procrastination and begin the year on the right foot? The answer is setting effective goals, and a great way to do this is using the SMART method of goal setting.
What are SMART goals?
So, what are SMART goals, anyway? George Doran created the idea in an article he wrote about setting management goals and objectives. However, the technique is so effective that it is used in a variety of contexts by loads of diverse people for different reasons. Here is a guideline you can use to help your child set effective SMART goals.
Let’s start with “S” for SPECIFIC
This means they should write a detailed and thorough goal. If the goal is too general or unclear, they will struggle to achieve it. Instead of saying “I want to do well in my subjects”, rather say “I want to improve my marks by 10% this term”.
The next letter is “M” for MEASURABLE
The goal needs to be measurable, otherwise how will they know if they are succeeding? Form benchmarks to establish whether they are reaching their goalpost. For example, if they want to better at mathematics, they can start off by practicing a certain number of equations each day. Then, complete practice quizzes, tests, and examinations. They will see an improvement in their scores as they practice consistently, learn from their mistakes, and get better with every practice assessment.
Third, we have “A” for ATTAINABLE
An attainable goal is something that is possible for them to achieve. If they are failing a subject, it is unrealistic to set the goal of getting a distinction, and they will just get discouraged when they can’t accomplish an unrealistic goal. Rather, set the goal of improving by x percent.
The “R” stands for RELEVANT
Ask why they want to achieve this goal? Is their goal relevant to their life? Does it fit in with their short-term and long-term goals? Do they have the resources to complete this goal? If they consider the rewards of achieving their goal, it will help motivate them and help them stay committed even when things get challenging.
Finally, let’s look at “T” for TIMELY
Does their goal have a deadline? They need to have a starting point and an ending point for their goal, otherwise they will struggle to find the motivation to work toward it. Creating a routine will help them realise their goals because they will work towards them little by little every day, instead of rushing around at the last minute. Be flexible, but don’t let things fall between the cracks. Like the tortoise taught us, slow and steady wins the race!
Do the work!
Understanding these steps and working with your child to put them into practice will help you and them make the most of the time available. But it’s not enough just to have SMART goals, they still have to build an action plan and do the work! So now that they’ve set their SMART goals they are ready to improve their marks and allow their schedule to help them succeed.
Writing effective SMART goals
Don’t say: I want to do well in English
This term, I will improve my essay writing by 10% by
planning my essay,
completing a draft one week before the deadline,
asking my friends and teacher to review my draft,
and revising my essay at least three times before handing it in.
Download your SMART goals template here. Use this template to start working on your own SMART goals!
Written by Vicki Snyman, BrightSparkz Tutor and Guest Blogger
Dimitri has been a BrightSparkz tutor since December 2017, and he has done an INCREDIBLE 375 hours of tutoring for us!
Dimitri matriculated from Fairmont High School in 2013 with 7 distinctions. He has completed his BCom majoring in Business Management, and is currently doing his Honours in BCom Business Management majoring in Financial Management, through UNISA. He was the Deputy Chairperson of his college’s SRC in 2016, and headed up a project assisting children with learning difficulties such as Down’s Syndrome and Autism with a school market day. He has completed his Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certificate, and plans to teach English in Asia in his future. Dimitri joined BrightSparkz in November 2017 and has accumulated over 370 tutoring hours. Dimitri receives raving reviews from all of his clients who are delighted to have him as a tutor.
Dimitri, thank you for all the time and effort you invest into tutoring; you are an incredible tutor and we are privileged to have you as part our BrightSparkz Team.
Riven has been a BrightSparkz tutor since September 2018, and she has done 30 hours of tutoring for us!
Riven is a helpful, friendly and trustworthy tutor. He Matriculated from Edenglen High School with stupendous results affording him entry into the University of Witwatersrand. He is currently in his third year studying his BSc in Biological Sciences degree, majoring in Genetics and Microbiology. Riven enjoys cricket and his skill-set and leadership qualities awarded him the Captaincy of First Team cricket at his high school in 2013. Some of Riven’s valuable qualities include being comfortable in his knowledge base in order to tutor the subject given, he sets the tone well for the lesson and engages with the learner and their needs. Riven delights in engaging in sports such as cricket, volley-ball, soccer and swimming.
