After having being awarded the Developing Teacher's Award for 2020, Dr Marenet Jordaan from Stellenbosch University's (SU) Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences says being recognised for excellent teaching practices has inspired her to work harder and aim even higher.
“It is always a privilege and a pleasure to get recognition for one's efforts. I appreciate the fact that Stellenbosch University acknowledges teaching practice in this way. As someone who lives with bipolar mood disorder, it is especially rewarding to know that what other people might view as a weakness, has not prevented me from achieving excellence," says Jordaan.
Launched in 2017, the SU Teaching Excellence Awards acknowledge lecturers in two categories, 'Distinguished Teacher' and 'Developing Teacher', based on their experience and leadership in the scholarship of teaching and learning.
Applicants had to submit a portfolio that demonstrated their reflection on and evidence of four main components: context, students, knowledge and professional growth. They also had to indicate the lessons they had learnt on their journey to becoming excellent teachers.
According to Jordaan, she has always enjoyed working with young people and guiding them to reach their full potential.
“I was very happy in my fast-paced career as a working journalist, but teaching gives me a different sort of adrenaline rush. About ten years ago, I realised that the opportunities to mentor young journalists in the newsroom environment in this way, are becoming fewer and fewer. When I was offered the chance to lecture at the Journalism Programme at the University of Pretoria, I felt that teaching would combine my love of mentorship with the opportunity to explore and study journalism from a different vantage point."
Jordaan has always been interested in people's stories, loved reading and had a general sense of curiosity about the world, which made choosing journalism as a career an obvious choice.
She completed a BA Publishing degree at the University of Pretoria as the best student in the Faculty of Humanities. After completing a BPhil Journalism degree cum laude at SU in 2001, Jordaan went onto work as a journalist at Die Burger and Rapport for about eight years.
Thereafter she joined the Journalism Programme at the University of Pretoria, where she worked as a lecturer while also completing her MPhil Journalism degree cum laude at SU. In 2015, she returned to her SU alma mater to work as lecturer in the Department of Journalism. She has since also completed her PhD with an ethnography on the Afrikaans news website, Netwerk24.
Through her teaching, Jordaan hopes to inspire her students “to be kind, thoughtful and resilient people" who become skilled and adaptable media workers.
She says that despite the coronavirus pandemic severely upending most educators past approaches to and planning for teaching and learning, she was surprised to see how quickly students and staff adapted to emergency remote teaching in 2020.
“Although many journalism students are self-starters, it gives me a sense of achievement to know that I might have played a small part in their success. I am also a big proponent of helping students manage their mental wellbeing in various ways. Reading former students' names in newspapers, hearing them on radio or seeing them on television makes me so proud."
Jordaan's future plans include spending more time working on her research publication outputs – on topics related to journalism education and her other academic interests, ranging from newsroom culture and digital media technologies to journalistic role perceptions.