All posts by dishka

About dishka

Living large and taking charge ;)

“There are no accidents…” or why do I become a teacher?

The whole my conscious live I thought that I became a teacher because I failed in the Unified National Testing. So banal. However, I have never asked myself why I stayed in this profession. Why I am steel developing my qualifications? Why did I work in educational sphere? May be my professional way did not start from the UNT, but earlier?

To the most fundamental question in my life replied wise tortoise from the cartoon Kung-Fu Panda, he says, “There are no accidents”.

My mother is a teacher; she was the one of the best students in the University who had been receiving the Lenin stipend. She is hard-working and very educated person. From the beginning of my life, she brought up me very strict and elaborately cared about my education. I knew about 15 Kazakh and Russian songs, could count till 100 at age three.  Now, I can say that it is impossible, if my mum did not save audio recorder where I was singing and counting. Today, I joke naming her “tiger mother”.

Few days ago I recall that she used to say, “Diana, no specialist in the world has more power than teachers to influence people’s lives; they bear a tremendous responsibility – the future of a nation”. I remember, I started to dream to become powerful as she was. When I went to school, I tried to teach letters and numbers to my cousins, delineate the marks and words of teachers in my notebooks. I thought that red is the most beautiful and powerful color, that is why teachers use red pens. Now it seems very funny, but there was some philosophy in my childly fantasy.

In the period I studied at school, teacher’s profession impressed unvalued, low-status profession. It was middle of the 90’s when country felt many economic problems and salary of teachers was miserly, from which pupils also was suffered, because we felt their slapdash attitude toward us and our education. Only true, through and through teachers made a difference in our life, for whom my big respect from the bottom of my heart.

When I finished school, UNT was like a Judge, who identify our destiny. I do not want to describe the whole tragicalness of that day for me. Many graduators who “underperformed” considered as unlucky fellows. In order to not weight my parents I went to teachers profession, because the annually payment was little.

The first year of study at University was difficult and challenging. But I had been forgetting about everything, when I talked with the smartest and wisest girl in our faculty – Aliya Akhmetova. She studied in state scholarship and was 18 years old. She was so broad and open minded person and had never get tired to narrate me about the Space, Planets, World History, History of Kazakhstan and many other fields. She knew all khans by chronological order and names of their generation, she knew all reforms and changes that did each of them, she knew by heart all forty words of Abai and famous poems of Kazakh and foreign writers, she retold me many books. I was fan of her. I remember how she shared her dream with me:

“I have a dream. I want a very big room, where I will create quite nice and big library. I want to have many students and followers. I will teach them everything that I know. I want to make a difference in people’s life”. Eighteen years old girl, from the remote rural area had such a dream. Impressive! At that moment I wanted to do my best and study hard to have such library and followers.

The history of my work started from the National Center under the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It was such a “deinebriating” experience. I had many business trips to rural areas. I saw so many ungraded schools with even no water and electricity; sometimes it was so hard to find internet for several days. I saw teachers’ fireless eyes, sense of frustration… I was guilt that they were guilt because of the school condition. The first desire to change something came to me during this work place. How can I help them? Even now, I recall these schools, teachers and demotivated students with a bleeding heart… However, I was impressed by their open-heartedness and pure intentions. We have a phrase in Kazakh for such people’s soul “қаймағы бұзылмаған”.

There are so many questions without answers. How much time will be passed before all teachers will realize that “they have power to influence peoples’ lives and have a responsibility to the future of our nation”? How many open-minded youths should be born in order to “make a difference in people’s life”?  How many people will not get this bright day? Can I get this day?

Think, big desire to get this day, keep me staying in educational field and do my best in order to make my own contribution to the general development.

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Issue on selecting school by the language of instruction

Recently,  one well-known citizen of Kazakhstan visited Astana and conducted a press-conference. One young women asked him question: “Dear, Mister X, I have a little daughter and she has to attend school next year. Now, we are thinking about to what school send her – Russian or Kazakh”? I had time no time to digest what she meant, when the most-respected person said “Actually, my child is little now, but when she will grow up I think to send her to English school”. At this moment I realized that they talked about the language of instruction. Further comments led to think, that if you have no money to the elite English-spoken school, better to send your child to the school or class with the Russian language of instruction. Keep calm! I was boiled over too. I thought, this is pure discrimination! But… Some statistics prove these parents’ claims according the poor performance of students who attend schools with the Kazakh language of instruction.

Namely, Kazakhstan participates in international comparative studies TIMSS and PISA. By reporting on a wide range of topics and subject matters, the studies contribute to a deep understanding of educational processes within individual countries, and across a broad international context. Kazakhstan’s participation in studies was the step that aimed on identifying the level and improving the functional literacy of students. Functional literacy is a factor contributing to people’s participation in social, cultural, political and economic activity. It is also the ability to think creatively and find standard solutions, the ability to choose a professional way, to be able to use information and communication technologies in various spheres of life, as well as life-long learning (OECD, 2013).

