‘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.