Riven tutors a variety of subjects, including Maths, Physical Science and English.
Tomorrow’s doctors, lawyers, scientists and artists are today’s children and to be able to nurture and nourish these young minds is an honourable privilege. Tutoring is a rare opportunity in having a positive impact on young individuals. It’s a special responsibility that should be carried out to the best of your ability. Here are a few tips to becoming a successful tutor:
1. Starting off on the right foot/note
When meeting learners for the first time it is important to develop a proper rapport. They need to feel comfortable enough to openly tell you where they require assistance. It is also essential to strike the right balance when it comes to making the learner comfortable and remaining rigid and in charge. The following may be helpful in your approach:
Making small talk in the beginning always breaks the ice. Always ask the learner about their day or any tests/ tasks they mentioned to you previously. By doing this it shows that you care and also pay attention to them.
As nice as it is to always play the good cop there comes a time where you have to make it clear to your student that you are not their friend but a mentor. The learner should not take advantage of your good nature. You are there to help them so if you have to put your foot down, do exactly that!
2. Problem areas
In addition to asking learners where their difficulties lie, also assess them as there may be problems that they, themselves, are not aware of. This does not necessarily have to be a specific topic but also simple tasks such as reading and writing. For example, a brilliant Maths student who fully understands his work, falls short due to hastily reading questions and misinterpreting them.
3. Each student is unique
Do not use the same method or style for all your learners. Always assess your learner on your first lesson, whether it’s required or not. It will give you a better indication of what would work for the learner. Pick an approach, test it out, if the learner doesn’t respond well, change your approach. Do not force your teaching style on the learner. Have an open mind and always keep the learner’s best interest in mind.
A lot of learners will not listen and plan their time table on their own. Instead of explaining how to, take a few minutes to help them actually plan it out. If you tell a learner to plan it out themselves, they view it as extra work. Let’s face it, no learner wants to do more work than they have to. Plan a schedule with them and motivate them to stick to it. You can also lead by example by implementing this in structuring your lessons. If you stick to a schedule they will follow suit.
For example, in a 1 hour lesson:
10 mins is dedicated to a quick revision test.
40 mins allocated to discussing the topic of choice
10 mins to homework collection and handing out new homework.
5. Challenge your learner
Continuously test pupils on previous work as well as areas they comfortable with to keep the content fresh in their minds. Learners tend to zone out sometimes, by continuously questioning them and keeping them on their toes, you are forcing them to pay careful attention to you. It is also a good way to detect which topics need more work on and is also great preparation for spot tests at school.
6. Feedback to parents
It’s vital to keep parents updated so that they can also step in when the need arises. Tutors usually put all their attention on the learners and forget about the parent’s role in all of this. Parents are naturally concerned about their children, reassurance from you will take a weight of their shoulders. They are entrusting you with their child’s future, so the least you can do is keep them in the loop. Express your concerns and approach with them, sometimes they can help enforce certain rules or behaviours that would be beneficial for the student.
Tutoring is more than just passing down knowledge, you are playing the role of not only a teacher but also a role model. Every student is not going to be obedient and easy to work with, you are going to come across a few who push your buttons and make you question what you do. When that time comes, remember that you have the ability to shape the student into a better human being. It is a major responsibility so always give it your 100%, never give up, and remember the difference you making in their lives.
If you want to become a BrightSparkz tutor, find out more here.
Written by Nirvana Rampershad, BrightSparkz Tutor & Guest Blogger
BrightSparkz was established in 2007 by 3 university students who saw a need for private tutoring. 12 years later, BrightSparkz has branches in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria, and offers online tutoring countrywide. From offering tutoring for a few school subjects, BrightSparkz now offers tutoring for all school and university subjects, adult languages, Language Boot Camps (Afrikaans, Zulu, French and more in the pipeline), Concessions Facilitators (readers, scribes, prompters and invigilators), a Study Skills Crash Course, location tutoring and childminding on film sets, and more!
The directors, Amy Stockwell and Dominique Oebell, are women with a big plan: to be recognised by schools, universities, parents, and students across South Africa as the “go-to” and “gold standard” for quality tutoring and learning support, and as the learning company that has provided the most amazing opportunities for learners, tutors, and edu-professionals.