Notwithstanding the general growth of the performance in 2012, Kazakhstan’s education system still faces the issue on functional illiteracy of students. Additionally to the low achievements of Kazakhstan in general, the issue on achievements discrepancy between students with Kazakh and Russian language of instruction, where students in classes with Kazakh language of instruction performed worse than those who study in Russian language environment.

There are some regions, where the students with Kazakh language of instruction showed very strong achievements. However, by analyzing all data of studies, which were conducted four times in Kazakhstan, all results according the language of instruction are same – students with Kazakh language of instruction underperformed the students with Russian language of instruction.

This issue may be emphasized as the one of the biggest question for educational authorities and for me personally. There are many former teachers in Master’s program and it will be great to “listen” your opinions according this problem. Does this performance discrepancy truly exists?

References:

OECD. (2013). PISA 2012 results in Focus. OECD Publishing.

NCEQA. (2010). Natsionalnyi otchet po itogam mezhdunarodnogo issledovaniya PISA-2009 in Kazakhstan (National report on results of international study PISA-2009 in Kazakhstan). . Astana: Editorial and publishing service of NCEQA.

NCESA. (2013). Osnovnye resultaty mezhdunarodnogo issledovaniya PISA-2012 (Main results of international study PISA-2012). . Astana: Editorial-and-publishing service of NCESA.

IEA. (2012). TIMSS 2011 International Results in Mathematics.

IEA. (2012). TIMSS 2011 International Results in Science.

“Kids do not learn from people they do not like” or the value of relationship in education

I visited my hometown in Taraz city during my winter break. At the same time, my little sister had finished the second academic term at a public secondary school. She is 6th grade broad-minded, smart and kind student, who is interested in painting, flora, fauna and astronomy.

However, we had a big drama before the New Year, as my lovely sister took “C” from the subject “Informatics”. My family do not oblige her to study only for “A”, but we were shocked, as she is social-mediated child and understand almost everything in technological devices and programmes better than all of us. My mother talked with her supervisor, who started to criticize her behavior at lessons. The supervisor noted that she always paints at her lessons and had a row with the teacher of Informatics for the reason that she puts tongue out to her.  This heartbreaking situation ends with the strong condemnation of my sister by my parents.

After several days, I decided to make sense of the situation concerned. It was very hard to get her to talk due to her constraining and laconic character. Here are the words of my sister:

“My supervisor very strict… You know, she gets nervous when we do not understand the lesson… Someday she said “dull, brainless” to my friend… She was cried… I do not want to ask her questions… I am very boring at her lessons, I do not like her lesson… And… and I am painting then… Teacher of Informatics does not let us to seat to the computers. I do not know why… We read the topic by paragraphs, it is boring too, because I do not understand the programmes that we read… I asked her whether we can use computers to practice the “programme”, she said that she will decide herself when we will be allowed or not allowed to use computers, and if we have a desire to learn it, we can use computers at home…”

 – And then you put out your tongue?

 – Yes… She screamed at me and said, “You will regret about it”.

Unfortunately, it is only a little part of such situations in regional or rural schools. This situation makes me wonder about the reason of low achievement of smart students, who take a low grade because they do not like a teacher and possibly, teacher also does not like them. This, in turn, implies the value of human relationships in education.

Students spend 9 months every year and 4-7 hours in a day at school and teachers are mostly responsible for the academic and social development of students. Safe learning environment with the basement for social and academic abilities are mostly enabled by the positive relationships between teacher and student (Baker et al., 2008; O’Connor, Dearing, & Collins, 2011; Silver, Measelle, Armstron, & Essex, 2005). There are also findings, that teachers who support positive relationships with students in their academic and social spheres, may impact for their future socialization and adaptation in life (Baker et al., 2008; O’Connor et al., 2011; Silver et al., 2005). Murray & Malmgren (2005) also revealed that students with the low socio-economic background might benefit from the teacher-student positive relationship more than those who had the high socio-economic background, but did not have such relationships.

I found the eight minute exciting talk of the Rita F. Pierson “Every kid needs a champion” about the importance of human relationships and how it makes a difference in their lives. Additionally, this talk will get out the message I wanted to explain in the given post. I am also hold an interest about your own experience on significance of relationships with your students (as a teacher) or with your teachers (as a student/pupil). Does the personal attitude toward the definite person make a change in your choice or even life?

Rita F. Pierson “Every kid needs a champion”

References:

Baker, J. M. (2008). The teacher–student relationship as a developmental context for children with internalizing or externalizing behavior problems. School Psychology Quarterly.

Murray, C. M. (2005). Implementing a teacher–student relationship program in a high-poverty urban school: Effects on social, emotional, and academic adjustment and lessons learned. Journal of School Psychology.

O’Connor, E. D. (2011). eacher-child relationship and behavior problem trajectories in elementary school. . American Educational Research Journal.

Silver, B. M. (2005). Trajectories of classroom externalizing behavior: Contributions of child characteristics, family characteristics, and the teacher–child relationship during the school transition. Journal of School Psychology.