Becoming Miss Viktoriya… personal narrative

5630013_f520‘Becoming a teacher is a journey with significant learning experiences’ (Bashirudin, 2007).  In my case the word journey has a literal meaning. My journey to the destination ‘Miss Viktoiya, could you explain that again?’ has started with a ticket to the exotic county with a mysterious name Sri Lanka.  My first-ever teaching practice took place within the walls, although without windows and doors, of the rural schools.

 Having finished the second year of my teaching major at the university, I naively believed that there was nothing to fear about teaching once you know the subject and have an access to the resources. And then I happened to work in the school for children from poor families, which mostly made their living by going early morning to the sea to catch some fish. Among the available resources were a blackboard, some chalk and some rigorous grammar books. Lack of teaching experience and techniques, scarce resources, overcrowded classes, unfavorable weather conditions was not how I imagined my summer internship. That experience was a turning point and drummed the respect to the teaching profession into my head.

Despite the insufficient material base and the background of students, nothing else would distinguish the school from any other more equipped and privileged ones. Students were always decently behaved and engaged in the lessons. One of the reasons is that education is highly valued in Sri Lanka and is often seen as a way to seize an opportunity for the better life.  At the same time the respect to teachers is unconditional and teachers are expected to be knowledgeable, competent, concerned about students and be good models of behavior. Teachers and students equally seek to establish trustful relations. For many teachers the pleasure of the profession goes beyond teaching. Teacher–student relationship is central to the philosophy of teaching. Social value is pre-eminent of their perceptions about the profession. Although these words might sound lofty, I can assure that motivation and devotion of teachers was impressing regardless to the school working conditions and low salaries

Thus, the experience in Sri Lanka taught me that teaching is more than adhering to the rules of the schools and dissemination of knowledge, it is about the impact you make on a young learner’s life. My later experience demonstrated that high-level teaching is possible when you know a student, hear his/her words and feel the emotions behind them.

Bashiruddin, A. (2007). Celebrating teachers’ voices. In A. Pandian & M. Kell (Eds.), Literacy: Diverse perspectives & pointers for practice (pp. 219-237). Serdang: Universiti Putra Malaysia Press.

11 thoughts on “Becoming Miss Viktoriya… personal narrative

  1. Wow! This is one of your secrets you have never told me! I would never imagine OUR Miss Viktoriya teaching in such rigorous conditions!
    This post made me think about the role of the working conditions for teachers, my thesis topic. I wonder whether improving the teacher working conditions, facilities and salary will improve the quality of education in Kazakhstan, as you state that teachers in Sri Lanka are happy without any of them. Considering remarkably better conditions in rural area schools of Kazakhstan than in Sri Lanka, there must be something else that drives teaching motivation. I would be very grateful if you shared the details like the wage, academic levels of children and professional development for teachers in Sri Lanka based on your experience personally with me. Thank you in advance!

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    1. Malika, I am glad that you raised this question!

      No, teachers were not that pleased with such conditions and I was neither))) (stressful descovery)

      I am sure, the quality of education and the suitability for the needs of SL society, under the circumstances I mentioned in my post, can be questioned.
      However, there are some more factors that are worse considering. For example, how do you define the quality of education? Is it more about achievement and employability? Is it about type of people the system produce despite the grades and values are translated into society? I believe improved conditions should simultaneously come along with improved pedagogical institution practices, that revist the ideals and our current role models, so that values are translated and reproduced (sorry, we are coming back to our discussion on Teacher Identity subject) so that more sustainable system is created.
      The example of Sri Lanka demonstrates that teachers succeeded in keeping the respect and to some extent the prestige of profession by establishing positive relations with their student, so showing their students that teachers should be trusted and listened to. The reasons for that should be explored more deeply by the though historical and cultural analysis.

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  2. WOW!!)) I am very surprised! Did you choose this country yourself? Do you have other photos? I think now you are not afraid of any rural school.

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    1. Actually, the choice is determined more by ‘random sampling’. The main selection criteria were weather conditions and the availability of exotic fruits.

      Well, the pictures are unfortuntely at home((((

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Surely, providing with good working conditions is essential to teach and do it profesionally. Today I watched a video that Kuralay sent us. The video is about teaching conditions, concerning to tachers’ income in Kyrgyzstan. According to the educational reform, government decided to allocate amount of monthly salary depending on teachers’ learning load (stavka), whereas previosly it was allocated by their categories etc. However, in this situation only hours of lessons were counted and it caused another big issue as “unpaid labor”, where practical procedures like grading, cheching homeworks, making up lesson plans etc.
    Coming back to your post, I am also surprised that you taught in Sri Lanka and even more positively amazed at your attitude to the profession. Your first practice was in “not good” conditions, but you were and are still passioned about teaching. Thank you for being so dedicated!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry, I did not finish the idea of the sentence: “where practical procedures like grading, cheching homeworks, making up lesson plans etc. were not taken into account financially”. Here we are)

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  5. Such a great and brave experience Vika! I do agree that hearing children’s words and emotions is an integral part of teaching. I admire those teachers who are able to gain motivation and inspiration from children, no matter how hard the conditions are.

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  6. Dear viktoriyardchnk, I was waiting for your first post and I must say it did not disappoint my expectations. I know you for more than half a year, which is apparently significantly shorter period of time than your acquaintance with abitayeva, however, just like her, I was increasingly clueless about this touching story of becoming a personality and establishment of an identity of the real professional. Not every teaching story has a pivotal point, which truly changes the whole attitude to future job expectations.
    I can see from your story you were inspired by Professor Duishon’s readings and motivational speeches. I am glad your very first post took a slightly different form of communication of your thoughts and feelings. Its reflectional nature made me feel like I was reading a personal diary full of memories.
    One of the minor changes I would suggest doing is adding a narrative tag/a reporting verb in the opening sentence starting with a citation. It seems to me the whole sentence could look more coherent and complete with it.
    All in all, I find this personal narrative a great example of reflection and in addition a wonderful story of becoming a teacher. Thank you for being open and sincere!

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    1. Thank you , Shynarzhanchik for your constructive reflections on my writing. I think I will save your comments so that I remain inspired to write more narratives on professional development!

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  7. The more I know you, the more get surprised, Miss Viktoriya! The most surprisingly that you worked in such conditions and honestly to say, you are braveheart person. I think, you get invaluable experience in Sri Lanka.
    Your post is thoughtful and touching. What is more, it call to mind to think about cultural differences and values. I am wonder about their respect of teachers’ profession and their teaching philosophy. I think we have a lot to learn from them

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What an interesting and unusual experience you had! It is always a pleasure to read posts which are different from others like yours. I can imagine how it is like to teach children who value an opportunity to get an education. This is exactly what we sometimes miss in our profession. Children take education for granted and for this reason teachers cannot find satisfaction and the feeling that they are needed. It would be also nice to read a bit about your later teaching experience in Kazakhstan, was it something you expected after your journey in Sri Lanka?

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