In support of this goal, they have launched Project 10 000. This project is committed to donating 10 000 tutoring hours to learners who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford educational support, over 3 years.
In addition to this, BrightSparkz is a certified Level 4 BEE contributor, and is committed to improving opportunities for young women in South Africa.
How we’re making a difference
70% of BrightSparkz tutors and concessions facilitators readers and scribes) are women, most of them still in university
100% of BrightSparkz permanent staff are women, and 86% of these are young women (under the age of 40)
BrightSparkz is also 100% female-owned – read more about the Brains Behind BrightSparkz here
We place a large focus on tutoring STEM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and recruits female tutors in these fields to tutor and act as mentors for younger learners (read more about STEM here)
BrightSparkz is also committed to recognizing the differences in the difficulties faced by our male and female students (read more on how ADD/ADHD affects girl students differently here)
For the last few years, BrightSparkz has been partnered with several foundations that provide sponsored tutoring to female students exclusively
Approximately 70% of our Project 10 000 sponsored learners are female!
Christie has been a BrightSparkz tutor since July 2016, and she has done an impressive 113.5 hours of tutoring for us!
Christie matriculated from Rhenish Girls’ High School in 2015 with excellent results, including 88% for Maths and 89% for Physical Science. She is currently studying her BSc majoring in Ocean, Atmosphere Science and Marine Biology at the University of Cape Town. She received full academic colours in high school, while also working part time and has been volunteering at the Two Oceans Aquarium. Christie has also studied Manderin for the past 4 years. Christie is engaging and passionate about teaching and helping others. Christie enjoys going diving or hiking in her free time and describes herself as honest, empathetic and understanding. Christie joined BrightSparkz in 2016 and has an amazing achievement of over 113.5 tutoring hours with us and shows no sign of slowing down.
Christie tutors a variety of subjects, including Maths and Physical Science and has had outstanding feedback from her clients:
“For the first time she understood how to do fractions in a simple way. Christie seems to have explained and shown the concepts of multiplication and fractions very well. My child is so confident even if it’s only the first lesson.”
With the busyness of everyday life, you may be wondering if it is worthwhile for your child to participate in extra-curricular activities at school. Won’t it just add more pressure onto your child, and onto your already hectic schedule?
However, there are definite benefits to allowing your child to participate in extra-curricular activities:
Sports & team activities
Participating in sports will develop sport-specific skills in your child if they show interest in a certain sport.
Fitness, strength and endurance will be developed, to counteract all the sedentary activities (TV, PlayStation, Cell phone usage and computer games) that many children engage in.
Children also learn to play in a team and develop sportsmanship.
Physical activity will also lessen the risk of your child becoming overweight due to too many sedentary activities. Alarmingly, South African has a rapidly rising childhood obesity challenge which is worse than the situation in the US!
Other physical activities
Of course, not all children enjoy sports participation or have the co-ordination to participate in ball or team sports. You could also consider activities like the following, depending on where your child’s interests lie:
Gymnastics or trampolining
Physical activity of any type is great for your child’s concentration at school with the increased flow of oxygen to the brain and the release of endorphins whilst exercising. Furthermore, it enables children to build their confidence as they master new skills and participate in activities.
Non-physical extra-mural activities
Your child may also develop other interests which do not involve physical activities, such as playing chess, art classes, drama, science club or music. You may have a future chess world champion or another Einstein living under your roof! All of these are avenues for your child to grow and discover where their talents lie!
School activities versus club activities
Your child may have interests which are not offered at school, such as martial arts classes or horse riding. If you can, send them for lessons at an outside club. They will meet new people in different environments and be able to grow a larger network.
If not, encourage them to participate in school activities or activities offered in the community which also offers many benefits.
The importance of participating in school activities
Participating in activities at the school, and perhaps being part of a school team representing the school, offers several benefits to your child:
They get to know some of their teachers outside the classroom environment. This can lead to better relationships with the teachers and their team-mates.
They will make a name for themselves at school. This may help them be more visible to the student body when it is time to choose prefects or learner representatives when the student body has a vote.
It will help them develop a sense of pride in their school and leave them with fond memories in the years to come.
They will learn the value of teamwork, give them a sense of belonging and accomplishment.
Involvement as part of a team or another extra-curricular activity is important especially if your child is not particularly strong academically. Being involved and being good at activities other than school work will raise their self-esteem.
