One teacher’s experiences of teaching reading in an urban multi-grade foundation phase class
Many teachers have been confronted by the demanding situation of teaching two or more year groups in the same classroom although data on this multi-grade phenomenon is scarce. The purpose of this study attempts to answer the research question: What are the experiences of one foundation phase teacher when teaching reading in an urban multi-grade foundation phase class? The theoretical framework central to answering the research question was based on Lave and Wenger’s (1991) community of practice. The literature review highlights the physical setting of urban multi-grade classrooms, debates the limitations and benefits of urban multi-grade teaching and finally briefly outlines the old and the new South African curriculum policies with regard to reading. A qualitative interpretive case study research design was formulated to explore the complex phenomenon of reading practices in the foundation phase. Data were collected using interviews and observations, which were video recorded. In conclusion, this unique study reveals that despite evidence from provincial tests indicating poor reading results in multi-grade teaching of reading, this teacher proved that reading in urban multi-grade classes does work. In her classroom, she showed that multi-grade teaching of reading fosters the emotional, intellectual, social and academic well-being of learners.