If you would like to see your child improve confidence in their academic performance, there are some extra-curricular activities available which will assist your child to a greater accomplishment in their academic realm. These include:
Afrikaans Boot Camp – this will help the child struggling with poor Afrikaans marks to improve their marks and confidence.
Zulu Boot Camp – to assist the child who has just started learning Zulu at school to be ahead of the pack.
Study Skills Crash Course – this short, two lesson course will assist your child to know what learning style they prefer and give them study tips to improve their confidence.
If your child already participates in a variety of extra-curricular activities but you would like to see equal commitment and improvement in their school marks, why not get a hand-picked tutor to assist? Your tutor will assist not only with academic subjects, but very often they make a difference in your child’s life by motivating and encouraging them as well!
A well-rounded child is a happy child! Balance is key to your child’s ultimate success in life, so encourage them to participate in suitable extra-curricular activities at school.
Written by Natalie Wilke, BrightSparkz Staff & Blog Writer
Congratulations! You’ve completed school successfully and now you’re proceeding to the “rest of your life!” It is an exciting time of life for you! No more school bells, uniforms, book covering or teachers! Freedom calls.
You are looking forward to university (where you don’t have to wear a uniform, listen for the bell or cover books). You have far more independence and will be able to structure your own time. People are treating you more like an adult, and with that, they will also be expecting more from you.
Perhaps you are going to a university far from home and not only do you have to learn to adjust to university life, but also to living in a student residence far away from everyone you know. Even if you’ll still be staying at home, there are adjustments you should make, and things you should know.
Managing your own time effectively is a vital life skill you will have to acquire quickly if you are lacking in that area!
Get yourself up on time in the morning. Get to classes on time – some lecturers may lock you out of the lecture theatre if you are late! They will NOT repeat anything that they have already said if you come in late. They will not prompt you or fuss over you like your teachers may have done.
If you are commuting by car or public transport, make sure you factor in that time. You may face traffic or the unreliability of public transport.
You will have to submit your assignments on time. If you don’t, or don’t apply for an extension (which you won’t always get), you will fail that assignment, and possibly even the semester.
Ensure that you have enough time planned for doing your studies and managing your social life.
You can, and should, get involved in activities at university as it enriches you as a person. However, don’t do so much that you have very little study time! Value and protect your time.
Most students find that money is short. It may be a stretch for your parents to send you to university and there is no money left for entertainment or petrol. You will need to get a job. A great choice of student work is to become a tutor.
Tutoring offers you flexibility (only tutor in the times that suit you), and it is a great way to gain skills like time management, building relationships and goal setting with your learners. Some feedback from our tutors:
“I can schedule my own times for tutoring and the pay is really good” Steven H.
“I think it is a wonderful opportunity to not just serve but in the process to build relationships as well”. Marlene v. H.
“I’ve had an amazing experience with Brightsparkz. There are always new opportunities to learn and expand your horizons and give back to the youth of today and leaders of tomorrow”. Chelsea S.
Petrol is expensive, so if your friends want you to drive them around, consider forming a lift club. If you are the only one with a car, everyone needs to contribute!
Managing your studies
You will find that university study is far different from studying at school. The work load is far more than you ever had before.
You will have to take notes during your lectures at the pace that the lecturer is speaking. Usually, lecturers don’t slow down and dictate notes at a speed suitable for you – they have a lot of material to get through. Learn to write quickly and legibly or try to record the lecture to play back later.
Get into the habit of reading over your notes after lectures so you can ensure that you understand the content and can do something early if you are lost. If you don’t act swiftly to get help, you will soon be faced with a huge backlog of work that you don’t understand!
If you are struggling in any of your subjects, get help fast! Check if your lecturer or mentor is available to assist, or hire a professional tutor who has already successfully passed the module or degree you are doing.
When your study break comes before exams, make a study plan and stick to it! You will find it difficult to get away with studying the day before as you may have done when you were at school.
Your first year of university is indeed an exciting time for you! Enjoy every moment. It is a privilege not to be taken lightly as many deserving students do not have the means to study at a tertiary institution. Plan properly, and you will have a successful and memorable first year!
Written by Natalie Wilke, BrightSparkz Staff & Blog Writer